NerdWallet: Delta’s new elite status rules mean low-budget travelers are out of luck

by | Oct 5, 2023 | Stock Market

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet.   The first time I earned status on an airline, it was an accident. I booked a super-cheap Emirates
business class flight to New Zealand and applied my Alaska Airlines
account to the itinerary. It turns out, I flew far enough (and in a fancy enough cabin) to earn Alaska’s lowest-level MVP status with a single flight.

Basically, I got to act like a high roller while only spending like a medium roller. Alaska’s elite status program is among the few left based on the distance flown. Other big airlines now require minimum spending requirements to earn each elite level, which means there’s no way for penny-pinching travelers to sneak their way into platinum and adamantium tiers. Delta Air Lines
 recently announced changes to its Medallion program that, because of massively increased spending requirements, make it even harder for budget travelers like me to earn elite status next year. That comes on the heels of a similar inflationary change in 2023. The reactions from customers weren’t pretty. Basically, Delta determined that the problem with its elite status program was that it wasn’t elite enough. So it kicked all the medium rollers out of its club. Related: Why frequent-flier miles are no longer worth bothering with If you were wondering whether this change comes as a cost-cutting measure made by a financially beleaguered airline, the short answer is: Nope. Delta earned a record $2.5 billion in profit last quarter (yes, last quarter), according to its most recent earnings report. So what are these changes about? And what do they mean for frequent travelers?Bad news bearer Delta billed these changes as a net p …

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