Recently, Delta Air Lines announced some sweeping changes to the way its members qualify for Delta Medallion Status, which will come into effect as of January 1, 2024.
The US airline has also released details of changes to Sky Club lounge access, including how often passengers may enter on account of an eligible credit card.
These are massive, wholesale changes that will affect Delta frequent flyers and co-branded credit cardholders alike, in a largely negative way.
Upcoming Changes to Delta SkyMiles Medallion Status
As of January 1, 2024, the way you earn Delta Medallion Status is going to change dramatically.
As it stands, members earn Medallion Status with a combination of Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM), Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQS), and Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD).
However, that’s all set to change next year, as Delta is doing away with MQM and MQS requirements, and members will earn status based on the amount of MQD accumulated.
As of January 1, 2024, you’ll be able to earn MQDs to qualify for status through a variety of means, including:
- Flying with Delta ($1 MQD per US dollar spent)
- Flying with partner airlines (based on a percentage of fare class and distance flown)
- Spending on Delta SkyMiles American Express Cards
- Booking car rentals and hotel stays through the Delta platform ($1 MQD per US dollar spent)
- Delta Vacations ($1 MQD per US dollar spent)
While you’ll be able to earn MQDs in more ways than you can now, you’ll also have to earn more MQD to qualify for each tier than you currently do. A breakdown of the current MQD requirements, as well as the new thresholds, is as follows:
Current MQD Requirement
Proposed New MQD Requirement (September 2023)
SkyMiles Silver Medallion
SkyMiles Gold Medallion
SkyMiles Platinum Medallion
SkyMiles Diamond Medallion
As the above chart shows, you’ll soon have to spend more to qualify for the same tier of status. In all cases, it’s a significant increase, including for top-tier Diamond Medallion Status.
Delta is also doing away with the MQD Waiver, which is currently a feature on many of its American Express co-branded credit cards. The MQD Waiver removes the MQD requirement for various tiers of status, which means that you can currently qualify through MQM or MQS alone with an MQD Waiver.
In lieu of the MQD Waiver, Delta is introducing the MQD Boost as a feature on its co-branded credit cards. With an eligible Delta American Express co-branded credit card, you’ll earn:
- $1 MQD per $20 (all figures in USD) spent on the Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Platinum Business American Express Cards
- $1 MQD per $10 spent on the Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business American Express Cards
Since qualifying for Medallion Status will be done solely through MQD accrual, you’ll be able to reach all status tiers through credit card spending alone. Depending on which credit card you have, you’ll have to meet the following spending requirements at each tier:
- Silver Medallion Status: $120,000 on the SkyMiles Platinum Cards, or $60,000 on the SkyMiles Reserve Cards
- Gold Medallion Status: $240,000 on the SkyMiles Platinum Cards, or $120,000 on the SkyMiles Reserve Cards
- Platinum Medallion Status: $360,000 on the SkyMiles Platinum Cards, or $180,000 on the SkyMiles Reserve Cards
- Diamond Medallion Status: $700,000 on the SkyMiles Platinum Cards, or $350,000 on the SkyMiles Reserve Cards
These upcoming changes also affect SkyMiles who reside outside the United States.
Currently, SkyMiles members outside the US qualify for status through either MQM or MQS, with no MQD requirement. However, as of January 1, 2024, members based outside the United States must qualify through MQD accrual, and will earn MQD through base fares and eligible surcharges converted into USD.
If you have any Rollover MQMs from 2023, you’ll have the choice of either converting them into MQD at a 20:1 ratio, to Delta SkyMiles at a 2:1 ratio, or a combination of the two.
It’s worth noting that these changes won’t affect earning Medallion Status in 2023 for the 2024 status year. Rather, the way you qualify for status in 2025 will change, since the changes won’t come into effect until 2024.
Upcoming Changes to Delta Sky Club Access
Delta has also announced some upcoming changes to its Sky Club lounge access policy.
As of February 1, 2025, cardholders of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business American Express Cards will be limited to 10 complimentary Sky Club lounge visits per Medallion Year. Medallion Years run from February 1–January 31.
