I have no hope of ever obtaining Million Mile status with Delta Air Lines, but as a Million Miler at United Airlines with sights on eventually hitting the two and three million miler tiers, I find Delta’s revamped program very encouraging.
Delta Retools Million Miler Program
Here are the current thresholds:
- 1 million miler – SkyMiles Silver Medallion status for life
- 2 million miler – SkyMiles Gold Medallion status for life
- 4 million miler – SkyMiles Platinum Medallion status for life
- 6 million miler – SkyMiles Diamond Medallion status for life
Here are the new thresholds, as of January 1, 2024:
- 1 million miler – SkyMiles Gold Medallion status for life
- 2 million miler – SkyMiles Platinum Medallion status for life
- 3 million miler – SkyMiles Diamond Medallion status for life
- 5 million miler – Delta 360 status for life (otherwise, Delta 360 is a non-published, invite-only tier based upon spending)
Some will celebrate and others will bemoan the changes. Why? Because in making these changes Delta will start only counting your actual flight miles flown on Delta flights going forward (so-called “butt in seat miles”) rather than any MQM miles earned (including via partners, fare class bonuses, and credit card spending).
It will become much harder to earn Million Miler status and will require a lot more Delta flying. It will force the sort of loyalty that seems far less relevant in the overall SkyMiles program. In making this change, Delta will honor all existing balances toward lifetime status, so your previous credit card spending will still count.
I applaud Delta for these changes, which move in the opposite direction of the rest of the SkyMiles program by focusing on miles flown (a metric Delta will no longer even consider in earning annual Medallion status). Miles flown are one excellent indicator of loyalty. While not an exclusive metric, someone who has been loyal enough to fly 1-5 million miles on Delta will now be recognized in a way that I do think will drive more loyalty despite the poor overall state of the program.
Delta has also refreshed its complimentary upgrade priority for 2024, which includes Million Miler Status moving up in the hierarchy for complimentary upgrades to the #3 priority position (behind Medallion status and fare class, but now ahead of co-branded credit card holders and corporate travelers).
Hopefully This Discourages United From Devaluing Its Million Miler Program
I approach this issue from the perspective of a Million Miler United flyer well on his way to 2 Million Miler status. United still retains the most generous Million Miler program in the industry, with lifetime Global Services status for 4 million lifetime miles and also status that covers not only the million miler flyer, but also a designated companion.
I’ve long feared that United would devalue this program (probably just before I hit the next million miler threshold) because American Airlines and Delta Air Lines simply offered nothing as competitive. Delta’s change to more closely parallel United’s program makes it less likely United will devalue its own program.
I am genuinely pleased by Delta’s changes to its Million Miler program and believe these changes will incentivize loyalty and properly reward it (that does not change my overall assessment that elite status on Delta is overrated). I am also hopeful that these changes will dissuade United from modifying its own generous Million Miler program.