In the ever-evolving landscape of airline loyalty programs, Delta Air Lines has made waves with its latest announcement. The iconic brand is shaking things up by introducing some of the most significant updates to its loyalty scheme in recent years. Transitioning from the well-established Delta SkyBonus to the freshly minted SkyMilesⓇ for Business, Delta aims to reshape how businesses and their employees interact with and benefit from the airline’s offerings. If you’ve been an avid follower of Delta’s loyalty programs or if you’re a business that frequently relies on Delta for travel, these changes could have a profound impact on how you plan your trips and earn rewards.
The original announcement of the SkyMiles changes occurred on September 13, 2023. Since then, Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastain, has made an announcement redacting many of the new requirements due to negative feedback from Delta customers. In this blog, we will walk through the original announcement as well as the updated changes.
The New Face of Medallion Status
If you steer your business travels more often with Delta Air Lines, you, no doubt, are familiar with the airline’s loyalty program, SkyMilesⓇ. Of greater interest may be the elite status offered within the Medallion Status, a significant marker for frequent flyers who consistently fly with Delta.
One of the upcoming changes that may affect Delta flyers, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that rely on their travel benefits, involves changes to Delta’s SkyMilesⓇ Program itself. The most striking alteration comes in the form of Delta’s retirement of the established markers for earning elite status—Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) and Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs).
Traditionally, the collection of MQMs or MQSs alongside a specific amount spent on Delta and partner flights, known as Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs), were the trifecta to entering the cherished world of Medallion status. Come 2025, though, this familiar scene will transition into an entirely redefined metric hinging solely on the annual spending of Delta flyers.
This transition from frequent miles flown or segments traversed to a ‘spend-centric’ framework is a significant departure from Delta’s current SkyMilesⓇ loyalty program. It’s a change that may redefine the navigation strategies employed by small businesses frequently traversing the airways with this Atlanta-based airline.
Originally, the Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) needed to earn 2025 Medallion Status were much higher. After the changes made by Delta’s executive team, the reduced numbers that will go into affect in 2025 are as follows:
- Silver Medallion Status: from 6,000 to 5,000 MQDS
- Gold Medallion Status: from 12,000 to 10,000 MQDs
- Platinum Medallion Status: from 18,000 to 15,000 MQDs
- Diamond Medallion Status: from 35,000 to 28,000 MQDs
Additionally, the originally announced program originally contained very little recognition for long-term loyalty members, which did not sit well with existing customers. Now with the proposed changes, the annual complimentary status levels of all Million Milers will be:
- 6M+ from Diamond Medallion to Delta 360°™
- 5M from Platinum Medallion to Delta 360°™
- 4M from Platinum Medallion to Diamond Medallion
- 3M from Gold Medallion to Diamond Medallion
- 2M from Gold Medallion to Platinum Medallion
- 1M from Silver Medallion to Gold Medallion
Expansion of Delta’s Small-Business Loyalty Program
Now that we’ve discussed the changes that are transforming the playing field for individuals striving for Medallion elite status, let’s focus on another significant overhaul concerning small businesses in the realm of Delta’s SkyMilesⓇ program.
The SkyBonus program has traditionally been Delta’s endeavor to award small businesses for their loyalty, offering an exclusive line of perks such as vacation packages and car rentals. This program enabled companies to accumulate SkyBonus points for every dollar spent on Delta flights or those of their partners. Meanwhile, employees could concurrently earn individual SkyMilesⓇ. However, access to this program was not universal, with restrictions set on company size and annual revenue.
In a move towards inclusivity, Delta announced that all businesses, regardless of size, would now be eligible for their renamed “SkyMilesⓇ for Business” program. Consider this: every flight your employees are on could now assist your business in accruing valuable SkyMilesⓇ. This leap towards equitability eliminates the enrollment barrier, enabling companies to enjoy the spoils of loyalty without the hurdles of size and turnover.
While the name change from SkyBonus to SkyMilesⓇ for Business might appear to be just a cosmetic tweak, the dynamics of earning miles have undergone an essential revamp. The novelty here is that companies can earn miles instead of SkyBonus points, opening a more streamlined avenue for businesses and placing them on the same scale as individual SkyMilesⓇ earners.
