Delta Announces Rollback Of Severe SkyMiles Changes

After Delta’s evisceration of elite qualification rules for next year, announcing the end of earning status by miles and flights flown; moving entirely to dollars spent; and increasing the amount of spending required for status substantially, as well as severely restricting access by premium credit card customers to its lounges, Delta acknowledged that they had moved ‘too quickly’ by ‘pulling the band aid off all at once’ and promised to moderate their changes for the coming year.

New Elite Status Requirements

They’ve now announced new qualification rules. It’s still “qualifying dollars only” but the increases are not as steep.

Announced Revised
2023 2024 2024
          3,000             6,000        5,000
          8,000           12,000     10,000
       12,000           18,000     15,000
       20,000           35,000     28,000

New Limits For Credit Card Club Access

Instead of limiting premium co-brand Amex Reserve customers to 10 Sky Club visits per year, and Amex Platinum cardmembers to 6 visits per year, unless the cardmember spends $75,000 on their card per year, Delta’s compromise is:

  • Reserve cardmembers get 15 visits per year, with a visit including all entries on a single day (so connecting flights use only one visit even if entering multiple clubs).

  • Platinum cardmembers get 10 visits per year, with multiple lounge visits in a single day also counting just as one use.

  • After maxing out the benefit, additional visits can be purchased for $50 per day.

Improved Lifetime Elite Benefits

To keep lifetime status members from defecting they’re improving lifetime status-earn and will make it a more significant upgrade tie-breaker.

  • 1 Million Miles goes from lifetime Silver to lifetime Gold (matching United)
  • 2 Million Miles goes from lifetime Gold to lifetime Platinum (matching United)
  • 3 Million Miles gets lifetime Diamond (matching United)
  • 5 Million Miles gets lifetime 360 status (United offers Global Services at 4 million)

They’ll calculate million miler levels using flight miles going forward, but honor existing million miler totals that were earned via qualifying miles (from credit card, bonuses etc).

Not As Stingy Converting Rollover Qualifying Miles

Members with ‘rollover qualifying miles’ – extra qualifying miles above and beyond the status they’ve earned – can convert those into redeemable miles or qualifying dollars. Delta’s conversion rates were shockingly bad when the changes were announced – 2 to 1 for turning them into SkyMiles (even though qualifying miles have historically been worth more than SkyMiles) or 20 to 1 for qualifying dollars.

Instead of converting rollover qualifying miles at 20:1 into qualifying dollars, as previously announced, they’re improving the ratio to 10:1. Along with reducing the qualifying dollars required for status earned in 2024, this is more reasonable.

Additionally, anyone with rollover qualifying mile balances over 100,000 will receive offers to extend their status.

New Choice Benefits Coming For 2025

For 2025 – not this coming year – there will be new Choice benefits offers, including the ability for Diamonds to pick $2,000 qualifying dollars and for Platinums to pick $1,000 qualifying dollars, making status earning a little bit easier in lieu of other benefits.

Additionally, Diamonds will again be able to select Sky Club membership for two choice selections.

There will be a Wheels Up statement credit offers; increased bonus miles on offer (35,000 for Diamonds and 30,000 for Platinums) as well as increased Delta travel vouchers of equivalent value to those mileage amounts at a penny per point.

What’s Next For SkyMiles?

Delta has been clear that the changes they made were not a mistake. They just had a marketing challenge. They shouldn’t have gone all the way, all at once. In fact, they even shared that they have plans to go even further than what they’ve announced.

Members sticking with the SkyMiles program get a temporary reprieve from the most drastic of changes, though it will still take more flying to earn the same status, unless also spending heavily on the most premium Delta Amex cards, and we can expect Delta to go farther soon.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Well I rarely fly Delta anymore (retired and live in an AA hub) but did for many years. Have over 2.4 million “million miler eligible” miles. Assumed I was stuck at lifetime Gold but per this message (and Email from Ed) as of 2/1/24 I will be lifetime Platinum. Almost tempting to get 600,000 more miles now for lifetime Diamond.

    Have 2.9 million lifetime miles w AA and lifetime Platinum but maybe they will follow DL’s lead and give Platinum Pro for 2 million and Lifetime EP for 3 (matches what DL is doing). Will definitely hit 3 million w AA but figured I would just get a few SWUs. Now I have hope of something better since think they almost have to match the lifetime status DL and UA give

  2. @AC I wish AA would match Delta on that. I have 2mm and closing in on 3mm. doubt they will do that, however it would be amazing. Cool that you got the Delta status. For Delta my thought is the only status levels worth anything are Plat and Diamond. I can see you doing around the world mileage runs and charging on those Delta cards to get the lifetime Diamond :-).

