Delta Gives Up On 2021, Extends Everyone’s Elite Status Again (And Rolls Over All Qualifying Miles)

International borders have been closed for much of the year. Many destinations are still closed. While a lot of offices will open in the fall, and business travel has been gradually recovering, the most lucrative airline customers who qualify for elite status on international business class trips have been grounded.

Each airline has taken steps to address their shrinking elite ranks. United has stacked promotion after promotion. American has promotions to earn status under reduced requirements or a way to bypass status-earning by flying completely. Now Delta has made its move.

Delta already bonused all travel towards elite status and made award trips count too. Now they’re throwing in the towel, more or less, and calling 2021 another wash as they don’t want to risk losing elite members who may again be valuable customers.

That’s why as of today, if you have Medallion Status, you can continue to enjoy it through Jan. 31, 2023, along with any Global and Regional Upgrade Certificates you may have. For those currently traveling to achieve or maintain Status, you will be further recognized for your loyalty with enhanced benefits and continue earning at an accelerated rate. We’re also extending the ability for Award Travel to count toward Status through Dec. 31, 2022.

  • Status extension current elites keep status for the 2022 elite year (although Platinums and Diamonds do not get new choice benefits)
  • Status miles earned this year roll over so the miles you’re earning will help qualify for 2023 status
  • Award travel will count towards status next year, too this innovation offering will be in place next year, so leisure travelers can keep spending their miles and not forgo status – Delta thinks this will be needed even with the rollovers clearly (the current dominant Covid-19 variant is named Delta of course)
  • Upgrade certificates extended, both global and regional, for travel through Jan. 31, 2023.
  • Extra benefits for earning status this year This one is wonky because it devalues the status of those who are getting extended: members who earned 2022 status rather than having their status extended will clear upgrades ahead of elites at the same tier whose status was extended.

I pointed out recently that with as easy as American Airlines has made keeping status for next year they need to do more to encourage flying. Delta has figured out how to do just that – rollover miles and upgrade priority – albeit at the expense of those who don’t requalify. I’d rather see big bonus promotions.

(HT: W.S.)

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. Higher upgrade priority for those that earn status in 2021 is actually the fairest way to do it as it rewards those driving the most revenue to Delta in the current environment. Rollover MQM is also a big benefit to those flying now, especially with the enhanced earnings through year end.

  2. Not gonna lie – I’ll be annoyed if AA follows suit as I’ve already booked the $2k EQD required for status renewal Q4 and if they just give it for free, it’ll be a kick in the pants (and wallet).

  3. Just bring back service in first and business classes. I’m flying Jet Blue Mint of late. I’ve re-qualified with enough rollover to keep diamond through 2023 if I get the dollars spend figure in 2022. I don’t need to fly Delta again until the third quarter of 2022.

  4. Interesting. I guess I have do something before Duggy makes me look like a follower.

  5. This is excellent. Will not do much flying this year but whatever flying I do will likely be Delta because of this.

  6. Is that picture of the two empty seats First, Premium, Comfort Plus Bulkhead, or Coach?

  7. As long as they reward those who actually have flown and paid the bills this year and last, I’m fine with it. But these status in name only people shouldn’t get upgrades, only basic benefits. With American I have been around 80+% upgrades because I earned EP last year and will this year again with the rollover miles from Q4 2020. Almost every flight is packed but I’m thinking these are not business travelers that they are trying to keep. Many of those might not be coming back as businesses realize Zoom works fine. No reason to keep rewarding people who haven’t supported you since 2019 or early 2020.

  8. AA already gives priority to those who are flying since upgrades are prioritized, within status levels, by 12 month rolling spend

  9. @ Dave Edwards — If they rewarded those who actually paid their bills this year, they would be operating Air Force One.

  10. @ Gary — This is great news and will push us to re-qualify for Diamond during 2021. Delta’s excellent Choice Benefits make it worth the effort. Higher complimentary upgrade priority is the icing on the cake.

  11. It makes sense for United to do this as their large international network has mostly been not operating.

  12. All over the country work flyers are breathing a sigh of relief. They will now keep enjoying feeling important while flying around the country in regional jets for their sales meetings for their corproate overlords.

  13. Brilliant move; much appreciated (especially by the millions who DID catch Covid and couldn’t travel regardless for many months). Also Delta was financed less by Government and more by American Express. Part of this relates to international biz slack demand; but also AMEX purchasing miles; so it behooves Delta to make SkyPesos at least somewhat valuable as the only money they ‘net’ make at times is the AMEX arrangement. Plus retaining status for those who could not fly personal or biz; it keeps loyalty and most of us care more about ‘no bag charge’ and ‘priority boarding’ and chances for upgrades and so on; not Award tickets so much. Good move my Delta; outflanks everyone.

  14. AA could match DL with status extension but give thenew status till Jan 2024 if someone qualifies/requalifies in 2021.

  15. Exception for this are the anti-vaxxers are being excluded from this offer. Jab up you whiny little b***hes!

  16. @Gene “Also Delta was financed less by Government and more by American Express.”

    Not this time around. While the Delta co-brand deal did continue to pay out, it was down somewhat, and Delta didn’t pre-sell miles to Amex as in a past crisis. Instead they turned to financial markets with the SkyMiles program and securitized it for $9 billion [which is roughly the amount they received in government grants].

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