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What Is the Value of Delta Gold Medallion Status? [2024]

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James Larounis

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Gold Medallion status is the level above entry-level Silver Medallion status in the SkyMiles elite status program. At Gold status, you start to experience many mid-tier frequent flyer benefits, and it is a huge jump from the lower Silver level.

Gold Medallion is the second-largest tier in the Delta program, and it’s where many road warriors and business people have their membership. Gold Medallion is the first status level in the program to come with SkyTeam Elite Plus, the SkyTeam alliance’s top-tier level that allows enhanced airport experiences, including worldwide lounge access no matter the class of service you’re traveling in. It falls below Platinum and Diamond Medallion status.

Follow along as we examine the benefits and value of Gold Medallion status, as well as how you may be able to maximize Gold Medallion status.

How To Earn Gold Medallion Status

As of 2024, earning Delta elite status is solely dependent on 1 factor: Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs). To earn Delta Gold Medallion status, you must earn $10,000 MQDs in a calendar year.

Delta Elite Status levels 2024
There are 4 main levels of Delta Medallion status. Image Credit: Delta

You can earn MQDs by flying with Delta (1 MQD per $1 spent on most Delta flights), having or spending certain co-branded Delta American Express credit cards, or spending money with Delta vacations (1 MQD per $1 spent).

Delta Terminal LGA
When you travel as a Gold Medallion, you can expect more perks such as priority boarding, more upgrades, and free same-day changes. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

The Benefits of Gold Medallion

Increased Mileage Earning ($300 Value)

Gold Medallions earn 8 miles per dollar, excluding the taxes on each ticket. If your ticket is $100 and $10 of that is taxes, you’d earn miles only on the $90, which in this case would be 720 SkyMiles.

If you earned all your MQDs through spending with Delta, you would need to spend $10,000 in a calendar year, which would earn 80,000 SkyMiles a year by spending just that minimum amount. Looking at this, that’s roughly 4 one-way economy class tickets or 1 round-trip domestic first class ticket. That’s a very rough estimate since Delta now has a dynamic pricing system, and users can no longer refer to an award chart.

Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades ($400 Value)

Just like United and Alaska, all elites on Delta have the opportunity for unlimited domestic and local international upgrades according to their status and type of ticket.

In general, you receive upgrades on all paid tickets (except E fares, which is basic economy), award tickets, Miles + Cash, and Pay with Miles tickets.

Delta One is Delta’s most coveted upgrade opportunity. These are lie-flat seats, typically found on premium routes such as New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO), or certain cities in Hawaii. Gold Medallions can receive these upgrades on the day of departure only, which means you’ll need to wait until you’re at the airport to see if you’ve cleared.

For domestic upgrades into first class, Golds can receive these beginning 72 hours (3 days) before departure. Typically, these upgrades are for routes that aren’t hub to hub or are on off-days, such as mid-week or during weekends. 

Delta Air Lines First Class
Delta’s first class product on narrow-body aircraft is usually configured in a 2-2 arrangement. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

For complimentary Delta Comfort+ upgrades, Golds receive these days in advance of the flight, like first class upgrades. Comfort+ seats are those with extra legroom and come with complimentary drinks and snacks so you can enjoy yourself a little more.

Since you cannot select a Comfort+ seat when you purchase your ticket, it’s very important to rely on the 72-hour upgrade window to move into one of these extra-legroom economy seats, especially if it’s looking like your upgrade won’t clear. Keep an eye out, as some higher elites may get upgraded during the 72-hour window, in which case you may be able to move into one of their seats if you happen to see it open.

Companion upgrades are processed very similarly to other upgrades and follow the same upgrade windows, respective of the type of cabin you’re upgrading into. You may attempt to upgrade 1 other companion, and depending on the number of seats remaining, you may find this task quite difficult, especially on very high-profile routes such as Washington, D.C. (DCA) to Los Angeles (LAX).

Unique to Delta, you can also receive complimentary upgrades on its geographically closest partner airline, AeroMexico. This process clears the same as normal upgrades, so in this case 72 hours before the flight at the earliest. Simply attach your SkyMiles number to the reservation, and the system will do the rest. AeroMexico’s premium cabin is known as Clase Premier, which is essentially the same as Delta’s domestic first class product.

