Delta SkyMiles Medallion Qualification Changes

by John Ollila on January 17, 2013

Yesterday, I wrote about website update at Delta.com that had unveiled a day early the planned changes to the SkyMiles program on the earning and qualification side. Delta took the information down from the website very fast.

delta-mqd

Now, Delta has issued a press release about the change and has the website running with the info about this change that you can access here.

Dollar based qualification requirement

Delta is launching a dollar based qualification requirement (MQD = Medallion Qualifying Dollar) that must be met with MQS (Medallion Qualifying Segment) or MQM (Medallion Qualifying Miles) requirement starting on January 1, 2014. This won’t affect qualification requirement this year.

delta-medallion-qualification

Silver Medallion – you will need 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs and $2,500 MQDs
Gold Medallion – you will need 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs and $5,000 MQDs
Platinum Medallion – you will need 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs and $7,500 MQDs
Diamond Medallion – you will need 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs and $12,500 MQDs

Note that MQD requirement only apply to US based (excluding Guam, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands) SkyMiles members. I can see some SkyMiles members to change their address on file with Delta to Asia or Europe to get around this requirement.

Alternatively, if you have US based Delta credit card (Amex) and charge $25K during a calendar year, you are exempt of the MQD requirement.

According to Delta.com, Delta marketed flights with DL code and spend on other airlines ticketed on Delta’s ticket stock (006) also counts towards the MQD.

MQDs are the total of the SkyMiles member’s spend on Delta-marketed flights (flight numbers that include the “DL” airline code), inclusive of the base fare and applicable surcharges, but exclusive of government- imposed taxes and fees.

Flight spend for travel on other airlines ticketed through a Delta channel (featuring a ticket number beginning with “006”) will also be included in MQDs.

Certain specialty tickets, including but not limited to unpublished, consolidator, group/tour and opaque fare products will not count toward MQDs.

I already see problems here:

- MQD’s on Delta operated but AF/KL/etc coded flights?

- How is the value of the DL coded segment(s) calculated on ticket issues on other carrier’s ticket stock and involving number of airlines? Is it only the coupon value?

- Spend on ancillary revenue doesn’t count.

Higher MQM credit for F/J Fares

Delta is going to give F/J 100% MQM bonus starting on March 1 and remove the MQM bonus on M fares.

Conclusion

As I wrote yesterday, the dollar qualification requirement is not that high for Diamond member that mainly flies on DL coded and issued (006) tickets. If you fly on SkyTeam partners even on Delta metal but not on Delta code, you are royally screwed. To get around this MQD requirement you should use an address outside of the 50 United States.

Here are the frequently asked questions by Delta about this change:

Medallion® Qualification Dollars FAQs

What are the changes?

Beginning January 1, 2014, you will earn Medallion status through a combination of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) flown and your annual spending on Delta flights, which will be measured by Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs).

Why is Delta making these changes?

These Medallion program changes will better recognize and reward our elite customers. These changes will create an even more exclusive Medallion experience and make it easier for Medallion members to enjoy their benefits, including Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades, Economy Comfort™ access, Preferred Seats and Priority Boarding.

When will the Medallion Qualification changes take effect?

The new Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) requirement will go into effect January 1, 2014. Please note this will not affect status earned in 2012 for the 2013 Medallion year or status earned in 2013 for the 2014 Medallion year.

How will I earn Medallion status effective January 1, 2014?

Beginning January 1, 2014, members will earn Medallion status based on the existing criteria of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) AND the new threshold of annual spend on Delta flights, which will be measured by Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs).  Please note that if a customer does not meet the MQDs threshold, he or she can still qualify for Medallion status if he or she has earned the required MQMs or MQSs and makes at least $25,000 in Eligible Purchases within the calendar year on his or her Delta SkyMiles Credit Card.

What spend counts towards Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs)?

MQDs are the total of the SkyMiles member’s spend on Delta-marketed flights (flight numbers that include the “DL” airline code), inclusive of the base fare and applicable surcharges, but exclusive of government- imposed taxes and fees.

Flight spend for travel on other airlines ticketed through a Delta channel (featuring a ticket number beginning with “006”) will also be included in MQDs.

Certain specialty tickets, including but not limited to unpublished, consolidator, group/tour and opaque fare products will not count toward MQDs.

Do bag fees, seat purchases, etc. count toward earning Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs)?

No. Ancillary purchases or fees including but not limited to checked baggage fees, Economy Comfort™ seat purchases, Priority Boarding, Delta Sky Club® memberships, Wi-Fi passes, in-flight food and beverage purchases, in-flight entertainment, unaccompanied minor fees, pet travel fees, Mileage Booster™, ticket change fees, Direct Ticketing Charge (DTC), Same Day Confirmed Fee, Administrative Service Charge (ASC), External Reissue Charge (ERC), and Standby Upgrades purchased at the gate, do not count toward earning MQDs.