Upon spending $75,000 in a calendar year, access is boosted to unlimited. To be clear, spend tracking begins on January 1, 2024, and ends on December 31, 2024, for the 2025 Medallion Year.
Similarly, travellers who enjoy Delta Sky Club lounge access on account of a US-issued American Express Platinum or Business Platinum Card will be limited to six lounge visits per Medallion Year, as of February 1, 2025. This can be increased to unlimited access upon spending $75,000 in a calendar year, too.
In both cases, the drop down to six or 10 visits per year, respectively, is a significant decrease from the current unlimited lounge access policy on the cards.
It’s worth noting that Canadian-issued American Express Platinum Cards will continue to come with unlimited Delta Sky Club lounge access, as long as you’re travelling on a Delta flight.
Beginning on January 1, 2024, Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Platinum Business American Express Cards will no longer come with paid access to Delta Sky Clubs. Currently, cardholders can pay $50 for access, for themselves and up to two guests.
Furthermore, as of January 1, 2024, eligible passengers travelling on a Basic Economy ticket won’t be able to access Sky Club lounges as an American Express Card Member. For example, if you’re travelling on a Basic Economy ticket and have Sky Club access with an American Express Platinum Card, you’ll be denied entry.
These measures are meant to address some of the overcrowding issues that have plagued Sky Club lounges in recent years; however, it remains to be seen if they’ll have a material impact.
Delta Doubles Down on Earning via Spending
In its official announcement, Delta describes the changes as making the program more simple and rewarding for members. However, it’s very clear that earning status with Delta is becoming much more onerous than it currently is, as indicated by the significantly increased thresholds for each tier.
Aside from earning status through flying, these changes are also clearly encouraging members to become more deeply entrenched in the Delta ecosystem, since it’s possible to earn MQDs through credit card spending and booking travel through Delta’s online platforms.
The more ways you earn Delta revenue, the more MQDs you’ll earn in return.
Delta appears to be taking some inspiration from American Airlines’s Loyalty Points system, through which you can also earn status, including top-tier Executive Platinum, by way of credit card spending alone. However, the threshold to reach top-tier Diamond Medallion Status with Delta is much higher than its American Airlines counterpart.
With Delta, you’ll have to spend $350,000 on a Delta SkyMiles Reserve or Reserve Business American Express Card, or $700,000 on a Delta SkyMiles Platinum or Platinum Business American Express Card, for Diamond Medallion Status.
To reach American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum status, you “only” need to spend $200,000 on any American Airlines co-branded credit card.
For travellers who live outside the United States, the pathway to status with Delta is surely going to be much more difficult.
For example, in Canada, there aren’t any Delta co-branded credit cards, so passengers will be limited to earning MQD through flying, and making eligible bookings through Delta’s online car, hotel, and vacation platforms.
When combined with the heightened MQD requirements, it’s going to take much more effort to reach the same tier of status going forward.
As for Sky Club access, the changes are clearly intended to address lounge over-crowding, which, it’s worth noting, isn’t unique to Delta Sky Clubs.
However, with an annual fee of $550 on both the Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business American Express Cards, providing only 10 lounge visits per year is very low for a premium credit card, and spending $75,000 just to receive unlimited lounge access is quite a high threshold to reach each year.
Unsurprisingly, reaction to these changes has been negative, and this will likely continue in the lead up to the changes coming into effect.
Delta Air Lines has announced some sweeping changes to the way travellers earn Medallion Status and access Sky Club lounges.
As of January 1, 2024, earning Medallion Status will be exclusively based on Medallion Qualifying Dollars, and Medallion Qualifying Miles and Medallion Qualifying Segments will no longer be applicable. The thresholds to reach each status tier are increasing across the board, by up to 100%.
The airline is also changing access rules for its Sky Club lounges, by limiting the number of complimentary visits that come with eligible credit cards, and removing access to passengers travelling on a Basic Economy ticket.
It’s worth noting that it’s business as usual for the remainder of 2023, so if you’re working your way up the status ladder this year, just bear in mind that next year will look a lot different.