Delta Air Lines finally announced the much-anticipated changes to its horribly-received SkyMiles 2025 program.
Some changes were pretty much as we expected. A few others were way out of left field. And one of the big ones we anticipated didn’t come to fruition.
So, let’s look at the changes and see what we think!
Reduced MQD Requirements
Delta reduced the MQD thresholds for earning status. (René was spot-on for nearly all his MQD predictions!)
- Silver: $5,000 (down from $6,000 MQD)
- Gold: $10,000 (down from $12,000 MQD)
- Platinum: $15,000 (down from $18,000 MQD)
- Diamond: $28,000 (down from $35,000 MQD)
Those certainly are better than the previously announced levels. But $28,000 for Diamond is still almost double what it took to earn that status for this year. It’s $20,000 for 2024. Honestly, $28,000 is still high.)
“Car rentals and hotel/vacation rentals booked through Delta Car Rentals and Delta Stays will not earn MQDs toward Medallion Status,” Delta said.
I don’t think many of us will lose sleep on that one.
But there’s a huge twist we’re going to discuss later.
Improvements to the Sky Club Visit Rations
I’m still not pleased that unlimited Sky Club visits are being discontinued after January 2025.
Unless the primary cardholder drops $75,000 on their eligible card in one year, of course.
The fact Delta SkyMiles® Reserve and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business Amex cards don’t offer uncapped lounge access is ludicrous. Both American Airlines’ and United Airlines’ top-tier cards don’t limit their members’ lounge visits.
Delta’s updated policy (taking effect in February 2025) is:
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card members can visit Sky Clubs for 15 days yearly.
- All visits made in a 24-hour period will count as one day.
- That’s up from the very limited ten visits.
- Amex Platinum and Amex Business Platinum Card members may visit Sky Clubs for up to 10 days per year.
- Card members can also purchase Sky Club access for $50 per day after using all allotted days.
- Medallion members may buy an annual individual Delta Sky Club membership for $695.
That’s certainly an improvement over limiting access to “visits.” For example, I visited the Los Angeles T3 Sky Club and the big Seattle Sky Club one day last week. Under the previously announced rules, those would’ve counted as two of my allotted ten visits for the year. The update now means they’d count as just one day.
Knock yourself out?
Is Delta Making It Easier to Earn Elite Status Than the Current Program?!
We now enter the “Cool, But I Thought the Idea Was to Trim Elite Rankings?” portion of our show.
Now might be a good time to call your cardiologist if you’re a part of the “Thin the herd!” group: Delta is making it easier to earn status without stepping on a plane.
Get $10,000 MQD for Just $1,600?
Something tells me a lot of people canceled their Delta Amex cards. Like, far more than either Delta or Amex will admit.
Starting in February 2024, you can earn a $2,500 “MQD Boost” for the current Medallion Qualification Year (MQY or MQ Why? 🙂 ) for holding just one of these co-branded Delta Amex cards:
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business
The $2,500 boost is per card. Delta says so.
So, holding all four cards will give you $10,000 MQD.
The Reserves each carry a $550 annual fee. The Platinums are $250. That means you reach Gold Medallion status for only $1,600 in annual fees.
So, I need to earn only $5,000 more MQD to be Platinum? Or $18,000 MQD for Diamond? In other words, you can hit Diamond for $20,000, give or take.
That said, I wholeheartedly expect the Delta Amex Cards’ annual fees to climb before February.
Improved MQM to MQD Ratio, Use Rollover MQM to Extend Your 2024 Status
First, Delta will throw Medallions a bone next year if they elect to convert their rollover MQM to MQD.
The airline previously announced the radio would be 20 MQM to $1 MQD.
That figure is now 10:$1.
I appreciate that concession.
Medallion members with over 100,000 rollover MQM next year can select an interesting option: they may extend their 2024 Medallion status by a year. They may do so at a rate of one year per each 100,000 MQM.
So, if you’re Diamond for 2024 and start the year with 300,000 MQM, you can elect to keep your Diamond status for an additional three years.
Huge Lifetime (ahem Yearly) Medallion Changes to the Million Miler Program
Imagine having lifetime Delta 360o status.
Well, that becomes a possibility next year.
Yearly Medallion status is awarded to those hearty flyers (and, for now, spenders) who accrue at least one million MQM. That changes to actual miles flown next year.
- 6+ Million Milers earn earns Delta 360o (previously Diamond Medallion)
- 5 Million Milers earn Delta 360o (previously Platinum Medallion)
- 4 Million Milers earn Diamond Medallion (previously Platinum Medallion)
- 3 Million Milers earn Diamond Medallion (previously Gold Medallion)
- 2 Million Milers earn Platinum Medallion (previously Gold Medallion)
- 1 Million Milers earn Gold Medallion (previously Silver Medallion)
That’s very generous. I know someone who will hit 3MM in January — and he’s elated.
But that’s what I don’t get. If Delta is requiring crazy high MQD requirements for Diamond Medallion, why are they basically giving it away? Or making it so much easier to earn with the MQD Headstarts?
Added Choice Benefits
There will be some added Choice Benefits in 2025.
- An MQD Accelerator for the next Medallion Qualification Year
- $2,000 for Diamond Medallion Members
- $1,000 for Platinum Medallion Members
- Delta Sky Club Individual Membership for Diamond Medallion Members, in exchange for two Choice Benefit selections
- Increased bonus miles:
- 35,000 for Diamond Medallion Members
- 30,000 for Platinum Medallion Members
- Increased Delta travel voucher
- $350 for Diamond Medallion Members
- $300 for Platinum Medallion Members
- A new Wheels Up statement flight credit
Delta expects Wheels Up not to be Belly Up, huh?
These additions are undoubtedly nice. The $1,000 or $2,000 MQD Accelerator will save me even more money on earning MQD without stepping on a plane 🙂 .
What Delta Didn’t Change But I Hoped They Would
The MQD Boost — spending money on Delta Reserve and Platinum Amexes to earn MQD — rates are still dismal.
Reserve (business and personal) cardholders earn $1 MQD for each $10 of eligible spending. Platinum (business and personal) cardholders must spend $20 to reach that paltry $1 MQD.
I thought Delta would do better there. But SkyMiles cards traditionally are relatively worthless for earning points, so I’m okay spending money on other cards — and using those for travel on Delta or elsewhere. (Maybe I’ll actually fly to earn some of my MQD — what a concept!)
Delta announced updates to its SkyMiles 2025 program. Frankly, the Delta Amex MQD Headstart is a game-changer. You can score Silver Medallion status by holding a Reserve and Platinum card. The MQM to MQD conversion ratio is slightly less obnoxious — but could come in handy when paired up with the MQD Headstart. Some of us will be close to Platinum in February!
I also really like the lifetime status bonuses for Million Milers. You currently need 6MM to be a lifetime Diamond; that’s slashed to just 3MM in February.
The Sky Club visit rations are still lame. But they’re certainly an improvement over the “per visit” mandate. That will likely entice me to keep my Reserve card for at least 2025 while I kick the tires.
I think Delta made decent compromises for people who value status. Obviously, they couldn’t walk back everything.
What do you think?
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