Delta announced some updates today – the airline will end seat locks and begin resuming in-flight service. Additionally, the airline just announced how it will be easier to get SkyMiles medallion status in 2021, which I wanted to address in this post.
Delta SkyMiles Medallion Updates for 2021
As with all major US airline loyalty programs, Delta SkyMiles extended medallion status in 2020. The airline has transferred elite miles and segments through 2021, but otherwise announced no plans to make it easier to achieve status. That has finally changed.
As Dwight James, Delta’s customer loyalty SVP, describes these updates:
“Our customers supported us in the most difficult year in our history, and as we welcome them back, we want to help their trips count even more. We sincerely appreciate how much our customers value their status, and these industry-leading offerings will ensure Medallion members enjoy these benefits on flights now and in the future. “
Let’s go through the details of the changes.
Award travel qualifies for status
Between April 1 and December 31, 2021, Delta Award Travel will qualify for SkyMiles Medallion status. In other words, when you redeem Miles for a ticket (including Miles + Cash tickets), you will earn Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs), and Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) on those flights.
How are MQDs earned since there is no revenue associated with award flights? MQDs are earned at one cent per mile. In other words, when you redeem 20,000 miles for a ticket, you get 200 MQDs (but you get 300-350 MQDs thanks to the 50-75% bonus I’ll talk about below).
There are a few things that make this interesting:
- Virgin Atlantic began last year to treat all award flights to the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club as a permanent benefit. Delta has a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic and has a 49% stake. So my money is a permanent asset
- With the way Delta has attempted to convert SkyMiles into a revenue-based currency and give members the ability to redeem SkyMiles on virtually all Delta purchases, there is no reason to treat award flights for these purposes differently than revenue flights
- I’m impressed that Delta SkyMiles even gives MQDs on award flights, which I wasn’t expecting
Delta counts award flights towards medallion status
Flights count towards status 50-75% faster
Rather than lowering the SkyMiles Medallion qualification requirements, Delta will make it easier to earn status by flying for the rest of the year. Between April 1 and December 31, 2021, members will receive MQMs, MQSs, and MQDs at an accelerated pace:
- SkyMiles members receive at least 50% more MQMs, MQSs and MQDs on all flights, including award flights
- SkyMiles members get 75% more MQMs, MQSs, and MQDs when they purchase a premium tier product, including First Class, Delta One, Premium Select, and Comfort +
Just to give an example:
- Diamond medallion status typically requires 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQS per year plus 15,000 MQDs
- With discounted First Class you usually get 150% MQMs. So with a 75% bonus you will receive a total of 225% MQMs, based on the distance flown
- In other words, you could earn Diamond Medallion status by flying ~ 55,000 miles in discounted First Class and you would “only” have to earn ~ 8,600 MQDs
Delta flights qualify for status 50-75% faster
The benefits of Delta Amex are also expanded
For those co-branded Delta American Express cards, some benefits are rolled out further. These extensions will be carried out automatically in the coming weeks. Here’s what you can expect:
- For those with Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex who receive $ 100 Delta Flight Credit between January 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021, the expiration date will be extended to June 30, 2022
- For those with Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex or Delta Reserve Amex with unused Companion Certificates as of March 31, 2021 or Companion Certificates issued April 1, 2021 through May 31, 2021, the expiration date will be extended to June 30th book and fly in 2022
- For those with the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Amex with single-use Delta SkyClub cards issued January 1, 2020 through May 31, 2021, the expiration date is June 30, 2022
Selected SkyClub one-time passes will be extended
My attitude towards Delta SkyMiles Medallion is changing
I’ve written about how I think most airlines should renew status in 2021 if everything is fine. At the very least, they need to make some important changes to the Elite Qualification.
Where are we the Delta SkyMiles program updates? Here is my take:
- It’s interesting to me that Delta basically declares the coronavirus when it comes to travel. Ed Bastian, Delta CEO, recently said that Americans are ready to “win their lives back,” and all of these initiatives reflect the need to stop from flying in 2021 to stopping the seat blockage
- I think Delta is pretty reasonable here – between 2020 rollover miles, 50-75% bonus elite qualification, award flights that count towards status, and the ability to gain status through credit card spending should be for most Be sensible enough (of course) Some are left behind, like business travelers who may not be traveling much for the rest of the year.
- Delta SkyMiles now has the most reasonable elite requirements for 2021 of the top three US airlines. Compare Delta to American, as American AAdvantage only lowered elite requirements by around 20% without going any further. there must be something
Also completely independent, but we believe that Delta’s motivation for today’s news dump is:
- Try to block out the shadows and draw attention away from Alaska Airlines joining oneworld …
- … Or to try to shadow the bad publicity Delta is getting on the whole Georgia electoral law thing that backfired the airline badly
- …or both?
Delta today announced a number of initiatives to make it easier for SkyMiles members to achieve medallion status in 2021. In addition to counting award flights towards elite status, flights between April and December are also counted towards status at a significantly accelerated pace.
What do you think of these Delta SkyMiles Medallion Updates for 2021?