Delta Airlines is making changes to its frequent flyer program that is designed to get members to spend at least $2,500 each year on airline tickets. Low-spending customers will be disqualified from the program as the airline tries to refocus on the frequent fliers the program was created to serve.
There is a way around the new Delta spending requirement, although it still involves spending money. People who have a U.S. Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express and make $25,000 in purchases using the card each year will have the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) spending requirement waived.
Those MQDs are the new measurement of customer spending. Based on the purchase price of tickets, a minimum number of MQDs will be required for membership in each tier of the SkyMiles program. That means in addition to flying a certain distance, SkyMiles members also have to spend a certain amount of money to qualify for the program.
As for who earns the three qualifying requirements – MQMs, MQSs, and the new MQDs – the SkyMiles member who is actually flying will earn them even if someone else purchased the ticket. That means a company or family member who buys a ticket for someone else won’t earn any of the benefits. It also means a SkyMiles member can retain their Medallion status even if someone else is paying for their flight. Program changes will be implemented on January 1, 2014.
Details on the AmEx card and Delta’s partners
The Delta SkyMiles American Express card has an annual fee of $95, which is waived the first year, and gives a sign-on bonus of 30,000 miles when customers spend $500 on the card within the first three months.
Members of the SkyMiles program can use their miles to book flights on any Delta flight, or on any of their 18 SkyTeam Alliance partner airlines, including Air France, Aeromexico, Alitalia, China Airlines, KLM, Korean Air and Middle East Airlines. SkyTeam airlines fly to over 1,000 destinations in 187 countries and operate almost 15,000 flights each day.
Delta recently overhauled the user interface on Delta.com, introducing the My SkyMiles dashboard. Members can track their spending, see their Medallion status, and determine when they qualify for award tickets and upgrades.