In mid-September I started a Delta Platinum challenge, which requires earning 18,750 MQMs in 90 days in order to maintain the status. I figured it was worth trying for a status challenge with them, especially given that it’s valid through January 2019 (since I started the challenge in the second half of the year), and given that Delta status challenges aren’t even once in a lifetime.
This week I finally completed by Delta status challenge, after flying to Chengdu on Xiamen Air, taking a couple of paid economy flights domestically, and finally taking a New York to Los Angeles Delta One flight earlier in the week.
Just yesterday I received an email from SkyMiles congratulating me on completing my status challenge, and now my status is valid through January 31, 2019.
In addition to the standard elite benefits, Delta Platinum Medallion members receive one Choice Benefit, while Diamond Medallion members receive two Choice Benefits. One thing I didn’t realize upon starting the challenge is that you can actually choose Choice Benefits when you complete a status challenge. I figured that members who qualified using this method wouldn’t receive a Choice Benefit, so I’m happy to see that’s not the case.
Since this is my first time having status with Delta, I thought it would be interesting to look at the options. So, what are the Delta Platinum Choice Benefits?
- Four Regional Upgrade Certificates: One-way Regional Upgrade Certificates can be used on all paid published Main Cabin and Delta Comfort+™ fares, except E (Basic Economy), on the same routes as Medallion Complimentary Upgrades and on non-stop flights between JFK-LAX, JFK-SFO, DCA-LAX and BOS-SFO. Upgrade Certificates must be booked and flown one year from date of issuance.View all fare rules and restrictions or visit My Wallet for further details after confirmation.
- One $100 Global Entry Application Voucher: Save time re-entering the United States or going through security using Global Entry. Learn more about Global Entry.
- 20,000 Bonus Miles: Add miles that never expire to your account, gift them to another SkyMiles Member or donate them to a SkyWish charity of your choice.
- Travel or Retail Gift Card: Celebrate your Status with a $200 travel voucher or $200 retail gift card to Tiffany & Co.
- Silver Medallion Status for Recipient You Choose: Give the gift of Status by gifting Silver Medallion Status to anyone you choose.
To crunch the numbers in terms of the benefits, I value SkyMiles at ~1.2 cents each, so I value 20,000 SkyMiles at ~$240. To me that means that the $100 Global Entry credit and the gift card should be eliminated as options. Furthermore, I have no interest in nominating someone to Delta Silver Medallion, given that the value of elite status keeps decreasing.
I guess that narrows it down to four regional upgrade certificates vs. 20,000 miles. As a Platinum Medallion I already receive unlimited domestic upgrades, though upgrades don’t consistently clear on all routes, while Regional Upgrade Certificates let you confirm upgrades in advance, assuming there’s confirmable upgrade space. Furthermore, they’re valid on Delta One routes, which don’t otherwise offer upgrades in advance (as of next year you can upgrade within 24 hours, but I suspect those upgrades will be few and far between).
What it really comes down to is whether I value Regional Upgrade Certificates at a minimum of 5,000 miles each. In my case the answer is definitely yes.
But there’s one other interesting wrinkle. I only have to make my Choice Benefit selection by January 31, 2019 (that’s right, over a year from now), and then the upgrades are valid for a year from the date they’re issued. In theory if I didn’t requalify for status, this means I could get my upgrades the day my status expires, and have them for the subsequent year.
In reality I won’t wait that long, but given that I have no immediate plans for those upgrades, I’m going to hold off on selecting them. I might as well only select them once I know what I want to do with them, so I can get as much life out of them as possible.
The one annoying thing is actually searching Delta upgrade space. Delta doesn’t let you search upgrade space online, but rather you have to call to ask about space, which I find to be a ridiculous process.
To Delta Platinum Medallions, does anyone not select the upgrades as your Choice Benefit?