Tiers of the SkyMilesⓇ Program for Businesses
Since we have taken a general look at Delta’s revamped business loyalty program, let’s break it down further to understand its structure. The SkyMilesⓇ for Business program is layered into three distinct categories: Member, Plus, and Elite.
1. Member Status
As entry-level Members, businesses can start earning miles based on their employees’ expenses with Delta, substantially the same way individuals earn SkyMilesⓇ. These can then be used for redeemable options such as flight upgrades, Delta Sky Club access, car rentals, and vacation packages. The accumulation of these miles can eventually advance businesses into the next tier: Plus.
2. Plus Status
In the Plus tier, your business can revel in more exclusive benefits. The most significant is the ability to earn additional bonus miles, a luxury that was exclusive to individuals until now. Gaining enough miles promotes the business to the final, top-tier status: Elite.
3. Elite Status
Elite status is the summit of Delta’s loyalty mountain. The perks for businesses in this tier are as expansive as they are beneficial. These advantages include more bonus miles, lounge access, and perks that trickle down to employees who travel. As part of Delta SkyMilesⓇ for Business, employees can gain access to seat upgrades, enjoy airport lounge perks, and experience Delta’s journey to prioritize the cream of their loyal travelers, whether that’s a company or an individual.
Although this significant restructuring might feel bewildering at first glance, it’s essential to understand that these changes, fundamentally, offer more businesses the opportunity to be part of a loyalty program that was previously inaccessible to many. Furthermore, the transition to a tier-based system could offer a clearer trajectory for small businesses wanting to attain higher rewards down the line.
Noteworthy Changes and Key Takeaways
Navigating the world of corporate travel can often seem complex, particularly when airlines like Delta introduce significant changes to their loyalty programs. Adjusting can be challenging, but it’s crucial to remember that every adjustment also brings potential opportunities for growth and development. Here are the essential takeaways from the Delta SkyMilesⓇ changes for small businesses.
- The retirement of Medallion Qualifying Miles and Medallion Qualifying Segments is indeed a seismic shift in the business travel environment. It’s critical to appreciate that elite status will now be contingent only on annual spending.
- The consolidation of Delta’s loyalty program for businesses under the SkyMilesⓇ banner is a welcome change. This adjustment isn’t just a name change; it’s an inclusivity move, one that acknowledges businesses of all sizes and turns a keen eye towards applauding their loyalty.
- The introduction of three separate tiers within the SkyMilesⓇ for Business program offers businesses a roadmap to elite status, with each tier offering a slew of benefits, the selection of which grows more enticing as the business ascends in status.
- The original changes, including the high requirements for Medallion Status and the lack of long-term loyalty, were highly scrutinized by the public, especially existing SkyMilesⓇ members. So much so that Ed Bastian released a statement mentioning significant rollbacks to the program.
Remember, while Delta’s newly minted SkyMilesⓇ program for businesses can seem intimidating, an informed approach to these changes can prime your business to soar to greater heights. And speaking of expert guidance, this is exactly where Teplis Travel steps in.
At Teplis Travel, our Atlanta-based travel management company, we specialize in offering a seamless, comprehensive, and personalized service to our clients. Our focus is on small and medium-sized businesses just like yours, and we’re well-versed in helping our clients navigate changes in the corporate travel landscape, such as those presented by Delta’s SkyMilesⓇ program.
With our hands-on account management and white-glove service, we’re always ready to ensure your travel needs are met with precision and professionalism. Whether it’s changes like these Delta SkyMilesⓇ updates or any other corporate travel adjustments, think of Teplis as your partner in navigating the skies of opportunity.
To that end, we hope this review and assessment of the Delta SkyMilesⓇ changes has brought clarity and confidence to your business. For more assistance or to discuss how Teplis Travel can help your business traverse the changing landscape of corporate travel, please reach out to interact with one of our skilled consultants today. We’re here to ensure your journey is smooth, no matter where your business takes you.