Delta Devalues Its Gifts To Million Miler Elites

When you reach a million mile threshold with Delta SkyMiles, they offer you a choice of gift. It’s a really nice touch, or at least it was. The program was paused during the pandemic, and just re-launched. So everyone who earned million mile status since the program went on hiatus (or earned a selection, but their selection didn’t ship prior to Covid) was invited to pick a gift from the new program.

Delta has a new website for this,

Million milers – whether earning lifetime silver at 1 million miles or lifetime Diamond at six million – used to get a choice of some fairly nice gifts. Three years ago there were numerous choices from each of three brands. There was a selection of (6) Hartmann luggage pieces, a choice of several Tumi bags, and Tiffany items (pendants, earings, bowls) as well.

This year there are fewer choices, and none of them strike me as being nearly as appealing.

The Delta Heritage Logos art piece, customized with your name on it, is kind of cool. But it’s more of a piece that signifies the achievement and markets your relationship with Delta. Sending one of these to everyone at a million miles would be cool. Asking you to choose this or a backpack feels strange to me.

Some people are backpack people. Others are laptop bag people. Others prefer to use small roller bags. Giving customers a choice of luggage, like Delta used to, seems better when offering a choice of gift. For those who aren’t backpack people this says ‘even after a million miles, or six million miles, Delta doesn’t know me at all.’

The wine set is actually nice, or I should say a single bottle of Joseph Phelps chardonnay as offered here is a nice $50 bottle I don’t mind drinking. It’s something to toast your achievement with! Thanks to government regulation it’s also not available in about a third of states.

The Royce backpack is probably the most expensive item here at retail, though again it won’t appeal to everyone. You’d think they might easily offer choices of an upgrade certificate, gifting mid-tier elite status for a year to a friend, or additional bonus miles. That way members who don’t value the more limited set of choices currently available would still find the effort valuable.

American Airlines has the weakest lifetime elite recognition program of the three largest carriers, but the upgrades they offer strike me as better that Delta’s current choices. Not all will agree!

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. I don’t understand why Delta and, to be fair, other airlines or hotels so heavily promote alcohol. Not everyone drinks. Some people struggle on a daily basis with horrible demons and temptations.

  2. @ Gary — Another BA blog, which claims to be written by Delta experts, says that Delta has increased the value of its MM Gifts and acts like it is the greatest improvement in the history of Delta. Gee, I wonder who is correct?

  3. I hit my first million in August. I got a text asking if I felt recognized to which I responded no. Not a single person mentioned that I hit 1 million on a flight from LAS-MSP. Of course they made it memorable by having us sit on a taxi way for 4 hours. I got an email in the next couple days with a $200 voucher and a pat on the back. Then they launch this and I ultimately picked the plaque as I had no interest in the others. I would have probably went for a Tumi bag on the old program.
    Deta says that million milers are so special and then pretty much slaps you in the face with the trinkets they offer and lack of any recognition. At least compared to the recent stories of UA congratulating people on the plane.

  4. I’m a million miler on Delta years back. Wife 2 million miler on American and a good friend 4 million miler also American. Means absolutely nothing, nothing. My biggest beef with Delta is you start at zero every year on MQMs (qualifying miles). Sure I’m lifetime Silver. So to get to Gold I have to “earn” the first 25,000 MQMs which, hey Delta, I already have plus another 25K . Start at 25K how about it. American is the same too with Loyalty points as my wife and friend are Platinum. That and five bucks might get you a cheap cup of coffee.

  5. When I got to 1 million on United I got a cheap paper weight.

    But United does do a great thing for million milers: status match with your spouse. That’s been a real perk over the years, much better than a bottle of wine.

  6. Wow. Crap. Crap. And Crap.

    Delta (and others) don’t value loyalty, so after decades of paying more, having more layovers, and taking longer flights to fly DL, a few years ago I gave up showing preference to them and now fly the best flight FOR ME. The irony is that because I pay cash for business tickets you would THINK they would want my business. But it doesn’t feel that way. Sure they value my dollars, but they (and others) don’t give a crap about me.

  7. Gary you missed one.

    Today my inbox has a notice from Delta announcing increase in MQD for 2024 status. The email also announces a change in choice benefits.

    The million miler story seems to have a much more narrow appeal than the broader change in qualification criteria.

    And Delta’s actions baffle me. They are creating a population of “free agents” that are no longer bound to the status treadmill and might just look elsewhere.

  8. When I hit MM on AA all I got, literally, was a luggage tag that said Million Miler along w/Lifetime Gold-I still can’t figure out which one is worth less than the other!

  9. At least they’re living up to their SkyPesos mentality regarding MM flyers…refreshing to see the decay starting to affect the top as well as the bottom. The Medallion qual increase for 2023 is another sign that they just don’t get it.

    Bastian and company should’ve been booted a long time ago…but he’ll continue to wreck Delta the way DUI Dougie did AA and Smisek did United.

  10. @Steve: Bastian should have been forced out after all the operational issues and 8-hour phone waits.

  11. It’s only for those who have hit MM in 2022, those who hit during the hiatus mid 2020-end 2021 don’t get to choose a gift.

  12. I hit Delta Million Miler in the mid 1980’s. I didn’t have any choices, but was pleased to get a leather Hartman folder that held a 12” pad of paper. I still have it, as well as the Lifetime Silver Medallion. These days, that puts me quite a few level back in terms of boarding status. But Delta has been so good to me whenever I have needed them, that I can’t complain about my lowly Lifetime Silver status. LOL

  13. When I hit 1MM with DL back in 1997, all I got was MM tags (no longer given, at least to me), and some 20+ pages of special paper stock with the words “Million Miler” in gold at the top of every page. Don’t remember any other gifts of any value.
    I’ve enjoyed lifetime Sliver Medallion, since I no longer fly for business like crazy, I don’t have to qualify for it every year. Luggage allowance is good, too. Unfortunately, living in DL fortress hub, flying almost any other airline means additional travel time, chance to miss connection, lost luggage, etc. So we in ATL don’t have too many choices, unfortunately 🙁

  14. @Gennady: It is really sad that million milers don’t get gold, which at least gets Sky Priority, Sky Team Elite status and lounge access.

  15. @FNT Delta Diamond Agree. I don’t stand a chance to make it to 2MM, which when lifetime GM kicks in…

  16. I think this is only because you achieved this year and already received an eCredit thank you and in addition you get this gift.

    If you earn new miler status after this you get a longer list of gifts starting at a $1k eCredit.

  17. Gary – Did you miss the fact that now a 1MM gets a $1,000 Delta gift card, 2MM get $1,250 gift card and so on? That is a HUGE improvement over the past.

  18. Just goes to show … again … that no one needs status with an airline, or feel captive to one carrier. There’s no value in it.

  19. I hit 1 Million Miles with Delta last week and there was also a choice of a $1,000 gift card. This is a recent addition and a much better value than the other options. I’m not sure why this was left out of the article.

  20. I had no idea my AMEX spending MQMs would count. So I got an email saying congratulations on your milestone and my “pre-selected” gift has shipped. I never expected to hit 1M, so I never selected a gift. Of course they sent the crappiest option of the 4……a model airplane. I have read several forums where others stated that this happened. They obviously have a warehouse full of these awesome planes which are great if you are 10 years old. What a joke.

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