Last January, Delta Air Lines announced a significant change to the qualification requirements for its 2015 Medallion elite status levels. This will impact how frequent Delta travelers qualify for the different elite tiers in the SkyMiles program. Travelers will have to cross spending thresholds in addition to elite qualifying mileage levels. The new requirement will be called Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs).
Delta claims this will enable the company to better reward individuals who spend more money on airline tickets rather than only on miles flown. Current Medallion members may be disappointed because they will no longer be able to use cheap mileage runs to move themselves closer to the next elite status tier. Individuals who travel for business on more expensive fares may not notice the change, but leisure travelers that fly on discounted fares may find it harder to reach elite level status with Delta.
Under the revised 2015 SkyMiles Medallion program, status will require:
- Medallion Silver: 25,000 elite qualifying miles or 30 qualifying segments plus $2,500 MQDs
- Medallion Gold: 50,000 elite qualifying miles or 60 qualifying segments plus $5,000 MQDs
- Medallion Platinum: 75,000 elite qualifying miles or 100 qualifying segments plus $7,500 MQDs
- Medallion Diamond: 125,000 qualifying miles or 140 qualifying segments plus $12,500 MQDs
American Express Delta SkyMiles credit card holders will be excluded from the spending requirement for status qualification if they spend at least $25,000 in a calendar year with the card.
Will Competitors Follow?
The test for Delta will be if competitors United Airlines and American Airlines make similar changes to their MileagePlus and AAdvantage programs, respectively. Otherwise, it may be tough to keep some of its frequent travelers loyal to the brand. In the two months since Delta’s news, United and/or American have not made a similar announcement regarding their program qualification requirements.