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Delta Makes Sweeping Changes to Medallion Qualification, Further Restricts Sky Club Access

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Nick Ellis

Nick Ellis

Editor & Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 35U.S. States Visited: 25

Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to le...
Edited by: Stella Shon

Stella Shon

Compliance Editor & Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 25U.S. States Visited: 22

With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

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Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines has historically been a front-runner regarding changes to its loyalty program. The carrier was the first to introduce a spending requirement as part of the thresholds for qualifying for elite status within its SkyMiles program.

However, in recent years, its peers have made significant moves in shifting their elite status programs to be based almost entirely on spending with the airline. In contrast, Delta’s program has retained a combination of flying and spending.

That’s all about to change — in a big way. Delta has shared the details of its revamped SkyMiles program, namely, how one qualifies for Medallion elite status.

But that’s not all that’s changing. Delta has made no secret of the fact that it has an overcrowding problem in its Sky Clubs in airports across the country. It’s already taken several steps to thin the crowds in its airport lounges, but they haven’t had much of a bite.

Now, the airline is taking yet another step — one that is certain to be unpopular with many — to ensure Sky Clubs will see fewer passengers visiting.

Fasten your seatbelts — it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Delta Revamps Medallion Qualification Requirements

As it stands, flyers must clear a combination of thresholds to achieve Medallion status within the Delta SkyMiles program.

To qualify, one needs to earn a certain number of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and earn a certain number of Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs). The specific amounts vary depending on the status tier.

MQDs are earned by spending money on Delta flights — and they’re awarded according to what a passenger pays for the base fare of a given ticket.

Complimentary first class upgrades are reserved for Delta Medallion members. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

However, as of January 1, 2024, the only criterion flyers will need to be concerned about is MQDs. That’s right, MQMs and MQSs will soon become a thing of the past, and elite status qualification will become simply about how much you spend with the airline — and on its co-branded credit cards.

A silver lining is that Delta is introducing more ways to acquire MQDs, so flying won’t necessarily be the only activity that will get you closer to earning Medallion status.

New SkyMiles Medallion Requirements

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty of how you can earn elite status with Delta going forward, here’s a look at the requirements come January 1, 2024, to earn status for the 2025 Medallion year:

Image Credit: Delta

How To Earn MQDs

Here’s a look at how you can earn MQDs once the changes are implemented in January:

  • Earn 1 MQD for every dollar spent on a ticket for a flight that’s marketed by Delta and operated by Delta or a partner airline.
  • MQDs will be earned on flights sold and operated by partner airlines as a combination of the fare class purchased and the distance flown — this will remain the same as the current scheme.
  • Those with the following cards will earn 1 MQD for every $10 spent on their card(s), with no limit to MQD earning:
  • Those with these cards will earn 1 MQD for every $20 spent on their card(s), with no limit to MQD earning:
  • Earn 1 MQD for every dollar spent on car rentals booked through Delta’s channels.
  • Earn 1 MQD for every dollar spent on hotel stays booked through Delta’s channels.
  • Earn 1 MQD for every dollar spent on Delta Vacations packages, in addition to what you’ll earn for your flight when the package is booked directly through Delta.

While there are plenty of new ways to earn MQDs, it will take a lot more spending to reach the high end of the SkyMiles program. For example, if you were to set out to earn top-tier Diamond status only by spending on your Delta Reserve card, you’d need to spend a staggering $350,000 to earn the 35,000 MQDs required to reach Diamond status. (Can you buy a house with a credit card? Asking for a friend.)

And, let’s not forget that Delta currently offers an MQD waiver for achieving Diamond status if you spend $250,000 annually on a Delta Reserve card or Delta Reserve Business card (though you’re still required to earn 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs in addition to that MQD waiver).

Bottom Line:

It’s going to cost much more if you want to achieve the pinnacle of Delta elite status — or any status with the airline. And we have to assume this is by design, as the ranks of elite flyers have swelled in recent years, and perks that used to feel like a guarantee for top-tier flyers have become less and less so. Delta clearly wants to reestablish elite status as a truly exclusive experience and one that’s not meant for the masses.

Rollover MQMs

If you’re well-versed in the Delta universe, you’re aware of one of the airline’s most generous perks — rollover MQMs. At the beginning of each status year, Delta will roll over any MQMs earned that are in excess of the status level you achieved.

For example, if you were to earn a total of 75,000 MQMs in a given year, but only qualified for Silver status due to falling short on MQDs, Delta would subtract the 25,000 MQMs required for Silver status and roll over the excess 50,000 to the next year, giving flyers a “head start” on achieving status for the next year.

Thankfully, if you’re sitting on a stash of MQMs come January 1 next year, they won’t vanish into thin air. Delta will offer flyers the opportunity to convert their existing MQMs into MQDs, redeemable SkyMiles, or a combination of both.

