Delta may walk back some of their recently announced changes


Two weeks ago Delta announced huge changes to their SkyMiles elite program and to their Sky Club admission policies.  These changes were so unpopular that many, many people vowed to give up their Delta credit cards and switch their airline alliance elsewhere.  Along those lines, I recently published “My first steps towards divorcing Delta’s elite program.”

Now, Delta’s CEO says that he has heard us and that they will make changes.

a man and woman sitting in chairs with microphones
Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, speaks at the Rotary Club of Atlanta.  Click here to jump to the discussion about Delta’s upcoming program changes.

At a Rotary Club meeting in Atlanta on September 25th, Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian talked about the announced changes to the Sky Miles program (Hat Tip: TPG).  To watch the video yourself, click here to jump to the discussion about Delta’s upcoming program changes.

In the video, Mr. Bastian says that changes were required because of huge growth in the number of high level Delta elites.  He says that through the pandemic, the number of top tier Diamond elites had almost doubled (of course, that’s mostly due to the fact that they rolled over elite earnings each year of the pandemic and offered extra status boosts as well).  As a result of this growth in their elite ranks, he says that there is far more demand for their premium product and services than they can accommodate with their current assets (i.e. they don’t have enough Delta One seats for upgrades, Sky Club capacity, call center agents, etc.).

So, Mr. Bastian made it very clear that big changes are needed to reduce the ranks of high level elites, but he does acknowledge that they’ve received a huge amount of negative feedback.  As a result, he says that there will be modifications to their plans and that we’ll “hear about it over the next few weeks.”

Well, that’s interesting!  Any guesses as to what they might change?  Here are some of my guesses, in order, starting with the ones that I think are most likely:

  • Better MQM Rollover: The current plans for those with rolled over MQMs is to be able to convert them at a horrible ratio of 20 MQMs to 1 MQD or 2 MQMs to 1 redeemable mile.  I think there’s a very good chance that they’ll fix this because it’s currently a huge slap in the face to those who have been loyal to Delta for many years.
  • Better MQD Earnings with Card Spend: The current plans are for Delta Platinum cards to earn only 1 MQD per $20 spent whereas the Delta Reserve card will earn 1 MQD per $10 spent.  My guess is that they’ll move the Delta Platinum earnings much closer to the Delta Reserve’s earnings.
  • More Sky Club Visits: The current plan is for Delta Reserve cardholders to be limited to 10 Sky Club visits per year.  Delta might increase that allotment, or reduce the spend requirement for unlimited visits (currently $75K), or maybe introduce extra visits with spend before reaching $75K (e.g. get 10 more passes with $25K and again at $50K spend).
  • Lower Diamond threshold: The current plans are to require $35,000 MQDs to reach Diamond status.  I think it’s possible that they’ll lower that to $30,000.

What do you think?

For details about the previously announced changes, see these posts:

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Rick Scadlock

It’s too late for me, I’ve already started booking my late 2023 and 2024 flights on Star Alliance carriers, which, in the long run, will work out better for me living in Southern California. It’s goodbye to my Delta Platinum Medallion status and the Reserve Amex card I’ve held for years

Jeff Palumbo

Thanks to you and your readers, I held off on applying for a Delta AMEX Reserve card. Limiting loyal customers to 10 visits in their lounge is foolish, and Delta will pay dearly.


The Amex Delta Reserve Card needs a refresh. In the card’s current form, it is impotent. Its reward structure needs to catch up to what AA did with its Executive Card. 4X on flights. 10X on hotels booked via its hotel portal. 10X on car rentals booked via its portal.


Based on the comments, I don’t think anyone really understood Ed’s comment…

He didn’t say they made a mistake on the changes, he said they moved to fast.

Delta will make some minor conciliatory moves to try to stem the outrage, and then simply move toward the announced changes at a slower pace. Like @JoeB, I recently moved from NW Atlanta where I flew Delta to the tune of 750,000 miles over the last 8 years, to the Orlando area. Orlando (for some reason) isn’t really a hub to any airline – I have my pick of many carriers, and unless I’m flying to Atlanta, I will no longer be flying Delta. They have lost all credibility with me.


