Delta’s Fascinating Milestone Awards

Filed Under: Delta

It’s always cool when airlines publish notable statistics about their frequent flyers. I’m not talking about the secrets they typically guard (like how many members they have in each elite tier), but rather essentially when they “brag” about some of their members.

I just saw Delta’s Milestone Awards for 2019, where they recognize Medallion members who achieved some of the “most remarkable feats,” as Delta describes it. This is the second year in a row where Delta has published these.

Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting people in terms of their 2019 Delta flying activity. As a reminder, presumably all of these statistics are based on activity credited to SkyMiles accounts, so this doesn’t factor in travel on non-partner airlines, etc.

Medallion members who flew the most

First here’s a look at the Medallion members who flew the most in each tier:

  • One SkyMiles Silver Medallion member flew a total of 103,340 miles
  • One SkyMiles Gold Medallion member flew a total of 113,335 miles
  • One SkyMiles Platinum Medallion member flew a total of 162,986 miles
  • One SkyMiles Diamond Medallion member flew a total of 455,186 miles
  • One SkyMiles Diamond Medallion member flew 244 segments

I’m not surprised that the SkyMiles member who flew the most flew a total of 455,186 miles. As he’s described, the top flyer lives in Zurich, works in New York, and has family in California.

455,000 miles averages about 8,750 miles per week, which basically translates to one transatlantic crossing per week. That’s a lot of flying, but also not surprising.

Perhaps the most notable thing is that a SkyMiles Silver Medallion member flew 103,340 miles during the year. Ouch.

If he earned at least 50,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles he would have earned Gold Medallion status, so that means on average he was earning less than half an elite mile per actual flown mile.

One has to wonder if he could have done better by crediting to another program, especially since a majority of his travel was presumably on partner airlines.

Other notable achievements

Here are a few of the other notable achievements in 2019 that I found most interesting:

  • One SkyMiles member traveled to 21 countries
  • One SkyMiles member visited 47 destinations
  • One SkyMiles member flew on 41 redeyes
  • One SkyMiles member earned 1,007,805 miles on partner airlines
  • One SkyMiles member flew 71 roundtrip one-day trips
  • One SkyMiles member took 148 business trips, and 125 of those were booked with one day notice or less
  • One SkyMiles member donated a million miles to SkyWish

I find all of these to be cool to see, though not particularly surprising. I feel bad for the person who took 41 redeyes in 2019, though I also feel like there are lots of road warriors who take a redeye more or less every week.

The 125 last minute business trips is perhaps somewhat surprising. As the Seattle based flyer describes his flying patterns:

“I’m available Monday through Friday to go anywhere at any time. If I get a service call, I book right away and leave from whatever city I’m in. I can leave Monday and not get back until Friday, not knowing in advance where I’m going to be on any given day.”

The person earning over a million miles on partner airlines also isn’t surprising. You can earn a maximum of 75,000 miles per trip, so that’s like an expensive once monthly international business class ticket.

Bottom line

It’s always cool when airlines publish statistics like this, and I find it’s a great way to engage members and perhaps even encourage them to increase their loyalty.

Most of these “achievements” don’t surprise me, though I do feel bad for the guy who flew over 100,000 miles and is only a Silver Medallion member.

Do any of the above stand out to you in particular?

  1. ha , they should publish “most RDMs credited from non-flying activities” and “most miles redeemed”

  2. AA is going to publish their users with most fake accounts closed, most mailers redeemed, most miles clawed back.

  3. Other possibility for silver medallion guy is that he flew plenty of miles for gold (or higher) but didn’t hit the MQD requirement. I had 40,000 MQM on Delta and wasn’t even close to the MQD for silver – multiple long international flights in coach will do that. At my rate of MQM/MQD, I would have needed over 69,000 miles to even hit silver, so not surprising to me that someone could be over 100,000 without getting gold.

  4. Could be an interesting post to outline when it would make sense to credit flights (and earn status) to a partner airline. At least for mid tier status that could mean lounge access for all domestic flights

  5. Would like to see how many Delta members brute-forced their way into Diamond using AmEX MQD waiver and MQM bonus on spend

  6. I had the same thought as JL100, maybe the person was silver at the beginning but with the miles flown they no longer are, they just went with the starting status. Not sure.

  7. I am a Delta DM and earned 200k MQMs in 2019. Remember that the mileage you accrue is really based on how much money you spent for the ticket. Just last week a customer paid for me to fly a roundtrip from MSP to LGA. They bought an expensive coach ticket and I ended up earning 19,000 miles for a short flight. As for your comment on the Silver passenger that flew 103k miles I assume he started the year as Silver but as he earned MQMs during the year he then started earning as Gold and later Platinum levels.

  8. Back when Delta would allow you to bypass the MQD requirements for Diamond status with $25K Delta Amex spend, I definitely had lopsided statistics like that Silver Medallion flyer. Since Delta allows rollover of MQM, it can make the stats even stranger. I think one year I ended the year with 165K MQM and $4500 MQDs (so would have had Silver Medallion status if not for the Amex Waiver).

    This could be a strategy for the Silver Medallion flyer. If he/she reached the Gold Medallion MQD threshold, 53K MQMs would rollover instead of 78K. If in 2020 they have a few high cost flights early on (or flights that code as high MQDs), this could help them. If they qualified for Platinum/Diamond status this April, it would be good until the end of January 2022.

  9. agree with some of the other answers. Think Delta are highlighting the highest flying person who started the year at silver

  10. The Silver Medallion who flew a lot may just have flown to Asia on very cheap coach fares a few times and gotten tons of miles but missed higher status on MQDs.

  11. A flight to Asia can be ~6-7k miles each way. That silver could have flown 7 or so round trips to Asia on relatively cheap economy tickets and gotten credit for only $600-700 MQD per flight. That gets you to <$5,000 MQD and below gold.

    At least with Delta he’ll be able to start off with enough MQM this year to get to easily Platinum assuming he hits the spend threshold or spends enough on his co-branded Amex!

  12. That silver Medallion flying 100k is horrible. Just horrible flight planning. I started off 2019 with nothing, and finished at Platinum. I was living in Honolulu, so any one way flight is almost 2500 miles minimum. I flew to Japan twice, the east coast of the US 3 times, Salt Lake City 4 times.

  13. So I fly enough to make Diamond, but not the top in any category. Delta did recognize that I made Diamond 10 years in a row. That is the most, since l’ve made it every year beginning with the Charter year back in 2009. Just curious if that is a milestone common to a lot of Delta flyers?

  14. @Bob, are you taking all those vacays on Delta? Despite their corporate fact sheet claiming 52 countries served, they’re fairly weak in TPAC and Latam and thin in other markets. I’m sure the vast majority of their global biz travelers are on the same 2-5-country circuits and that only very few hit 10+ on DL in any given year. If you add KL/AF/KE feed, the numbers would likely increase dramatically, but we’re talking just DL metal here.

  15. I was on flight from Philadelphia to Atlanta this past week and the gate agent mentioned (because the number of people standing during the first boarding group) that there were 46 diamond or delta360’s on the flight, which seemed insane to me. I wonder what’s the most that have been on one flight and what route it would be?

  16. They didn’t recognize me touching down in all 6 habited continents in a calendar year… or circling the Pacific both clockwise and counter-clockwise in another calendar year… or round-the-worlds (both east- and west-bound) in the same year… or flying to attend all 4 major tennis tournaments during my 40-love tour, or visiting all Universal Studios Theme Parks globally.

    Perhaps chasing DL314 on National Pi (π) Day delivering pies at its destination? I’m still shy of visiting Shanghai and Tokyo to complete all my Disney Parks.

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