I recently qualified for Delta Platinum Medallion status for 2024. For those not aware (or confused), as of January 1st everything we do with Delta earns elite points and credits for next year. Had I not had any status starting the year (or lower than Platinum), I would have “free” Platinum status for the rest of this year and I would fly that status in 2024.
I did this by completing both parts of the Delta Air Lines elite equation: that is holding — much due to rollover — over 75,000 MQMs or Medallion Qualifying Miles (not the same as spendable SkyMiles) and spending at least $25,000 on my Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card that gives me a waver of needing to spend anything on actual Delta tickets.
The reason I did the above is that, while I find myself flying many other airlines more than ever, I still fly Delta for a number of my flights over this year, next year, and 2025. Flying Delta with Platinum or Diamond status is a much better experience when things go sideways, as well as when interacting with SkyTeam partners.
But even without any status, Delta has one amazing rule that is so powerful it makes me appreciate and applaud Delta. This also gives those of us who know the rule (and can plan a long way out) the chance to take full advantage to save huge amounts of cash and Delta points when booking tickets. Take a look at what I mean.
Above is a screenshot from Delta.com. On one of the many FrequentFloaters cruises I have booked over the next few years, not shockingly out of Miami, I have had a schedule change. I had booked this using a tiny Delta e-Gift card and then paying with my The Business Platinum Card® from American Express to get the ticket almost free (I have Delta as my selected yearly $200 “incidentals” credit airline, BTW).
The day I booked to fly was not really the day I wanted to arrive in Florida. Yes, I always arrive at least one day before the cruise ship departs because I know the ship will leave without me if I can not get to the departure port city on time. But I also do this because I want a few days by a pool to get some sun before I face the blazing Caribbean sun in the middle of winter. But the cheapest price ticket from SBN or South Bend (my hometown airport in Indiana) was many days before the sailing.
Enter the Ultra Powerful Schedule Change!
I say “ultra” because it really is. Once Delta impacts your departure or arrival by 1 hour or more (as you can CLEARLY see from the Delta.com screenshot above) you have simply amazing flexibility to do almost anything you want within reason.
You now have the chance to change for free, not just flights, but even the DAY you want.
So in my current situation, I was able to change from the cheapest day of the week to fly to the exact day I wanted to fly in the first place, something that would have cost me hundreds of dollars more had I booked those days to begin with.
That is ultra cool and amazing!
Most of the time, you can make these changes either online or in the Fly Delta App for free with no human interaction required. As much as I gripe (and correctly so) about Delta’s IT system – this is the one thing that normally just works perfectly and is a real winner and this alone is one big reason to fly Delta Air Lines.
But not always, sad to say.
A competent rep should be able to do all I have mentioned above — but you may get pushback over any number of things including the length of your schedule change, because so many of the current crop of reps are so poorly trained they don’t know the rules. Please just stand firm and you should be able to get it done as you want, even if you have to HUCB (hang up and call back).
It truly is much harder than ever to find value flying Delta in 2023 but this is one of those simply amazing sweet spots that makes me smile almost every single Saturday when schedule changes roll out and gives me the chance to tweak what I have booked and most times for the better! – René
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Thanks for sharing Rene. I have used this powerful feature myself. They told me it also applies if the flight numbers change (even if the schedule doesn’t).
Rene, I believe that I was able to do this in a different way. I had a JFK to LAX flight on Delta. A change came up. Given the circumstances, I decided to fly AA instead. So, I changed the JFK to LAX Delta booking to a completely different itinerary on different dates and Delta issued me an eCoupon for the difference. Which I used for yet another itinerary. Everything could be done online – no phone calls. A major plus.
Great that you were able to change dates, but likely it was a IT fluke. I have been told many times by Delta reps I could not change dates. In fact, the screenshot in your article says “travel date must remain the same”.
@Robert – The screen shot also shows 1 hour for change and most reps tell you 2 hours or more. The facts are often very different from what is in print.
Rene – this is great knowledge but 2 quick questions. Don’t they charge you the difference in fares? Second, can you go from a layover flight pattern to non-stop or do you have to matian the same flight pattern? Thanks!
@Joe – As long as you do not change cabin there should be no cost. You may be able to move from a layover to non-stop if the change is big but they often want you to stay with same number of legs per trip.
This statement cause me to think about my strategy:
“Had I not had any status starting the year (or lower than Platinum), I would have “free” Platinum status for the rest of this year and I would fly that status in 2024.”
Like you, I have a bunch of MQMs that I want to rollover next year (more than 150K MQMs). I am currently a PM, and my was plan was to use the $25K AMEX waiver to be a PM next year. However, I am wondering if I am better off not using the waiver, and perhaps going for $3K in MQD spend (maybe with a good MQD deal on a SkyTeam partner) to get FO status, and then knocking out the $25K AMEX waiver, as you just did, early next year? This would save me 50K MQMs, and I would still be a PM for two more years. The only thing I would give up are the RUCs. Are the four RUCs worth 50K MQMs? With the Reserve card, I would need to spend $90K to get 45K MQMs. I think it’s a close call.
One more question, I am also a million miler, and I know that gifted FO status does not allow me to rollover MQMs by itself. The Delta app shows that I am a FO for 2024 based on my million mile status, and the app shows I need $8K in MQDs to reach Gold. If I have more than $3K in MQD spend, will my MQMs rollover, or will the million miler FO status somehow displace FO status earned the traditional way?
@Dave – If you think it will be more valuable to be PM in the years ahead then in 2024 then sure just meet the MQD spend for FO (Silver Medallion) and rollover as much as possible. The only difference between earned and MM FO status is MQM rollover preservation.
As to the value of RUCs that is up to you. I find with phantom space issue and even silly short legs like ATL-MIA often needed a GUC the value has gone down hill a ton in 2023 so there you are.
My experience: I dropped down to Gold to start the year. Mrs. Carley went from PM to FO. Both of us were like, “Yeah, we’ll knock out the $25k Amex Waivers in no time!” But then good card offers popped up, I’m in the midst of two Amex retention spending challenges, etc. So, we’re still a little ways from our respective $25k. In September, we flirted with the idea of taking some Delta SkyTeam partner mileage runs to hit the MQDs. But then Delta jacked up the MQD requirement to $12k and we were out.
So, if you realistically think you can quickly knock out your $25k ASAP next year, party on.
—-Sent in agony from my non-exit row Main Cabin seat 🙂
Your screen shot includes a condition that “travel date must remain the same”. Have you had consistent success with date changes or is that a YMMV? Thanks for years of great tips!
@Jim – I have rarely wanted to change the day but have a few times in the past.
Great tips. How do you compare to AA, UA and other airlines? I imagine DL is the most generous, but do you have any DPs with others?
@Hibiki – I have not flown UA for about 7-8 years on purpose (not a fan) ever since they trashed the use of United points on Lufthansa First. That said, I have had great success with zero status with AA changing same day flights when changes hit and picked much better flights even on saver award space.
Quick aside: one of my clients tried flying me UA once. UA canceled my LAX to AUS flight because of weather. All the other airlines’ LAX to AUS flights operated just fine.
That was our last UA experience.