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Changes to Delta Airlines SkyMiles Earning and Medallion Status in 2024

September 15, 2023
Osman Dadi
Delta Airlines revamped its SkyMiles and Medallion rewards program starting January 2024 for the 2025 year - only MQDs will count to status, at much higher rates and fewer benefits. Here's our take on Oscape.

<Osman’s Note: I’m introducing a short new Friday column covering key travel news week by week>


Delta Airlines has revamped its SkyMiles and Medallion rewards program starting January 2024 for the 2025 year. Impending changes to Delta SkyMiles known since August and leaked on September 13, 2023. Delta Airlines emailed all SkyMiles members as planned on September 14, 2024 to inform them of “A Simpler and More Rewarding SkyMiles” – which is covered extensively on their web press release online.

By the time I write this, this news has been covered extensively elsewhere in the travel space, including One Mile At A Time, Live And Lets Fly, and Eye of The Flyer, among other travel news websites.

The Changes and Terms to the New 2024 Delta SkyMiles

Here’s a summary of the changes to the Delta SkyMiles program as of January 2024 and also applying to the 2025 Medallion Status year.

SkyMiles and Medallion Earning

The only calculation to achieve Medallion status will be Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) — and your spend on Delta, its partner airlines, cobranded American Express cards, and other avenues.

2024 Means MQDs Only

  • No more Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM)
  • No more Medallion Qualification Segments (MQS)
  • No more Delta Amex MQD Waiver
  • Only Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) will count toward status.
  • Delta and partner flights will Earn 1 MQD per $1 spent on the ticket price for a Delta-marketed flight operated by Delta or by a partner airline.

Flights booked and ticketed by eligible partners will earn MQDs at the same rate as they do today, based on the fare class purchased and distance flown. Those flights credit to your SkyMiles account based on a percentage of the trip’s actual mileage – and I’m glad Delta hasn’t removed this as it’s something I did extensively these last few years to maintain my Diamond Status.

Unfortunately, AeroMexico partner earnings were reduced with Delta

  • As of January 1, 2024, discounted business class fares (i.e., C, D, I, Y-ups on AeroMexico) will no longer earn 40% of the distance flown.
  • Those earnings drop to 30%.
  • Full fare business (J) will still haul in 40%

Credit Cards, Car Rentals, Hotel Stays and Vacations

For AMEX holders, Delta has introduced MQD Boost, a new simplified way to achieve Medallion Status as a Card Member by earning MQDs when you make everyday purchases on your eligible Delta SkyMiles American Express Card beginning January 1, 2024

AMEX MQD Boost

  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express and Reserve Business Card Members earn 1 MQD for every $10 spent.
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Platinum Business American Express Card Members earn 1 MQD for every $20 spent.

Delta direct channel bookings also earn 1:1 MQDs based on spending

  • Car rentals: Earn 1 MQD per $1 spent on completed car rentals booked through Delta direct channels.
  • Hotel stays: Earn 1 MQD per $1 spent on completed stays booked through Delta direct channels.
  • Delta Vacations: Earn 1 MQD per $1 spent on the entire vacation experience, in addition to what you earn for your flight, when booking directly with Delta Vacations.

I am unsure if award travel will continue to earn MQD.

New Medallion MQD Spending Tiers

The MQD spending threshold has increased for all status holders.

This is how much spending on Delta and partners you will need to achieve in 2024 (January 1, 2024 – December 31, 2024) to earn year 2025 Medallion Status:  

  • Silver Medallion: $6,000 MQDs  
  • Gold Medallion: $12,000 MQDs  
  • Platinum Medallion: $18,000 MQDs  
  • Diamond Medallion: $35,000 MQDs

Delta even has the audacity to suggest exactly how you can spend your way in 2024, to earning status for the 2025 Medallion Year.

Since MQMs are being removed, rollover MQMs earned during 2023 will receive a one-time choice to convert your MQMs into redeemable miles, MQDs or a combination of both:

  • Rollover qualifying miles convert into redeemable miles at 2:1 (if you had 10,000 rollover qualifying miles you’d get just 5,000 SkyMiles). 
  • Rollover qualifying miles convert into qualifying dollars at 20:1. Diamond status required 20,000 qualifying dollars and 125,000 qualifying miles this year, which is a ratio of 6.25:1 – so Delta is devaluing rollover qualifying miles by over 3x.

Delta SkyClub Admission Changes

Delta has also introduced major changes to SkyClub access. Currently for the most part, SkyClub access is unlimited for certain Status and cardholders, including on Arrival as well as Departure. This is changing to by-card and by-spending rules, and will be limited to visits only.

Delta SkyMiles® American Express Reserve Cardholders (personal or business) get

  • 10 Sky Club visits per Medallion year
    • Spend $75,000 during a calendar year and receive unlimted club visits for the rest of that Medallion year and all of the following Medallion year
    • Above changes are effective February 1, 2025

American Express Platinum (personal or business) get

  • Six (6) Sky Club visits per Medallion year
    • Spend $75,000 during a calendar year and receive unlimted club visits for the rest of that Medallion year and all of the following Medallion year
    • Above changes are effective February 1, 2025

Delta SkyMiles® American Express Platinum Cardholders (personal or business) get

  • No Sky Club access, even for the current $50 entrance fee
    • Effective January 1, 2024

There is now no access for anyone on a Basic Economy fare, even if they have a qualifying Amex card. Effective January 1, 2024


Oscape Take

I have been a Delta Diamond Medallion flyer since 2020, and held Silver and Gold status prior to that.

