All the legacy airlines’ frequent flyer programs offer the chance to earn elite status – with Delta SkyMiles, this is known as Medallion status. Increasing levels of status can be earned from flying or credit card spending, bringing increasing benefits when flying. As a member of the SkyTeam Alliance, equivalent alliance status is offered with benefits with all alliance members.

Medallion status

There are four levels of Medallion status offered – Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. In theory, the more you fly, the higher your level will be. Understanding how this is implemented in practice, however, is complicated. Delta Air Lines has a system of Medallion Qualifying Dollars, Miles, and Segments (abbreviated as MQD, MQM, and MQS). These are used to determine each level. We will look in more detail later at how these are calculated.

To earn each level, you need a minimum amount of MQDs (reflecting how much you spend) plus meet an MQM or MQS target (reflecting how much you fly). In summary, you need the following:

  • Medallion Silver: 3,000 MQD, plus either 25,000 MQM or 30 MQS
  • Medallion Gold: 6,000 MQD, plus either 50,000 MQM or 60 MQS
  • Medallion Platinum: 9,000 MQD, plus either 75,000 MQM or 100 MQS
  • Medallion Diamond: 15,000 MQD, plus either 125,000 MQM or 140 MQS
Delta Airlines Boeing 737-900 N930DZ (1)

Photo: Vincenzo Pace / Simple Flying

These status levels give the corresponding status with the SkyTeam Alliance:

  • Medallion Silver: SkyTeam Elite
  • Medallion Gold: SkyTeam Elite
  • Medallion Platinum: SkyTeam Elite Plus
  • Medallion Diamond: SkyTeam Elite Plus
Korean Air (SkyTeam Livery) Boeing 777-300ER

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Medallion status tier benefits

The purpose of holding elite status in any airline program is to receive benefits and perks when flying. Delta SkyMiles offers the following main benefits when flying Delta Air Lines:

Medallion Silver:

  • Earning level of 7 SkyMiles per dollar spent.
  • Free upgrades to first class or Comfort+ seats.
  • Free bag.

Medallion Gold (in addition to previous benefits):

  • Earning level of 8 SkyMiles per dollar spent.
  • Free same-day flight change.
  • Priority security screening and baggage handling.
  • Delta Sky Club or other SkyTeam lounge access when traveling internationally.
Delta Sky Club

Photo: Delta Air Lines

Medallion Platinum (in addition to previous benefits):

  • Earning level of 9 SkyMiles per dollar spent.
  • No fee for canceling award tickets and re-deposit miles.
  • One Platinum benefit choice (a choice of four regional upgrades, 20,000 SkyMiles, a $200 Delta Air Lines voucher, gifting Silver Medallion status to another member).

Medallion Diamond (in addition to previous benefits):

  • Earning level of 11 SkyMiles per dollar spent.
  • Three Platinum Diamond choices (choices include an upgrade package of eight regional or four global upgrades, 25,000 SkyMiles, a $200 Delta Air Lines voucher, gifting Gold Medallion status to another member, and membership of Delta Sky Clubs).
Delta One Business Class

Photo: Delta Air Lines

In addition, the corresponding SkyTeam status offers several benefits when flying any SkyTeam airline. For SkyTeam Elite, this includes an additional baggage allowance, priority check-in, and priority boarding. SkyTeam Elite Plus adds lounge access when flying any SkyTeam airlines (except domestic Delta Air Lines flights) and priority security screening.

Earning Medallion status

Status is earned through a combination of Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs), Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs), and Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs).

SkyMiles Medallion levels

Image: Delta Air Lines

These are earned from flights, but it is not as simple as just earning one mile or dollar per mile traveled or dollar spent. The following is a brief summary of how MQDs, MQMs, and MQSs are awarded on Delta Air Lines and on partner flights.

Earning by flying Delta

When flying Delta Air Lines, MQDs are earned at the rate of one MQD per dollar spent on the ticket. This includes the base fare and airline-imposed charges but not any government taxes and fees. For the lowest priced economy fares, this earning can be very low.

MQMs are earned based on the distance flown and the fare class. Each flight will earn a percentage of the miles flown, with a minimum of 500 MQM. This excludes the lowest Basic Economy fares, which are not eligible for MQMs.

MQSs are simply earned as the number of segments flown (each separate flight gives one MQS). Again, the lowest Basic Economy fares are not eligible.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-200ER

Photo: Getty Images

Earning when flying partner airlines

With partners, Delta does not usually have access to the underlying ticket details and price paid. MQDs are instead therefore based on the distance flown. You can earn with all SkyTeam partners plus other partners, including Virgin Atlantic, LATAM, and WestJet.

There is a conversion table for each airline, where MQDs are earned based on the flight distance and the booking/inventory code of the ticket. This can range from zero (some of the lowest booking classes earn nothing) up to 60% (for first class). MQMs are earned in the same way, with a percentage of the distance flown for each booking class – up to 200% MQM for some business and first class fares.

You can see the full tables for each airline (which are updated /changed regularly) on the SkyMiles website. Current tables for Air France (international flights) and KLM are given below as examples.

SkyMiles Air France

Image: Delta Air Lines

SkyMiles KLM

Image: Delta Air Lines

Earning on award tickets

Delta SkyMiles is unusual among frequent flyer programs in allowing reward flights to count for status. These can only be earned on Delta Air Lines flights, which earn MQDs at the rate of the total miles redeemed for the flight divided by 100. MQMs are earned at the rate of 100% of the distance flown for main cabin (none for Basic Economy fares) and 150% for premium cabins.

Earning through credit card spend

Credit card spending is not a standard contributor to status earning (in contrast to American Airlines AAdvantage, for example, where elite status can be earned just through partner credit card spend). The only exception to this is for high spenders. If you spend $25,000 in a year on a partner card, you can get a waiver from the MQD requirement for all levels up to Platinum. Spending $250,000 will give a waiver for Medallion Diamond.

SkyMiles credit card

Image: Delta Air Lines

Changes coming in 2023

Loyalty programs these days don’t remain the same for long. Most of the main programs have had several updates, or major refreshes, in recent years. American Airlines AAdvantage, for example, used to have a similar system of qualifying dollars, miles, and segments but has completely refreshed this with a system just based on a single Loyalty Points system.

Unfortunately, no such simplification has yet been announced for Delta SkyMiles. Instead, the next major change will be to make elite qualification harder with higher spending requirements. From 2023, the qualification criteria will be:

  • Medallion Silver: 3,000 MQD, plus either 25,000 MQM or 30 MQS
  • Medallion Gold: 8,000 MQD, plus either 50,000 MQM or 60 MQS
  • Medallion Platinum: 12,000 MQD, plus either 75,000 MQM or 100 MQS
  • Medallion Diamond: 20,000 MQD, plus either 125,000 MQM or 140 MQS

Do you have elite Medallion status with Delta SkyMiles? What benefits do you find the most useful? Would you like to discuss or share tips on collecting MQD and MQM? Feel free to discuss further in the comments.

  • Delta A350

    Delta Air Lines

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Boston Logan International Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, New York JFK Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Salt Lake City International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

    Year Founded:


    Ed Bastian

    United States


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