  3. “we caught on that United, in its earnings release, ADJUSTED OUT profit sharing for its employees in order to produce an ADJUSTED margin that was higher than Delta’s.”

    I can’t think of a better example of the Dunning-Kruger effect on financial analysis than Tim Dunn. Tim has made countless errors in his analysis with no end in sight. UA’s profit sharing of 305M wasn’t adjusted out at all as shown below. It’s clear Tim Dunn doesn’t know the slightest in financials which is why he struggles so much with using tangible data in his arguments. Perhaps he thinks the formula for fact based discussions is being loud, obnoxious, and overly hormonal.

    Operating Revenue 14.484B
    Operating Expense 12.745B
    Operating Income 1.739B (12.0%)

    -Non Operating Loss:
    Interest Expense -0.493B
    Interest Income 0.234B
    Interest Capitalized 0.048B
    Miscellaneous 0.011B
    Unrealized Loss on Investment -0.054B
    Pre-Tax Income 1.485B (10.3%)

    Operating Revenue 14.484B
    Operating Expense 12.745B
    -Adjusted for:
    Special charges of 0.029B
    Operating Income 1.768B (12.2%)

    -Non Operating Loss:
    Interest Expense -0.493B
    Interest Income 0.234B
    Interest Capitalized 0.048B
    Miscellaneous 0.011B
    -Adjusted for:
    Unrealized Loss on Investment Excluded
    Pre-Tax Income 1.568B (10.8%)

    The so called “adjustment” in profit sharing Tim Dunn is alleging is nowhere to be found. Maybe it’s hiding in Tim’s fallopian tube along with all the other BS claims that is causing him to be constantly whiny whenever his frail ego is challenged.

  4. @ AC @ robertw — Maybe Gary has some precise numbers, but I doubt this will happen given the large number of people who have 2 MM+ with AA from pre-12/1/2011 when all AA miles, including credit card sign up bonuses, counted towards their MM counter. I would LOVE to be wrong on this one!

  5. One must bear in mind that – according to Tim Dunn – Delta is the world’s only PERFECT airline – and all others deserve to be liquidated. Sad.

  6. So you’re not going make a dent in lounge crowding, pulling back on the one lever that could have made an impact(amex plat)…and you’re still going to sell even more of your first class seats so status is meaningless(no upgrades), and your award currency is worthless. Why again should I care about your loyalty program?

  7. marketing discount,
    not surprisingly, you CHOSE not to find the relevant parts about United’s profit sharing.

    And both DL and UA’s profits do look spectacular compared to what AA and AS just reported and AA’s guidance is more than a little concerning.

    At the end of the day, UA still is spending much more than DL to get to close to parity with DL’s earnings in the summer and will fall much further behind in the rest of the year.

    AA is reducing debt and just got a debt upgrade. UA is increasing earnings long with DL but taking on debt. DL is reducing debt and increasing earnings

    Whether perfect or not, DL is doing a better job of achieving all business objectives than any other airline.

    And they are not losing premium revenue.

  8. @Gary. Thanks. Previously, Delta was my first choice “go to” airline. These changes won’t make Delta my “go to” airline again, but I may be less likely to actively avoid them.

  9. What typical Tim Dunn nonsense response. Someone points out where he’s wrong. Tim’s response: “look at American over here”

    Get a life, Tim
    Stop hiding in the shadows of good writers and websites

  10. What a predicable low grade response from Tim Dunn. Makes yet another boneheaded mistake that no credible analyst would make. What’s the Tim Dunn operating handbook when making factual errors? More countless non sequitar and unrelated arguments to disguise the fact that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    No other commenter comes close to the amount of detractions you receive on a daily basis, it’s mind boggling. If the general consensus of the public is always negative, it’s because they’re onto something.

    You say United “adjusted” out profit sharing in the MRQ, I provided the exact data that shows that’s false, and so you include AA and AS as a defense mechanism instead of being unable to defend your initial claim as usual.

    The more I hear that you were fired and not retired from the industry, the more I believe it. Because not even the flight attendants working the aisle nor the cleaners servicing an overnight aircraft, will take the absolute trash that is your data hyperallergenic “insights”.

  11. to no one’s surprise, Max weighs in on a conversation to do nothing but try to bash people when he can’t possibly read a financial statement.

    And marketing discount flat out ignores what he doesn’t want to see.

    Under the category of Non-GAAP Financial Information (continued), in order to calculate its Non-GAAP Adjusted Operating Expenses, UAL FROM ITS Operating Expenses excluding Special Charges, EXCLUDES Fuel Expense, Profit Sharing, Third Party Business Expenses to come up up with its Non-GAAP Adjusted Operating Expenses of $9,021,000,000.
    In other words, United wants to create its own measure of expenses (which is why it is non-GAAP) which DOES NOT INCLUDE Profit Sharing.
    Not only does UA paid $100 million LESS in profit sharing than DL but it wants to pretend it didn’t pay profit sharing so it can talk about how well it did.
    Delta does not exclude profit sharing. It is core and an ongoing part of its expenses and it is not “special.”
    Let’s also not forget that UA flight attendants DO NOT have a new contract which will add hundreds of millions of dollars per year in additional expenses.

