Wow: Delta SkyMiles Extends Medallion Status By A Year

Filed Under: Delta

Delta has just become the first major US airline to extend elite status by a year! And that’s only one of the positive initiatives they’ve announced…

Delta SkyMiles extends Medallion status

Delta SkyMiles will be extending current Medallion status by 12 months. That means whatever status you have right now will be valid throughout 2021, and into early 2022 (rather than expiring in early 2021).

Not only that, but all Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) earned from 2020 are being rolled over to 2021 to qualify for Medallion status. In other words, it will also be significantly easier to earn status next year, since you can essentially qualify for next year’s status over two years, at least in terms of MQMs (unfortunately Medallion Qualifying Dollars don’t roll over).

As Delta’s SVP of Customer Engagement and Loyalty, Sandeep Dube, describes the move:

“On behalf of all of us at Delta, I want to thank our customers for your continued loyalty during these unprecedented times. While our focus is on keeping customers and employees safe and healthy today and always, you are a part of the Delta family and we know how important these benefits are to you. That’s why as coronavirus continues to dramatically impact travel across the globe, you don’t have to worry about your benefits – they’ll be extended so you can enjoy them when you are ready to travel again.”

Delta is extending all Medallion status by a year

Delta extending SkyClub memberships

Delta will be extending SkyClub Individual and Executive memberships with an expiration of March 1, 2020, or later, by six additional months beyond the current expiration.

Delta is extending SkyClub memberships by six months

Benefit extensions for Delta SkyMiles Amex cards

Certain Delta SkyMiles Amex perks will be extended, assuming they were due to expire on March 1, 2020, or later:

  • Delta SkyMiles Gold Card Members with a $100 Delta flight credit will get a six month extension beyond their current expiration date
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card Members with Companion Certificates with an original expiration date between March 1 and June 30, 2020, can use them when they book and fly by December 31, 2020, and those that expire between July 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021, will receive an additional six months beyond the current expiration date
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card Members with Companion Certificates with an original expiration date between March 1 and June 30, 2020, can use them when they book and fly by December 31, 2020, and those that expire between July 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021, will receive an additional six months beyond the current expiration date
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card Members will also get a six month extension to use their Delta SkyClub one time guest passes beyond their current expiration date

Delta is extending companion certificates

Other SkyMiles perks being extended

Some other SkyMiles perks will be extended a well:

  • Upgrade Certificates or $200 Travel Vouchers with an original expiration date between March 1 and June 30, 2020, are extended — now they can be booked and flown by December 31, 2020; SkyMiles Members with Upgrade Certificates or $200 Travel Vouchers that expire after June 30, 2020, will receive an additional six months beyond the current expiration date
  • SkyMiles Select members will receive a six month extension to the Priority Boarding benefit and any unused drink vouchers

Delta is extending upgrade certificates

Bottom line

As much as there are aspects of the SkyMiles program that are frustrating for members, Delta really gets some things right, and this is one of them. Delta has become the first major US airline to outright extend elite status by a year.

Not only that, but they’re actually making it easier to qualify for status in 2021, as your 2020 elite activity will roll over to 2021.

At this point I think it’s safe to assume that American and United will almost certainly match.

What do you make of Delta SkyMiles extending elite status?

  1. for those that have already re-qualified for Diamond (125K+ MQM & 15K MQD or 250K AMEX spend) will the status be valid thru 1/31/2023?

    if not, it’ll punish the members that already qualified.

  2. @ Bob — Those MQMs will roll over to your 2021 activity, so they can help you with qualifying next year.

  3. This is really great news and a lot more generous than what was being speculated. Next year will be interesting. Probably a lot more higher tier elites than before with far fewer flights. Then again- I guess that’s the idea. Still- hats off to Delta.

  4. Hmm… At first I thought (its time to sock drawer my Amex cards because I don’t need the MQM) – however, this basically lets you accrue MQM over two years (2020 and 2021) as opposed to one. This will create a huge number of Platinums and Diamonds on Deltas in 2022.