Here is a consolidated version of Delta’s upgrade chart, from Delta:

“As a Gold Medallion Member, you and a companion are eligible for Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades to First Class and Delta Comfort+, beginning 72 hours (3 days) prior to departure and to the domestic Delta One experience on the day of departure.”

Type of UpgradeWhen the Upgrade May Clear
Unlimited complimentary U.S. 50 Delta One upgrades:
All paid tickets (except E fares), award tickets, Miles + Cash, and Pay with Miles tickets
Day of departure
Unlimited complimentary first class and Delta Comfort+ upgrades:
All paid tickets (except E fares), award tickets, Miles + Cash, and Pay with Miles tickets
Begins 72 hours (3 days) prior to departure
Unlimited complimentary U.S. 50 Delta One, First Class, and Delta Comfort+ upgrades for a companion:
All paid tickets (except E fares), award tickets, Miles + Cash, Pay with Miles tickets, and SkyMiles companion certificates
Unlimited complimentary Clase Premier upgrades on select Aeromexico-operated flightsBegins 72 hours (3 days) prior to departure
Complimentary preferred seats

As a reminder, here’s how Delta prioritizes upgrades:

  1. By Medallion status, the first and most important differentiator. 
  2. By fare class, with costlier fare classes receiving priority over cheaper fares.
  3. By Million Miler status, giving priority to long-term Delta fliers.
  4. By cardholders of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, with cardholders receiving priority over non-cardholders.
  5. By Delta Corporate Travelers, when you include the Corporate Ticket Designator on the ticket.
  6. By spending, based on the total Medallion Qualification Dollars earned in the current calendar year.
  7. By the date and time of the upgrade request, the last and least important indicator.
Delta 777 Main Cabin
Even if your upgrade doesn’t clear, you can still select one of Delta’s extra legroom seats for free. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

You can help yourself when trying to upgrade:

  • Choose your travel day wisely so you’re not trying to upgrade alongside Platinum and Diamond Medallions. Avoid Mondays and Fridays, as these are typically when consultants travel.
  • If you have a choice, try to fly out of a city that doesn’t have a gigantic airport, such as Milwaukee (MKE) instead of Chicago (ORD), or Baltimore (BWI) instead of Washington, D.C. (DCA or IAD). Most high-tier elites and those who spend a lot will fly out of major cities.
  • When choosing your flights, try and select the flight that has more first class seats. Though this may seem intuitive, many travelers just look at the schedule, but if you have a choice between a narrow-body plane and a wide-body plane with more premium cabin seats, you’ve, of course, got a much better such at upgrading with the larger plane.
Bottom Line:

As a Gold flyer, you’ll come ahead of Silver Medallions when flying, but you still have to compete with Platinum and Diamond Medallions. Many flyers report Gold status being a good middle ground for status and upgrades — receiving enough upgrades to make the status level worthwhile.

Waived Checked Baggage Fees ($150 Value)

You and up to 8 companions on the same reservation can receive 1 complimentary checked bag per person. When you add up the fees, this could be a tremendous savings, especially when traveling as a group. 

Checked bag fees start at $30, so when you multiply that by 8, you can save $240 just for being a Gold Medallion on a large reservation. Assuming you fly 5 times and utilize these benefits, we estimate this benefit at $150, but you could get much even more value since companions on the same reservation are also covered.

Delta Baggage Handler
Free checked bags are one of the many perks of Medallion status. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

Waived Same-Day Confirmed Fees ($200 Value)

Same-Day Confirmed allows you to change your ticket on the same day of travel to another flight, either arriving before or after your original flight.

This is perfect for business travelers who get out of a meeting early or vacationers who want a few more hours of sun.

On Delta, it’s fairly easy to same-day change, which normally costs $75 per person. When you’re looking for same-day change opportunities, all you need is the same class of service fare code as your original ticket on your new flight. If you purchased an N-class ticket originally, you’d need N on the new flights to move.