    Whether the blind and dumb can see it or not, UA underperformed DL on a true apples to apples comparison basis esp. regarding employee costs.

    And AA’s major reason for much lower profits than DL or UA was because AA had to take the charge for pilot contract settlement which it did not previously take.
    DL is the only one of the big 3 that has fully increased the pay for all of its employees.

    There is nothing perfect about what DL is doing. but they are succeeding against vulnerabilities that both AA and UA have. AA is not able to grow as quickly. UA is spending much more in order to grow.

    DL is the only one of the big 3 that has a balanced growth and balance sheet strategy.

    and specific to the topic of the loyalty program, DL generates far more revenue from its loyalty program than any other airline in the world, that number is NOT going down but is still growing.
    In addition, DL intends to continue to grow its maintenance overhaul revenue and its new airplane order will reflect the ability to do that. Given that the GEnx engine is the only widebody engine on in-service aircraft that DL does not service (other than the Trent XWB 97 which powers the A350-1000), DL will be in a position to overhaul and maintain all of the new generation engines that AA and UA and every other US airline flies which means that DL’s profits will be further boosted as it serves as the US’ airline engine maintenance provider.

  12. “Under the category of Non-GAAP Financial Information (continued), in order to calculate its Non-GAAP Adjusted Operating Expenses, UAL FROM ITS Operating Expenses excluding Special Charges, EXCLUDES Fuel Expense, Profit Sharing, Third Party Business Expenses to come up up with its Non-GAAP Adjusted Operating Expenses of $9,021,000,000.
In other words, United wants to create its own measure of expenses (which is why it is non-GAAP) which DOES NOT INCLUDE Profit Sharing.
Not only does UA paid $100 million LESS in profit sharing than DL but it wants to pretend it didn’t pay profit sharing so it can talk about how well it did.
Delta does not exclude profit sharing. It is core and an ongoing part of its expenses and it is not “special.”

    Once again, you prove to the world how little you know about financials in general and aviation in particular. This is exactly what happens when Tim Dunn tries to argue data he doesn’t understand. He changes his argument rather than defending his initial argument. First you say it was adjusted out by UA to inflate profit margins which was categorically untrue as proven previously. Now you say UA took profit sharing out as an adjustment from operating expenses which our messiah DL would never ever do.

    These are two systemically and categorically different arguments. You always change your argument, but you never fail to be wrong in each and every rendition. Perhaps politics is your forte, because aviation clearly isn’t.

    So since it wasn’t adjusted out of either carriers profit margins, then it begs the question, where is profit sharing adjusted out? I’ll take an Atlanta based airline who reported last week to show how a Chicago based airline did something similar AKA the same thing.

    Operating Expense 13.504B
    Adjusted for:
    MTM adjustments and settlements on hedges 0.021B
    Third-Party Refinery Sales -0.935B
    =Adjusted operating expense 12.590B (Used for adjusted margin)

    Further adjustment for:
    Aircraft Fuel and Related Taxes -2.936B
    MTM adjustments and settlements on hedges above EXCLUDED -0.021B
    =Adjusted Non-Fuel Cost 9.216B (Not used for adjusted margin, used for CASM-ex)

    Operating Expense 12.745B
    -Adjusted for
    Special Charges -0.029B
    =Operating Expense, excluding special charges 12.716B (Used for adjusted margin)

    Further adjustment for:
    Fuel Expense -3.342B
    Third-Party Business Expenses -0.52B
    =Adjusted Operating Expenses 9.021B (Not used for adjusted margin, used for CASM-ex)

    It’s clear Tim saw the title discrepancy of “Adjusted Non-Fuel Cost” by Delta and “Adjusted Operating Expenses” used by United and told himself “Call the President, we got ‘em dead to rights!” without actually checking the numbers rather than the labels used.

    It’s clear that Tim isn’t an analyst nor a pilot. There’s no way someone as blind, deaf, and as incapacitated as him would pass even a 3rd class medical. Helen Keller move over, the eternal hangar queen in the comments that is Tim Dunn is here and he’s never gonna give you up, nor is he going to let you down.

  13. DL and UA take out profit sharing for different reasons.
    UA takes it as an ADJUSTMENT. DL takes it as part of its CASM-ex calculation.
    I’m sorry if you don’t understand the difference.

