Delta recently tightened entry requirements for its airport clubs, limiting access for some American Express cardholders and altering elite status criteria to focus on customer spending.
Delta Air Lines is set to revamp how customers can attain elite frequent flyer status, introducing changes that may make it more challenging for many American Express cardholders to access the airline’s airport lounges. These changes reflect the evolving landscape of luxury in air travel.
Effective January 1st, Delta Medallion status will be determined solely based on customer spending, replacing the previous criteria of a combination of dollars spent with the airline and the number of flights taken. This new approach aligns with a model recently adopted by American Airlines.
In recent years, as customer spending on airlines and co-branded credit cards has surged, major airlines have consistently raised the requirements for achieving elite status. Elite status offers a range of privileges, such as early boarding, upgrades to first class, and access to airport lounges.
Dwight James, Delta’s Senior Vice President of Customer Engagement and Loyalty, emphasized the aim of allowing customers to achieve status through activities beyond air travel.
Under the revised system starting next year, Delta customers will earn 1 Medallion Qualifying Dollar for every $1 spent on Delta flights, car rentals, hotels, and vacation packages booked through the airline.
However, the earning ratio is not 1:1 for dollars spent through co-branded American Express cards. For instance, Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business American Express cardholders will earn 1 Medallion Qualifying Dollar for every $10 spent on their cards, while Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Platinum Business American Express Card Members will earn 1 Medallion Qualifying Dollar for every $20 spent.
Here are the new requirements for Delta’s elite status tiers:
– Silver Medallion: 6,000 MQDs
– Gold Medallion: 12,000 MQDs
– Platinum Medallion: 18,000 MQDs
– Diamond Medallion: 35,000 MQDs
These changes reflect Delta’s response to the shifting dynamics in the airline industry and the growing significance of customer spending in determining elite status.
Delta and American Express Adjust Sky Club Access for Premium Cardholders to Manage Overcrowding
Delta is taking steps to address overcrowding issues at its popular Sky Club airport lounges by modifying access for certain American Express credit cardholders. Travelers have raised concerns about the crowded lounges, prompting Delta to implement changes effective February 1, 2025.
Here’s a breakdown of the adjustments:
1. American Express Platinum and Platinum Business Cardholders:
– Starting in 2025, these cardholders will be entitled to six Sky Club visits per year.
– Alternatively, they can enjoy unlimited access by spending $75,000 on their card within a calendar year.
2. Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business Cardholders:
– These cardholders will have up to 10 Sky Club visits annually.
– The visit limit can be bypassed by reaching the $75,000 spending threshold in a year.
3. Delta’s SkyMiles Platinum and Platinum Business American Express Cards:
– These cards will no longer grant complimentary club access.
– Customers can still enter by purchasing a club membership or by utilizing elite status perks with Delta.
James, a Delta spokesperson, emphasized that these changes aim to prioritize premium customers and manage overcrowding. These modifications were made in collaboration with American Express.
Delta previously implemented measures to alleviate overcrowding, such as prohibiting employees from using the lounges on standby flights, even if they held qualifying credit cards. Additionally, the airline increased club membership prices for regular customers.
To compete with rivals, Delta and other airlines are racing to expand and modernize their lounge facilities. For example, United Airlines recently opened a 35,000 square-foot club at Denver International Airport, the largest in its network, following the launch of a 24,000 square-foot club earlier in the summer.