HomeAirline LoyaltyDelta SkyMilesDelta does what Delta does best... devalue its loyalty program (this time,...

Delta does what Delta does best… devalue its loyalty program (this time, in a big way)

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Delta has announced that it will be moving down the path that American Airline’s forged back in 2022 by revamping its frequent flyer program and using just a single metric to decide what elite status (if any) members of the program should have.

There won’t be any anger, outrage, or stunned disbelief in this article because only someone who hasn’t been paying any attention to how Delta has been treating its SkyMiles program over the past decade could possibly be surprised by the changes that have been announced and that are set out below.

Delta SkyMiles changes on the way

Delta’s frequent flyer program has been useless for quite a long time (I genuinely have no idea why so many people still interact with it), but I’m here to tell you that from 2024, most Delta flyers will probably find it more useless than ever before.

Only Medallion Qualifying Dollars will matter

No changes have been announced to the way redeemable miles are earned (yet), and the way flyers can earn Delta elite status for 2024 remains the same.

Starting next year, however, the way that SkyMiles members will earn elite status for 2025 and beyond will be changing dramatically.

From 1 January 2024, Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM) and Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQS) will be things of the past with Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD) remaining as the only metric used to qualify for SkyMiles Medallion Status.

More MQD needed for elite status

To earn Medallion status for 2025, flyers will need to earn more MQD in 2024 than have ever had to earn before. These are the new thresholds:

  • Silver Medallion – $6,000 (up from $3,000 – 100% increase)
  • Gold Medallion – $12,000 (up from $8,000 – 50% increase)
  • Platinum Medallion – $18,000 (up from $12,000 – 50% increase)
  • Diamond Medallion – $35,000 (up from $20,000 – 75% increase)

Note: As recently as 2022, Diamond Medallion status required a flyer to earn $15,000 MQD.

SkyMiles members based abroad will also have to earn status via MQD

Up until now, SkyMiles members whose accounts were registered outside of the United States earned Delta elite status based on MQMs or MQSs only.

From 1 January 2024 this will change and these members will be expected to earn status using MQD only. Delta will convert any eligible spending made in foreign currencies to US Dollars at “the standard exchange rate” and every dollar earned will then convert to $1 MQD.

More ways to earn MQD

Starting next year, Delta SkyMiles members will be able to earn MQD from more sources than are available to them now. In fact, going forward, it will be possible to earn Medallion status from credit card spending alone.

Here are the MQD earning options and rates for 2024:

  • Earn 1 MQD/dollar spent on Delta flight bookings (excluding Basic Economy fares which don’t earn MQD)
  • Earn 1 MQD/dollar spent on Delta Vacations packages (excluding taxes and fees)
  • Earn 1 MQD/dollar spent on hotel bookings made through Delta
  • Earn 1 MQD/dollar spent on rental car bookings made through Delta
  • Earn 1 MQD for every $10 dollars spent on the card_name
  • Earn 1 MQD for every $10 dollars spent on the card_name
  • Earn 1 MQD for every $20 dollars spent on the card_name
  • Earn 1 MQD for every $20 dollars spent on the card_name
  • Flyers will continue to earn MQD from partner flight bookings based on distance traveled.

At the time of writing, Delta has not announced any other ways that flyers can earn Medallion Qualifying Miles from 2024 onwards.

Also, the MQD waivers and Status Boost benefits currently offered by select Amex co-branded credit cards are being eliminated on 31 December 2023.

A little confusingly, Delta appears to be referring to the new MQD earning rates on its co-branded Reserve and Platinum cards as “MQD Boost” so be aware that when you see that term being used, it doesn’t refer to the soon-to-be-eliminated “Status Boost” that the same credit cards have offered up until now.

1-time conversion of  ‘Rollover MQM’

With Medallion Qualifying Miles about to be consigned to points & miles history, Delta will offer SkyMiles members an opportunity to convert any Rollover MQM into MQDs, redeemable miles, or a mixture of both.

  • From 1 February 2024, SkyMiles members will be able to convert any Rollover MQM in their accounts into MQD at a ratio of 20:1 (i.e. Someone with 20,000 rollover miles can convert that balance to 1,000 MQD).
  • From 1 February 2024, SkyMiles members will be able to convert any Rollover MQM in their accounts into redeemable miles at a ratio of 2:1 (i.e. Someone with 20,000 rollover miles can convert that balance to 10,000 SkyMiles).

