DELTA MQD: What are the DUMBEST new parts of MQD’s that DELTA MUST change!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

As my twitter followers have seen, I have been out west in Denver enjoying “bluebird” ski days and have been trying via my phone to stay up to date and post. But, much of what we are learning, due to the fact that it was clearly NOT to be out this soon, is pouring out and my guess is some of it will change.

The bottom line of all this is Delta only loves you if you are spending money on TICKETS. No government fees count toward your yearly spend so just because you pay $500 for a ticket don’t expect to get $500 credit toward you MQD’s. Take a look from THIS LINK at the web site:

What spend counts toward Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs)?

MQDs are the total of the SkyMiles member’s spend on Delta-marketed flights (flight numbers that include the “DL” airline code), inclusive of the base fare and applicable surcharges, but exclusive of government- imposed taxes and fees. Flight spend for travel on other airlines ticketed through a Delta channel (featuring a ticket number beginning with “006”) will also be included in MQDs. Certain specialty tickets, including but not limited to unpublished, consolidator, group/tour and opaque fare products will not count toward MQDs.

Do bag fees, seat purchases, etc. count toward earning Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs)?

No. Ancillary purchases or fees including but not limited to checked baggage fees, Economy Comfort™ seat purchases, Priority Boarding, Delta Sky Club® memberships, Wi-Fi passes, in-flight food and beverage purchases, in-flight entertainment, unaccompanied minor fees, pet travel fees, Mileage Booster™, ticket change fees, Direct Ticketing Charge (DTC), Same Day Confirmed Fee, Administrative Service Charge (ASC), External Reissue Charge (ERC), and Standby Upgrades purchased at the gate, do not count toward earning MQDs.

You have got to be kidding me! So all the other money we pour into Delta they do not care about! Also, and I have a big post on the way soon, they are telling us to PLEASE STOP paying for EC, bags, wifi and ANYTHING ELSE Delta is trying to sell us as NONE OF IT will count toward your MQD’s. (the total accounting FOOL who recommended this to the airline should be demoted to the mail room – IMO)! Think about this, and a question that has not been answered, will your spend to BUY MQM’s each year count toward your MQD’s? My guess is NOT – but why not. This is just a stupid statement from Delta and I hope they change this.

Most of what Delta has done has some logic. The above does not. Delta should 100% understand that ALL Delta revenue is good for Delta and therefore should be rewarded and count toward your MQD’s! Am I way off base or what do you think? – Rene

Also I have added a new MQD poll on the blog – please vote!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. Rack up the spend on that cobranded card and you won’t have to worry about any of this. Although it is ludicrous that taxes on the ticket and ancillary purchases don’t count toward the MQDs.

  2. You are absolutely correct. They are also punishing flyers who do a majority of their travel on partner SkyTeam airlines who only head back to the states on occasion. I’ve been a Diamond a couple years now and with these spend requirements, I’m going to be demoted to Silver, Gold if I’m lucky. Delta has told me they don’t want my loyalty anymore, even though I fly on DL coded flights whenever it’s humanly possible, regardless of ticket price. I’m already researching status matches on AA and United so I get jump ship ASAP.

  3. Rene, I agree with you. When I read the FAQ on I tried to look at it both ways, glasses on and glasses off. It didn’t change.
    I can understand that government imposed taxes/fees don’t count. But airline-imposed fees? So someone decides to buy EC and doesn’t get rewarded? Except for the product itself, of course. But it is additional money for Delta.
    As of now I guess, I can be happy to be a German residing in Germany. No MQDs necessary … at least that’s the way I understand it.

  4. Bruce Nightingale Reply

    As alot of people are saying. I use delta for 99% of my flying. I do about 75,000-85,000 miles a year. Maybe 1 MR. My company is very strict on costs. I use delta to be loyal.I have been plat for 7 years straight. With this new number program I am going to be gold. Wow. I am a loyal customer and you get shafted. So they want to make it a spending money club instead of a Loyalty and rewards as it was before. If delta is telling me spend this much and you cant be plat oh well. Lucky they gave me a year to swap over. I am waiting for the fall out between American and US air. Then I will be moving on.
    I don’t want to. The only way they will see that they are wrong is when they see the loss of the loyal customers.