What Eligible Purchases count towards the MQDs waiver on the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card?

Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Eligible Purchases are the total of purchases for goods and services less returns and other credits. Fees, interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, purchases of traveler’s checks, the purchase or reloading of prepaid cards and purchases of other cash equivalents will not count towards Eligible Purchases. This applies only to Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards issued in the United States.

Will I earn Medallion status if I spend the minimum amount of MQDs that are required, but do not fly the required amount of MQMs? For example, if I earned $5,000 MQDs but only flew 20,000 MQMs would I earn Gold Medallion status?

Members must complete the MQM or MQS requirements AND earn the minimum amount of MQDs for that tier to qualify for that level of Medallion status.  Spend alone will not earn Medallion status.

How do I track my progress on Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) or Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Eligible Purchases?

You will be able to track and monitor your MQDs and Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Eligible Purchases on delta.com prior to January 1, 2014. Remember, the MQDs requirement does not go into effect until January 1, 2014, but we wanted to give customers plenty of advance notice of this modification.

As a reminder, MQDs are calculated as Delta-marketed or Delta-ticketed base fare and applicable surcharges, excluding government-imposed taxes and fees.  Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Eligible Purchases are the sum total of purchases for goods and services less returns and other credits. Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Eligible Purchases also exclude fees, interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, purchases of traveler’s checks, the purchase or reloading of prepaid cards and purchases of other cash equivalents.

Why is Delta adding a new spend component to Medallion qualification?

The new spend-based component will better recognize and reward our best customers and help ensure your Medallion benefits remain valuable.

What happens if I meet the requirements for Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) but not the spend requirement for Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs)?

If you achieve one Medallion qualification criteria and not the other, your status will be determined based on the lower of the two qualifying thresholds that you achieved. For example, if you earned 76,000 MQMs (enough to qualify for Platinum Medallion status), but had $6,000 MQDs (enough to qualify for Gold Medallion status, but not Platinum Medallion status), then you will earn Gold Medallion status.  Rollover MQMs would be calculated as anything in excess of the MQM threshold for the status earned based on the new criteria.

What about those of us who qualify on segments? How will this change impact us?

The number of segments required for Medallion qualification will not change.  However, you also will have to spend a minimum amount with Delta, measured by Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs). Please note that if a customer does not meet the MQDs threshold, he or she can still qualify for Medallion status if he or she has earned the required Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and makes at least $25,000 in Eligible Purchases within the calendar year on his or her Delta SkyMiles Credit Card.

Will my year-to-date Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) still roll over with the new program and will Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) roll over after spending a certain amount?

Rollover MQMs will not change with the new program.  As long as you earn Medallion status based on the new requirements, any MQMs in excess of the threshold needed for status earned will roll over.  There will be no rollover of MQDs, Eligible Purchases on Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs).

What if I already have enough Rollover Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) to qualify for 2015 Medallion status? Do I still have to earn Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs)?

If a member has enough Rollover MQMs to qualify for 2015 Medallion status, he or she must still meet the MQDs threshold by spending on Delta flights in 2014 to qualify for status in the 2015 Medallion year.

How will this affect the annual complimentary status earned by Million Milers?

Million Miler™ annual complimentary status is not impacted by the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) or Delta SkyMiles Credit Card MQDs waiver.  However, to maintain Rollover Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Million Milers will have to meet the spend requirements to achieve at least Silver Medallion status.

How will this affect Gold or Silver Medallion status gifted through Choice Benefits?

Choice Benefits gifted status is not impacted by the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) or Delta SkyMiles Credit Card MQDs waiver.

Why do the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) required vary by Medallion tier, but Delta SkyMiles Credit Card spend is a flat amount across all tiers?

The waiver for the MQDs requirement for Medallion status is an exclusive benefit of the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, and therefore does not vary by tier level.

I have multiple Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards. How will my Eligible Purchases be calculated?

Your total spend across all U.S.-issued Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards will be combined and count towards your annual total Eligible Purchases.

I have additional cards linked to my Delta SkyMiles Credit Card (spouse, children, colleagues, etc.). Does their spend count towards my total?

Yes. Eligible Purchases by Additional Cardmembers linked to the Basic Cardmember’s account will count towards the Basic Cardmember’s spend total.

Delta issues credit cards in multiple countries. What spend counts towards the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card spend?

Only Eligible Purchases on Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards issued in the United States will count towards the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card spend.

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