TPG reader Jay asks:
“I currently have 70,000 MQMs on Delta for the year, and with three known upcoming flights, I will cross over the 75,000 MQM mark reaching Platinum status for the first time ever. Beyond the three upcoming flights, I am not yet sure if I will have any additional ones before December 31. Is it more advantageous to cross over the 75,000 MQMs, reaching Platinum Medallion Status, or is it better to stay under the 75,000 mark, which would then result in 24,000+ MQMs rolling over in my account on January 1, 2012? Because, by going with the rollover approach, I will hit Gold status much quicker in 2012. What do you think?”
As a Diamond Medallion, trust me – I know your struggle with the “to rollover or not to rollover” question. For anyone who doesn’t know, Delta has rollover elite miles – anything past your elite level (and before the next level) will be rolled over to the next elite year. Their elite levels are at 25,000/50,000/75,000/125,000 so for example, if you have 35,000 elite miles in a year – you’ll start the next with 10,000. This is a great program in my opinion and it allows me to keep flying Delta after I reach an elite level for the year, because I know those miles will go towards the next year’s qualification. In most programs, your elite miles reset to 0 on January 1 of every year, so its nice to start your year with rollover padding.
However, the question becomes – do I sprint and try to hit the next elite level before year’s end, or do I stop and rollover a ton of miles for the next year? – as TPG reader Jay is currently struggling with.
The first thing I’d say is: assess the following year’s flying. Unfortunately, most people can’t predict exactly how many miles they will fly the next year. Projects change, jobs change, major life occurrences happen – all of which can either greatly increase or decrease your flying for the year.
For me personally, achieving the next level of status is worth it. One of my favorite life mottos is “go big or go home” and I guess you could call me a risk taker (I quit my comfy Wall Street job to become a full-time points blogger after all!). From my perspective, I’d rather get top status and then status match/challenge the next year if necessary in order to maintain status for the next year and a half. I also know that I love airline elite status and that I always make it happen, so I always leave the worrying about requalification to the next year. That’s part of the fun for me solving the puzzle and making it all work.
However, I know that many people aren’t as bullish about their travel and would rather take the conservative route and rollover a bundle of miles and have several years of mid-status than potentially one with top tier and one with bottom tier. I’d personally take a look at the major benefits of getting that next elite level and see whether it’s worth it. Personally, I think Gold to Platinum is one of the biggest jumps, so I’d personally go for Platinum if I were you. The stakes aren’t as high from Platinum to Diamond and the threshold is further, so I can see why that is a bigger question mark for those considering Diamond.
Major differences in elite status:
Silver (25,000 miles or 30 segments) – Bottom of the upgrade list but still can snag a few here and there with the right flight planning, companion upgrades, 25% bonus miles, free exit row/premium seating on domestic, discount for International Economy Comfort, free bags, enhanced customer service (especially with flight cancellations).
Gold (50,000 miles or 60 segments) – Same as silver, but you get 100% mileage bonus on flights, free Same Day Confirmed (which I use religiously) and Standby, enhanced upgrade priority, waived phone booking fee, SkyPriority, priority security, award ticket upgrade capability, Skyteam Elite Plus which gets you access to lounges when flying Skyteam internationally in coach.
Platinum (75,000 miles or 100 segments) – Same as gold, but you get the ability to make free unlimited free changes to award tickets which is a major benefit. For example, you can book a mid tier award and then change it to low at any point before the flight (up until 72 hours of departure). You also get a Choice Benefit, like gifting silver status to a friend or getting a $200 Delta voucher. Free international Economy Comfort for you and up to 7 companions.
Diamond (125,000 miles or 140 segments) – Same as Platinum, but you get two enhanced Choice benefits, free Skyclub membership, 125% mileage bonus
So it all depends on your situation, but if it was up to me, I’d say go for the next level and worry about next year when the time comes!