There are a few important notes when doing a same-day change:

  • You can’t move from a connecting flight to a nonstop flight but can change connecting cities. Usually, nonstop flights are more expensive, so that’s why this restriction is in place.
  • You can’t change your origin and destination and can’t change to a co-terminal airport, such as from Washington, D.C. (DCA) to Washington, D.C. (IAD).
  • While you can’t change to a higher cabin if you’re holding an economy ticket, you can change to a lower cabin if you’re holding a premium cabin ticket — so when you see the need for a same-day change, premium tickets give you a lot of flexibility.

Keep in mind that if you can’t same-day change your ticket, you can rebook your desired flights and pay the fare difference, thanks to Delta eliminating change fees on tickets.

Bottom Line:

To same-day change to another flight, the same fare class must be available, and you must be flying from the same origin to the same destination.

Waived Same-Day Standby Fees ($100 Value)

Though same-day standby is now free for all passengers, you’ll have a better position on the waitlist than a non-status customer.

Sky Priority (Included in SkyTeam Elite Plus Value)

Gold Medallions get full Sky Priority benefits, giving members access to priority check-in, security lines with less wait, bags coming out faster on the carousel, and being among the first passengers to board the aircraft.

These benefits can be very useful. For example, by using the Sky Priority check-in, you don’t have to wait as long as those in the regular lanes. Similarly, with priority boarding benefits, you’ll be among some of the first few groups to board, which allows you to get settled faster and stow your bags before others.

Delta Sky Priority Scan
With Sky Priority, you’ll breeze through check-in. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

Discounted CLEAR Membership (Value Varies)

CLEAR is an expedited form of identification check before you head into the normal security lanes. Using biometrics, your boarding pass and fingerprints are scanned, verifying your ID and allowing you to bypass the initial TSA ID check. From there, you proceed directly into the security queue.

Gold Medallions can sign up for CLEAR for only $149 annually, which is a savings of $40.

Hot Tip:

CLEAR is well worth it if you live in a large airport with lengthy security lines. It can help you speed through the identification and boarding pass check process faster than even having TSA PreCheck alone!

Priority Waitlist ($50 Value)

As Delta describes it, “If the class of service preferred is not available when making a reservation, you’ll receive priority waitlist status on paid tickets.”

This can be a somewhat convoluted benefit, but if you want to sit in a premium cabin, for example, and it is sold out, you can be placed on a premium cabin waitlist where if a seat opens, you can pay to move up.

SkyTeam Elite Plus Status ($250 Value)

SkyTeam Elite Plus is SkyTeam’s highest alliance-wide status. Routine benefits include priority baggage handling, priority security, priority check-in, and waitlisting. 

Also, one of the most popular benefits is lounge access, where you can use any partner lounge (even when flying economy) on an international ticket.

So, let’s say you’re flying Air France from Washington, D.C. to Paris in economy class. As a SkyTeam Elite Plus, you can use the Air France Lounge at Washington, D.C. (IAD) before your flight, even though you’re traveling in economy class.

Delta Sky Club Austin
When you travel internationally, you can use the Delta Sky Club or any other SkyTeam lounge. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

Dedicated Phone Line ($100 Value)

Gold Medallions receive a dedicated phone number they can call for reservation assistance. Unfortunately, Platinum and Diamond Medallions still get priority, though Golds do get to have their call answered before Silver Medallions and regular SkyMiles members who don’t have status.

This is especially helpful if a flight should become canceled or delayed, as having access to an agent quicker than other passengers could help with faster rebooking options. 

Benefits With Hertz ($100 Value)

As a very frequent flyer, you’re likely to rent cars quite often. As a Gold Medallion, you receive Hertz Five Star status in the Hertz Rewards program.

It’s completely free, and all you have to do is link your accounts once you achieve Gold status. Here are the benefits from Hertz:

Five Star Status
Qualification10 rentals or $2,000
UpgradesAs available
Earning Points$1 = 1.25 points
Ultimate ChoiceWider selection
Free CLEAR Airport Trial2 months
Reward RedemptionsUse points for free day rentals and online rewards
Transfer Points to Select Traveler Partners
Dedicated Hertz Rewards Line
Free Additional Driver
Tier Benefit ExperiencePresident’s Circle status for a day

Delta Vacations Savings (Value Varies)

Delta runs a vacation program where you can purchase your flight, hotel, and some attractions simultaneously for fairly significant savings. Since you’re purchasing everything at once, Delta can negotiate higher discounts.

