Long-rumored changes are coming to Delta Air Lines's frequent flyer tiers and rules to access its SkyClubs that will have a major impact on the airline’s SkyMiles members.
The changes first leaked on Delta’s Portuguese-language website and were then confirmed by Delta late on Wednesday evening on its website.
All the changes start in 2024, meaning this is what it will take to earn status for 2025. The current rules are still in effect for status for 2024. Most of the new rules seemed aimed at tackling overcrowding at Delta lounges, which have been reported to be an issue for Delta during the post-pandemic travel boom.
Here’s what’s changing:
First are changes to Delta’s SkyMiles qualification tiers, which will start on Jan. 1, 2024. The changes will make it more difficult to earn status with Delta.
Starting then, members will only be able to earn frequent flyer status through Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs). Previously, Delta allowed customers to earn status through MQDs, Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs), and Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs).
Delta will convert any MQMs on members’ accounts in early 2024—members will have the option of rolling them over into MQDs at a 20-to-one ratio or into miles at a 2-to-1 ratio.
There are some changes to how you earn MQDs—members will still earn one MQD for every dollar spent on flights operated by Delta and its partners, but there will also be other options.
Anything booked directly through Delta, including car rentals, hotel stays, or packages via Delta Vacations will earn MQDs at the same rate. Credit card spending via Delta credit cards and certain American Express Delta cards will also earn MQDs, but at different rates:
- SkyMiles Platinum and SkyMiles Platinum Business cards will earn one MQD for every $20 spent.
- SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business American Express cards will earn one MQD for every $10 spent.
At the same time, the threshold for status via MQDs is going up for each tier:
- Silver Medallion will now require 5,000 MQDs, up from 3,000.
- Gold Medallion will require 12,000 MQDs, up from 8,000.
- Platinum Medallion will require 18,000 MQDs, up from 12,000.
- Diamond Medallion will require 35,000 MQDs, up from 20,000.
Delta, in an announcement, said that the changes are aimed at simplifying the process for consumers.
“Delta is on a multi-year journey to transform our SkyMiles Program by building a portfolio of options for customers to grow their membership with Delta beginning as soon as they join the program,” said Dwight James, S.V.P. of Customer Engagement and Loyalty and CEO of Delta Vacations. “Our Members will earn status the way they want to – not only along their travel journey, but also in their everyday lives.”
Sky Club changes
Second are major changes to access to Delta’s Sky Clubs, which have been regularly overcrowded during this post-pandemic travel boom period. The changes will cut down on access across the board.
Starting in February 2024, both American Express Platinum Card holders and Delta Reserve American Express Card holders will have their access capped—American Express Platinum holders will be allowed six visits per year and Delta Reserve holders will get 10 visits per year. Delta will boost that access to unlimited for those spending $75,000 on either card.
Those who are dual card members with both the American Express Platinum Card holders and Delta Reserve American Express Card will be able to use the full allotment of both cards.
Starting in January 2024, Delta Basic Economy ticket holders will no longer be granted access regardless of what credit card they hold.
Access to the 15 American Express Centurion airport lounges will not change—the Associated Press reported on Thursday that American Express doesn’t expect to make changes despite Delta’s moves.