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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Evan, who fell just short of qualifying for Delta Medallion status. Here’s what he had to say:

Last summer I got into the points game as a young professional who had just started traveling for work. I got the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express for the bonus, and because I had two big international Delta flights coming up: one for work and one for recreation. Sprinkle a few domestic flights into the mix and I was nearing my first airline elite status.

I was headed on the second international trip to Europe with my fiancée for fun over Christmas. The round-trip flight would give me the MQMs I needed to earn Delta Silver Medallion status throughout 2018. Although this is a low-tier status, I was new to the game and I was pretty excited about it.

Unfortunately, our flight home left at 6am on New Year’s Day. As you can guess, I got home and realized that my Medallion miles had reset for 2018, and I had not met the qualification requirements for last year. Six hours is what separated me from my first airline status. On the plus side, we got to spend New Year’s Eve in Paris, so it wasn’t a total loss!

When you’re working toward elite status, it’s important to know which program activity will help you qualify. For starters, you should be aware of the qualification period, which corresponds to the calendar year for Delta and other major carriers. Eligibility is determined based on when your flight departs, so regardless of when he landed, Evan’s flight would have counted toward his 2017 MQM total if he had taken off before midnight local time — good to remember if you’re going to spend New Year’s Eve on a plane. If your flight is scheduled to depart before the cutoff but is then delayed, you should be able to get the airline to award elite credits based on the original itinerary (similar to an original routing credit).

The same applies to hotel programs, which also base elite qualification on the calendar year. If your stay starts in one year and ends in another, you can expect the stay credit to apply to the earlier year. You should also expect individual elite night credits to apply to the year in which they started — for example, if you check in for a five-night stay on December 29 and check out January 3, you should earn credit for one stay and three nights toward the previous year, while credit for the two remaining nights will count toward the new year. This FlyerTalk thread details the rules for SPG, but anecdotal evidence suggests other programs function similarly.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Evan for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Feature image by lkarasawa via Flickr. 

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

If you are a Delta flyer who is looking to bank some extra miles this card is a great addition for your wallet. While you'll earn 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar on everything else, you'll also have access to other perks like priority boarding, a first bag checked free and discounted Delta  Sky Club access.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on Delta flights - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
  • Want even more flexibility? Pay with Miles is a Card Member feature that gives you the option to redeem miles for all or part of the price of your tickets on
  • Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
17.99%-26.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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