How Can Delta Sweeten SkyMiles for — and Retain — Medallions?

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Delta Diamond Medallion card cut up

Delta’s increased success — a reported 90% load factor — means more SkyMiles elite Medallions jockeying for benefits and perks.

Complimentary first class upgrades are harder to score — thanks to FCM (sometimes for just $2). And autumn is around the time of year we hear about Delta’s SkyMiles “enhancements,” which many of us know is code for “devaluations.” (Don’t forget Delta SkyMiles is consistently voted the first runner-up (not the winner) in a popular frequent flyer survey.)

With that in mind, here are some ideas I think may make Delta Medallions want to stay loyal to the mothership.

Complimentary Premium Snacks and Alcoholic Beverages in Main Cabin for Diamonds

American Airlines offers its Executive Platinum elites (equivalent to Delta’s Diamond Medallion) one a complimentary adult beverage and a free snack from the food menu.

This would be a great gesture to Delta’s Diamond Medallions — especially entitling them to a complimentary Flight Fuel item.

Delta Air Lines onboard Crave Flight Fuel Box.

If a Diamond is sitting in Comfort+ (where alcohol is free on flights Delta actually has cabin service), let him or her still be able to choose something off the Flight Fuel menu.

This could be good promotion in several ways:

  1. It makes the Diamond feel more appreciated
  2. Some passengers may see the food item and then buy one
  3. Other passengers may like the idea of free items — and want to learn more about SkyMiles

Allow Have One on Us Coupons (HOOUs) to Be Valid for Flight Fuel

All Delta Medallions receive four “Have One on Us” drink coupons good for a free liquor, beer, or wine beverage. Or the $2 headphones sold on board (no thanks). (FWIW, I still haven’t received my HOOUs for this year)

Not all Medallions drink alcohol, though. Making HOOUs valid for Flight Fuel snacks gives those folks something to enjoy. (Because, seriously, who actually uses HOOUs for those flimsy headsets?)

Delta Air Lines elite Medallion Have One on Us coupons inside the Fly Delta app.

I know Delta’s probably scared people will actually redeem coupons for products — and won’t be able to charge them.

But this, too, would be a good marketing opportunity for Delta to promote its food products and SkyMiles program. Once again, this:

  1. Curries favor with Medallions
  2. Shows off the food to prospective hungry and paying customers
  3. Gets non-Medallions interested in elite status
  4. Entices Medallions to buy Flight Fuel more often when they run out of HOOUs.

Global Upgrade Certificates (GUCs) for Platinum Medallions

Offering two GUCs to Platinums would be a great Choice Benefits selection.

Why just two? you may ask.

Well, Diamonds get four. And until Delta increases that to six or more (which is unlikely), I think it’s fair Platinums receive only two.

Not every Platinum has a companion with whom they fly. Or maybe they take an international elite mileage run and would use the GUCs on themselves for a roundtrip. Or during two separate international trips, use one GUC during one flight and the other for another longhaul.

I’m making an elite mileage run to Europe soon — and would gladly trade in my $200 Delta gift certificate for Delta One on the international legs. Just a personal choice and not everyone will necessarily want the GUs. But offering them certainly would be nice.

More Global Upgrade and Regional Upgrade (RU) Availability

Upgrade certificates sometimes feel like fool’s gold. If your schedule is inflexible, you may finish the year with a fistful of certs.

Or sometimes you’ll see a seat map showing a wide-open cabin (though that doesn’t always indicate which seats are available). You get excited, call Delta (heaven forbid you could redeem certificates online!), tell the Medallion rep which flight you’d like to use for your upgrade certificates, and hear “Sorry! We don’t have any available inventory for upgrade certificates.”

Gee. Thanks.

Would it be nice if Delta gave any open first class seat to an upgrade certificate holder? Sure. But I don’t necessarily fault them for wanting to make money. It’s when they look cheap (such as the above example) that it gets annoying.

Gift Platinum Medallion Status

What about Diamonds using two of their three Choice Benefits to gift Platinum status to someone?

2019 Delta Platinum Medallion brag tag / baggage tag.

I don’t think the recipient should necessarily be entitled to the Choice Benefits. But Comfort+ immediately after booking and the Platinum status for first class upgrades may make this a very attractive option.

What Are Your Ideas?

What do you think of the above suggestions? What ideas do you have to improve the Delta SkyMiles Medallion program? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below!


  1. Out of the 3 choices DM’s receive yearly it would be a wonderful option if I / we could use 2 choices and get 8 GUC’s. Rod 2MM

  2. I feel Million Milers should be a tiebreaker for upgrades. No benefits other than Silver Medallion status.

  3. I concur about the million miler status and also what you said about platinums. Million miler status doesn’t mean much with Delta.

  4. Allow top level (or everyone) to actually see reward charts.
    Opt out for middle seats on so called Comfort Plus
    Return guests to Sky Club members for Diamonds
    Make Million Milers have more benefits
    More variety for annual awards

  5. End the MQD requirement, especially since it doesn’t apply for non-US members. Don’t claim to offer lots of flights between New York and London when in fact only two of them are Delta operated and it’s almost impossible to get upgrades on the Virgin flights and not possible to move between flights if you arrive early, even if there is space.

  6. Make code shares treat PM and DM’s like their own elites!! I’m talking about KLM and AF….not allowing GUC’s to be used even if 22 seats open in Biz class…..not nice

  7. The premise here is that Delta cares about maintaining our loyalty. They’ve clearly shown that they don’t by the myriad actions of the last few years. It wasn’t easy to accept this sense of betrayal as a long-time DM/PM and MM, but life as a free agent is better IMHO. I give DL the loyalty they deserve now – none.

  8. As a Platinum I’d be happy with RUCs being usable for premium economy upgrades. I also want the ability to list mileage and certificate upgrades online, along with a useable online SDC system.

    I’d also like better hold times. Those 5-10 minute waits are the new norm and add up quickly.

  9. They seem to have taken away the option they gave us for a while to opt out of middle seats in comfort +. Please let me know if I’m missing something.

  10. My husband and I are Gold Medallion and Delta has stopped giving us the drink coupons, NONE. I think they could at least give us 2 coupons per year. All of our travel is by our choice, vacation. We don’t fly for business so I think they should rethink their policies. We count too.

  11. Bring back the 3 bag, 70lb baggage limit on international flights. I think it is ridiculous that the only baggage benefit I receive as a Diamond over the passenger who has never flown DL before is the second 50lb bag. This is especially annoying when the GUC clears for the outbound trip (so now I’m back to the 3 bag rule), but it doesn’t for the inbound.

  12. I’d only support that if it doesn’t take away from other potential improvements. I’ve never checked three bags. Giving free baggage to family members that I book awards for is something I’d support.

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