As reported by The Points Guy, if you choose to convert to MQDs, your rollover MQMs will convert at a rate of 20:1, while they’ll convert to redeemable SkyMiles at a rate of 2:1. You’ll be able to choose from the following combinations when making your choice for conversion:

  • All redeemable SkyMiles and no MQDs
  • 75% redeemable SkyMiles and 25% MQDs
  • 50% redeemable SkyMiles and 50% MQDs
  • 25% redeemable SkyMiles and 75% MQDs
  • No redeemable SkyMiles and 100% MQDs

TPG reports that customers can complete their conversions online at beginning on February 1, 2024.

But Wait, There’s (So Much) More

There are even more changes to discuss: Delta’s tweaking how it tracks Million Miler status. As it stands now, these miles are awarded by how many MQMs you earn, which means you could earn more of these miles if you earned an MQM bonus based on the ticket you bought or the fare class in which you flew.

Come next year, this program will change to match similar programs offered by American Airlines and United Airlines — you’ll earn lifetime miles based strictly on the number of miles you fly with Delta and its partners, which is sure to slow down the progression toward this goal for many flyers. However, the airline says that lifetime mileage balances already accrued will remain. Going forward, flyers will earn toward Million Miler status based on actual miles flown.

And, those with Million Miler status will soon leap up in the priority line for complimentary upgrades and will be in the third criteria group behind Medallion status and fare class.

Finally, Delta told TPG that Platinum and Diamond Medallion members will have new Choice Benefits to look forward to, though it said details regarding these new benefits will be shared at a later date.

Credit Card Sky Club Access Gets Gutted

Currently, there are ways to easily gain entry to Delta Sky Clubs in your travels — and that’s by holding the right credit card.

Those who have the Delta Reserve card, the Delta Reserve Business card, The Platinum Card® from American Express, and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express can enter Sky Clubs when flying with Delta on a same-day ticket or with WestJet on a Delta-marketed ticket starting in 006.

However, Delta and American Express are moving to limit the number of visits that cardholders will be entitled to as a result of holding the right card. Starting February 1, 2025, cardholders will be limited to a certain number of visits to a Sky Club per year, depending on which card(s) they hold:

  • Delta Reserve card: 10 annual visits
  • Delta Reserve Business card: 10 annual visits
  • Amex Platinum card: 6 annual visits
  • Amex Business Platinum card: 6 annual visits

Cardholders can spend $75,000 annually on any of the cards mentioned above to earn unlimited Sky Club access for the year in which the spending threshold is met, plus the following Medallion year. Delta will begin tracking spending on these cards on January 1, 2024, for the 2025 Medallion year.

Delta and Amex are limiting Sky Club access for certain cardholders. Image Credit: Jason Dewey Photos via Delta Air Lines

Presumably, this policy does not impact those who carry the Centurion® Card from American Express.

We’re (still) not done yet. Currently, those with the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card can enter the Sky Club by paying a $50 entrance fee. However, as of January 1, 2024, cardholders will no longer have this option and will not be permitted to enter the Sky Club.

Finally, passengers who book a Delta basic economy ticket will be barred from accessing a Sky Club as of January 1, 2024, regardless of how they attempt to enter.

Hot Tip:

One way to guarantee Sky Club access is to purchase a business class ticket with Delta (known as Delta One) or its partners. Learn all the best ways to book a Delta One seat with points and miles in our complete guide.

Let’s start with the not-so-bad changes here. Removing Sky Club access for basic economy passengers is a logical move, as there’s an expectation when purchasing these tickets that they will be as bare-bones as it gets with the airline. Simply put, culling these passengers from the Sky Club crowds seems like the lowest-hanging fruit that Delta could grab at.

On the other hand, limiting visits to just 6 annually for Amex Platinum card and Amex Business Platinum cardholders and 10 annually for Delta Reserve card and Delta Business Reserve cardholders is a tough pill to swallow. These cards have steep annual fees, and Sky Club access is among the most valuable perks of each family of cards.

It’s not hard to see how cardholders will feel slighted by the changes to the access policies of these cards — they cost a pretty penny to have in one’s wallet, and many will feel that this is a significant reduction in the value proposition of each of them. Time will tell if we see a rash of cancellations.

Another faint silver lining is that the access policies for those who have the high-end cards (and who don’t book a basic economy ticket) won’t go into effect until 2025, leaving plenty of time for cardholders to assess their travel patterns and determine whether it makes sense to keep the cards in their wallets.

Final Thoughts

There’s certainly a lot to process with these sweeping changes from Delta, and we don’t blame you if you now feel like your head’s spinning.

Delta loyalists (including myself, for now at least) will probably feel like the world is crumbling around them, as it’s going to be significantly more difficult to earn the perks that many of us have grown accustomed to in the last several years.

