Delta Air Lines completely reshuffled its program in 2014, turning its earning component into a revenue game. If you are chasing elite status, being in that seat is not going to be enough — you also have to pay more for the ticket. A lot more in fact.
Changes in redemptions have mostly been positive though. The strength of the new Delta SkyMiles program is in its flexibility and availability. Nowadays, finding awards on the Delta website is often easier than on American or United, even for popular international routes and even in business class. Delta miles became much more valuable.
With that in mind, one of the main reasons why Delta customers may want to achieve and hold on to the elite status is that the elites can earn more miles than general members who only get 5 miles per dollar.
While the Delta elite benefits and perks are generally comparable with other airlines, Delta is unique among others in that it offers several credit cards, which can take care of the new MQD component. That means that being an elite can make a huge difference in your miles balance.
There are three elements in the Delta Airline SkyMiles program you need to be familiar with. MQM stands for Medallion Qualification Miles, and they are based on the distance flown. MQD stands for Medallion Qualification Dollars, and they are based on how much you have paid for traveling on Delta and its partner airlines. MQS stands for Medallion Qualification Segments, and can be used for qualifying instead of MQMs.
Earning the Status
- For Silver Medallion you need to fly 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs and $3,000 MQDs.
- For Gold Medallion: 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs and $6,000 MQDs.
- For Platinum: 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs and $9,000 MQDs.
- For Diamond: 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs and $15,000 MQDs.
- All elites get unlimited Comfort+ Upgrades.
- Silver elites get first class upgrades on paid (except basic economy) and “pay with miles” tickets
- Gold elites and above get upgrades on award tickets.
- Platinum and above also have regional and global upgrades.
- Silver elites earn 7 miles per dollar.
- Gold elites earn 8 miles.
- Platinum—9 miles.
- Diamond—11 miles.
- Silver and up: Baggage Fees.
- Gold and up: Same-Day Confirmed/Standby Fees and Direct Ticketing Charges.
- Platinum and up: Award Redeposit/Reissue Fees
- Silver and up: Priority Check In and Priority Boarding
- Gold and up: Priority Security Line and Priority Baggage Handling
- Gold and up: Access to SkyTeam Lounges
- Platinum: 4 Sky Club One-Day Passes
- Diamond: 6 Sky Club One-Day Passes and Sky Club Executive Membership Upgrade
Choice benefits is a suite of unique perks designed for the top elites: Platinum and Diamond. They include global and regional upgrade certificates, Global Entry vouchers, Sky Club passes, extra bonus miles, gift cards, etc.
- Silver — Elite
- Gold, Platinum, and Diamond — Elite Plus
Other Ways to Earn Status
If you spend $25,000 a year on one of your AmEx Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards, the MQD qualification for that year will be waived. Besides some cards offer MQMs to get you started.
- Delta SkyMiles Options Credit Card
- Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
- Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles
- Delta Reserve Credit Card
- Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card
- Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card
- Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
Status Match/Status Challenge:
If you are an elite with another program, Delta has a SkyMiles Medallion Status Match Challenge. You’ll receive status for 90 days, during which time you’ll need to earn a certain number of MQMs or MQSs. If you register for the challenge by June 30, 2016 and successfully complete the challenge, your status will be extended until December 31, 2017.
- Silver: 6,250 MQMs or 8 MQSs
- Gold: 12,500 MQMs or 15 MQSs
- Platinum: 18,750 MQMs or 25 MQS
Earning Miles on Partner Airlines
You can earn SkyMiles by flying on Delta partner airlines, as well. With the introduction of the new, revenue-based model, there are two distinct mile-earning options. If your flight is ticketed by Delta, you’ll earn miles based on the ticket price, and if your flight is ticketed by a partner airline, you’ll earn miles based on the distance. For more information, check this page.