Huge Delta Changes: More Difficult To Earn Medallion Status, Lounge Access Cuts Huge Delta Changes: More Difficult To Earn Medallion Status, Lounge Access Cuts

Huge Delta Changes: More Difficult To Earn Medallion Status, Lounge Access Cuts

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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.

Delta One Suite on A350 aircraft
Delta One Suite on A350 aircraft. Credit: J.T. Genter/AwardWallet

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 TierMQD Requirement for Status in 2023MQD Requirement for Status in 2024MQD Requirement for Status in 2025
Silver Medallion3,0003,000 (no increase)6,000 (100% increase)
Gold Medallion6,0008,000 (33.3% increase)12,000 (50% increase)
Platinum Medallion9,00012,000 (33.3% increase)18,000 (50% increase)
Diamond Medallion15,00020,000 (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?

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.

the seating area inside the Delta Sky Club at Kansas City (MCI) airport
The Delta Sky Club in Kansas City (MCI) airport. Credit: Delta

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

Platinum Delta Amex and Business Platinum Delta Amex cardmembers will lose the ability to pay $50 per visit to enter the lounges.

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.

Our Take

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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  • Free agency looking better and better with every change in airline loyalty programs. Making it even more compelling to just decide on price and quality of service.

  • Are you sure that existing Million Miler balances can decrease? The version I heard is that existing balances will remain, but will increase based only on miles flown.

  • Back in 2022 Delta provided MQMs for award travel. Now that MQMs are going away is there nothing for award travel? Or will there be some MQD conversation?

    • Travelers earn MQMs and MQDs on Delta award travel. I presume that the MDQ earnings will continue as before, but the MQM earnings will disappear.