If you have not heard the rumors on FlyerTalk and Milepoint, then don’t worry, you didn’t miss much. Yet, some of those rumors came true today, when Delta officially announced their new requirements for Elite Status for the SkyMiles 2015 program year. Delta is NOT moving to a revenue-based program and changing Delta SkyMiles to a point-based program similar to Virgin American and Southwest Airlines; however, they are adding a new revenue-spending requirement.
For SkyMiles member residing in the United States, Delta will add a new qualification threshold requirement known as Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MDMs). In order to achieve Delta Elite, SkyMiles members will be required to not only fly a certain number of segments or miles, but they will also have to spend a requirement amount on Delta Air Lines flights.
The new requirements are the following:
OR, for those readers who have or get the Delta-branded American Express Card and spend $25,000+ a year on it will be granted an exemption from meeting the MQDs requirements.
When announcing these changes Delta said:
These changes are a result of considerable research that we’ve conducted including conversations with hundreds of customers, many of whom expressed a desire to see the Medallion program truly target our best customers,” said Jeff Robertson, vice president – SkyMiles. “Adding a revenue component to the SkyMiles Medallion program ensures that our most valued customers receive the best program benefits and a more exclusive experience.
Although I do agree that customers who spend more should be awarded with more, I have a hard time understanding the blanket policy of revenue requirements. If Delta was smart, they would introduce a component to the SkyMiles program similar to American Airlines Concierge Key or United Airlines Global Service. This way they recognized their top spenders, but do not punish the rest of their frequent flyers away.
Delta insists they are doing this to attract new customers and make the SkyMiles program stand above the rest. Yet I do not see how! IF Delta is going to really make the SkyMiles program shine then they need to add new benefits. The only perk they offer now is extremely limited low level award availability (wait that’s not a perk!), and per there news released they are the only airline to offer:
Unlimited complimentary domestic upgrades including award tickets, no mileage expiration, an industry-leading Diamond Medallion published tier and rollover MQMs
However, let me remind Delta that United offers unlimited complimentary Upgrades throughout North American and this INCLUDES HAWAII (United 1, Delta 0)! Now the other two perks they are correct on, but then again Delta Diamond has the HIGHEST requirements in the industry and does not provide any additional perks that are better than United 1k, US Chairman Preferred, or AA Executive Platinum. At least all the other program give frequent flyers system wide upgrades certificates that are actually useful!
In the end, this new requirement will help trim the fat in their program and many people who travel on only cheap airfare will fail to make the spending requirements of the higher elite status. This will result in less Platinum and Diamond members and more low level elites who suffer from little dog syndrome already (wanting more benefits because they are elite, but not flying enough to get them). The average flyer like the majority of us will no longer reach Delta’s highest elite level and instead Platinum and Diamond will be left for business travelers whose companies spend absurd amounts of money on last minute travel and international travel. For the leisure traveler or the frequent vacationer you can kiss Delta elite status farewell because there is no way you’ll be dropping $7,500 – $12,500 a year on airfare. Although, this new requirement also provides Delta with new flexibility and we may see promotions from Delta similar to what we’ve seen in the pass. Instead of offer 2x miles on select routes or system wide, Delta could instead offer 2x MQD! Now wouldn’t that be fun (sarcasm)!
There are still hundred of questions to be answered and I expect with time we will slowly get answer to them. My 1st question is, will airfare bought via travel agency or online travel sites such as orbitz and expedia count towards MQDs or will Delta follow the industry trend and try to push people to their site, therefore blocking such purchases from counting towards MQDs?
Stay Tunes Folks, the ride at Delta just got bumpier!