Delta Says Too Many People Were Getting Elite Status, Will Make It Harder To Achieve

The new minimum-spend requirements will kick in on Jan. 1, 2014.

The new minimum-spend requirements will kick in on Jan. 1, 2014.

Airlines have spent the last decade trying to get customers to rack up points in any way possible. But apparently too many people were enjoying the high-life on Delta, as the airline announced changes today that will make it more difficult to achieve elite status in it frequent flier program.

Until now, to reach any of the four “Medallion” elite levels on Delta’s SkyMiles program, you had to fly a given amount of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) within a given calendar year.

Today, the carrier added a new wrinkle to the equation — Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs), a minimum spend level that must be met before the traveler can be considered for even the lowly Silver Medallion.

So previously, where it required either 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs to qualify for the Silver level, SkyMiles members must now also meet the $2,500 minimum MQD requirement.

On this page explaining the breakdown of the new system, Delta writes they are making these changes “To create an even more exclusive Medallion program and make it easier for Medallion members to enjoy the top-tier benefits their loyalty deserves.”

The Delta VP in charge of SkyMiles says that “Adding a revenue component to the SkyMiles Medallion program ensures that our most valued customers receive the best program benefits and a more exclusive experience.”

As Consumerist reader David points out, “The qualifying dollars spent is on the fare, and excludes the taxes and tariffs. This is key since on most flights to Europe, taxes and whatnot are a majority of ticket prices.”

So while that round-trip ticket from NYC to London will cost you $846, only $204 of that would count toward your MQD requirement.

Oh, but you can get out of the whole MQD thing… if you spend a minimum of $25,000 annually using the Delta Skymiles credit card.

Consumerist reader Axel sums up his feelings about the new requirements, which won’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2014: “I’m pretty shocked at the change, however it does make sense since lately it seems harder and harder to get an upgrade.”