Delta No Longer Awarding Bonus Miles to Status Matched Elites

Reader Rick D. had elite status with another airline and got Delta to match his status as a result (airlines will often give the best customers of another airline complimentary status to try to woo their business).

Delta extended their program for doing this over the summer.

But Rick stopped earning bonus miles for his flying that are normally received by elite frequent flyers.

Delta offers its elites the following bonuses:

  • Diamond, 125%
  • Platinum and Gold, 100%
  • Silver, 25%
  • 500 mile minimum per flight segment, and bonuses based on this minimum no matter how short the flight.

Delta pointed out, however, that these bonuses are no longer offered to members who received their status via a match or challenge. Delta has the following exclusion:

(1) In order to receive the Medallion mileage bonus, a member must earn Medallion status through either the required Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs). Members who receive complimentary Medallion status are not eligible to receive the Medallion mileage bonus for the complimentary Medallion year (excludes members who receive complimentary annual Medallion status through the Million Miler™ program or Choice Benefits gifted Medallion status).

(Emphasis mine.)

This seems strange to me. On the one hand they only want to give points (and make an investment) in those people who earn their status. But the whole point of a status match is to make the customer feel valued enough to bring over their business.

Perhaps Delta’s bet is that the better treatment afforded to elites is what they need to offer (and all they need to offer), and so only need to offer partial or pseudo-status to those they offer status to on the basis of their status elsewhere.

Nonetheless an interesting change worth noting. It’s not as if the miles earned from Delta are that valuable anyway, but at the same time that’s why the bonus matters so much — if you earn twice as many miles flying Delta, you can afford to spend twice as many miles as another program might require when redeeming those miles.

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. My SO did the status challenge, but only at the end was she informed that partner operated flights (even with DL codeshare numbers) were ineligible for status match. So not only did she get screwed out of status match for DL, she put miles towards DL which were next to useless (rather than a decent program like Alaska).

  2. Very strange strategy for a status match. Like if I’m a UA 1K and DL status matches me without offering me the double miles, I’m less likely to actually try DL.

  3. This is silly. No elite bonuses for the whole year? I spent $12K on AA last year, made Executive Platinum. If I was open to switching to Delta, are they really expecting me to fly the whole year without any elite bonuses and forgo at least 100,000 bonus miles? Not a chance in hell.

  4. Good for delta. I spent many flight with my butt in their seats. Extra bonus miles should go to those that earn them.

  5. Seems to me like a disincentive to bring business to Delta. Part of the value of status is the elite bonuses. If you’ve proven yourself to another airline (e.g. 100k a year). You’d think Delta would want to provide an incentive to you to come to them. Are there that many people that hop airline to airline status matching each year? Seems like they are trying to penalize a larger population for what a very small sub-set may be doing (although it is mind boggling, why a status junkie would match to Delta).

  6. Just another sign that DL is inclined against customers who care about accumulating miles from flights for redemption purposes.

    Given how customer-unfriendly DL is toward the “loyalty” program customers, this hasn’t surprised me.

  7. I’m a fan of the blog, Gary, but you italicize way too much. It’s sort of belittling, in a Malcolm Gladwell way. And there’s nothing more tedious than Malcolm Gladwell.

    @Mike — The bonus miles exclusion isn’t for a whole year. Once you actually earn the status you’ve been comped, you’ll begin to accumulated bonus miles.

  8. Delta obviously has the wrong management in their rewards program that are likely living of the success of their predecessors. That success was loyalty and a name brand.

    To a large extent they have used up the currency (brand loyalty) their predecessors built up. Now they are doing silly things like this. I sincerely hope that one day the VPs that did this will be held accountable for the plundering they did to maximize near term profits. But with the VP compensation plans they will be retired before then and leave behind a worthless program that brings no value to Delta overall..

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