    And you STILL CAN’T and WON’T deal w/ the reality that UA paid $100 million less in profit sharing w/ DL.

    For someone that is so defensive, you can’t grasp the true bottom line.

    but it’s all about people, right?

  14. Let’s not forget that YOU were the one that accused me of making up the fact that UA adjusted out profit sharing and NOW you come back and say “sure enough that is true but DL did the same thing” without understanding the difference in how and where the two are calculated.

  15. You truly are data illiterate. I spelled out the answer for you, and you still can’t get it. Being a mental midget is one thing, but you’re unteachable and beyond help. Is there any wonder why you’re constantly written off by others.

    Delta even explains that it adjust out profit sharing from expenses and provides justification.

    Delta: We adjust OPERATING EXPENSE and CASM for certain items described above, as well as the following items and reasons described below:

    Profit sharing. We adjust for profit sharing because this adjustment allows investors to better understand and analyze our recurring cost performance and provides a more meaningful comparison of our CORE OPERATING COSTS to the airline industry.

    It’s best that you probably step away from the keyboard, but you probably don’t have anywhere else to go. Feel free to keep digging yourself a hole and while the rest of us continue to burry you.

  16. Again, Tim. You’re using ovaries instead of your brain to understand financials. So it’s no surprise that you don’t get it.

    “we caught on that United, in its earnings release, ADJUSTED OUT profit sharing for its employees in order to produce an ADJUSTED margin that was higher than Delta’s.”

    Taking profit sharing to produce an inflated adjusted margin is NOT true and not what UA nor DL did. This is different than taking profit sharing out of operating expense. You don’t know the difference, I pointed out the difference but of course 10 different people can tell you 20 different ways in 30 different languages in 40 different dances and you still won’t get it.

    You’ll never get it, and that’s what makes you Tim Dunn we all know and definitely not love. The punching bag for the comment section.

  17. for someone that is so fast to accuse me of incompetence in financial analysis, you still fail to:
    Admit that UA paid just 75% of the profit sharing that DL paid despite supposedly making the same amount of money
    UA adjusted out profit sharing right off the top.
    DL adjusts out refinery expenses because it is not part of the basic operation of the airline. DL calculates CASM ex to exclude profit sharing among other items.
    Both airlines adjust out extraordinary/special items as other companies.
    If you can’t see the difference in the approach DL and UA take in their calculations and what they claim, then you are the one that is incompetent.

    And UA specifically was pressed during its earnings call by a Wall Street analyst on its claims that they are replacing the capacity at EWR from having to reduce flights by using larger aircraft. UA execs finally admitted that the analyst could not accurately use the revenue projections for EWR before the summer and UA’s operational meltdown any longer. In other words, UA is NOT recapturing all of the revenue from the flights it had to cut.
    UA is always “everything is rosy” until they are pressed on details when they finally admit otherwise.

    UA is not changing its elite requirements because they need to fill seats on airplanes and are losing revenue in key markets.

    Employee compensation is behind DL even before UA coughs up the money for a flight attendant contract.

  18. @Tim Dunn and @DL Marketing Premium: Kindly take your dispute to the other side of the swings in the schoolyard. The topic of this thread is, “Delta Announces Rollback Of Severe SkyMiles Changes”.

    With regard to the rollback (whether temporary or not) of DL’s SkyRuble cuts, I am interested in the give and take of the commenters. I find it generally useful and insightful.

    With regard to the profitibility of DL vs. UA (or any other airline), please see the last line that Clark Gable said to Vivian Leigh in “Gone With The Wind”.

    With regard to Frequent Flyer status, I’m too old and comfortable in my own skin at close to 75 years old (won’t say how close) to chase that chimera beyond where I am (lifetime Marriott Titanium gives UA silver, Amex Plat gives Hilton and IHG something, and DL 1 MM gives, well…DL Silver/Gold).

    I buy travel based on price and schedule, and use my points of all flavors when I can. It’s my money, not my employer’s or my client’s. (Actually, I’m a charter member of the SKI Club — Spending Kid’s Inheritance). Retired and widowed (twice) means I have time to travel.

    Lounge access is generally what I want for the trips I take, in addition to price and schedule. I have a lifetime pass to the United Club (purchased when I graduated law school 50 years ago for the magnificent sum of $250) for UA, my Amex Plat for DL and Centurion (a nice club at DFW if I’m on AA), and my Chase Sapphire for Priority Pass in lots of places.

    Good fortune to all of you.

  19. @Retired Lawyer” Great post from someone not named Dunn or DL Marketing Whatever.

    You’ve definitely got it figured out and love that you’re “hitting the slopes” with the SKI Club!

  20. No where in Delta’s release do the mention “Lifetime” the very carefully chosen wording is “annual Complimentary Medallion Status”

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