Delta Air Lines certainly gets is share of rightful flak around these parts for making “innovative changes” to (read: gutting) its SkyMiles program. Even as a Delta loyalist, I can’t help but anticipate any changes to the SkyMiles or elite Medallion program with dread.
When American announced an alignment of its AAdvantage program to more closely resemble SkyMiles, Ben pointed out one catastrophic change to AAdvantage: where 2015 Executive Platinums receive a total of 8 Systemwide Upgrades (with more upgrades given out to hyperfrequent flyers), Executive Platinums who qualify in 2016 will receive 4 Systemwide Upgrades. That’s a truly devastating change to the AAdvantage program.
This morning I logged onto my SkyMiles account because I’m considering cashing in one of my Diamond Medallion “choice benefits” to get 4 Global Upgrade Certificates (basically, Delta’s version of systemwides), and I noticed a change in wording that immediately made my heart sink.
Until I read it again. And again. And realized it was actually a good thing.
Per Delta’s Choice Benefits webpage, in 2017 Diamond Medallions (that is, flyers who qualify for Diamond Medallion status in 2016) will receive 4 Global Upgrades or 8 Regional Upgrades or 2 Global Upgrades + 4 Regional Upgrades.
I initially read that, with anxiety, to mean that in 2017 Diamond Medallions would choose between 2 Global Upgrades (instead of 4) or 4 Regional Upgrades (instead of 8), but clearly that’s not the case. It’s just an additional option.
It’s worth pointing out, too, that Diamond Medallions also receive Platinum Medallion choice benefits as well. So ultimately, a Diamond Medallion in 2017 could choose:
- 4 Regional Upgrades + 4 Global Upgrades; or
- 8 Regional Upgrades + 2 Global Upgrades; or
- 12 Regional Upgrades
Keep in mind that the way upgrade certificates work on Delta as “Choice Benefits” is that they have to be selected at some point during your Medallion membership, and they’re good for one full calendar year after selection. So if I wanted to, I could sit on my Choice Benefits and choose them in February 2017 (the last month of my Diamond Medallion status, at least until/if I re-qualify) — and those upgrade certificates would be good through February 2018.
This is a positive change to the Delta Medallion program — and because it was a stealth one (I only noticed it on my own SkyMiles account page, and hadn’t read anything about it elsewhere) I initially had a knee-jerk assumption that Delta, like American, was cutting the number of upgrade certificates to its highest elite members by half.
Not so. Delta’s just giving elite flyers another option. In fact, should I re-qualify in 2016 for Diamond Medallion in 2017, I probably would choose 2 Global + 4 Regional + 4 Regional. That’s essentially four roundtrip upgrades from LAX-JFK in Delta One using regional certificates and one roundtrip upgrade anywhere else in the world.
Anyway, none of this is earth-shattering news, but if you’re a Diamond Medallion it’s a tweak to the Choice Benefits program that you might want to take advantage of.