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Delta Changed the Way You Earn SkyMiles in 2015

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Delta Moved to a Revenue-Based Earning Structure in 2015. What Does that Mean for You?

June 2015

The revisions to the SkyMiles program are rather complex, so we’ve provided a guide to foster a better understanding of the recent changes to how you earn award miles and score Medallion status.


An important first step is to become familiar with the benefits you enjoy at each level of Medallion status. A trend towards reducing benefits at the lowest elite status levels, while increasing benefits at the highest has emerged. We suggest you review the SkyMiles benefits page so you clearly understand what you are working towards! And click here to learn which of your benefits carry over and are recognized when flying a SkyTeam or other Delta airline partner.

Now, let’s dig into the difference between how you earn redeemable award miles vs. how you earn credit toward Medallion status.


As many of you know, Delta moved to a revenue-based earning structure for redeemable miles in 2015. Redeemable miles can be used for award flights, upgrades and any Delta or Delta partner goods and services that accept SkyMiles. This earning adjustment significantly rewards those who purchase premium class seats, last-minute flights and other expensive tickets. And the higher your Medallion elite status, the more miles you earn. Unfortunately, this change hurts the leisure, main cabin flyer who diligently books early to save money, especially those without Medallion status.

You now earn a specified number of redeemable miles based on the price you pay for your base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges as well as your elite status level. You do not earn miles on government-imposed taxes and fees.

Here is the 2015 redeemable SkyMiles earning structure:

  • General SkyMiles Members - 5 miles per USD

  • Silver Medallion - 7 miles per USD

  • Gold Medallion - 8 miles per USD

  • Platinum Medallion - 9 miles per USD

  • Diamond Medallion - 11 miles per USD

Click here for a more detailed look at the earning chart.

Partner-marketed flights that are not ticketed by Delta will continue to earn miles based on a percentage of distance flown as determined by the fare class paid, but the earning percentages vary by partner airline. We suggest you click into each airline partner to review the details. There have been quite a few recent devaluations regarding partner earning percentages, so it’s important to know what you will earn before you fly!


Medallion status qualification will continue to be based on distance flown. Accrual toward 2016 Medallion status is earned by flying on Delta or a Delta airline partner between January 1, 2015, and December 31, 2015. Medallion members earn credit toward elite status through a combination of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs), plus an annual spending requirement, which is measured by Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs).

MQMs/MQSs and MQDs Qualification Requirements:

  • Silver Medallion - 25,000 actual flight miles (MQMs) or 30 segments (MQSs) AND a $3,000 qualified spend 

  • Gold Medallion - 55,000 actual flight miles (MQMs) or 60 segments (MQSs) AND a $6,000 qualified spend 

  • Platinum Medallion - 75,000 actual flight miles (MQMs) or 100 segments (MQSs) AND a $9,000 qualified spend 

  • Diamond Medallion - 125,000 actual flight miles (MQMs) or 140 segments (MQSs) AND a $15,000 qualified spend 

More on Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs):

Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) are accrued for each actual mile flown. Any class of service above Economy, Discounted and Deeply Discounted Economy will earn MQMs at a rate of either 150% or 200% of actual miles flown based on class of service:

  • 100% of actual miles flown - Economy, Discounted and Deeply Discounted Economy: M, S, H, Q, K, L, U, T, X, V, E

  • 150% of actual miles flown - Discounted First: P, A, G; Business and Discounted Business: C, D, I, Z; Premium Economy: W (5); Economy: Y, B  

  • 200% of actual miles flown - First: F; Business: J  

And Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) are simply the number of flight segments you fly in a calendar year.

In order to achieve each SkyMiles Medallion level, in addition to meeting the MQMs or MQSs requirements, you must also meet the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) requirement.

More on Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs):

MQDs measure the amount you spend annually on Delta and certain airline partner flights. You accrue MQDs for the base fare of each flight and carrier-imposed surcharges, but not for taxes or fees. For more information on spending that counts toward MQDs, see the FAQs.

Special note: The MQDs requirement is waived if you make $25,000 or more in eligible purchases in 2015 with your Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express.

The Wrap-Up:

The Delta SkyMiles program has changed significantly in 2015. The program has become more complex and continues to be adjusted, adding a rather unwelcome element of surprise. The biggest change was the implementation of Delta’s new revenue-based frequent flyer program. 

We hope this Tip provides clarity regarding how you earn redeemable reward miles (based on the revenue you spend) and how you earn credit toward Medallion status (based on the actual miles you fly and class of service along with a spending component).

You can count on TRVLVIP to keep you up to speed on the Delta SkyMiles program. Please share this with your friends who fly Delta and sign-up for our complimentary alerts so you never miss an important Delta Perk or Tip!