Delta is offering at least a 50% elite qualifying bonus on all travel for the rest of 2021, and a 75% bonus for premium cabin travel, under the banner of Medallion Accelerator. For the first time at Delta award travel will count towards earning elite status from April 1 through December 31, 2021 as well.
- Bonus applies to qualifying miles, segments, and qualifying dollars
- 50% bonus for coach
- 75% bonus on premium cabin travel (including extra legroom ‘comfort+’, as well as upgrades purchased after initial ticket purchase (whether paid in cash or miles)
- Bonus may not post right away – the bonus for travel taken April 1 – May 15 will thus be credited by May 31, 2021.
- These bonuses count towards elite status challenges and towards million miler status.
Delta operated and marketed flights only, partner travel isn’t eligible, and neither are partner-issued award tickets for travel on Delta. Mileage upgrade awards don’t count, and neither do bulk or exception fares other than those purchased through Delta Vacations. Upgrades purchased at checkin or at the gate don’t count either.
Qualifying dollars for award travel treat each mile redeem as worth a penny, plus the bonus. So a coach award ticket that costs 30,000 miles earns 450 qualifying dollars.
Delta vassal Virgin Atlantic announced award travel counting towards elite status last summer. That’s a new permanent feature of the Virgin program. Delta’s move is merely temporary.
Air Canada Aeroplan is the gold standard. They’ve extended everyone’s elite status for 2022 already. American and United reduced qualification requirements and have run offers of one sort or another to accelerate status earning. But Delta had been silent about how status would be earned in 2021 until now (aside from full qualification rules, which wasn’t ever going to be a possibility).
If this is all Delta does this year I don’t think it’s enough: business travel won’t really restart until sometime in the third quarter. And borders remain generally closed. Long haul premium cabin travel just isn’t an option towards elite status, which represents the profile of many of Delta’s best customers. A 50% or 75% bonus doesn’t keep those members at their expected level.
Nonetheless I appreciate award travel counting towards elite status, which makes sense given Delta’s revenue-based program where each mile is worth (just and about) a penny.