Delta is making some significant changes to its SkyMiles program in 2024, which will impact travelers in a variety of ways. This has set the frequent traveler community abuzz. Most feel these changes will negatively impact them, but others see a silver lining.
To sort this out we’ve parsed apart the program changes, provided some analysis and consulted so frequent Delta flyers for their perspective.
New Status Qualification Levels
The biggest change is that Delta is moving to a new system for qualifying for Medallion status. Starting in 2024, travelers will only be able to qualify for Medallion status based on how much they spend on Delta and its partners, known as Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs).
The new status qualification levels are as follows:
Travelers will be able to earn MQDs on Delta and partner flights, as well as on hotel stays, car rentals, and other travel booked through Delta. Douglas, a longtime loyal member is quite upset by these changes, “I fly domestically for business. I spend an incredible amount of time on Delta planes but these new dollar only qualifications will punish my loyalty. Someone who buys a $12,000 one time business class ticket to Asia will jump ahead of me in status, even though I am on their metal week in and week out.”
Impact on Travelers
The new status qualification system is likely to have a mixed impact on travelers. On the one hand, it will make it easier for travelers to qualify for Medallion status by spending money on Delta and its partners, rather than having to fly a certain number of miles or segments.
On the other hand, the new system will make it more difficult for travelers to qualify for Medallion status if they don’t spend a lot of money on Delta and its partners. Travelers on a generous expense account seem to come out ahead, those who travel for leisure or have more restrictive budgets will lose out.
In addition to the new status qualification system, Delta is also making a number of other changes to its SkyMiles program in 2024. These changes include:
- Elimination of MQMs and MQSs: Delta is eliminating Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) as requirements for Medallion status. This means that travelers will no longer need to fly a certain number of miles or segments in order to qualify for Medallion status.
- Changes to Million Miler status: Delta is changing the way that Million Miler status is calculated. Starting in 2024, Million Miler status will be based on lifetime flight miles, rather than MQMs. This means that travelers will be able to earn Million Miler status even if they don’t spend a lot of money on Delta and its partners.
- Changes to Delta Sky Club access: Delta is making changes to who has access to Delta Sky Club lounges. Starting in 2024, only Medallion members, Delta SkyMiles Reserve credit cardholders, and American Express Platinum cardholders will have unlimited access to Delta Sky Club lounges. Other travelers will be able to purchase access to Delta Sky Club lounges for a fee.
Impact of Other Changes
The elimination of MQMs and MQSs is likely to have a positive impact on many traveler but not all. Most will se it as streamlining a complex system and making it easier for them to qualify for Medallion status. The changes to Million Miler status are also likely to be seen as a positive by Million Miler members, as they will now be able to earn status based on the number of miles they fly, rather than the number of MQMs they earn.
However, the changes to Delta Sky Club access are likely to be seen as a negative by some travelers, as they will now need to have Medallion status or a qualifying credit card in order to have unlimited access to Delta Sky Club lounges. Other travelers who want to access Delta Sky Club lounges will need to purchase access for a fee.
2024 Medallion Status & Beyond
- 2024 Medallion Status: Your 2024 Medallion Status is safe. The new status qualification system will first be applied in 2024 towards your 2025 Medallion Status.
- Rollover MQMs: If you have any Rollover MQMs, you won’t lose them. In early 2024, you can choose to convert them to redeemable miles, MQDs, or a mix of both.
- Million Miler Complimentary Upgrade Priority: Million Miler Status will move up to the third priority position for complimentary upgrades in 2024. This means you’ll be more likely to get upgraded on Delta flights.
- Million Miler Lifetime Flight Miles Calculation: Starting in 2024, Million Miler Status will be calculated based on lifetime flight miles, rather than MQMs. This means you can earn Million Miler Status even if you don’t spend a lot of money on Delta and its partners.
- Delta SkyMiles American Express Card Members: The MQD Waiver and Status Boost benefits for Delta SkyMiles American Express Card Members will end on December 31, 2023. This is because of the streamlined changes to the SkyMiles Program and the introduction of the new MQD Boost benefit for select Delta SkyMiles American Express Cards.
- SkyMiles Members Living Outside of the U.S.: For the first time, SkyMiles Members living outside of the U.S. will be able to earn Status via MQDs. Starting in 2024, currencies will convert to USD at the standard exchange rate and will then convert from $1 USD to $1 MQD
The changes to Delta SkyMiles in 2024 are likely to have a mixed impact on travelers. Some travelers will benefit from the changes, while others will be negatively impacted.
Travelers who spend a lot of money on Delta and its partners are likely to benefit from the new status qualification system. This is because they will be able to qualify for Medallion Status more easily.
Million Miler members are also likely to benefit from the changes. This is because they will be more likely to be upgraded on Delta flights and they will be able to earn Million Miler Status based on lifetime flight miles, rather than MQMs.
However, travelers who don’t spend a lot of money on Delta and its partners may be negatively impacted by the changes. This is because they will find it more difficult to qualify for Medallion Status.
Susan, a Diamond Medallion member from their hub in Minnesota sums it all up this way, “I think most travel companies now see their loyalty programs as victims of their own success. Credit card sign up status and large initial point bonuses mean they sold too many people access to too few perks and are now looking to cull the herd so to speak. So that means we all lose in one way or another.”
Overall, the impact of the changes to Delta SkyMiles in 2024 will depend on your individual travel habits and spending patterns. It is important to carefully review the changes and understand how they will impact you personally before making any decisions about your travel plans. But on e thing is for sure, Delta is radically overhauling their loyalty program and some of its best customers are going to feel the impact.