  5. I’m divided on this. I’d rather Delta give incentives with bonus MQDs or MQMs. Perhaps even revamp Sky Miles by bringing back award charts and allowing regional upgrade certificates to be used for upgrades into premium economy. Why should I fly Delta if my status has been extended automatically for another year? I might as well cheat on Delta and try American or Alaska. Just strikes me as poorly thought-out.

  6. @David Landau: Excellent point. Clever move, Delta. You get the huge PR props from this, but the reality is there will be as many or more diamond medallions as before with fewer flights. That’s a recipe for more PAID first-class revenue, which as we all know is Delta’s goal. When everyone is an elite nobody is an elite. That used to be Delta’s slogan.

  7. @Bob Not sure how this is a punishment anyway, even if the MQMs weren’t rolling over. Those people aren’t in any worse of a position, just the same position they would have been in had this never happened (just like everyone else, more or less). If Delta had done nothing, I suppose those members might benefit with more upgrades next year when everyone else loses status, but why should people get to benefit just because they were fortunate enough to qualify in the first 2.5 months of the year? It’s not like those people re-qualified early because they knew a pandemic was coming…

  8. Kudos on Delta’s move! AA, UA, AS, etc know they will lose all business if they don’t follow DL’s move.

  9. @FNT

    I think what Delta is realizing is this is going to take much longer to return to normal and there is not going to be a lot of opportunities to cheat.

  10. Although this is appreciated, it is disappointing that they’re not going to roll over MQDs from 2020…

  11. That’s why I am loyal to Delta. Fantastic customer service. Best US airline by far. The rollover is the best.

  12. For those worrying about status inflation, I think Delta assumes that it will be a very long time before business travel resumes to its previous level, if it ever does. Many companies will continue with “virtual travel” (i.e., video conferencing, etc.) and not return to spending large amounts (which they may not have) on air travel.

  13. This is good news and if we all don’t lose our jobs and businesses by then we are in a good position. It seems like rolling over the miles and not the dollars though is sort of counter intuitive. Why bother rolling over the miles at all at that point?

  14. Great move on Delta’s part. I was afraid of missing out on DM for 10 years in a row but guess it’s in the bag now. I wonder what the Milestones award will look like this year with no one flying.

  15. I bet AA matches first

    UA is now down with Marriott as the laggards in doing right by their loyals

  16. The only positive for Delta is the short-lived PR boost this represents.
    AA and UA will surely follow and this just disincentivizes future travel later this year which will further stress them economically.

  17. @ Ben — This whole thing has been the best lesson ever. We will spending way less cash and way more miles on travel going forward, as our budget is really enjoying the diminished expense. Add to that a free year of status of extension (likely across the board), and this will be great year for our budget! I suspect tons of business leaders will feel the same way, so business travel will be permanently damaged this time around. This will be good for the environment in the long run.

  18. One exception seems to be for people like me in the middle of a challenge. There is no extension granted and I don’t get to keep my current challenge status i.e. current status.

  19. It will be interesting how UA responds given they no longer have any PQM/EQM concept. On the one hand if they simply extend status and tell you to restart spending in 2021, we are basically back to status quo on Jan 1 — although that does nothing to incentivize people to come back to the airline this year. On the other hand, if they feel like they need to match some of the rollover impact, you could potentially get status for spend over two years which would be a very decent deal.

  20. UA and AA has no option other than as always follow Delta. There are leaders and there are followers.

  21. @CF Frost

    The email I received from Delta said, “If you are enrolled in Status promotions, you will also receive additional flexibility to complete those requirements.” I assume they will send you more information soon.

  22. I’m sure Delta realized if they let people’s status lapse, then they’d just start shopping based on price / timing. Now, this ensures their customers will come back whenever that may be.

  23. Such an a smart easy way to instill loyalty. Getting there first domestically means they get all the credit as well.

    AA and United look like giant failures.

