Delta SkyMiles Raises MQD Requirements For 2016 Status

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In early 2013 Delta SkyMiles announced that they would be adding revenue requirements for earning status starting with the 2014 program year.

Instead of just having to earn 25,000-125,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles for earning status, you’d also have to spend a minimum of 10 cents per mile pre-tax on those flights ($2,500-$12,500).

Ultimately there were two ways to get around these revenue requirements:

Not surprisingly, United quickly followed Delta’s move, and added a similar revenue requirement.

That was only the start of Delta’s “innovation,” though. Earlier in the year they announced that starting in 2015 they would begin awarding redeemable miles based on how much you spend on a ticket as opposed to how many miles you fly. Instead of earning one mile per flown mile, you’ll be earning five miles per dollar spent. Not surprisingly, United matched that as well.

Delta SkyMiles will be raising revenue requirements for 2016 status

While under the current system you have to spend an average of 10 cents per mile in order to qualify for status, Delta SkyMiles will be raising the revenue requirement in order to qualify for 2016 status (meaning for spend in 2015) by 20%:

  • MQDs required for Silver Medallion increasing from $2,500 to $3,000
  • MQDs required for Gold Medallion increasing from $5,000 to $6,000
  • MQDs required for Platinum Medallion increasing from $7,500 to $9,000
  • MQDs required for Diamond Medallion increasing from $12,500 to $15,000

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, but in a way you’ve gotta love the approach Delta takes. They do what they want when they want, and no one’s gonna stop them. I mean, they might as well be a phone or cable company based on how much love they’re showing their customers.


The most surprising part of these changes

Here’s the part that really surprises me. As I mentioned above, you can waive the spend requirement by putting $25,000 of spend on a co-branded Delta SkyMiles credit card. Apparently nothing is changing when it comes to that. That’s really surprising, since I figured they’d either:

  • Increase the amount of spend required
  • Not allow credit card spend to get a revenue waiver at all status levels — for example, at United no amount of credit card spend will get you a revenue requirement waiver for Premier 1K status

This is especially surprising since in 2015 Delta will start limiting the number of points you can transfer from partner programs to SkyMiles. I figured they’d have a similarly unfriendly change for those getting revenue requirements waived through credit card spend, though it seems not.

So it seems they’re only selectively telling the credit card companies to bugger off. I suppose they have a bigger incentive to make sure that their co-branded credit card business is healthy.

Delta flyers, how will these changes impact your travel patterns and/or loyalty to SkyMiles?

(Tip of the hat to The Points Guy)

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  1. I’m still thinking all of these changes will make my life easier. And better.

    I am locked into DL due to corporate contracts. I fly loads of last minute, expensive fares. I blew through the MQD requirement, and easily blew past $25K on the card.

    Am hoping this all ends up with fewer Platinums and Diamonds competing for my upgrades.

  2. as a dwindling status delta flyer, I think this is it for me. Silver gets me exit row which I cherish, but I can go a year and hopefully get status elsewhere. My flight right now was 1/2 full after sky priority so getting on early doesn’t apply as much.

  3. Man I love flying Delta, but I switched to WN for Companion Pass reasons for 2014 and my Skymiles status will lapse in February of 2015. I’m happy to be off the Delta hamster wheel. They run a great airline in many regards, but from from a miles and elite status perspective they make me live in fear that the other shoe is about to drop.

  4. I love how this in being spread as fact without any link to actual Delta content. I’m sure it is true, but it just seems strange. Perhaps the “nothing is changing re: MQD waiver” won’t turn out to be true?

  5. @Gene – DL has a habit of making changes before the website is updated.

    The upgrades on JFK – SFO/SEA/LAX for Plats and Diamonds is a perfect example. You won’t find it noted anywhere, but a lot of us have started to get upgraded again over the past few months.

  6. As a regional flyer that has to connect, I love avoiding ORD, so on my usual travel route, Delta is my choice. I have been a DM since 2010, and I must say, this does not bother me one bit. As someone earlier mentioned, the plane is half full after Sky Priority boards. Seriously, where is the “elite” in that?

    I just got an email from Delta on this topic as I read this post, and the headline on the image said:

    “When Everyone is an Elite Flyer, No One Is”

    It’s a true statement. With consolidation and different approaches people take to get status, the elite ranks were getting massive. This is just an approach by Delta to get things back to the way they were.

