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Rumors have been swirling for weeks that Delta Air Lines was going to massively overhaul its Medallion (Delta's elite status) program, with an expected announcement on September 14. The airline accidentally posted the changes (and then took them down) a day early on its corporate travel site Delta Professional. And the rumors were true: Delta is making sweeping changes to its Medallion program, lounge access, upgrade priority, Million Miler perks, and more.
Let's break down all of the changes to help you understand what's going on.
MQD: The Ony Metric Going Forward
The biggest change is that earning status will involve just one element: Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD).
Previously, you earned Delta status through a combination of Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD), Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM), and Medallion Qualification Segments (MQS). Starting January 1, 2024, MQD will be the only metric in Delta's changed qualification system for elite status.
MQD traditionally tracked how much you spent with Delta on flights (or with certain partners on their flights if you credited those flights to your Delta SkyMiles account).
Starting in 2024, you'll also earn MQDs from several of Delta's co-branded credit cards, car rentals, hotel stays, and vacation packages. Much more than just flying, which is good news for people who tend to book package vacations through Delta.
In some ways, this mirrors American Airlines' move to Loyalty Points as a sole metric, but you'll see that there are clear differences (and deficiencies) in Delta's approach.
After already making it more difficult to earn Medallion status in 2023, Delta is again making it much harder to earn Delta's elite status in 2024 and beyond. Here's a look at the qualification requirements over the past few years, comparing MQD requirements:
|Status Tier||MQD Requirement for Status in 2023||MQD Requirement for Status in 2024||MQD Requirement for Status in 2025|
|Silver Medallion||3,000||3,000 (no increase)||6,000 (100% increase)|
|Gold Medallion||6,000||8,000 (33.3% increase)||12,000 (50% increase)|
|Platinum Medallion||9,000||12,000 (33.3% increase)||18,000 (50% increase)|
|Diamond Medallion||15,000||20,000 (33.3% increase)||35,000 (75% increase)|
Those are some big jumps. There's no sugarcoating that.
Remember that Delta Medallion status is earned in a calendar year, then enjoyed through the full following year plus January of the ensuing year. Thus, earning at these new requirements in 2024 will provide status through January 31, 2026.
How to earn Delta MQD in 2024 and beyond
So how will you earn Delta MQDs after the changes?
- Flights with Delta and its partners: Earn 1 MQD per $1 spent on tickets with Delta. Earning rates (which vary) with partners will continue at the same rates we currently see.
- Credit cards: Earn 1 MQD for every $10 spent with the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card. Earn 1 MQD for every $20 spent on the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card. You can earn unlimited MQDs through credit card spending.
- Delta Vacations packages: Earn 1 MQD per $1 spent on a vacation package, plus standard earnings on the flight portion.
- Car rentals: Earn 1 MQD for each $1 spent on car rentals booked via Delta.
- Hotels: Earn 1 MQD for each $1 spent on hotel stays booked via Delta.
Notice that credit cards could previously provide MQD waivers to help you shortcut your way to status. That's going away; there won't be any credit card shortcuts besides simply spending to earn MQDs.
What Happens to Rollver MQMs?
Now that MQMs and MQSs are going away, the likely question is about what happens to rollover MQMs — a previous benefit enjoyed by elites but that will go away with Delta's changes to Medallion qualification metrics.
The benefit worked like this: If you earned 60,000 MQMs in 2023, you'd have enough for Gold Medallion status (50k MQMs) but not enough for Platinum (75k MQMs). Thus, those 10,000 extra MQMs would roll over into next year to give you a head start.
In 2024, when MQMs go away, you'll receive a one-time choice of what to do with your rollover MQMs:
- Convert MQMs to redeemable miles (to use for award tickets) at a 2:1 ratio
- Convert MQMs to MQDs at a 20:1 ratio
Note that it's not a strict “A or B” choice. You'll be able to choose ratios of 100% miles/0% MQDs, 100% MQDs/0% miles, or increments of 25% in between. These conversions will begin on February 1, 2024.
New Delta Choice Benefits in 2024
While we don't know what they are yet, changes are coming to Delta's Choice Benefits for elites. Previous benefits included regional upgrade certifications, bonus miles, flight credits, the ability to gift elite status to others, Sky Club membership, and more.
Changes to Delta Million Miler Status
For anyone with (or close to earning) Million Miler status, this one might hurt. This lifetime status was typically awarded based on MQMs, but those are going away — and so too is how your lifetime status is accrued.
Starting in 2024, Million Miler status will be based on miles flown with Delta and its partners. It's purely distance. This metric won't give you bonus earnings for flying in first class or premium economy.
Previous Million Miler balances will convert to this new metric next year, which could upset people who previously earned a Million Miler status and might not have enough to qualify after the changes become retroactive.
To compensate, Delta is making a positive change for Million Milers. They'll now be third in the upgrade priority (instead of fourth), coming in behind Medallion status and fare class as the top two positions.
Cuts to Delta Sky Club Lounge Access
Big changes are coming to who can get into a Delta Sky Club and how much it costs. Let's compare the current rules and what's coming on February 1, 2024 and then ensuing changes on February 1, 2025:
February 1, 2024
Additionally, no one flying Delta's basic economy will be able to enter the Sky Club, regardless of access methods.
February 1, 2025
Those with The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express will be restricted to six Sky Club visits per Medallion status year. Spending $75,000 or more on purchases with your card will yield unlimited lounge visits for the rest of the status year, plus the following status year.
Delta Reserve and Business Delta Reserve will be restricted to 10 Sky Club visits per Medallion status year. Spending $75,000 or more on the card in a calendar year will unlock unlimited visits through the remainder of the status year plus the following status year. And Delta Reserve cardmembers will receive two annual guest passes.
Positives and negatives
The positive is that visit numbers are cumulative. If you have two of these cards, the visits can stack, meaning you might have 16 or 20 visits. And there's the ability to unlock unlimited visits through spending on your card. Coincidentally, the $75,000 spending threshold on the Amex Platinum is the same threshold that unlocks guest privileges at Centurion Lounges.
The negative side: You need to spend heavily to get extra lounge visits. And you still won't unlock guest privileges at Sky Clubs, no matter how much you spend. Those limited number of lounge visits are for you only. You can't use one of your 10 passes to bring in your spouse or a friend.
A silver lining is that authorized users on the Amex Platinum will receive their own batch of visits to the Sky Club.
These changes are sure to make some happy while leaving others very upset. Who's happy? People who retain elite status and now have less crowding at lounges plus less competition for upgrades on flights. That's because we're sure to see fewer top-tier Diamond Medallion members going forward.
Who's upset? Everyone else. People who had lounge access previously and now will lose it. People who will have a lower status tier than before. Or those who previously earned status through MQM rollovers and MQD waivers will be upset that they might not earn any elite status at all.
This is a lot to unpack. Once you digest it, let us know your thoughts on these changes to Delta Medallion status in the comments below.
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