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Update: In September 2020, Delta further extended some of the benefits discussed in this post.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card — Cardholders that spend $10,000 in purchases on the Gold Delta Amex in a calendar year will receive a $100 Delta Flight Credit. Credits that are valid now—or have expired since March 1, 2020—will be extended an additional six-months beyond the initially listed expiration date.
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card & Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card — Cardmembers with Companion Certificates with an original expiration date between March 1 and June 30, 2020 can use them when they book and fly by December 31, 2020. Certificates that expire between July 1, 2020 and April 1, 2021 will receive an additional six months beyond the current expiration date.
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card — In addition to Companion Certificates being extended, any unused Sky Club One-Time Guest Pass can be used six-months passed its initially listed expiration date.
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.
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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