  24. The delta email does not explicitly state that the associated choice benefits will also be available with the additional/extended status, yet I see other websites stating that as a certainty. Any thoughts?

  25. Delta “status” is a joke. Where they have limited competition (because the muscled them out) we are used to paying expensive fares for sort flights. Upgrades to Delta comfort is the new perk for platinum + elites, if you even get that. Its like the new Delta Clean-what a joke. The planes have been dirty/gross for years. Now they are going to start doing some basic cleaning. Little late don’t you think. I know I have been cleaning my seats, tray tables, etc for years with clorox wipes. I have seen many public restrooms cleaner than the tray tables in first class. Yes I am already getting raked over for an economy fare so I take the suckers bait and just pay the extra for the extra room and spotty service up front. BTW-try using a regional upgrade certificate, good luck.

  26. Pretty soon everyone will be complaining when they don’t get upgrades because of all the fake diamonds and platinums on the upgrade list.

  27. Count me as one of those happy to see that email from Ed this morning. I rolled over quite a bit into 2020 because I fell short of the MQDs for Diamond last year so I already have the MQM to requalify for Platinum. I expect fares will be low for much of the year so hitting MQD requirements will again be difficult even when I do return to travel. My job can’t be done remotely so I will be back in the air and on the road as soon as the worst of this is over but I’m guessing that won’t be true for many frequent business travelers. Companies are learning new ways to save money and keep their employees at home.

  28. FNT: “Why should I fly Delta if my status has been extended automatically for another year? I might as well cheat on Delta and try American or Alaska. Just strikes me as poorly thought-out.”

    No, there is no value to status unless you fly on that airline after you achieve status.

    So getting status and then never flying that airline again is pointless.

  29. Throughout March and into April, Delta has sent regular communication to customers, including the most recent about status. I am Exec Plat on AA and have not heard one peep from them. Doug Parker is apparently too busy asking the government for money while the call reps are dealing with 4+ hour hold times. Got it.

  30. @ Matt — I guess you aren’t Diamond and on’t buy F. Diamond status is no joke. The benefits are the best of the Big 3, if you know how to use them. If you are mid-status and always buying coach, good luck

  31. Yet the extension time offered for companion certificates is measly or less. Perhaps they expect little complaints because most companion certificates expire unused due to their draconian policies.

  32. For those claiming there will be a logjam or that this is some short-term ploy to drive up the numbers of top-tier Medallions to force people to pay for FC seats, you are deluding yourselves. Delta is in this for the long game. This pandemic has instantly altered the way we do business. Technology has advanced to a point where we have been able to readily replace costly face-to-face in-person meetings with very solid virtual option. Additionally, the economic damage will lead us into a massive and long-lasting recession the likes we haven’t seen in our lifetime – many people won’t be traveling because they won’t have the jobs that put them in the high revenue seats.

    Doing the right thing by their most loyal customers ensures that when those people do travel (whether for business or personal reasons), Delta will be the first place they turn.

  33. Nice and clever move from Delta. To those saying this might be dumb given that customers may “cheat” and shift their flights to AA or UA: If that were to happen, those customers aren’t going to cost DL (as they don’t fly they don’t generate cost). It is a strong incentive though to give business to DL once travel resumes. Loyalty will be precious after this ends, as prices are going to be on the low end since everyone is trying to make a living out of what’s left…

  34. One of the big reasons I stay loyal to one carrier is that the experiment of losing status for a year while trying a new carrier, or even part of a year with a status match challenge, brings a lot of downside with it. If we all lost status this year and were faced with starting over, it might have been a reason for jumping ship to a new carrier. This status extension is a smart business move for DL which costs them nothing and keeps their most valued customers loyal.

