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Courtesy Delta Newsroom
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Delta, whose CEO Ed Bastian has been under fire this week for first supporting the Georgia restrictions on voting and then turning around to now take the position that the “entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie” (that there was somehow something wrong with the thrice recounted votes), is out with an absolute avalanche of news today.

In summary:

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  • Middle seats will no longer be blocked as of May 1st, 2021. Delta was the last carrier offering the seat blocking, which I truly appreciate. I also understand that as travel really picks up and as the country gets more and more vaccinated, this would have to end.
  • All travel credits that were set to expire this year are being extended through 2022. This includes credit from previously cancelled flights.
  • Companion Certificates from Delta Platinum and Reserve credit cards will have their validity extended 6 months.
  • Freely change/cancel tickets, even Basic Economy tickets and tickets originating outside of North America, purchased through April 30th, 2021.
  • Earn Status Faster: Promo to earn 50%-75% bonus MQMs on all tickets, including award tickets, through Dec 2021 to earn status faster.

I think all of the above are pretty straightforward, except perhaps the last item, which is also by far the most exciting.

I’m pasting in all of the massive terms and conditions of this program below, but I know many won’t want to read that much, so the TL;DR here is that you’ll get 50% bonus MQMs on economy tickets and a 75% bonus on MQMs for premium class tickets (Premium Economy/Business/First Class). The biggest news is that you will even earn MQMs and the bonus MQMs on award tickets! That’s awesome. You just won’t earn redeemable miles on award tickets.

Now, the formulas for all the various ways that you can pay for your ticket (cash, award, cash + miles, etc) have nuances to how you accrue, so that is what you may want to read below for. If you have any specific questions, ask me in the comments.

Promotional accrual of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) for Award Travel flights marketed and operated by Delta:

Promotional Period: April 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021

Offer: SkyMiles Members (“Members”) will earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) for Award Travel flights that are both marketed (flight number begins with ‘DL’) and operated by Delta Air Lines, Delta Connection® carriers or Delta Shuttle® (“Delta Carriers”’) and are flown during the Promotional Period. Only qualifying activity (as defined below) will be eligible for the bonuses.

Qualifying Activity: Qualifying flight activity includes Award Tickets, Miles + Cash Tickets, Pay with Miles tickets, post-purchase upgrades and flights book as a part of a Delta Vacations® package, but does not include travel on partner airlines (even if marketed by Delta), exception fares (not including Delta Vacations), Award redemptions on non-air products or fees. MQMs, MQSs and MQDs are earned by the Member who is flying, regardless of who booked or redeemed miles for the ticket, and are awarded after the ticket is flown. Promotional Period is calculated based on the day the flight departs; flights departing March 31, 2021 (arriving April 1) will not earn MQMs, MQSs, and MQDs, but flights departing December 31, 2021 that arrive on January 1, 2022 will. Departure date for the specific flight is specified on the ticket.

Members will not accrue redeemable miles when flying on an Award Ticket.

Medallion Qualification Miles: Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) earned through Award Tickets on Delta are calculated based on distance flown and cabin bonus (if applicable). The base MQMs for Award Travel tickets in Basic Economy, Main Cabin and Delta Comfort+ will be the distance flown. The base MQMs for Award Travel tickets in First Class, Delta Premium Select and Delta One will be 50% of the distance flown plus the distance flown (i.e., 150% of the distance flown). Bonus does not apply to MQMs earned through spend on eligible Delta SkyMiles American Express Credit Cards.

Medallion Qualification Segments: One (1) MQS will be awarded for each qualifying segment of your Award Travel on Delta.

Medallion Qualification Dollars: MQDs on full Award Tickets will be calculated by the mileage amount redeemed for the ticket divided by 100. Taxes and fees do not earn MQDs.

Pay with Miles Tickets: MQMs will be calculated based on the distance flown and fare class purchased. One (1) MQS will be awarded for each segment of your trip.  MQDs will be calculated based on the original full fare and carrier-imposed surcharges, before miles are applied. Taxes and fees do not earn MQDs. Pay with Miles is a benefit available exclusively to Delta SkyMiles American Express Card Members. Terms and Conditions apply. Learn more about Pay with Miles.

Miles + Cash Tickets: MQMs will be calculated based on the distance flown and cabin bonus (if applicable). One (1) MQS will be awarded for each segment of your trip. MQDs will be calculated based on the original award mileage cost divided by 100. Taxes and fees do not earn MQDs.

Post-Purchase Upgrade with Miles: MQMs will be based on the distance flown and the fare class that is purchased and flown, regardless if the upgrade is paid with cash or miles. MQDs for the miles redeemed for a post-purchase upgrade are calculated by the mileage redeemed for the upgrade divided by 100.

Award Travel: Your SkyMiles account must have enough miles for the Award Ticket you are purchasing. All Awards are subject to availability, and additional taxes and fees may apply. See Membership Guide & Program Rules for details.

Promotional bonuses on Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) for flights marketed and operated by Delta:

Promotional Period: April 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021

Offer: SkyMiles Members (“Members”) will receive a 50% bonus of Medallion Qualification Miles (“MQMs”), Medallion Qualification Segments (“MQSs”) and Medallion Qualification Dollars (“MQDs”) on paid and Award Travel tickets booked in Basic Economy or Main Cabin on flights that are both marketed (flight number begins with ‘DL’) and operated by Delta, Delta Connection® carriers or Delta Shuttle® (“Delta Carriers”) and are flown during the Promotional Period.