  5. Does the spend mean spend on individual butt in seat tickets? Or if you book tickets say for yourself and partner through your account does this spend count towards your MQDs?

  6. I agree that it’s a bit over the top that they’ve stripped their fares down and begun nickel and diming all of the basics, but I wish they would reconsider this in the MQD era. Maybe something along the lines of what AA has proposed with having “layered” fares would be a reasonable attack to this issue. Either way, I am in total agreement that if MQD is here to stay – more of my actual spend on DL should count

  7. DVMonthego Reply

    Rene I think you are right on base. Thankfully I will still easily qualify for DM with new rules, but, I do not like the concept, nor the way Delta has done this. Please share your thoughts about long term impact to Sky Team?

  8. THEsocallededfan Reply


    I think, by far the worst changes, is the gutting of all MQM’s for airlines not called Alitalia, Air Friance, or KLM since you can AMEX your way past the MQD stuff…….

  9. I’m a recent platinum and sky club member who works for a non-profit and isbased out of Wichita, KS. I’m flying 80+ flights and more than 75,000 each year exclusively on Delta and almost always have to connect through ATL or MSP. There’s no way I can hit platinum after this year with these appalling new requirements and will be lucky to hit gold. It’s disappointing and dismaying, but if my loyalty isn’t so easily discarded I guess I’ll have to switch to Southwest or United.

  10. In the age of ‘design’ and making things simple, why is Delta moving completely in the opposite direction?
    -Different catagories for tickets that I don’t understand
    -Times when I need to pay fees… other times I don’t.
    -MQM vs. regular miles
    -MQM vs. MQD

    Complexity will have customer (and profit) ramifications.

  11. I agree with Delta that taxes should not count, since DL is simply an intermediary between us and the government. On the other hand, mandatory airline impose fees (surcharges) do count as MQD, so that leaves these ancillary expenses, which are optional. I agree that some of them should count, such as baggage fees and upgrades to EC/business and first class. I also think SkyClub membership should count, since it is Delta specific. However, I do not think other expenses should count, like onboard food and drink charges, wifi, or IFE, since many of these are contracted out to other companies.

    I agree, Rene, but I feel it should be more targeted to those fees that does not cost Delta any additional expense (in house stuff). I would also premise that we will see specials, where SkyClub membership could be included for renewals or new applications to boost interest or where a perk of signing up for a delta Gold AMEX may be a $10,000 threshold for the first year vice the $25,000 threshold (of course setting this for the Delta Reserve card would make sense and add value to the card, as well).

  12. Where this COULD have gone well is if they would have made spending an additional way to gain status instead of an additional hurdle over existing requirements to gain status. I’m just a Silver, usually qualified by segments, but spend easily over $5k/year. It’s frustrating to be a frequent flier doing short jet-hops on those awful CRJs paying quite a lot for what I’m getting (mid-week MSN-DTW $600-700 usually which results in two segments and 1,000 MQM) and still being on the bottom of the upgrade pile.

  13. Spot on. However I have a feeling that it might not stick. I believe that there is no reasonable argument against including these fees and that the above policy is the strict interpretation of a still to be perfected program addition

  14. The real question is, How does a company measure loyalty? Outside of the travel industry, every company I can think of (including your credit cards) measures it by the almighty dollar.

    I LOVE IT! I wish delta should make MQD the ONLY qualifier for status. I should get more miles when I spend $700 to fly Cincinnati to Atlanta than when I spend $300 to fly Cincinnati to London.

    My only hope is that this is a multi-year, multi-step plan to phasing out miles and segments all together!

  15. I agree that “ancillary purchases and fees” should count toward MQDs but it’s fine with me that taxes and government fees don’t. The former is revenue that Delta has collected, and therefore should count toward the MQD loyalty metric. The latter is not Delta revenue, so I can see why it doesn’t count.

