The Tiers of the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Program

All legacy airline loyalty programs offer the opportunity to earn elite status – with Delta SkyMiles, that’s called Medallion status. Increasing levels of status can be earned by stealing or spending by credit card, which brings increasing benefits when flying. As a member of the SkyTeam alliance, equivalent alliance status is offered with benefits with all alliance members.


Medallion status

Four levels of Medallion status are offered: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond. In theory, the more you fly, the higher your level will be. However, understanding how this is implemented in practice is complicated. Delta Air Lines has a system of dollars, miles, and Medallion qualifying segments (abbreviated as MQD, MQM, and MQS). These are used to determine each level. We will see in more detail later how these are calculated.

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To win each level, you need a minimum amount of MQD (reflecting how much you spend) and reaching an MQM or MQS goal (reflecting how much you steal). In summary, you need the following:

  • Medallion Silver: 3,000 MQD, plus 25,000 MQM or 30 MQS
  • Medallion Gold: 6,000 MQD, plus 50,000 MQM or 60 MQS
  • Medallion Platinum: 9,000 MQD, plus 75,000 MQM or 100 MQS
  • Medallion Diamond: 15,000 MQD, plus 125,000 MQM or 140 MQS

Photo: Vincenzo Pace/Simple Flight

These status levels provide the corresponding status with the SkyTeam Alliance:

  • Silver Medal: SkyTeam Elite
  • Gold medallion: SkyTeam Elite
  • Platinum Medallion: SkyTeam Elite Plus
  • Diamond Medallion: SkyTeam Elite Plus

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Single flight.

Benefits of Medallion Status Level

The purpose of holding elite status in any airline program is to receive perks and benefits while flying. Delta SkyMiles offers the following key benefits when you fly with Delta Air Lines:

Silver Medallion:

  • Earning level of 7 SkyMiles per dollar spent.
  • Free upgrade to first class or Comfort+ seat.
  • Free bag.

Medallion Gold (in addition to previous benefits):

  • Earning level of 8 SkyMiles per dollar spent.
  • Same day free flight change.
  • Priority security check and baggage handling.
  • Access to Delta Sky Club or another SkyTeam lounge when traveling internationally.

Photo: Delta Airlines

Medallion Platinum (in addition to previous benefits):

  • Earning level of 9 SkyMiles per dollar spent.
  • No charge for canceling award tickets and re-depositing miles.
  • A choice of Platinum benefits (a choice of four regional upgrades, 20,000 SkyMiles, a $200 Delta Air Lines voucher, the granting of Silver Medallion status to another member).

Medallion Diamond (in addition to previous benefits):

  • Earning level of 11 SkyMiles per dollar spent.
  • Three Platinum Diamond choices (choices include an upgrade package of eight regional or four global upgrades, 25,000 SkyMiles, $200 Delta Air Lines voucher, gift of Gold Medallion status to another member, and Delta membership Sky Clubs).

Photo: Delta Airlines

Additionally, matching SkyTeam status provides several benefits when flying on any SkyTeam airline. For SkyTeam Elite, this includes additional baggage allowance, priority check-in and priority boarding. SkyTeam Elite Plus adds lounge access when flying on any SkyTeam airline (excluding domestic Delta Air Lines flights) and priority security screening.

Achieve Medallion Status

Status is earned through a combination of Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD), Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM), and Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQS).

Picture: Delta Air Lines

These are earned on flights, but it’s not as simple as earning a mile or a dollar per mile flown or dollar spent. The following is a brief summary of how MQDs, MQMs, and MQSs are awarded on Delta Air Lines and partner flights.

Winning by flying Delta

When flying with Delta Air Lines, MQDs are earned at the rate of one MQD per dollar spent on the ticket. This includes the base fare and charges imposed by the airline, but not government taxes and fees. For the cheapest economy fares, this gain can be very small.

MQMs are earned based on distance traveled and fare class. Each flight will earn a percentage of miles flown, with a minimum of 500 MQM. This excludes the lowest Basic Economy fares, which are not eligible for MQMs.

MQS are simply earned based on the number of segments flown (each separate flight grants one MQS). Again, the lowest Basic Economy fares are not eligible.

Photo: Getty Images

Earn while flying with partner airlines

With partners, Delta generally does not have access to the underlying ticket details and fare paid. The MQDs are therefore rather based on the distance traveled. You can earn with all SkyTeam partners as well as other partners, including Virgin Atlantic, LATAM and WestJet.

There is a conversion table for each airline, where MQDs are earned based on flight distance and ticket reservation/asset code. This can range from zero (some of the lowest booking classes earn nothing) up to 60% (for first class). MQMs are earned in the same way, with a percentage of the distance flown for each booking class – up to 200% MQM for certain Business Class and First Class fares.

You can see the full tables for each airline (which are updated/changed regularly) on the SkyMiles website. The current tables of Air France (international flights) and KLM are given below as an example.

Picture: Delta Air Lines

Picture: Delta Air Lines

Win on award tickets

Delta SkyMiles is unusual among loyalty programs in allowing award flights to count toward status. These can only be earned on Delta Air Lines flights, which earn MQDs at the rate of the total miles redeemed for the flight divided by 100. MQMs are earned at the rate of 100% of the distance flown for the main cabin (none for Basic Economy fares) and 150% for premium cabins.

Earn from credit card spending

Credit card spending is not a standard contributor to earning status (unlike American Airlines AAdvantage, for example, where elite status can be earned solely through partner credit card spending) . The only exception to this rule is for big spenders. If you spend $25,000 per year on a partner card, you can get waived from the MQD requirement for all tiers up to Platinum. Spending $250,000 will grant a waiver for Medallion Diamond.

Picture: Delta Air Lines

Changes coming in 2023

Loyalty programs these days don’t stay the same for long. Most of the main programs have had several major updates or refreshes in recent years. American Airlines AAdvantage, for example, had a similar system of dollars, miles, and qualifying segments, but completely updated it with a system based solely on a single loyalty points system.

Unfortunately, no such simplification has yet been announced for Delta SkyMiles. Instead, the next major change will be to make elite qualification more difficult with higher spending requirements. From 2023, the qualification criteria will be:

  • Medallion Silver: 3,000 MQD, plus 25,000 MQM or 30 MQS
  • Medallion Gold: 8,000 MQD, plus 50,000 MQM or 60 MQS
  • Medallion Platinum: 12,000 MQD, plus 75,000 MQM or 100 MQS
  • Medallion Diamond: 20,000 MQD, plus 125,000 MQM or 140 MQS

Do you have Elite Medallion Status with Delta SkyMiles? What benefits do you find most useful? Want to chat or share tips on collecting MQDs and MQMs? Feel free to discuss it further in the comments.

  • Delta A350
    Delta Airlines

    IATA/ICAO code:
    DL/DAL

    Airline type:
    Full service carrier

    Hub(s):
    Boston Logan International Airport, Metro Detroit Wayne County Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, New York JFK Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Salt Lake City International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

    Year of foundation:
    1929

    Alliance:
    SkyTeam

    CEO:
    Ed Bastien

    Country:
    United States