Delta announces a new top tier

It has been a long time coming. Many months ago Delta started hinting that an official 4th tier was coming to their SkyMiles program. Then back in May they made it official – a new top tier was coming but there were no more details available. Now there are details available, thanks to the August issue of Sky Magazine being published online a bit early. And the benefits seem decidedly underwhelming to me.

The new level – Diamond Status – will supplant Platinum Medallion as the top level in their program. The qualification levels are the highest in the industry – 125,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) or 140 segments in a calendar year. And what great benefits does one get for flying that much? There are some nice perks, including a 125% bonus for reward miles over the 100% that Platinums get and a higher priority for complimentary upgrades on domestic flights. There is the option to pick two “special rewards” such as a SkyClubs membership or gifting bottom tier status instead; Platinum medallions will get to choose one of those rewards. And no fees at all for reward redemptions which is not significant since Delta screwed their Platinum Medallion members earlier this year by taking away that top tier benefit.

The real benefit that Delta is introducing is one that applies to all their members, not just the new Diamonds – rollover on extra MQMs. So a Silver Medallion who earns 40,000 MQMs this year will start next year with 15,000 in their account already. That’s great news for all their Medallion members, not just the Diamonds. In some cases it could be seen as a disincentive for folks who are around 120K miles to take that extra trip; starting the next year with 45,000 MQMs in the bank is not a bad place to be.

Delta has unofficially offered similar benefits previously so this mostly just codifies the existing structure. But it definitely wouldn’t incent me to fly more for the benefits if I were to use their program as my primary focus. There just isn’t that much of an upside there for the extra investment. It is a great reward if you’re flying that much anyways, but not an incentive to go farther (and spend more money) as far as I can see.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.