Sunday Reader Email Question: What Delta Platinum Medallion Choice Benefit Should I Choose?

by on July 10, 2011 · 26 comments

in Delta, Sunday Reader Questions

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TPG reader Trent writes:

“Once I got Platinum with Delta, I had the option to choose a gift. You can gift one level of Medallion status to someone, get some miles, or some upgrades, etc. I was thinking of gifting Silver Medallion to my wife who doesn’t travel as often as I do but does some. All the other choices seemed pretty lame, but so does lowly Silver Medallion. Ideas? I’m based in Athens Georgia and travel mostly out of Atlanta.”

What Trent is talking about is the relatively new Choice Benefits of the Delta Medallion (Elite status) program. Once you accrue 75,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles in a calendar year, you can select one choice from the following list:
4 Systemwide upgrades (Which can only be used on expensive Y, B, M international fare classes and exclude the cheapest L, U, T fares domestically).
20,000 Skymiles (not Medallion Qualifying Miles)
Gifting Silver Medallion Status (which is good until the February of the second year you gift it)
4 SkyClub Day Passes
$200 Gift card (Delta, Tiffany and a bunch of others)

Clearly the best choice is the one that you will personally get the most value out of, but here’s how I look at them (I’ve now chosen several gifts for reaching Platinum/Diamond the past couple of years)
Most valuable:
1) Silver medallion status. The other gifts are in the $200-$400 dollar range and I’d personally value Silver at around $800. Once upon a time, when I was a silver I got a bunch of upgrades and even got operationally upgraded on a JFK-Buenos Aires flight (when Delta used to fly that route – please bring it back!). Considering this specific reader is in Atlanta, it’s reasonable to think his wife will get decent use out of the status, even though she will benefit from his Platinum status for the core benefits like free checked bags and premium seating. However, Delta processes companion upgrades after all Medallions – so technically a Platinum and a Silver Medallion who are on the same itinerary, won’t get upgraded until every other individual Medallion gets upgraded. While upgrades will be hard for a Silver to get out of Atlanta, your odds are better if you split each reservation and let your Platinum status snag your upgrade (and give it to her, obviously ;-) ) and then let her try and get the Silver upgrade. If you split and she doesn’t have any Medallion status, you will always have to deal with a best case scenario of one person in first and one in coach. Plus, whenever she travels alone (if that’s ever the case), she will get a lot of money-saving benefits like free luggage, exit row seating and overall better customer service in the case of irregular operations.
2) 20,000 Skymiles. While some people call them Skypesos, I’m actually able to put my Skymiles to use. Some of my favorite awards are 120,000 miles to Europe and Africa or 150,000 miles for Australia on V Australia (or to Tahiti). Since I redeem my Skymiles for international premium classes, I place a value of about 2 cents per mile, so 20,000 miles = $400 or so.
3) Systemwide upgrades: Caveat – I find these useful for upgrading K fares to Hawaii, which are usually around $1,100 from the East coast or for upgrading cheap Air France Premium Economy tickets ($1,300ish offpeak) to Business Class (though that gravy train might be coming to an end).
4) $200 gift cards
5) 4 Skyclub day passes. There are so many ways to get lounge access and since its free for Diamonds and American Express Platinum or Reserve cardholders, I personally find no value to this choice and even if I didn’t have lounge access, I’d probably place a personal value of about $20 for getting to use the Skyclub.

What are your thoughts on the most valuable Choice Benefits?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Dewhit6959

    I have found that the 20k mileage award is the most useful. The upgrade certificates would be useful for someone with many international needs, but the base fare is prohibitive and the Delta/Amex Reserve First class BOGO certificate and the Platinum card BOGO often work out a bit lower for the occasional leisure trip with someone. The Silver Medallion status does nothing except give false expectation and I speak with individuals who do not understand the “uncoupling” benefit on the upgrade boards. The better gate agents and phone rep’s will do this, but my experience is it never resulted in two upgradeable seats for any flights when I attempted. Silver can hardly get any upgrades from Atlanta, even on heavy regional flight schedule unless you fly odd hours that are not office hour friendly. The miles give you most flexibility, I find. I would like to see the introduction of some type “super point” that could be more restrictive and only obtained thru actual flight activity, yet redeemable for international upgrade. I also wish there were a “mid tier” mileage bonus at 100-115k for those of us that will push the Diamond threshhold, but want to stay with Platinum for the rollover and not do a churn on credit cards every year.

  • Gpapadop

    I would like to learn more about how Delta handles companion upgrading as I am about to hit Platinum for the first time after Delta took over my beloved Northwest!

  • Anonymous

    I definitely think the miles work best for me. It gives a lot of flexibility in that it can be hard to obtain the final needed miles for some trip (especially when have every credit card they offer!). The biggest thing to me is that (at least for the time being), you can use those 20,000 miles (plus 2,000 more from your account) to purchase AMEX gift cards worth a total value of $200. That makes the gift certificate options less appealing since you have great flexibility with AMEX cards.

  • Carriekris

    Because of airport security, it is no longer possible for my husband to let me sit in his first class seat (at least that is what they keep telling me when they find me in his seat – business class is a thrill for me, he is used to it and always tries to be the gentleman)

  • Carriekris

    My point is that it may not be of value to get an upgrade if you intend to give it to the person flying with while you go back to his/her economy seat

  • Mehul Sheth

    Great post, and very timely for my as I am about to hit platinum. I agree that gifting silver is the route that I will likly go, but what happens when I get to diamond? Should I wait until I get to DM to gift my wife gold? I have three kids, should I gift one silver when I hit PM and then my wife gold when I get to DM so that I can potentially get 3 upgrades instead of 1?

