A few weeks ago, Delta Air Lines faced a serious level of backlash from both the public and especially from its loyalists after making major changes to its SkyMiles program and Sky Club access policy.
As Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian mentioned these changes went too far and the airline would backtrack the changes, the details of amended changes have been announced.
Delta Air Lines Rolls Back Some SkyMiles and Sky Club Changes
After weeks of backlash, Delta Air Lines announced that it would roll back some of its SkyMiles and Sky Club access restrictions. The airline shared several updates, modifying some of the changes announced in September and adding several new benefits. Here are the details.
Delta SkyMiles Reduces Medallion Status Requirements
To make the elite status requirements for 2025 more accessible, Delta has reduced the number of Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) for each tier:
- Diamond Medallion Status: $28,000 MQDs (down from $35,000)
- Platinum Medallion Status: $15,000 MQDs (down from $18,000)
- Gold Medallion Status: $10,000 MQDs (down from $12,000)
- Silver Medallion Status: $5,000 MQDs (down from $6,000)
These qualifying requirements are still high compared to the existing ones but it has been lowered from the initial changes. Moreover, those who have Delta SkyMiles Reserve, Reserve Business, Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Platinum Business American Express Cards will receive an MQD headstart of $2,500 MQDs for the current Medallion Qualification Year.
Delta Offering More Flexibility for Delta Sky Club Access
Delta will completely overhaul the Sky Club access policies, still with strict restrictions. However, compared to the initial changes, these policies have been loosened.
- A single visit now includes all entries within a 24-hour period after the first Club entry, including at the departure city, connecting airports and arrival destination. For example, if you are traveling on a same-day roundtrip and use the Club on your outbound and return flight, both would be included within the same visit instead of two visits
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business Card members will now receive 15 visits per year (compared to 10 visits initially announced)
- American Express Platinum Card and the Business Platinum Card members now receive 10 visits per year (compared to 6 visits initially announced)
- Delta will also allow members who hold either one of four credit cards the ability to purchase Club access at a per-visit rate of $50 per person
More Generous Options for MQM Rollover Balances
Since Delta is eliminating Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) as elite qualification requirements, this has caused anger among members with high MQM balances. However, the airline has put more options on these balances.
- For those who have MQM rollover balances over 100,000 will be given special offers to extend their earned 2024 Status for one year for each 100,000 Rollover MQM
- Delta will also provide an option to convert MQM rollover balances into MQDs at a more generous ratio of 10:1 (from the initial 20:1)
- Delta will also allow members the option to convert MQM rollover balances to miles at a ratio of 2:1
Delta Introducing New Medallion Choice Benefits
Delta will debut several enhanced Choice Benefits options for Diamond and Platinum Medallion members for the 2025 Medallion Year. These include:
- An MQD Accelerator for the next Medallion Qualification Year which is equivalent to $2,000 for Diamond Medallions and $1,000 for Platinum Medallions
- Re-introducing the Delta Sky Club Individual Membership for Diamond Medallion members, in exchange for two Choice Benefit selections
- Increased amount of bonus miles: 35,000 for Diamond Medallion members and 30,000 for Platinum Medallion members
- Increased Delta travel voucher to $350 for Diamond Medallion members and $300 for Platinum Medallion members
- A new Wheels Up statement flight credit
Delta Air Lines Improving Million Miler Rewards
Along with the SkyMiles program, the airline also made positive changes to the Million Miler program. As of February 1, 2024, Million Milers will also receive enhanced complimentary annual Medallion Status.
- 6 million miles or more earns Delta 360 (previously Diamond Medallion)
- 5 million miles earns Delta 360 (previously Platinum Medallion)
- 4 million miles earns Diamond Medallion (previously Platinum Medallion)
- 3 million miles earns Diamond Medallion (previously Gold Medallion)
- 2 million miles earns Platinum Medallion (previously Gold Medallion)
- 1 million miles earns Gold Medallion (previously Silver Medallion)
Looking at the rewards, just reaching 1 million miles will give you Gold Medallion status for life. This is an amazing perk of being a Million Miler. Moreover, those who reach 6 million miles will earn invitation-only Delta 360 for life!
However, earning the Million Miler status will be much harder. Effective January 1, 2024, the airline is moving Million Miler status up in the hierarchy:
- Million miler status will be calculated through lifetime flight miles
- Miles earned through credit card spending will not be counted towards the Million Miler qualification
- Delta will convert all existing MQM balances toward lifetime status
What Delta’s SkyMiles & Sky Club Backtracking Means to Members?
Following the unprecedented backlash, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian wrote in an email to customers:
“Over the past few weeks, many of you have shared feedback about the changes we announced to Delta’s SkyMiles Program. “It’s been a challenge to balance the growth of our membership with our need to deliver premium service experiences. We made some difficult program decisions to address this issue…. But your response made clear that the changes did not fully reflect the loyalty you have demonstrated to Delta. Based on your feedback, we are making program adjustments and adding new benefits to begin earning in 2024 toward your 2025 Status.”Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian
While the updated changes still reflect a negative perspective for members, it is slightly better than what Delta announced weeks ago. Generally, it is rare for an airline to backtrack on frequent flyer program changes as airlines will introduce new changes on a step-by-step basis.
Bastian confessed that the airline went too far with these controversial changes and took one step back. Given the extent of damage the company has done to customers, Delta has now lost the trust of SkyMiles loyalists and I am not sure even Delta take back the changes, those loyalists will be happy.
One thing that is unavoidable is that even with these changes reverted, it will be the direction the airline will be going as Delta is hoping to grow its co-branded credit card business to $10 billion in revenue every year.
Late this September, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian confessed that the airline went too far with the recent SkyMiles changes and promised to revise the changes. Well, the revised changes have been announced and it has been much more improved than the initial.
Although the changes made may reduce public anger for now, keep in mind that Delta will eventually roll out further restrictions in the future. So this is only a part of the iceberg.