Last year I spent over $45,000 on travel in totality; and of that, I spent over $13,000 with Delta. I earned approx $13,000 MQDs last year to maintain Diamond Elite Status.

This year the requirement was raised to $20,000; and the year after we have now learned it has increased to $35,000 on top of that. 

The Comparison Charts provided by Delta Airlines are most telling.

As a frequent Delta flyer – and I honestly go out of my way and pay doubly expensive flights, just to stick to flying to Delta since 2019 into 2023 – the increase to $35,000 MQDs and removal of MQMs is offensive.

Where I Stand

I was already considering switching alliances for air travel for a variety of reasons, but it’s almost certain now I won’t maintain Diamond Medallion with Delta. It’s unclear what I’ll choose, as I was considering keeping Diamond Medallion status.

There are many Diamond Medallion benefits I do use regularly:

  • Global and Regional Upgrade Certificates still remain useful, especially GUCs for my frequent flights to Asia. I have used these for several recent Delta flights.
  • I love and use SkyPriority frequently. Including premium Check In and fast security lines.
  • The Diamond Medallion 5x day in advance upgrades have been wonderful for obtaining First Class seats – and I select flights where I can take advantage of this.
  • I hold one Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Card, a $550 Annual Fee, that helps with upgrade priority. I also have one Delta SkyMiles Gold Personal Card, a $99 Annual Fee.
  • In the event of needing to make changes or in “Irregular Ops” situations such as cancellations or reschedules, having the Medallion Elite line has been extremely useful to handle situations quickly.
  • I frequently check bags for excess photography equipment, especially my large tripod.
  • I visit Delta SkyClubs on 90% of my Delta flights, and I use them more on arrival than on departure.
  • I sometimes use my SkyPriority status on the SkyTeam network as well.

My experiences with Delta this year have not been as pleasant as in the past:

  • Flights have been routinely delayed and often outright cancelled, especially for mechanical reasons, far more than before. This has caused huge headaches for me especially this year and last.
  • Delta is usually the most expensive carrier to the same destinations.
  • SkyMiles have still been a “useless currency” to redeem for points.

These few status benefits are now egregiously expensive:

  • The remaining benefits are, in my view only, definitely not worth $35,000 annually, which requires some $50,000 in actual spend after considering taxes, fees, and other expenses
  • To meet the $35,000 minimum spending requirement through flying, you have to buy only premium cabin tickets – but, those already come with premium tickets. Is it worth it for the GUCs and the shorter wait times?
  • My budget is surprisingly frugal despite the amount of travel I do, and there’s no way I’ll make the Diamond cut off even if I put all my spending on a single card, which also makes zero sense.
  • I will also note that Partner Earning, which I have used frequently to maintain my Diamond Medallion status, is still feasible but remains less appealing, because I can do the same on other carriers.

For a threshold of a $35,000 minimum spending requirement through flying, a traveler is focused to buy only premium cabin tickets. If you do that though, is there much value to the status? For shorter hold times or being greeted as a status holder on flights, there actually is no compelling reason.

Up to now the cost/benefit analysis has mostly still made sense for me to hold Diamond Medallion Status for the type of travel I do – these changes at Delta eliminate much of my benefits of choosing Delta over other carriers, and I think that basing loyalty only on Dollar spend, especially during a recession when many are already deeply mired in credit card debt, is a fascinating choice.

Options Going Forward

My most likely course of action for next year is:

  • Currently I am $2.5k MQDs away from reaching Gold Medallion on Delta, I will stop here.
  • I will status transfer to either AA or UA or Alaska Airlines before my Diamond Medallion expires, and frequent fly domestically using one of those carriers.
  • OR I will go full on free agent, and exclusively buy premium seats in cash or awards, next year.
  • I will start crediting all my SkyTeam flights to Air France flying blue, with whom I am already a Silver XP status as a result of my Bank of America Air France KLM Mastercard.
  • I will be dropping my Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Card under one of my businesses, which is no longer worth the $550 fee. I will also be dropping my Delta SkyMiles Gold Personal Card, which is no longer worth the $99 fee.

As a frequent flier, my most potential outcome in 2024 is being liberated from airline status. Rather than spent $35,000+ on Delta to maintain status, it seems smarter to go Free Agent in 2024, and outright buy Business Class tickets (still crediting to a single carrier or alliance) or spend the same money to buy points outright, for better Award tickets for the same routes.

In 2022 and 2023, I’ve also spent far more time trying Star Alliance and OneWorld carriers such as Air Canada, Japan Airlines, and ANA, than sticking to SkyTeam.

Final Thoughts

Delta Airlines has revamped its SkyMiles and Medallion rewards program starting January 2024 for the 2025 year. Going forward, the only calculation to achieve Medallion status will be Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) — and your spend on Delta, its partner airlines, cobranded American Express cards, and a few other metrics. A new “MQD Boost” is added to certain AMEX co-branded credit cards, the Medallion qualifications have been raised significantly, and SkyClub lounge access is to be reduced.

As a result, I will likely not pursue maintaining my Delta Diamond status, opting for Air France, a Star Alliance or OneWorld status, or fully Free Agent and not loyal to Delta. I will also likely drop two of my AMEX Delta branded cards, both no longer worth the fee and benefits they provide.


Are you a Delta frequent flier? What is your take? Email me your comments to os@oscape.world; and next week I’ll publish the top 3 insights we receive.