For Gold Medallions, Delta says you can save up to $250 per booking and earn up to 7,500 bonus miles per person with a flight and hotel package.

The additional savings for Golds aren’t that much, but any discount helps:

  • $25 savings on vacations up to $1,499
  • $75 savings on vacations of $1,500 to $3,999
  • $125 savings on vacations of $4,000 to $6,999
  • $250 savings on vacations of $7,000 or more
Hot Tip:

The Delta Vacations savings are the same no matter which Medallion tier you are, so Gold flyers get no more of a benefit than any other tier.

Luggage Tags ($10 Value)

Sometimes known as “brag tags,” luggage tags are a coveted item among frequent flyers. These pieces of plastic attached to bags of all sizes are a way of telling the world you earned elite status, and Delta Golds are no exception. Golds receive these luggage tags annually upon renewal of status.

Delta Luggage Tags Brag Tags
Showing off your luggage tags is one of the cool benefits of Gold Medallion! Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

Reclaiming Status ($300 Value)

You won’t use this benefit every day, and for many, you may not even use it at all. At Delta, you can recover your lost Medallion status due to a significant life event.

Working to get elite status is hard, especially in the upper ranks of an airline’s frequent flyer program. If there’s a death in your family, you become pregnant, have a job change, move, or have another significant life event, Delta will let you have the status you previously held back without too many restrictions. 

Here are the basics of how this works:

  • Year 1: You held Gold status.
  • Year 2: You experience a significant life event where you either lose Medallion status entirely or drop down to Silver.
  • Year 3: You attempt to reclaim your status.

You must have “documentation to verify a life event occurred which reduced your ability to travel (all life events will be considered).” So, this isn’t a way for people to game the system to earn elite status more easily.

When you’re ready to reclaim your status, you should be prepared to fly, so don’t reclaim your status if you’re still experiencing your life event or anticipate something else slowing you down. Delta will grant you 3 months of complimentary Gold status and then ask you to fly and spend the required amount to continue keeping Gold status.

To keep your Gold status, you’ll need to earn $2,500 MQDs during your 3-month period.

Timing is everything, so you’ll want to time when you initiate your claim. According to Delta, “Enroll before December 31 to have your status for 1 year and 1 month, extending to January 31 the following year.”

Final Thoughts

Gold Medallion is where you really start to see value in Delta status — upgrades will become noticeably more frequent, you’ll have the opportunity for better seat selection sooner, and there are fee waivers at opportune times, not to mention the alliance-wide benefits like Sky Priority. 

Throughout the year, you’re looking at approximately $1,960 of value if you utilize all the benefits.

Gold is noticeably better than Silver, so if the opportunity presents itself, it is much better to try and go for Gold than remain at Silver, and it might be worth flying a few extra miles at the end of the year to try and earn Gold.

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of Delta Gold Medallion?

There are many benefits to Delta Gold Medallion, including:

  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades on select routes
  • Waived checked baggage fees
  • Complimentary same-day change
  • Sky Priority
  • Exclusive CLEAR pricing
  • Five Star status with Hertz
  • Priority waitlisting
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus status
  • VIP phone line
  • Luggage tags

Does Delta Gold Medallion get lounge access?

Delta Gold Medallion does get lounge access, but only on international itineraries. All Delta Gold elites receive SkyTeam Elite Plus, which grants them access to any partner lounge so long as they’re flying a qualifying international itinerary. For example, if you’re flying from Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Paris (CDG), you can use the Air France Lounge no matter the class of service you’re in. You can also use the Air France Lounge in Paris if you’re flying from Paris (CDG) to Nice (NCE), for example.

Can Gold Medallion use the Sky Club?

Delta Gold Medallions can only use the Sky Club on qualifying international itineraries, which excludes Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean, and only when seated in the premium cabin.

How do you earn Delta Gold Medallion?

You can earn Delta Gold Medallion by earning 10,000 Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) in a calendar year.

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About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.


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