They will rip the bandaid slower. But, the bandaid IS coming off.


Have already started the process of getting similar status on several airlines flying out of MCO. Lived in atlanta for many years but now fly out of orlando. Since delta doesnt want us, we’ll move and both cancel our $550 / year Delta Reserves and our $100K spend. Already have a JetBlue flight to Cancun booked.


They should lower the thresholds for worthless Silver and Gold status. They should allow MQD earning on all DL Amex cards at the same rate


My guess is Silver 5K/Gold 10K/Platinum 15K/Diamond 30K. Improve MQD earning rate on Delta Platinum Card. MQD rollover for platinum+ level medallions (we can dream right?). No improvements to sky club access restrictions


Here’s my wild speculation:

  • I think the tiered Sky Club visits on the Reserve makes sense, and perhaps restoring pay-per-visit to the Delta Platinum. I don’t see them changing the Amex Platinum rules – if someone wants to regularly visit, Delta wants them to have the Delta card. The visit count may also be treated as per-day, so visits at two different airports in the same day count as one visit.
  • Delta Platinum gets matched to the $10:1 MQD earning threshold. This might be me just dreaming, but they may also extend this down to the Delta Gold. Reserve may also get an MQD bonus at certain spending levels; perhaps every $50k in spend gets 1,000 MQDs.
  • Diamond Medallion goes down to 24,000 MQDs, to make it even 6k MQD steps across the board. Maybe it’ll hop up to 30,000 MQDs, with some extra Platinum benefits at 24,000 MQDs.
  • If they’re going to go deeper into the weeds and try and re-earn loyalty from a few time a year leisure travelers, I could see them doing some sort of “bronze credit card medallion” where if you have one of the Delta cards, at 3,000 MQDs you get Bronze Medallion, with complimentary preferred seats at booking, and Comfort+ upgrades (bottom of list) beginning at check-in, but no complimentary first upgrades or other benefits (no priority check-in, no priority boarding beyond what the credit card provides.)
  • No idea with how they’ll handle rollover MQMs, so no speculation there on my end.

I really don’t see them reverting back to the old system in any meaningful way, and clearly they want to do MQD-only earnings going forward.


Great airline from a service delivery standpoint. We had just decided to concentrate flying with them, what with having an AmEx. So much for concentration with them. I’ll travel with them when I have to. They apparently don’t value you us as customers doing the type of travel that is usual for us.


These changes are in essence meaningless when compared to how they gutted the program. I am moving all business to AA and AS. Good bye Delta!

Just booked premium economy DFW -HND, FC Sea-DFW, FC ANC-SEA all on AA.


Does it really matter? I’m Delta hub captive and yet I rarely fly them. And if Delta is doing so well that they’re less concerned about loyalty then good for them


Re: Better MQM Rollover: It would make some sense that folks who were planning rollovers for post-2024 (that year most would know what they were planning to get) to be, say, 3 years of DM, then the conversion should at least allow a soft landing of getting maybe 2 years of DM (with DM/MQD rollovers, of course) or at least 1 year of DM. Going from 400K MQMs (like Greg, e.g.) to Platinum at best is quite a ‘band-aid rip-off’!


I am so glad I never joined the land of Skypesos despite getting credit card marketing from them many times over the years!

Angela Williams

I have earned Platinum every yews, including during the Pandemic, the right way following the rules. My husband and I have been loyal to Delta for over 39 years and are multi year Platinum with The Delta Reserve Card. We are looking to change our credit card and airlines. Even with these “updates” you say they could make. It’s not enough to have high statues and with all the money we have spent with them, it’s not worth it.


The key quote from the TPG story is

“No question, we probably went too far,” Bastian said. “Our team wanted to kind of rip the band-aid off.”

He still wants the band-aid to be off. Just do it a bit slower. Which isn’t exactly much better. The end goal remains.