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Even with Moderna & Pfizer Vaccine News, Delta Likely Will Have to Extend or Modify 2021 Medallion Status

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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.

The past few weeks have been a total roller coaster of COVID news. Right now you would have to either have a death wish or simply not love your family to risk getting on an airline or traveling at all (even in a car – just stay home for now everyone – please).

Clearly the mega news is that both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine trials are yielding simply stunning results (so far). While the logistics of delivering the vaccines (see video above) will be daunting, it could mean an end to COVID one day in the future.

But even the CEO from Moderna said that we “could” return to “normal” life by NEXT WINTER. Let that sink in a bit. We MAYBE will be normal by next winter. This is no guarantee. Some are saying it could be as late as 2024 or 2025 for EVERYONE to get vaccinated! So even with such stunning early results, there will be issues to overcome like:

  • Making almost 16 BILLION doses (it is a 2 shot treatment)
  • Distributing 16 BILLION doses
  • Some will refuse to take vaccine even if free
  • We don’t know how long protection will last
  • We don’t know the impact/effectiveness on mutated Coronavirus strains
  • We don’t know if yearly shots will be required to keep COVID gone

You can probably add a number of other items to my list above, but you see my point. This is not going to be a flip-a-switch-and-problem-over situation. And even if it were, notice what recently said:

“If we really get it by year-end, it will probably take time in 2021 to distribute this so it won’t have a big impact on our industry,” he said in an interview on Friday. “But then 2022, it can be a big game changer.”

2022! Wow.

That, finally, gets us to my point of today’s post. I called, correctly, early on that Delta should extend elite status for everyone for this year into next year. Delta could clearly see that just about no business travel was going to happen for the rest of 2020. I have been spending a ton of time reading up on how business managers are planing for 2021. A bulk of them are talking about NO BUSINESS TRAVEL until after 1 SEPT 2021.

Think about that!

That means most of 2021 will likely also be a business travel bust. I think that is very realistic when you think of what the planet is facing to try to get COVID under control. It will take a Herculean effort to get the developed world mostly treated by the autumn of next year. Likely we are talking the END of 2021 before that happens to the point that full confidence that “normal” travel life is safe once again.

What that means for Delta Medallion status and us elite flyers is simply this: Delta will likely have to “push” our status again for 2021.

Either that will become a must or, if mass treatment is looking MUCH better than it looks right now, a mega modification of re-qualification number during 2021 for the 2022 Medallion year. That could also work if they did something simple like:

  • 50% re-qualifying everything during 2021!

Since, under ideal conditions, at least half of 2021 will also be a COVID bust simply cut all the MQM, MQD, and MQS qualifying numbers in half. Not only is it a simple plan for everyone to understand, but it may even, once it is safe to fly again, motivate elites to go full speed to end the year to get ready for a return to normal in 2022.

As for me – what are my plans? I have ZERO plans to step onto an aircraft in 2020. It is just not safe or fun to travel right now. I plan to take one of the vaccines as soon as I can. I plan to consider travel, at the soonest, by late summer or early fall of 2021 making it likely over a 1 ½ year gap between flights (SMH – I can not believe this). If too many (fools) resist treatment and/or the roll-out takes longer than expected then I will likely not fly all of 2021 and instead plan for a mega binge of travel to begin 2022.

I really don’t think I am alone in the above consideration of the reality of the situation and that means, during 2021, Delta is going to have to address the Medallion situation again. Agree? – René

Disclosure: Chris holds Moderna and Pfizer stock. He uses SoFi Invest. Learn how to get $50 in free stock now.


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. The MQMs for DM seem to be attainable via Amex spend but the MQDs for DM are posing a big challenge with the inability to travel on ST flights to international destinations these days like Mexico. I have thought about opening a bank account in Canada or the Caribbean but don’t want to take the risk. Hopefully DL will reduce the $15,000 threshold required for DM in 2021.

    • Barry Graham Reply

      I actually do have a foreign address that I could use but I wouldn’t use it without permission from Delta, even though it’s annoying that only American residents are bound by spending requirements.

  2. Given priority plans, most of your readers would be so far down the list it’ll be 2022 before they start getting it. Of course we know there will be queue jumpers who will pull strings and buy their way into early injections. And do sports teams rank higher than the elderly or those with significant preexisting medical conditions? Movie/TV workers? Politicians? Investment bankers and lawyers? Let the jostling begin!

  3. Barry Graham Reply

    Many reports say that air travel is no more dangerous than shopping or eating out. So to say stay home is not realistic unless the country is going to be locked down, which would be disastrous in so many ways.

    I agree though about business travel looking less likely as a way to meet thresholds.

    Having to be vaccinated every year is fine, that’s normal with flu shots anyway. Waiting to loosen restrictions until a certain number of people are vaccinated is wrong. The moment a person is vaccinated they should receive a permit that absolves them from mask wearing, social distancing and quarantine anywhere, with a 2 week waiting period in case they were positive when vaccinated. Saying that this can’t happen because of a small chance of ineffectiveness is absurd.

    • @Barry – A 100% two week lock down would save countless lives. As to safer than eating out? I have not been inside a restaurant since March nor will I till maybe next summer. I value life.