    Thanks for the great blog, it’s the only thing on the web that I read every single day!

  • Byroshi

    My understanding is that they process all individual medallion upgrades first, and they they process all companions.

  • Dewhit6959

    I have never had any problem giving my wife my first class seat. I usually tell the flight steward when we board and have never had them question it. We have changed seats on some flights after boarding without saying anything to anyone and never had it questioned. We have even given both our first class seats to a young couple starting honeymoon going to Miami and taken seats in the back. ((short ATL-MIA flight w/many open seats))
    They do not want pax changing cabin seats back and forth thru out flight.
    I have seen them chastise someone and escort their children from first class when it was apparent it was a game of musical chairs with the family.

  • Sean

    The first year I took the 20k miles, and last year I took the $200 e-credit. Not sure what I’ll choose this year. But I enjoy reading these comments.

  • Anonymous

    Gold is a lot better than Silver, so I say gift the gold. It doesn’t work like you think so if you were to gift her islver then gift her gold, she’d still only be Gold, so don’t waste that original choice on Silver. Make sense?

    And thanks for reading the blog!

  • Anonymous

    You can definitely give your first class seat to someone riding in coach. Just let the flight attendant know

  • Anonymous

    Correct. All medallions get processed, then medallions with companions. So a Diamond with a nonstatus companion gets processed after a silver on a T fare

  • Mehul Sheth

    Makes sense, sounds like I should gift silver to one of the kids and gold to the wife…thanks for the feedback!

  • Hunter

    I’ve done it a number of times and never let anyone know. She just sat in my seat and I sat in the back with the common folks. haha. I’ve never had anyone stop us. I would even give her my ticket and she would board with it and I would board with hers.

    Ever hear Johnny Cash’s “Boy Named Sue”? haha

  • Raj B

    I know this is old, but had a question about making Diamond. Can you gift Gold status to two people, or can you only choose a particular choice benefit only once?

    About to make Platinum, and possibly hit Diamond before EOY, and this answer will probably affect my Plat choice.


  • Phil

    Personnaly, I think the upgrades are extremely valuable for international travel. I own my own business and fly to Korea and Germany a couple of times each year, and these allow me to upgrade from a coach ticket to business class. Yes, the coach ticket is expensive, but it typically saves me between $3000 – 6000 off of the business class price each time (and at 6’4″ I have to fly business class). This equates to some major money that I get to keep in my pocket every year.

  • Anonymous

    You can only select one Gold status to gift

  • Jim

    Points Guy: Thanks for writing about this. I’m about to take my first Mileage Runs ORD-ATL-LAX-ATL-ORD for $240 a/i which will get me up to Platinum this year. I am definitely leaning towards gifting Silver to my fiance so she might get upgraded more often. Another thought about gifting her Silver is that her MQMs from this year will then rollover to next year. She probably earns about 15k MQM per year which would mean that next year she would earn silver on her own. Do you know if I could then gift her gold the next year? Seams like a no-brainer to take the the MR and get platinum for the gifted silver status (I probably value around $500) and to not lose those 15k earned MQMs in her account.

    If I gift her status in December (to hang on to those MQMs in her account) will it last until Feb 2013?

    Thanks for all your work, it’s really enjoyable reading!

  • Anonymous

    The silver gift isnt a 25k MQM gift so she will still lose her 15k MQMs at the end of the year.

    I agree, though, that it makes sense to gift her the status if you value it at $500

  • Jim

    Hmm…I might have to ask Delta about this. My thought was that one of the listed benefits of Silver Medallion is the ability to rollover MQMs, so if you have silver status one year and the next year you only earn 15k MQMs thus not qualifying for silver do you still get to rollover those MQMs to the following year? If not then maybe the benefit should be listed as “any MQMs over 25k may be rolled over.”

  • Jim

    Just read the fine print and gifted status is ineligible for rollover MQMs. Thanks for the heads up!

  • Fumieblock

    I am platinum medallion. Can I get in Delta Sky Club for cup of coffee or any other servece?

  • Anonymous

    If you have a membership or are traveling business class transcontinentla or internationally.

  • Pingback: Video Sunday Reader Question: How To Avoid Hitting Diamond So I Can Rollover Delta Miles | The Points Guy()

  • Jxbiz

    You can only rollover miles that have been earned above the previous threshold. The thresholds are 25k, 50k, 75k and 125k. Zero K is not a threshold. If you accrue 24k, you carryover 0 and earn no status; if you accrue 45k then you earn Silver and carryover 20k. But if you accrue 55k then you earn Gold and carryover 5k only, etc.

  • Dave

    I am Delta Platinum. And I believe a 3 million miler. Recently I received a gift from Delta and Tiffany. It was a very unique M luggage tag in a Tiffany box. The enclosed note said “We hope you enjoy your choice of gift.” I don’t recall choosing.

    A few years back I got a CD player and some CD’s at 1 million, a choice of a Tiffany vase at 2 million, and now a luggage tag, nice as it is, at what I believe is 3 million.

    Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but if I had a choice, I wonder what else I could have chosen, OR, if in the new Delta, they chose for me. The gift arrived in February of 2013.

    Can’t seem to find anything on the Delta site about gift selection.

    Can you help?

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