Delta SkyMiles has announced the details of the new 2010 Medallion program and there are a few noteworthy changes. First off, the program will include a fourth Diamond Medallion tier for those earning 125,000 MQMs or 140 segments per year. Diamond Medallion members will receive complimentary lounge access to Delta Sky Club, 125 percent mileage bonus, award booking and baggage fee waivers and two Choice Benefits.
The program will now allow rollover MQMs, which will make it easier for members to earn elite status the following year. For example, a Gold elite member who earns 60,000 MQMs this year will be able to rollover the extra 10,000 MQMs to 2010–and there is no limit to the number of miles that can be rolled over. Diamond and Platinum members will receive a choice of benefits and can choose from options such as bonus miles, the ability to gift Medallion status, systemwide upgrades, Sky Club passes and other options.
All ticketing fees will be waived for Diamond, Platinum and Gold elite members, including those made over the phone, online or in person. And elite members will receive unlimited complimentary upgrades on award tickets. Go to delta.com/newskymiles for more information about the new Medallion elite program that will be rolled out over the next nine months.
Bottom line: For those high flyers who manage to earn 125,000 MQMs or 140 segments, the Diamond tier has some attractive features. Free airport lounge membership and a 125 percent mileage bonus are two benefits you don’t normally find with U.S.-based programs (Continental and Northwest used to offer 125 percent to its top tier members and US Airways offers free lounge membership to its members who fly 150,000 Preferred qualifying miles or 150 segments). But you’ll have to fly a lot to qualify and top tier Platinum members will no longer be first in line for upgrades with the introduction of a fourth tier. Delta is the first airline to offer the ability to rollover MQMs from year to year and in general, most airlines don’t officially allow members to upgrade on award tickets. The downside to rollover MQMs is that it will make it easier to qualify for elite status, which means more elite members competing for upgrades.
Another observation is that with this announcement, Delta is effectively giving members an early peak into the way the elite-level program will look in 2010, earlier than the norm for programs to announce such changes. This will make the other frequent flyer programs take a look at what they are offering, and changes that might not have been made for 2010, might now be made in response to Delta’s announcements.