|Delta’s Website displays this photo with the words “A Change to the Way You Earn Status”|
(note: this is my rant. I am sure there are lots of countervailing arguments, but this is my vent, my opinion and I own it.)
It has long been
speculated feared that Delta will make a move to a “revenue-based” model for elite medallion qualification. If you fly Delta, you probably received the cheery feared email yesterday announcing this change which will take effect in 2014.
In the one day since Delta’s announcement, countless newspaper articles and blog posts have been written.
While the new requirement may have little or no effect on the business traveler, I believe the effect on the non-business leisure traveler will be grave, perhaps even devastating.
Briefly, as summarized on the Delta website, in order to qualify for each medallion level, in addition to the required miles (Medallion Qualification Miles, or MQMs, for short), or segments (Medallion Qualificaiton Segments, or MQS, for short) flown, you will now have to meet a new threshold requirement: annual spend (Medallion Qualification Dollars, or MQDs, for short). While Delta has not changed the MQM/MQS requirements necessary to attain each level of Medallion status, you now also must meet the minimum spend (MQS) requirement to obtain such status. This is the chart:
According to the Delta website, the MQDs requirement will be waived if you make at least $25,000 in Eligible Purchases in the qualification year on a Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express.
For many years, I have been a Silver medallion member of Delta, and this past Thanksgiving, somewhere over the Atlantic, my MQMs for 2012 exceeded 50,000 miles and I became “Delta Gold.” I was pretty excited. I felt like Ryan Bingham in the film “Up In the Air” as I arrived at the Air France Lounge at Charles DeGualle Airport ….
|In case you were wondering, this is what Won’t Run For Miles looks like… (ha ha). Actually, he looks better. (ha ha)|
Beginning in 2014, however, in order to attain Silver, in addition to flying 25,000 miles, I would have to spend at least $2,500 annually on Delta flights, or to attain Gold, in addition to flying 50,000 miles, I would have to spend at least $5,000 annually on Delta flights.
For people who travel on business expense accounts the new revenue-based requirements probably mean nothing. Their companies pay top-dollar for the tickets. They spend $2,500, or $5,000 or even $7,500 in a snap.
The scenario is quite different for non-business travelers who travel the country or the world for leisure, including sport or hobby. We pay for our own tickets. We look and search for the best airfare we can find, at the best price. And we choose the airlines we fly on.
I am a non-business traveler. I don’t fly Delta because my employer chooses for me to fly Delta. Rather, I do so by personal choice, and my tickets are paid for by me, personally, with my own money. I have paid for every MQM that I have garnered. Because I “prefer” to fly Delta, I will do so even if flights are available on other airlines for less, unless the price difference is great. I do that for loyalty, and for the perks I receive in return from Delta for my choice to fly 25,000 or 50,000 miles with them instead of with another carrier. However, while I haven’t tallied my 2012 spends on Delta flights, I doubt I spent $5,000.
I love Delta. Its flights are plentiful from New York. I am comfortable flying with them. They have generally treated their elites well, even Silver Medallion members. I feel “at home” when I walk on a Delta plane and am greeted by Delta personnel. Delta’s main negative, in my mind, has been redemption of award flights. Cashing in on free flights with my accrued miles is difficult – generally, Delta just charges too many miles for award tickets. Adding the new spend requirement into the mix, may be enough to tip the scales. Perhaps it is time for me to think about changing my allegiance towards another airline (United and American Airlines, among others, have “status” challenge programs to fast-track to a comparable elite level on their respective airline), or perhaps to no airline in particular, and just cash-in on all of the miles I’ve accrued with various airlines.