View from the Delta Sky Club at Los Angeles International Airport.
AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images
Delta’s SkyMiles program typically allowed members to earn loyalty rewards through miles flown.The airline will now only factor cash spent to determine a member’s elite status.Delta is also limiting access to its members-only airport lounge, Sky Club.
Delta announced significant overhauls to its loyalty program known as SkyMiles based on customer feedback, the company claims.
But some members may not be happy with the changes.
Starting January 1, 2024, SkyMiles members will earn the elite Medallion status — which gives rewards such as unlimited complimentary upgrades and waived baggage fees — through cash spent rather than miles flown.
Previously, members could work towards elite status through Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs), Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs), and Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs), which look at the number of flights taken.
The new changes now mean that the airline will only factor Medallion Qualifying Dollars, which are earned through flight purchases and spending on Delta-branded credit cards.
“We looked at a lot of different metrics and one thing we included was MQD was already part of our construct and it seemed to resonate the most and the best with a lot of our members,” Dwight James, Delta’s senior vice president of customer engagement and loyalty told USA Today. “We did want to come to one metric. Customers indicated that this resonated well with them.”
Delta is also increasing the amount of MQDs a flyer needs to qualify for Medallion status in 2024:
Silver: 6,000 MQDs up from 3,000 MQDs
Gold: 12,000 MQDs up from 8,000 MQDs
Platinum: 18,000 MQDs up from 12,000 MQDs
Diamond 35,000 MQDs up from 20,000 MQDs
James told Bloomberg that the changes were made to address a growing number of loyalty members who make purchases beyond flights using Delta-branded credit cards.
Delta will also be limiting access to its network of Sky Clubs, the company’s airport lounges.
The airline has been dealing with overcrowding issues at its lounges and previously restricted access to Delta employees unless they purchase a ticket.
The new changes will also exclude basic economy passengers starting January 1, 2024, regardless if they are Sky Club members.
It’s unclear if flyers may still get complimentary access if they travel business or first class on an international flight that is operated by SkyTeam, the airline alliance organization.
A spokesperson for Delta could not immediately return a request for clarification.
In addition, the airline will no longer allow unlimited visits for Delta-branded cardholders.
Starting February 1, 2025, cardholders of Delta American Express SkyMiles Reserve and Delta American Express Reserve Business will be limited to 10 visits per year. American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders will be limited to six annual visits.
Holders of Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express cards will also no longer get automatic access to Sky Club.
Delta’s competitor, American Airlines, made similar overhauls to its loyalty program last year.
Rather than have miles, segments, or dollars to achieve elite flyer status, the airline introduced Loyalty Points, in which $1 spent or 1 mile traveled equals 1 point.