Members will receive a 75% bonus of MQMs, MQS and MQDs on paid and Award Travel tickets booked in a Delta Comfort+®, First Class, Delta Premium Select or Delta One® (“Premium Cabins”) on flights that are both marketed and operated by Delta and are flown during the Promotional Period. Travel that is booked before, but flown during, the Promotional Period is eligible for these bonuses. bonuses on qualifying flights flown between April 1, 2021 and May 15, 2021, may take until May 31, 2021 to appear in the Member’s SkyMiles account.

Promotional Period is calculated based on the day the flight departs; flights departing March 31, 2021 (arriving April 1) will not earn MQMs, MQSs, and MQDs, but flights departing December 31, 2021 that arrive on January 1, 2022 will. Departure date for the specific flight is specified on the ticket.

Only qualifying activity (as defined below) will be eligible for the bonuses. Bonus is for MQMs, MQSs, and MQDs toward achieving Delta Medallion Status. There is no Offer bonus on redeemable miles.

Qualifying Activity: Qualifying flight activity includes paid (retail) tickets, Award Tickets, Miles + Cash Tickets, Pay with Miles tickets, post-purchase upgrades and flights booked as a part of a Delta Vacations® package, but does not include travel on partner airlines (even if marketed by Delta), exception fares (not including Delta Vacations), or Award redemptions or purchases of non-air products and fees. If a portion of an itinerary includes both travel on Delta and a Delta partner airline, Members will earn bonuses only on the segments that are both operated and marketed by Delta. Bonuses will be applied based on the cabin that is both purchased and flown. Complimentary upgrades of any kind do not qualify for the Premium Cabins bonus. If a Member uses an Upgrade Certificate, receives a Complimentary Upgrade from a purchased Main Cabin ticket to a premium cabin, purchases an upgrade offered at check in or at the gate, or receives an operational upgrade, the Member will not earn the Premium Cabin bonus. Companions traveling on American Express Companion Certificates are not eligible to earn MQMs, MQS or MQDs, but the paid ticket of the certificate holder will.

Earning Medallion Status : For purposes of MQM or MQD credit, “distance flown” means the calculated distance between origin and destination, as determined by Delta in its sole discretion, regardless of the actual distance traveled on any individual flight. MQMs, MQSs and MQDs are earned by the Member who is flying, regardless of who booked or redeemed miles for the ticket and are awarded after the ticket is flown. Free, barter, pass travel and other tickets not eligible for mileage accrual will not earn MQMs, MQS or MQDs. Bonus does not apply to redeemable miles. Bonus MQMs will count towards Members’ Million MilerTM Status, Rollover MQMs, in addition to promotions and challenges that award Medallion Status.

  • Medallion Qualification Miles: Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) earned through flight activity on Delta are calculated based on distance flown and fare class purchased – promotional bonuses will be applied to this amount. Prior to the bonus being applied, flights and itineraries eligible for MQMs, including Award Travel tickets, will earn a minimum of 500 MQMs per segment.  If an upgrade is purchased, the bonuses would apply to the cabin that is flown. Bonus does not apply to MQMs earned through eligible Delta SkyMiles American Express Credit Cards, including Status Boost or MQMs part of a Welcome Offer.
  • Medallion Qualification Segments : All fare classes eligible to earn MQMs count toward MQSs. One (1) MQS will be awarded for each segment of your trip on Delta. During the promotional period, either a 50% or a 75% bonus will be applied to each segment, depending on the cabin flown on a qualifying flight. Partial segments will not appear in a Member’s account activity; bonus MQSs will be credited to a Member’s account on an ongoing basis throughout the Promotional Period once the Member has flown enough to equal one (1) whole bonus MQS. Additional bonus segments may not appear in a Member’s account at the time the base segments are earned as bonus segments for qualifying flight activity will be credited to accounts on an ongoing basis throughout the promotional period, account no later than the day after you have flown the segment that helped you reach one (1) whole bonus segment. At the end of the 2021 calendar year, any partial segment will be rounded up to the next whole number and be credited to the Member to qualify for 2022 Medallion Status.
  • Medallion Qualification Dollars: MQDs are the sum total of the Member’s spend on Delta-marketed flights, inclusive of the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges, but exclusive of government-imposed taxes and fees – either a 50% or 75% bonus will be applied to this amount based on the cabin flown. The MQDs you will earn when traveling on a flight booked as a part of a Delta Vacations package will be equal to one-fifth of the distance flown and fare class purchased (when applicable) earned on the itinerary. All other ancillary purchases or fees including but not limited to checked baggage fees, 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™ or mileage purchases, ticket change fees, Direct Ticketing Charge (DTC), same-day confirmed or standby fees, Administrative Service Charge (ASC), and External Reissue Charge (ERC), do not count toward earning MQDs.

Questions?

Let me know below in the comments, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

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New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.

I got "in the game" in 2003 and since then I've collected literally millions and millions of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. I've flown around the world in first class seats that would cost $29,000 using frequent flyer miles and a few bucks in tax. And I've stayed in some of the finest hotels - all for free! A few years ago I realized many of my friends actually thought I was paying for these!! So I started sharing my tips. It's long been a passion, but when I hosted a session on Miles and Points at this year's South by Southwest festival, my love of the game intensified and this blog was born.

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