Delta Extends Elite Status, Sky Club Memberships, Credit Card Benefits Due to COVID-19

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On Sunday, Delta announced that it will be extending elite status for all Delta Medallion members in response to COVID-19, becoming the first US-based airline to do so. This announcement also comes with the extension of a slew of additional perks and benefits.

Elite Status

The most significant aspect of this announcement is an automatic 12-month extension of Delta Medallion Status. All 2020 Delta Medallion members will retain their status for the 2021 Medallion year. That means that if you earned—or were gifted—elite status for 2020, your elite status will be good through January 31, 2022, instead of January 31, 2021.

In addition to this, any Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) earned in 2020 will roll over to count towards 2022 Medallion status. That means that it's going to be easier for travelers to earn Medallion elite status during the 2021 calendar year. However, Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) will not also rollover. So, you will still need to meet the spending requirements in 2021 or spend on a co-branded credit card for a MQD waiver.

Choice Benefits

Platinum and Diamond Medallion members earn “Choice Benefits” for reaching certain elite status levels. Option include bonus miles, $200 travel vouchers, Regional or Global Upgrade certificates, and Sky Club memberships. In addition to offering extensions to already-selected benefits—listed in more detail below—Delta will give Platinum and Diamond Medallion members another set of Choice Benefits when their elite status is extended in 2021.

Other Extensions

In addition to extending Medallion Status, Delta has also taken this opportunity to announce the extension of several other benefits:

  • Sky Club Memberships Sky Club memberships with an expiration date of March 1, 2020 or later will receive six additional months of Sky Club access beyond the listed expiration date.
  • Upgrade Certificates and $200 Travel Vouchers — Upgrade certificates and $200 travel vouchers with an expiration date between March 1 and June 30, 2020 can now be booked and flown by December 31, 2020. If you have either of these with expiration dates after June 30, 2020, their expiration date will be extended an additional six months.
  • SkyMiles Select — Members will receive a six-month extension to their priority boarding benefit as well as any unused drink vouches.

Co-Branded Credit Card Benefits

Delta recently overhauled its entire credit card portfolio. Since a lot of these cards now offer new benefits and credits similar to Medallion Status, Delta made sure to include them in the announcement:

Status Challenges

One of the most popular ways for frequent fliers to earn Delta Medallion status is through the use of a status match challenge. Typically Delta gives you status for a limited amount of time, during which you need to complete a certain level of travel to retain it.

However, if you are currently enrolled in a challenge and have been unable to complete the required travel due to travel restrictions, Delta says you'll be allowed to re-enroll again. You won't be ‘penalized' for not reaching the required travel amount. Delta mentions that it will share more information directly with affected members in the coming weeks via email.

Thoughts on the Delta Reserve credit card

One of the primary benefits of the Delta Reserve is Sky Club access. As Gary from View from the Wing points out, cardmembers aren't getting extended access as the Delta Reserve only provides access instead of Sky Club membership. The only way to rectify this would be for American Express to extend some form of annual fee waiver.

Final Thoughts

As the travel world has come to a screeching halt, a lot of frequent fliers have been wondering what action their favorite airlines would take to counteract the negative impact of COVID-19. While airline elite status may seem inconsequential compared to this pandemic, it's something that some travelers have invested incredible amounts of time and effort to get.

As travelers come to terms with being grounded by the pandemic, Delta's extension of elite status is a boost for traveler morale. While we've seen several of the major hotel groups announcing similar extensions over the past few weeks, Delta is the first US-based airline to extend elite status. We can hope that other airlines will follow Delta's lead—as they typically do—in the coming days and weeks.

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Comments

  • Avatar

    Delta is my preferred airline, and their customer-friendly response to COVID is just affirming that they will continue to be my go to. Now here’s to hoping we’ll all get some flight activity in 2020!

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    There is a reason that Delta is my preferred airline. They really take care of their flyers.

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    This is great that Delta is doing this, but what about those of us that don’t have status and need to do an activity to keep our mileage from expiring. It would be nice if Delta, American, and United would do this like Marriott did.

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    Wish AA announced this for 2018 status. I stopped flying them and switched to other carriers, so I let my Executive Platinum expire. They’re renewing me at “Gold” now. After my treAAtment, I’m surprised I even made gold!

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    FELIPE CARASCO says:

    It is very good that the vouchers get extensions too. We can’t use the voucher in COVID period.

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    Pleased that my main airline of choice has done this, though I pretty much already had my status for next year. Now, if, only American Airlines would do something similar!

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    Karthikeyan Chidambaram says:

    Hope my AA Companion certificate validity will be extended. AA , waiting for your announcement

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    Of course this is a welcome comittment to their customers and elites, but can’t wait for all the whining on FT and other places about the “bloated elite ranks” in 2022 when upgrades are hard to come by as people have nearly two full years of credit card spend MQM’s and whatever flying they do once we get back to normal to qualify. Maybe not so much at Diamond because of the spend (unless they reduce that), but going to be TONS of plats then.

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    I applaud to DL for making this arrangement during this difficult time. This is how you treat your loyal customers.
    UA and AA watch and learn.

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    Though (of course) this represents a smart business retention move, it is still much appreciated and was clearly the correct option for Delta.
    Hopefully, this is now the new normal for all loyalty programs.

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    The only airline with which I have status is American. So I am a bit annoyed that they haven’t followed suit. I think they will. If not, there will be a LOT of people switching preferred airlines.

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    This is a very good policy for Delta Airlines. As a frequent flyer with American, I hope that they will adopt the same.

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    let’s see how long it takes for other US airlines to follow…

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    By extending elite status, does the expiration of miles also extend? I think in times of covid, it is more important to keep the miles than the status.

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    Steven William Van Meter says:

    Thank goodness we have a strong minded President who is guiding us through this crisis. I also applaud delta for their efforts to mitigate this temporary situation. I’ll be flying soon!

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    Haha I guess I’m going to be Silver medallion for another year.
    Let’s see whether UA and AA will follow this move.

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    It is nice that the vouchers get extensions too.

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    Hopefully, we will NOT really need the the full length of the extensions.

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    Even though the other airlines will no doubt follow in time, Delta deserves real credit for going first in my opinion. Clearly they are recognizing that these are exceptional circumstances and showing the required flexibility.

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    ron_vaughn@hotmail.com says:

    Nice for now, but I expect more perks as they try to win back our biz.

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    Seems like as usual Delta is taking the lead and then United just followed. I wonder how the Club access (both for Delta and United) thru the credit card annual fee will be handled. For United, it will have to be Chase that makes some announcement.