    I know they have introduced other negative items along the way recently, but with one way awards, the new legitimate upgrades for diamonds, etc., they are giving us things in return. I look at it like Apple. When an iPhone gets released, it is missing bells and whistles that a Samsung has, but the loyalists pay the money for the new product. Then, a year later, they give you 4G (one way awards, for instance), and the loyalists pay them money again (the removal of basic economy upgrades, etc.).

    It’s a business. Sh!t happens.

  7. Clearly DL thinks they can fill their aircraft due to corporate contracts, captive markets and superior service, and they don’t need to be generous with the loyalty program. The question is whether UA and eventually AA follow, or whether they recognize that DL is leaving them a “pricing umbrella” where they can be more generous with the loyalty program and use it to shift some market share perhaps despite the fact that their service is not as good.

    Certainly DL is showing that unless you are top spender you will be getting a lot fewer benefits for flying than before.

  8. @ Neil S. – I’m with you. As an Atlanta resident who travels weekly for business, I’m stuck to Delta, and am waaay past the MQDs by now. So yes, hopefully this will reduce the number of elites. (Selfish of me, I know). Last night from MSP to ATL, about 70 people were in line for Sky Priority boarding!

    @ Gene – I just got an email from Delta alerting me of the changes, so it’s pretty official. Of course, after reading the email I came to OMAAT to see what everyone else thinks!

  9. Ben,

    Is it actually possible for someone to fly 140 segments/125,000 miles and not spend $12.5k?

    EDIT: I guess so, 8 round trips from ATL to DXB would be $11,247.20 and 121,584 miles…. 8.5 round trips would but you over 125k but you’d still be al ~$11,900.

  10. These changes are really screwing me. I know DL has crunched the numbers, and these changes are worth it for them, but they will lose some business from folks like me.

    I earn most miles on partners like AF/KLM, Korean, and MH. Because of this, when flying domestically or to Central America, I then choose DL even if they are a little pricier at times.

    Should I start trying to earn status on one of these other Skyteam airlines?

    Also, what are the stipulations for changing to an Intl address to avoid MQD? Can I just put an overseas relative’s address on my acct? Does it have to match my DL Amex address?

  11. I live in Seattle where Delta is furiously trying to win the win the market space. IT has been a good year for me since DL is awarding Double MQMs and Double miles for flights from Sea. However I don’t know if I will stay with Delta after this change. $15,000 in a year is a lot of money to expect to get to your elite status. I’m sure DL has done the calcs and they know what percentage of passengers that much $ on an annual basis. The new formula for earning skymiles always seems to award less miles than the formula that was based on distance. They are basically trying to pare down the number of Diamonds and really reward the best customers that spend the most. That is fine but they sure have gone out of the way to alienate most of their regular customers. I am seriously thinking about switching to Alaska.

  12. I live in Atlanta, but I’m so willing to pay the extra money or do a stupid stopover on AA just to avoid Delta now. I don’t WANT elite status with them. Their award ticket prices are stupidly ridiculous. Saver-level business class award from Atlanta to Sydney is about 240,000 SkyMiles(If you’re lucky, you get on V. Australia where they at least offer pajamas and a nice little snack bar for your 15 hour trip, unlike Delta’s watered-down “premium cabin”). Meanwhile, you can fly FIRST on Qantas all the way from Atlanta to New Zealand (r/t) for just under 150,000 AAdvantage miles. In the grand scheme of things: Delta is fine for business and domestic trips, but I’d rather fly an airline that’s going to provide a great product when I’m flying in their international premium cabins and Delta’s is blah. If Delta could back up all of these ridiculous changes by offering better, more competitive international products, I’d keep bothering with them…but they’re like the Greyhound of the skies. Their premium service on international routes is laughable.

  13. I like the changes. I am Diamond, 2MM,$25K spend so far this year. I definitely hope that Delta has run the numbers correctly and this reduces the number of Diamonds. It is ridiculous how difficult it is to get an upgrade out of my home airport (I am at <50% this year). Maybe we have a lot of Diamonds here but having Diamond status and showing up as 7-10 on the upgrade list is kind of silly.

  14. The people that lose out on the 2015 change to earn miles based on dollar spend are the international flyers. My $1400 fare to Singapore earned me almost 41,000 miles as a Platinum, next year, I get about 13,000 miles. Also, to qualify for 2106 Platinum I used to just fly that route 4X a year for 83,000 miles. Now I will need 7 flights to spend over $9,000.

    Luckily I spend $25K on the Amex card. If they change or eliminate that, I am totally screwed. Living in ATL is hard NOT to fly delta.

    I did love the wording of the email, though.”we’re adjusting 2016 MQD thresholds to add even more exclusivity to the Medallion program.”

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