  35. @ Ben – what you think will happen to those who are currently on a status challenge? Myself, I am on a challenge and had until May 3th to qualify for DL Platinum. I am not gonna make it of course, do you think Delta will extend this challenge? I reached out to Delta a few weeks ago and this was their answer:

    “We know that some customers’ travel plans are changing due to COVID-19, which is causing some SkyMiles Members to worry about earning miles, qualifying for status or as in your case completing a promotion. While this is an evolving situation, Members can rest assured that we’ve got their back. Although we don’t have guidance on how that the status match promotion will be handled at this time, please continue to check for policy updates. I value your Platinum Medallion loyalty to Delta and look forward to the privilege of serving you again soon.”

    So nothing to worry about do you think?

  36. This was inevitable, as some of us had predicted early on when United had gone out on a limb and told their elite members not to expect anything:
    United Tells Elite Members Not To Expect Anything
    March 8, 2020 by Ben (Lucky)

    DCS says: March 8, 2020 at 8:06 pm
    “[I] agree with @Lucky that “United will do something, whether they want to or not”, again reemphasizing the empty-headedness of their decision to go out on a limb and say that they would offer no breaks to their elites this early in the game.”

    The surprise is that I’d thought the airlines would wait until around mid-year to do the inevitable.

    Anyway, game’s up. With Delta taking the lead, AA and UA have no choice but to do what they usually do and follow DL’s lead. Good thing is that this time they’d be doing the right thing. 😉

  37. That’s great — now, Delta, here’s what else I want:

    My June conference in Mexico City is going virtual, and I’d like to cancel my award flight without the $150 fee to redeposit my miles. Currently, the no-fee exception only extends to May 31, but the exception should be extended through June 30 at the least.

  38. Great incentive by Delta, the best US airline by far.

    A few things to consider:

    – Many people are writing “There will be many more Platinums and Diamonds”.. I don’t know where you get that idea from. Even if travel slowly resumes in Summer/Autumn, most business travel will probably be suspended until a vaccine is found. International travel restrictions will not be lifted any time soon.

    – MQDs are the bottleneck for most people in terms of qualifying (especially for Diamond due to very high 250k Amex waiver).

    – Many people think that everything will go back to normal as soon as a vaccine is found. But the virus has been used by many companies and people to make changes they would have faced significant opposition otherwise. Why should companies suddenly bring back 100% of business travel once they have seen how much money it saves to do everything virtually?

    – All MQMs earned in 2020 will roll over to 2021. That does not include the MQMs that have already rolled over from 2019 to 2020. I personally have only collected 20,000 MQMs this year (excluding rollover MQMs)….

  39. Ok. Please upfront forgive my ignorance, but wouldn’t the MQMs in 2020 rollover anyway as they currently do ( I understand based on tiers ), but for example I have only about 15k MQMs this year and my balance in my account on MQMs is just under 150k. Because last year rollover. So will they all rollover or delete delete 2019 and use 2020 without any tier cuts offs ( that’s what I assume.

    I agree, with lots of comments. DELTA is by far the best in USA and definitely with elites. It will create more paid first class as Delta isn’t shy of hiding it as a goal. As well, this will increase number of Plat and Diamond greatly ( I wonder how many Diamonds went away this year because of the MQD AMEX SPEND CHANGE? I think business travel will be down for long period. I’m fortunate not to worry about upgrades as all travel is booked in First – Business. Personally as well.

    I did get my 360 status renewed thru these dates many weeks back by a proactive Delta call.

    But I’m all, kudos to Delta. If they care or not, at least they genuinely pretend and back it up. UA and AA I’m sure will follow. But kudos and it is courtesy to many people who are loyal and also have the credit cards. Nice job done.

  40. And if you are a Diamond and or 360. You would know how valuable Delta is and how they “go thru hoops” for those customers. Purely unmatched. And on another note, it is nice to actually see friendly interaction or sincerity from employees at a USA airline. Delta is on top ( I feel bad for people in hub cities of other USA airlines or corporate contract….bc point is typically to get from A to B in best and easiest way. TYPICALLY )

  41. I don’t think there will be the huge increase in Plats and Diamonds that folks are predicting because they are extending the status you earned last year for another year and rolling over the MQMs but not the MQDs so unless your spend requirements are met next year, you won’t qualify for the higher level status in 2022 anyway.