Delta has said that Links to the selection page will be shared with Members via email, and that flyers will also be able to access the conversion page through the “My SkyMiles” page on Delta.com and the Fly Delta app.

Million Milers get higher upgrade priority

Starting next year, any Delta loyalists whose Million Miler status is the highest status they hold with the airline will see themsleves move up the food chain when it comes to complimentary upgrades.

Right now, this is the hierarchy for complimentary upgrades and as you should be able to see, members relying on their Million Miler status for upgrades languish down in 6th place.

a screenshot of a list of memberships

For flights taken from 2024 onwards, however, members relying on their Million Miler status for upgrades will find themselves in 3rd place.

Million Miler status will be earned through lifetime flight miles

Currently, Delta flyers can earn Million Miler status though the Medallion Qualifying Miles that they earn but, with MQM being elimiated from 2024, Delta has decided that Million Miler status will now be earned based on the number of miles flown.

a number of gifts and a few words
The thresholds for Delta Million Miler status don’t appear to be changing

Per Delta:

Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, miles toward Million Miler Status will calculate through lifetime flight miles and no longer through MQMs. We will continue to track the miles you fly with us, and those who accumulate 1 million flight miles will be invited to join the Million Miler Program. Members’ MQM balances already earned toward Million Miler Status will remain, and flight miles will be added to these. 

Bottom line

As far as announced changes to the SkyMiles program go, I think that just about covers everything (let me know if you think I’ve missed anything out).

Overall, I’m pretty sure that most people will see these changes as a net negative to the SkyMiles program (most of those who are in favour of what Delta has announced are probably earning their status courtesy of someone else’s money) and there will probably be a lot of people taking to their keyboards to complain.

There is, however, little point in getting overly emotional about this news because (a) Delta doesn’t care what you and I think and (b) because these changes were inevitable from the very moment American Airlines rewrote the book on frequent flyer programs in 2022.

Yes, Delta’s changes appear to be a bit more brutal than the changes American Airlines introduced in 2022, but I’m not sure that really matters.

We’ve known for a while that all the major domestic loyalty programs were heading down the road of “cash is all that matters”, and this is just one more example of a program proving that to be the case.

Now all we have to do is wait for United’s MileagePlus program to announce broadly the same set of changes as American and Delta (another inevitablity) and we can then all stop fooling ourselves that the airlines measure “loyalty” with anything other than a dollar figure.

Yes, viewing loyalty in that way is very much an frequent flyer program’s prerogative, but that doesn’t make watching the final nails being put in the coffin of “the good old days” any less sad.

Note: In addtion to all the changes to SkyMiles, Delta has also announced significant changes to how and how often SkyClubs can be accessed from 2024 onwards (click here to read more)

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  1. I have no skin in this game as I quit doing my business travel quite awhile ago.

    That being said, why shouldn’t loyalty be based on $$$ spent? Those who spend the most on a particular airline will reap the most benefit. I’m just surprised it has taken this many years to get to this point.

  2. Say, don’t you live in England? If you have a Skymiles account registered there and got a Delta Amex card you could score top tier status with $35,000 spend if I understand correctly. Now I’ve ditched Delta’s ecosystem since they’ve really grown to hate their loyalty members but I wonder if status with Delta is still worth something. If so and I’m not missing anything it may be worthwhile for a very few people like yourself.

    • Yes, I split my time between the U.K. and LA so I’ll take a look into that (only to get an article out of it – I have no interest earning status with any on the “big 3” 🙂 )

      • As a favor and a complete non sequitur my wife and I are visiting England for the first time next year, spending some time in London and Oxford and region. Any advice for a hotel/B&B in a town or village for a few nights in The Cotswolds? Even Lonely Planet is a little vague. If not, sorry to trouble you.

        • Let me get back to you on that. I know someone who used to run a vacation rentals business centered on the Cotswolds, so he’ll probably be the best person to ask. I’ve just messaged him and I’ll let you know when I get a reply.

          • Update 1:
            Stow-on-the-wold is, apparently, a great place to be based (beautiful surroundings and good access to all the Cotswolds has to offer).
            Check out staycotswold.com for vacation rentals (which may be more economical than a hotel…I don’t know!)

            Hopefully I’ll have another update on Monday with some hotel recommendations.

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