      • Barry Graham Reply

        I should really have compared it with praying in a house of worship. I go there twice a day where there are more people than there are in a restaurant. We follow county regulations, wear masks and follow social distancing. It’s approved by the doctors in our community as well as our religious leaders. We do that and we value life (and because we value life). But statistically I think you will find that air travel is safer than that. A 100% two week lockdown would cause other issues. Even in England, where they have a 4 week lockdown, schools are open. People have been following restrictions in the places where numbers are going up, nothing has changed in behavior yet suddenly the numbers are rising. There seems to be no evidence that lockdowns help. All they do is cause second, third, fourth…. waves.

          • Barry Graham

            In our religion there are some prayers that cannot be said without a quorum of 10, in person. Also, if people are keeping more than six feet apart and wearing masks, the risks of transmission are minimal.

          • René

            @Barry – You can not have a quorum of 10 on Zoom or similar? Then the risk is ZERO.

          • Barry Graham

            Rene, no you cannot have these services with Zoom. You have to be there in person. And this is fine since we are praying to the One that determines whether or not we catch COVID-19 or cause someone else to catch it,.

          • I hope God offers virtual redemption since we’re all in this together.

      • “Right now you would have to either have a death wish or simply not love your family to risk getting on an airline or traveling at all (even in a car – just stay home for now everyone – please).”

        I’ve traveled as much as possible the last 12 months and just got back from a motorhome trip with a few of our gkids. I have back to back trips to see family and friends.

    • Steve Roman Reply

      Barry, I agree with you 100%. If there is no advantage to getting the vaccine then people won’t take it. But if showing that you had the vaccine in order to get on an airplane, or go into a bar, or go on a cruise, or go to a show is required then people will line up to get the vaccine. I had COVID-19 in March. It was confirmed by 4 Positive Tests. I go every 4-6 weeks to give COVID-19 Plasma and I’ve received 4 Positive results for Antibodies (last test was Nov 2). Yet, I have to wear a mask, I have to quarantine if I go to NY, etc.

  4. AlohaDaveKennedy Reply

    DavidB has a good point about priority plans. When the vaccine arrives it must be distributed to those who really need it and not to those who have no real need.

  5. Renee, actually we do know how the vaccine will perform against various strains of the virus. The vaccine is a new mRNA technology. Both Moderna and Pfizer use an mRNA platform. If there is a mutation, you can easily revise the vaccine by changing a few base pairs. It’s nothing like seasonal flu vaccines. This is superior and groundbreaking technology which is also likely to be much safer than past vaccines. As for predictions of widespread availability delayed until 2024 or beyond, that’s ridiculous. It reminds me of the same pessimists that said a vaccine would take two to three years to create. In the second and third quarter of 2021 you’ll see meaningful US distribution. The glass is half full.

    • @Jeff – Interesting but even so, with a new mutation, the whole 16 billion treatment starts all over again. I agree on glass half full but as to the point of the post I think Delta will have to adjust Medallion qualification again during 2021 for the 2022 year.

  6. Given that Choice Benefits can cost Delta real money with very little return if people are not flying, I would be happy with an extension of my DM status into 2022 with no 2022 Choice Benefits, but extend all prior certificates and 2020 and 2021 certificates by another year or two.

  7. Rene…you’re spot-on here.

    I am a frequent business traveler with a large multi-national corporation. Our travel was halted in March and it appears that ban will continue through Summer 2021. Best indications I’m hearing is a slow ramp up in the fall (i.e. critical travel approved) followed by winter 2022 (general business travel approved).

    I know this makes me sad, depressed, angry, etc., but we have got to get this right.

    I did fly once (personal) during the pandemic and it was surreal. The Sky Club was empty and I sat in the corner anyway. I was in 1A and was never happier to be there …far away from everyone else. Basically, everything we ‘Ryan Bingham’s’ love about travel…was absent.

    While 2022 seems like forever and a half…it’s not. We just need to hang in there!

  8. Im flying domestic any time i want to, i feel perfectly safe in the airports and delta planes. Im doing my small part to give back. Im wondering about the looming MQD issue for 2021….without some international trips im [edit] keeping diamond for 2022 and i hate that…but I will manage at platinum since i figure delta will pretty much loose every diamond if that $15k spend holds? Wait and see!

  9. @Rene – Any word on extending GUCs or other certificates that are expiring in the 1st half of 2021? I have 4 GUCs that would have expired in October but were extended to April 2021, but it doesn’t look good for travel even by then.

  10. I think your position is on the extreme end (although obviously everyone has to do what they are comfortable with). I didn’t travel until my father passed away in August and I had to go be with my mom in FL. As it turned out, flying (on DL) felt safer than going to the grocery store, especially with fairly empty Sky Clubs and mask requirements. I’ve been back to FL 3 times since, including a quick vacation to Marco Island. If you stay on the 1st floor of a hotel and go to warm weather places, I think you are better off getting that Vitamin D and fresh air than staying locked in your home up north. Just my opinion. My mom actually got covid during one of my visits (and had symptoms start the day after I left) but we were careful, using masks indoors when we couldn’t distance, and I didn’t catch it.

    • @Paul – I have not entered a grocery store for many months and will not for a very long time (I do online order and curbside pickup). I do not eat at restaurants but use UBER Eats and Doordash.

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