And, the Sky Club access policies for cardholders are certainly a blow, as holding one of the very expensive cards mentioned above will only entitle you to the Sky Club for several round-trip journeys a year, a feat many surpass in the first quarter of a given year.

Regardless of how we feel about these changes, Delta is committed to providing a more premium experience for its flyers — especially those who spend heavily with the airline.

While it remains to be seen whether the new Sky Club access policies will achieve what they’re designed to do, it’s a sure bet that the ranks of Medallion members will dwindle, and those who achieve the upper echelons of Medallion status should look forward to more upgrades and other perks down the line.

This is still a developing story, and there are still some bits of information that we’re due to learn in the coming weeks and months, so we’ll be sure to update this story as more is shared.

The information regarding the Centurion® Card from American Express was independently collected by Upgraded Points and was not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, click here.

About Nick Ellis

Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to leverage the perks of each.


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Dan Dieck

September 14, 2023

When sapphire gets to the 80,000 mile bonus, then I’ll get one.

Dan Dieck

September 14, 2023

Aren’t you sick of Southwest and Allegiant sending emails about cheap flights and when you put in your flight information, you never get a low cost flight like they put in the emails!

Randy Rogers

September 14, 2023

Considering these Loyalty Programs began in the early 1980’s and had some late-comers like Starwood not get into the game until the late 1990’s, it is obvious with our Federal Government now getting involved in DEI and Credit Cards, the sacrifices that workers make in travel for their employer, are now also going to be under the spotlight of fairness as ejudicated by those in Legislatures, that fly Private on the Taxpayer dime. Having reached Million Miler Status with Delta in but 5 years in 1991, and presented a Hartman Binder, with a visit by a Representative to my new home in Arizona, I was suddenly full of myself. The wake-up took not so long, as by 1993, Delta, reacting to America Wests impertinence of flying Non-Stop from Phoenix to Atlanta, saw Delta cut back service from Non-Stop of SD, OC, LA, SF, PDX and Sea-Tac, to funneling all through SLC, adding time and travel to the Schedule. They re-Le Ted, by the late millennia, but by then my allegiance had moved to America West (with 100+ Non-Stops from Phoenix, including many not available from LAX including Omaha), then AW purchased USAir, both opened up Hawaii and made Charlotte an easier ‘Connect’ then Atlanta to Zurich. A few years later, the same Management Team acquired AA, and chose their moniker as their Brand, from that point forward, Miles in the bank at Delta, I was a committed AA having been Platinum, Chairman and Platinum at their respective brands as they evolved, mostly by Segments (110+Annum), as save for Honolulu and Zurich, maybe an NYC, the short hops weekly to western Cities were continually reduced to Net Miles from Previous Segment Minimum’s, i.e. 1000, or 500 to maybe actual 452! Certainly I was taken care of in my working years, but in retirement in 2016 after 30 years of weekly travel by plane, I had virtually the same in both AA and Delta 1.8M each, and to my surprise when AA made the Corporate move back to Dallas from Phoenix (Doug and Team), there was no Emeritus Status, nor in calculating, was there any weighing of Segments against Miles, they simply took Miles accrued and placed me as Lifetime Gold, despite being consistently for 23 years at the Top Tier with American (AW, USAir and PSA). Now one finds the Upgrades daily are gone and despite loyalty over extended years, surrendering Miles for Upgrades or Flights, requires a an Add-Collect, because of the Queue one is arbitrarily placed in. “What have you done for me lately”, is the mantra, so be smart, though 3.8M with either Delta or AA would have placed me in some Super Tier post retirement, the realities are with Corporate governance and direction as to travel, and having always been given in my capacity, no caveats, things do change, and Travel is certainly one, as we’ve seen since the Biden years have begun.

Valerie Witters

September 14, 2023

This new Delta Sky Club policy is hard to take. The ‘big spenders’ they are focused on are most likely flying on the corporate dime, once again squeezing out those of us who have to pay for all of our own flights. Disappointing.

William Waff

September 14, 2023

I may have missed it- this was a pretty comprehensive article- and I have a very simple question: As I understand it, currentlly of one buys a business/first class ticket – regardless of credit card used- the person can enter a Delta club on the day of travel. Will that remain the same or does that entry option go away as well? Thanks!

Nick Ellis

September 14, 2023

Hi William, thanks for reading! If you purchase a Delta One ticket (this applies to only certain domestic routes such as JFK-LAX and SFO) or a business or first class ticket on a SkyTeam partner airline, you’ll be able to visit the Sky Club. This does not apply to domestic first class tickets that aren’t marketed as Delta One (a first class flight from Detroit to New York-LGA, for example, would not qualify).


September 14, 2023

If they’re taking away Sky Club access for Delta Platinum card holders, hopefully they’ll give us other perks or reduce the annual card cost. UGH all around.

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