  42. How about making regional upgrade certificates eligible for premium economy? Or bringing back award-redemption charts? Or allowing Sky Club members (not those with courtesy access from a credit card) to use partner lounges, like AF and KLM?

  43. @Adam – Choice Benefits not mentioned in the press release but are mentioned in the Delta SkyMiles updates full announcement on the Delta website.

  44. Dave – All MQM IN YOUR ACCOUNT at the end of 2020 will roll over into 2021. So MQM “earned” in 2019 through flights or credit card spend remain in your account all the way through the end of 2021.

    This will lead to a big increase in elites, particularly at the Platinum level, in 2022. Which is fine

  45. Why is AA always last to do anything positive for it’s most loyal customers? Multi million miler, many year EXP, and very disappointed again!

  46. Now airlines are starting to realize this is going to be a long term.
    Any chance we’re going to see someone selling AAirpass (equivalent) again? I’m going to set aside a large sum just for this.

    For people complaining about Delta elite status will be overwhelmed. Good news, it already was so nothing is going to change anyway. Even with the huge 250k card waiver, there seems to be still a large number of Diamonds, in terms of upgrade position. I guess that didn’t deter enough people. After the virus, I am going to still say 30%+ of Monday mornings out of ATL will still be DM.

  47. Once again, Delta sets the bar, This is what happens when you fly with a conservative run airline whose priority is safety and customer service! We love to fly and it shows!

  48. anyone know about delta skyclub one day passes. i have several that expire june 2020 and i will not be able to use them. i was going to…but i have cancelled all those applicable flights.


  49. I’m living in palm beach. Love family more than all ( wife and 1 child ) and have avoided traveling. But I had too Tonight sadly bc I love my father and he was about ready to die on west coast. Lots confusion on him so plans changed lots. FYI delta had no clue of this obviously situation. But as a 360 they took the utmost care of me. Delta is the best if ur very loyal. FYI. I went to restroom and flight attendant thanked me for loyalty. Then asked a few questions and I told her. Long story short. A car was there as I deplaned and took me all the way to hospital. I 30 min drive in a car that say delta on it. And then asked to call a when I need to be picked up. Even for Be , that unprecedented in USA. Gooooooooo Delta. This flight attendant will get awesome notes and they shouldn’t lose her. So point is, if ur important to them as a customer, they are best.

  50. Thank you Delta. I see this as a mixed blessing. It means anybody who travels with me can ride my coat-tails for an extra year (and extra 6 months for SkyClub access).

    My original loyalty game plan was to re-evaluate after NWA’s WorldClub membership expire. They kept expanding the SkyClub membership upon qualifying DM every year and then came my 2 million mile mark. This gesture is definitely pushing me towards the “DL for life camp”…

    On the downside, this will do nothing to thin the herd of 360, DM and PMs till 2022 and getting upgrades along with redeeming global upgrade certificates will become more difficult. The lounges will become more crowded, same-day-confirm and standby options will become more restrictive, and all perks will become less meaningful.

  51. Delta always leads! That’s where my loyalty is and has been for the past 8 years.

    However United gave an even better plan. Hopefully Delta can follow the reduced Qualification Requirements part.

  52. @Anthony

    That’s your interpretation and it may well be that all MQMs held in the account on 12/31/20 roll over to 2021. I just understood it a different way (all MQMs from 2020 will roll over = all MQMs accrued in 2020).

    However why would it lead to a massive increase in Elites? The MQD requirement is bottleneck for most and it is staying. Unless you are already Plat/Diamond you need to earn the MQD requirement for Plat/Diamond to become it in 2021. I can’t imagine it will be easy for people to earn the MQD requirement for Plat/diamond this year so it will mainly benefit people who already have the status.

  53. So here’s my question. AmEx Delta Skymiles platinum card has a $25k spend MQD waiver. Will MQDs rollover as well? If not, then a big benefit of this card goes away for the year. Haven’t seen anything on this yet.

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