Delta has announced today that Delta-operated SkyMiles award tickets will earn elite credit, both Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) and Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs), as a permanent change. Delta originally launched elite earnings on their award tickets last year as a temporary enhancement valid through December 31, 2022, but today they announced plans to keep this as a permanent program feature. This is an awesome (and in my opinion overdue) change that I hope paves the path for other airlines to follow suit.
Delta operated award tickets will continue to earn elite credit
This is a customer-friendly change that recognizes the value of frequent flyer miles as a payment currency. Frankly, I’m surprised that airlines haven’t counted award flights toward status requirements until recently. An elite program is about recognizing valuable loyal customers, and what customers are more valuable and more loyal than those who use their earned frequent flyer miles to fly the airline awarding those miles? Surely it costs Delta (or any airline program) more to offer redemptions on partners than it does on their own flights, so this encourages a use of miles that comes at what I imagine is a low cost for the airline.
Delta will award MQDs based on a value of $0.01 per mile. In other words, if you use 10,000 miles on your ticket, you will get credit for a hundred dollars in Medallion Qualifying Dollars spend. I expect MQMs will continue to depend on fare class and distance. I wouldn’t be surprised to see promotions continue to offer enhanced earning rates as we did late last year, but no news on that right now.
I doubt that many members will reach the MQD requirements for Platinum or Diamond status based on mileage redemption, but I find this change exciting for those who would spend on Delta cards for an MQD waiver but would come up short on MQMs since they will now earn those elite-qualifying miles even on award tickets.
I would certainly love to see other airlines follow suit on this now that most programs are more revenue-based. As One Mile at a Time notes, I’m not sure there is a very practical way for American Airlines to accomplish that, but it is a change I would love to see from any program.
Note that the cap on earnings from a single ticket has also been lifted. Delta previously limited customers to earning no more than 75,000 miles on a single ticket. That would require a very expensive ticket purchase, but now there is no longer a limit. That’s good news for those buying very expensive fares.
H/T: One Mile at a Time