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Delta’s latest promo helps you earn elite status faster, includes award tickets

March 31, 2021
8 min read
Delta A220-300 Zach Griff - 41
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Planning to push for Delta Medallion status? Well, Delta is rolling out a promo that SkyMiles members will likely be happy about.

The Atlanta-based airline is launching a fast-track offer to elite status for most flights taken from April 1 through Dec. 31, 2021. Plus, Delta's extending the validity of certain co-branded credit card perks.

Let's dive right into the details.

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Delta Medallion status 2021 fast-track offer

From April 1 through the end of the year, SkyMiles members can earn up to 75% more towards Medallion status qualification for most Delta flights, including on award travel — a first-ever for the U.S. airline industry. No registration is required.

Here's the breakdown:

  • 50% boost: All basic economy and Main Cabin tickets will earn 50% more Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs).
  • 75% boost: Premium-cabin fares — including those booked in Delta One, Delta Premium Select, domestic first class and Delta Comfort+ — qualify for an additional 25% bonus, bringing the total qualification boost to 75%.

The extra 25% also includes tickets upgraded after purchase, whether the bump was confirmed with cash or miles (but not those upgraded for free due to elite status or upgrade certificates).

Note that you won't earn bonus redeemable miles as part of this offer. The fast-track applies to all flights taken during the promotional period, regardless of when they were booked. Only the segments of a round-trip and multi-city itinerary that fall during the promotional period will qualify for the bonus. The MQM bonus will apply to status challenges, as well as lifetime Million Miler qualification.

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The bonus will only be awarded for flights marketed and operated by Delta, meaning that tickets booked on partners, as well as those booked with partners for travel on Delta will not get a boost. Additionally, Delta flights booked as part of a vacation package will not count, except for those ticketed with a Delta Vacations trip.

The boosts will be credited automatically for flights taken after May 15. You won't see the bonus listed on the booking page or your confirmation email, but it'll get posted to your SkyMiles account post-travel. For flights between April 1 and May 15, all bonuses will be retroactively added by May 31.

Let's take a look at an example of how Delta's promotion will work for paid tickets. If you purchase a Delta coach fare from New York to Los Angeles for $170, you'll typically earn:

  • 2,475 MQMs
  • 1 MQS
  • 150 MQDs (less than the ticket price since taxes aren't included in MQD calculation)

With the 50% bonus, you'd net a total of:

  • 3,713 MQMs
  • 1.5 MQS
  • 225 MQDs

Delta's system can't award partial MQSs. As such, you won't see partial segments in your account. Instead, Delta's back-end database will tally your MQSs, including partial credit, and you'll be awarded full MQSs as you earn them.

At the end of the year, any remaining partial segments will be rounded up to the next whole number.

Delta One flyers can enjoy a new 75% status boost (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Earn Delta Medallion status from award tickets

This one is big.

In a first for U.S. airline loyalty programs, award tickets, including Miles + Cash redemptions booked with SkyMiles, qualify for a status boost.

Similar to paid tickets, basic economy and main cabin awards will receive a 50% bonus on MQMs, MQSs and MQDs, while Premium Select, Comfort+, domestic first class and Delta One will get a 75% bonus. You'll only receive qualifying credit and bonuses for awards ticketed and operated by Delta.

Interestingly, Virgin Atlantic debuted a similar promotion for award tickets in September 2020, marking the first time a U.K. carrier has awarded elite qualification for redemptions. Delta owns a 49% stake in the London-based carrier, so it's possible that the airline drew inspiration from its partner across the pond.

Calculating the number of MQMs, MQSs and MQDs earned from an award ticket will be different from paid fares.

Earning MQMs from Delta awards

You'll earn the following number of MQMs before the boost.

  • For awards booked in basic economy, main cabin and Comfort+, you earn MQMs equal to 100% of the distance flown.
  • For awards booked in Premium Select, domestic first class and Delta One, you earn MQMs equal to 100% of the distance flown and a 50% class-of-service bonus, for a total of 150% of the distance flown.

For example, an award from New York to Los Angeles would earn:

  • Main Cabin: 2,475 MQMs + 1,238 MQM boost = 3,713 MQMs
  • Delta One: 2,475 MQMs + 1,238 MQMs class-of-service bonus = 3,713 MQMs + 75% boost = 6,498 MQMs

Earning MQSs from Delta awards

As with standard revenue tickets, one MQS is awarded for each segment flown.

Earning MQDs from Delta awards

This gets tricky.

You'll earn MQDs based on the miles redeemed for the flight divided by 100, multiplied by the applicable bonus.

For example, say you purchased a 50,000-mile first-class award. You'll earn 500 MQDs on the redemption, as well as 375 bonus MQDs, for a total of 875 MQDs.

If you redeemed a mixed partner- and Delta-operated ticket, you'll only earn status credit for the part of the trip operated by Delta. The MQDs will be divided based on the ticket and fare rules.

Related: Complete guide to Delta Medallion elite status

Delta Medallion status 2021 qualification

It's taken Delta a full quarter to unveil a fast-track to elite status for 2022.

To help you requalify for status, the carrier rolled over all MQMs earned in 2020 to this year. Delta also recently launched a co-branded credit card promotion to earn more MQMs from everyday spend.

But, the carrier hasn't slashed the qualifying requirements. As a refresher, they remain as follows (and you only need to cross either the MQMs or MQSs threshold, not both):

TierMedallion Qualification MilesMedallion Qualification SegmentsMedallion Qualification Dollars 
Silver25,000 MQMs30 MQSs$3,000 MQDs
Gold50,000 MQMs60 MQSs$6,000 MQDs
Platinum75,000 MQMs100 MQSs$9,000 MQDs
Diamond125,000 MQMs140 MQSs$15,000 MQDs

Delta was the first to extend all elite status in April 2020, but those status extensions expire on Jan. 31, 2022. If you're looking to requalify or earn status through 2022, you'll need to re-earn it this year.

Thankfully, you now have a lucrative promotion to help you hit the goalposts. And perhaps American and United will take note and unveil a similar offer for their elites, though both carriers have already adjusted the qualifying thresholds this year.

Related: All of the elite qualification changes you need to know about for 2021

Delta extends co-branded card benefits to June 2022

In addition to extending all vouchers to Dec. 31, 2022, certain benefits from holding co-branded credit cards are getting extended as well.

Delta co-branded card benefits are also getting extended (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card cardholders who earn a $100 flight credit from Jan. 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021, will have the expiration date extended to June 30, 2022.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card cardholders with unused companion certificates as of March 31, 2021, or companion certificates issued from April 1, 2021 to May 31, 2021, will have the expiration date extended to book and fly by June 30, 2022.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve cardholders with one-time Sky Club guest passes issued from Jan. 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021, will have the expiration dates extended to June 30, 2022.

These extensions will happen automatically over the coming weeks, with no action needed from cardholders.

Related: Credit card showdown: Delta Gold Amex vs. Delta Platinum Amex

Bottom line

Earning status with Delta just got significantly easier. With a 50% to 75% boost, Medallion elites looking to requalify can enjoy a fast-track offer.

Plus, you'll now earn-status qualifying credit for award tickets — a first for major U.S. airlines.

Lastly, co-branded card benefits were also extended, giving flyers more time to use their perks.

The only thing that hasn't changed is the elite-status thresholds. You'll still need 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs, as well as 15,000 MQDs for Diamond status, but at least it'll be easier to earn.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.