Are you planning NOW for your 2017 / 2018 Delta Medallion year? I am!

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Kinda scary readers!

The other day I had a post asking readers to vote on where they are that is where they feel their MQMs and elite totals with Delta are. These numbers are truly stunning to me:

  • Only 60% of respondents are where they want to be.
  • Sadly 20% are giving up on Delta next year.
  • Yikes about 20% are short of where they need to be!

Considering today is the 21st of December the bottom group had better act fast (like now) as your chance to get bonus MQMs from either the personal or business Delta Reserve cards is just about over.


Yikes Bob – THIS is scary too!

But that is now, today’s post is about next year as I, like the 60% above, am just where I want to be. In fact I will be rolling over more MQMs than planned but that is just fine. But the totals in the above shot are not mine! They are from a very good and trusted Delta elite friend (let’s call him Bob). Each year he flies Delta a ton and, clearly, spends a huge sum of money with Delta and this is just what Delta wants: big spenders and loyal weekly flyers. But notice one massive issue with Bob’s totals.

  • Bob is  $316  MQDs short of Diamond Medallion status.

Think about this – this VERY loyal flyer who currently has “double diamond” that is twice the amount of elite points or MQMs to qualify as Diamond would only be Platinum with Delta if not for spending over $25,000 on a Delta co-branded credit card (or a number of them personal and business). Again, this is not someone who spends a great deal of time booking flights on “other” airlines and the massive 121 segments flown bears this out.


From on Medallion upgrade tie-breakers

The other reason we should start planning NOW is that now being MQD exempt – that is, spending 25k on Delta cards means more upgrades so this is another in the long list of tie breakers. Clearly being a top elite matters most. But then you can walk down the list to see if you have checked the boxes to improve your ever more slender chances to score the 1st class seat we all want.

Let’s talk more about planning. I know a bunch of you in the 60% group above are planning on rolling over a big chunk of MQMs. Often this is a very smart move. Clearly Bob will be rolling over Diamond so as soon as he gets his MQD exempt spending done he will be Diamond all of 2017 as well as all of 2018. He will get to choose his 2018 Choice Benefits whenever he wants to after 1FEB2017 (but he will NOT get another choice in 2018 fyi). The same will apply to me and I will harvest my Diamond choice ASAP as I need more GU certs.

But let’s get back on topic using the above. If you are willing to work hard early on in 2017, either with booked flights, a Delta AMEX Platinum and or Reserve card (if you have never had them) as well as a few elite Mileage Runs, you too could rather quickly lock up your status for 2017 and all of 2018. Nice right? This is the possible wisdom of large rollover totals.

Lastly, how do we accomplish these goals. First off start thinking about when you could take a few mileage runs in January and February. I will be working on posting some next week to help you get started. Also, get ready for spending on your Delta AMEX cards. I hit my 25k spend in 10 days last year just to prove it could be done. I may slow down a little this year and do it in 11 or 12 days since I will be in SXM the first few days of the year 😉 Either way I will be posting what works and what does not work. My feeling is all the old goodies will work just fine this year as well as long as you mix up all your spend totals. – René


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  1. Delta runs a good airline and generally treats me right even as a lowly Gold or Platinum Med.
    The issue is the time it takes accumulating the necessary MQM’s for “status”. Is it worth the occasional upgrade? Maybe.
    But buying gift cards, converting to cash etc.. has become a giant PITA. Yeah, I could MR but that’s not easy or cheap from home. Positioning cost time and money too.
    Quite frankly, I’d prefer Delta simply sell whatever status someone wants.
    It might be(ridiculously) expensive but at least it would provide a choice between MS’ing and simply taking an expensive shortcut to Medallion status..

  2. Question about the MQD waiver tie-breaker:

    If I’ve earned it for 2017 status, it will break ties through the end of 2017, even if I don’t earn the 2018 waiver, right?

  3. If you have the Amex Delta Platinum, are you eligible to get the Reserve and take advantage of the sign-up bonus on the reserve?

  4. @Jeff – Yep! As long as AMEX says you have never had the Reserve card bonus before you can. I currently hold Gold, Platinum and Reserve cards and got new card bonus for EACH ONE!

  5. @William – MQD waver is per calendar year. We ALL reset to ZERO on 1JAN each year and have to earn it again and again and again!

  6. Not to be a jerk, but $15K does not make Bob in any way important to Delta. I spend $15K on a single JFK/LHR r/t in J. Plenty of people do that monthly. I spend $5K on a single JFK/Transcon r/t in J. Plenty of people do that weekly.

  7. Rene, Thank you. Is there any reason to wait until 1/1/17 to apply? I do have a large purchase that I need to make by 12/31.

  8. @Mark – Disagree. If 15k did not matter they would have set the MQD spend level for Diamond higher. Sure some spend a TON like you but that does not make Bob any less important to Delta. The same goes for those who spend 25k on DL AMEX. If that kind of spend was not important they would not have included it in the list of upgrade importance. Agree?

  9. @Jeff – If you can get them as rollover than no reason at all to wait. If you will NOT roll them over you SHOULD 100% wait!

  10. I currently have more than enough MQMs to maintain DM status through 2018 but whenever I find elite mileage runs below 3.5 cpm I immediately book them. Eight months ago I booked eight runs for January 2017. It’s a hedge against price increases and it avoids the Christmas rush.

  11. @Wayne: would you be willing to share info on any of those mileage runs that you have found? Your plan sounds very wise!

  12. Thanks René, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
    My goal for 2017 is to become less of a lone wolf and join in on some of the fun gatherings.

  13. Hi Rene
    I saw some good fares jfk to BCN
    In February and I booked one for March
    Via AMS
    I was upgraded to KLM comfort economy gratis as a DM BUt
    nOt on delta- I’m shocked!
    I’d like some good runs early in 2017 your elite runs are great

  14. @Nina – As a Delta Diamond you simply pick C+ seats on international flights. Now calling C+ and upgrade is a stretch to me 😉

  15. Rene, isn’t your example here diamond already for 2017 due to the $25k spend? I am in a very difficult position, diamond for 2017 with 126,000 miles so no rollover and have fallen in love with JPM Sapphire Reserve so I have options outside of skyteam. Am thinking of canceling my Reserve for 2017 as I already get sky club and then reevealuate after 2017; my card spend is not enough to feed both sapphire and reserve.

  16. Hi Rene, I just realized I’m in a similar situation as your buddy Bob… I’m $34 short of meeting my MQD spend for Diamond. Can I just book a flight before Dec 31 and earn the MQDs? Or do I have to actually fly to earn the MQDs? Any other options for earning some quick MQDs?

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