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How to earn Delta Lifetime Medallion Elite status [2024 edition]

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Back in 2021, Delta made a positive update to its Million Miler elite status program by giving flyers the chance to lock in its top-tier SkyMiles Diamond Medallion status for life (albeit for the life of the program, not the life of the traveler) and that was a surprisingly positive move for Delta to make.

From the start of 2024, however, Delta has made lifetime elite status harder to earn, so this is what you need to know about its Million Miler program:

How it was

Up until the end of 2023, these were Delta ‘s million miler criteria:

  • Delta Lifetime SkyMiles Silver Medallion status – 1,000,000 lifetime miles
  • Delta Lifetime SkyMiles Gold Medallion status – 2,000,000 lifetime miles
  • Delta Lifetime SkyMiles Platinum Medallion status – 4,000,000 lifetime miles
  • Delta Lifetime SkyMiles Diamond Medallion – 6,000,000 lifetime miles

4 and 6 million lifetime miles always looked like huge targets to have to hit to earn worthwhile lifetime status with Delta (and they were!), but because the miles needed to earn status didn’t all have to come from flying, the targets were not quite as daunting as they first appear.

A crucial rule that Delta had was that the lifetime miles targets referred to lifetime Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM), and these miles could be earned in more way than just flying.

Specifically, the airline allowed customers to earn MQM through spending made on their Delta co-branded credit cards and through some of the welcome bonuses that the cards offered.

For 2024, however, MQM no longer exist (Medallion Qualifying Dollars are all that matter for regular elite status) so Delta has changed the lifetime elite status targets and rules.

Delta’s new Million Miler program (2024)

With MQM consigned to history, Delta is now only counting actual miles flown when it comes to the targets set for Million Miler lifetime status, so without the option to bulk out a Million Miler balance with a credit card welcome offer or credit card spending, it’s going to be harder to earn Million Miler status than it has in the past.

Fortunately, Delta has done a couple things to ease the pain.

Firstly, it isn’t going back and stripping out non-flight miles from flyer accounts. MQMs earned through 2023 will continue to form part of a flyer’s total lifetime miles balance for the purposes of the Million Miler program.

Secondly, the Million Miler targets now look different.

Lifetime Silver is no longer a thing, there’s the new option of earning a yearly invitation to Delta 360˚, and all the other Lifetime Elite statuses are now reachable with fewer miles.

  • Delta Lifetime SkyMiles Gold Medallion status – 1,000,000 lifetime miles
  • Delta Lifetime SkyMiles Platinum Medallion status – 2,000,000 lifetime miles
  • Delta Lifetime SkyMiles Diamond Medallion – 3,000,000 lifetime miles
  • Annual invitation to Delta 360˚5,000,000 lifetime miles

These changes mean that flyers who have already reached one of these milestones may now have a better Lifetime Elite status than they had at the end of 2023 even if they haven’t flown a single mile since then.

Any changes to a flyer’s Million Miler status should already be viewable in their account.

How Delta’s Lifetime Elite targets compare to United & American Airlines

All three of the US legacy carriers offer their flyers the chance to earn lifetime elite status of some kind, but the elite status levels that are available vary from airline to airline.

Lifetime Elite Status Requirements (flight miles need):

a table with numbers and a few ones

Tier Names:

a table of different types of gold

An in-depth discussion of the various options offered by the 3 legacy carriers is probably best left for another article, but even a cursory glance at what the airlines have published shows that United’s lifetime elite status program is the more generous of the three.

Bottom line

It’s still possible to earn four levels of lifetime elite status with Delta, but as of 1 January 2024, only actual miles flown will move forward a flyer’s counter towards Lifetime elite status, and that will make it considerably harder for most flyers to reach the dizzying heights of Million Miler status.

[HT: OMAAT for reminding me to update this article]

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