    The people with extreme negative reactions to these changes seem to be people who were gaining status at the fringes of the system. For example, traveling high-mileage low-fare discount tickets to bump MQMs to a higher tier. These people don’t make very much money for Delta, and therefore Delta is exercising good business sense by culling them from, or at least reducing their tier, in the ranks of medallion customers.

  16. I know this is selfish, but since I spend 25K on my SkyMiles platinum AmEx to get my MQM bonus, I don’t think any of the changes will affect me, but they’ll perhaps thin the herd of medallion members, making things less crowded and better for me! 🙂

  17. A new threshold or limit on earning a status was imminent and has been rumored to appear for over years now. There are way too many medallions at this point, and they have made earning a status too compared to other airlines. Yes, they will loose loyalty in some places and gain additional loyalty in others. Surely this is a well calculated move on their part, as always.

    I am mostly just happy they did not introduce a revenue based system like KLM and Air France have (which was the other option), where one gets only 25% or 50% of the miles you fly as status qualification miles, based on which fare class you buy, but that is because I know I can still make the MQM and MQD thresholds for continued Diamond status. Had I been one of the people who see their future status bumped down by one or two tiers, possibly to the already overcrowded Silver and Gold levels, I would be equally furious and I completely understand the feeling of being kicked to the curb.

    Also, consider that Delta has amassed a huge financial liability with all the Skymiles currently out there in members accounts, miles that don’t expire, and by introducing MQD’s at least they can protect their share of all revenue spent within all of Skyteam, and they are protecting the value of our hard earned miles. It’s all connected in the end.

  18. This is bad news for me as I frequently make sub-500-mile 4 segment flights from CHS to CHA and BNA. These flights are cheap, and I have status due to the MQS requirement only. I typically fall just short of the MQM requirement. I first became loyal to Delta because I am from GA. I stuck with Delta (and with my Platinum Delta AmEx) when I moved to CHS. I am moving soon to BNA, and especially since I do not spend $25K on my card, my loyalty to Delta could possibly be in question. Let’s see how all this works out…

  19. It’s not really a big deal for me. I don’t pay for EC, baggage, food, skyclub, etc. with Delta. Basically just airfare/taxes for me, and I don’t expect them to reward me for taxes mandated by the government.

    I made Silver in 2011 and Gold last year. I anticipate traveling even more in the coming year so I might be flirting with Platinum if I’m lucky. I’m probably Delta’s ideal customer: I book a lot of last minute travel and am typically spending $800-1200 for tickets that normally would be much less.

    Looking at my Amex year end summary, I put just under $18,000 in flights alone on there last year. I never pay attention to how much tax I’m paying for my flights, so I”m not sure how much of the $18,000 translates over to raw MQDs.

    Like a couple other people mentioned, I’m feeling kind of selfish on this issue because I am actually excited at the prospect of “thinning the herd” of platinum and diamonds, which only benefits me.

  20. @sterling: “MQDs (similar to MQMs and MQSs) are earned by the member who is flying (whose name and SkyMiles number are listed on the ticket). This means that even if your company (or spouse, parent, etc.) purchases your ticket, the member who is flying will earn the MQDs.”
    So yes, “Butt in seat” as you put it.

  21. @Amanda S I disagree with this. If you allow an either or, than you have the new United Global Services mess where you have people only flying 50K miles a year and getting better benefits than a 250K 1K. This ensures that people that are flying Delta are getting the benefits. $12.5K is not that hard to spend on 125K miles. I spend that in 3 months.

  22. My goodness, the MQD spending levels are so low as to be irrelevant. I’ve spent over $20k already this year, just short of Platinum status and Diamond only has to spend $12k?!?!

  23. From my vantage point this is an “ecosystem” play — capture revenue from Medallions who use a non-Delta branded credit cards, like myself who get better redemption value from other cards from the spend than Delta’s cards. Since I doubt Delta is going to improve that value proposition for me, I’ll probably get their card just to hit the minimum to keep my medallion status.

  24. Was a loayl Delta Customer for many years and for years a Paltinum Member. With Janury 1st 2014 I WAS !! beside the reckless poor Lounge service (charge extra 10 USD for a glas of wine) thats enough.
    Star Alliance I’m coming. Thats all I can say

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