Major Negative Changes to Delta Skymiles Program

Major Negative Changes to Delta Skymiles Program

Delta has once again devalued their program (unsurprisingly). They actually did a major overhaul for a lot of things so let’s get into how bad these changes were. Here’s the official list of changes on Delta’s website.

Introduction of Single Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) System

Delta previously had two methods to determination status qualification: Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQS) + Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD).

  • MQM earned for a flight would be determined by distance flown and fare class purchased
  • MQS were calculated by the number of non basic economy flights flown
  • MQD was calculated by base ticket fare minus fees paid for a Delta flight

If either of these two methods surpassed a preset threshold, then you would qualify for the status associated with that threshold.

Old Requirements For Delta Status

Now with this new change, Delta has a singular Medallion Qualification Dollars program to determine status. With this system, you only earn 1 MQD for every $1 spent on the flight ticket price for a Delta or Delta partner airline flight.

This is a big devaluation since cabin class no longer directly boosts your MQD earning. In the old system you would get up to 200% MQM depending on which cabin you were flying in. Now that Delta has done away with cabin bonuses, you will only indirectly get more MQD since a premium cabin is more expensive than economy.

The real downside of this change is that you can no longer earn lots of MQD by buying cheap partner airline business class tickets.

New MQD Thresholds

This change also introduced more ways to earn MQD. You now earn 1 MQD per $1 spent at Delta Car Rentals, Delta Stays, and at Delta Vacations.

These are all unexciting since they’re basically 3rd party portals. It is generally recommended to stay away from portals since they make it much harder to get help in the event anything goes wrong with your reservation. So unless you’re really desperate trying to earn MQD, these new earning methods will be pretty useless for most people.

Introduction of Cobranded Credit Card Spending Bonuses

Previously only the Delta Platinum and Delta Reserve credit cards were able to earn MQMs after high spend per calendar year.

  • Delta Platinum cardholders could earn 10,000 MQM after $25,000 in spend in a calendar year then another 10,000 MQM after spending $50,000 in a calendar year
  • Delta Reserve cardholders could earn 15,000 MQM after $30,000 in spend in a calendar year, up to 4 times for a total of 60,000 MQM for $120,000 in spend in a calendar year

Now depending on which card you have, you can earn a certain amount of MQD for your spend.

  • Delta Platinum and Platinum Business cardholders earn 1 MQD for every $20 spent
  • Delta Reserve and Reserve Business cardholders earn 1 MQD for every $10 spent
Delta Platinum/Platinum Business and Delta Reserve/Reserve Business Earn MQM For Eligible Spend

To earn the $35,000 MQD needed for Diamond purely off credit card spend, you would have to spend $350,000 holding a Delta Reserve card lol.

Overall, this change is extremely mediocre since you would be better off putting that spend on a new SUB to actually get useful miles instead of Skypesos and an insignificant amount of MQD.

Example Scenario Breakdown

Delta gave 3 hypothetical exmaples of how one could reach a certain status. I’ll breakdown 2 of those.

Silver Status:

Delta’s Example of Earning Silver Status
  • 8 * $400 round trips = 3200 MQD
  • 3 * $500 Delta hotel stays = 1500 MQD
  • 12 months * $3,000 per month / $20 (1 MQD per $20 spent) = 1800 MQD
  • Total: 3200 + 1500 + 1800 = 6500 MQD

Diamond Status:

Delta’s Example of Earning Diamond Status
  • 4 * $4400 Delta One round trips = 17,600 MQD
  • 20 * $800 First class round trips = 16,000 MQD
  • 6 * $400 Economy round trips = 2,400 MQD
  • 15 * $400 Delta car rentals = 6,000 MQD
  • 12 months * $8,000 per month / $10 (q MQD per $10 spent) = 9,600 MQD
  • Total: 17,600 + 16,000 + 2,400 + 6,000 + 9,600 = 51,600 MQD

As you can see in the Diamond status example, flying First Class or a premium cabin does not have any boosters. The number of MQD earned on a flight is solely determined by cash price.

Change to Sky Club Access

Previously, if you held the Delta Reserve or Amex platinum cards you were allowed unlimited visits to the Delta Sky Club lounges as long as you were flying a Delta operated flight.

Now Delta Reserve credit card holders get 10 visits per calendar year and Amex platinum card holders only get 6 visits per calendar year starting February 1, 2025.

However, if you spend $75,000 in a calendar year on either the Amex Delta Reserve (personal or business card) or Amex Platinum (personal or business card) you will get unlimited Delta Sky Club access for the rest of that calendar year and the next calendar year. Spend tracking for the 2025 calendar year begins on January 1, 2024.

Delta Platinum and Platinum Business cardholders also no longer get access to Sky Clubs starting January 1, 2024. This is a big change since Sky Club access was a big selling point for these cards. It makes me think that Amex might potentially refresh these cards with new SUBs and/or benefits.

In addition to this, basic economy tickets on Delta or Delta partner airlines no longer grant you access regardless of what credit card you have. This takes effect on January 1, 2024

Timeline of When Changes Take Effect

January 1, 2024

  • New unified MQD system will take effect
  • Delta Platinum/Platinum Business cardholders can no longer enter Sky Clubs
  • Basic economy tickets no longer gain you access to Sky Clubs
  • Eligible credit card spend on the Delta Platinum/Platinum Business or Delta Reserve/Reserve Business will earn you MQD
  • $75,000 spend tracker to earn unlimited Sky Club access begins

February 1, 2025

  • Delta Reserve/Reserve Business cardholders only get 10 Sky Club visits per year
  • Amex Platinum/Business Platinum cardholders only get 6 Sky Club visits per year


Overall pretty negative changes for the program. Delta effectively raised the requirements for qualifying for status while simultaneously nerfing the easier method of earning status via partners.

The lounge access changes will help with overcrowding but I anticipate that many people will oppose this change. I can see many people leaving Delta and switching their loyalty to other domestic airlines, and I don’t blame them.

Do you like these changes? Let me know down in the comments.

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