Delta is out with a new status match challenge for 2024 and it’s pretty darn generous. If you have elite status with a competing airline and have plans to fly Delta this year or next, this status match challenge is well worth considering. If you match early in the year and complete the challenge, you could get two full years of elite status!
Airline’s often offer status match challenges to encourage elite members of other airlines to book flights with them instead. A fairly standard approach is to offer the member elite status for a 3 month trial period and if that member completes the challenge requirements during that period, they’ll keep the matched status longer. Usually it makes sense to wait until July to start or complete a challenge because that’s the only way to make the status last more than a year. With Delta’s 2024 status match challenge, though, it makes sense to start the challenge as soon in the year as possible. If you complete the challenge requirements, your status will be good for the rest of 2024, all of 2025, and through January of 2026.
There are three components to Delta’s status match challenge:
- Request the match by submitting proof of elite status with another airline.
- If your request is approved, you’ll be granted matching status for 3 months.
- You can extend your status through January 31 2026 by earning enough MQDs through the status challenge period (3 months). Qualifying activity includes flights booked through Delta, vacations booked through Delta Vacations, and Delta Platinum or Delta Reserve credit card spend.
Are you eligible?
In order to start this status match challenge, you must meet certain criteria (the following is copied from Delta’s website):
- You have not received a Status Match, promotional Medallion Status or complimentary Medallion Status in the past 3 years (unless the complimentary Medallion Status was through your Million Miler Status)
- You currently have elite status with a qualifying airline, that was earned through that airline’s published requirements (complimentary status or status earned through a promotion does not qualify)
- You are able to present both 1) a valid, current elite physical or digital membership card or credential with your name on it and 2) a statement showing your earned elite status with an airline and the corresponding activity with that airline that made you achieve that Status, with your name on it (for both materials, you may upload a photo, screenshot of your app or computer screen or other file format as long as it clearly shows the required information, your elite status level and your name)
- You are a SkyMiles Member who 1) has been enrolled in the SkyMiles Program for at least 60 days prior to enrolling for the Status Match offer and 2) within the last 3 years as a SkyMiles Member have flown on at least 1 Delta-marketed flight (006 ticket stock) on a fare class higher than Basic Economy
The image below shows competing airline status levels and how they match to Delta elite status. For example, if you have Air Canada Aeroplan 25K or 35K status, you’ll match to Delta Silver. With American Airlines, AA Gold matches to Delta Silver, AA Platinum matches to Delta Gold, and AA Platinum Pro or higher matches to Delta Platinum.
As stated in the above image, if your airline status isn’t listed above, it can still be worth submitting a request. For example, Nick once had luck in matching from Spirit Gold status to Delta Gold.
Submit your request
At the time of this writing, Delta’s status match challenge page does not yet include a form for submitting your challenge request. I expect that will change soon. If you’re in a hurry to start the challenge, it may be worth contacting Delta to request a match even before the sign-up form is available.
If your request is granted, your 3 month complementary status period will begin 24 hours after receiving email confirmation.
If you would like to extend your status beyond the three month period, you’ll have to earn Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) based on which elite level you were granted:
- Silver: $1,250 MQDs
- Gold: $2,500 MQDs
- Platinum: $3,750 MQDs
How to Meet Challenge Requirements
You can earn MQDs to meet challenge requirements in three ways:
- Flights booked through Delta, including award flights (MQDs are awarded when the flights are completed).
- Vacation packages booked through Delta Vacations.
- Delta Platinum and Delta Reserve credit card spend (Platinum cards earn 1 MQD per $20; Reserve cards earn 1 MQD per $10).
One of the cool things about Delta’s status match challenge is that MQDs earned from credit card spend do count towards meeting the challenge requirements. Since Delta Reserve cards earn twice as many MQDs as Delta Platinum cards, you’ll want either the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card.
If you meet the challenge requirements entirely through Delta Reserve card spend, you’ll need the following amounts of spend to be completed within the 3 month trial period:
- Silver: $12,500
- Gold: $25,000
- Platinum: $37,500
In general, though, it won’t make much sense to start the challenge until you have Delta flights booked within the next three months. So, assuming you’ll earn MQDs from flying, the actual amount you would need to spend on a Delta Reserve card will be less than shown above.
One exception where it could make sense to complete a status match entirely through credit card spend is if you often book Delta flights using partner miles. For example, if you book Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic or Air France Flying Blue miles, you won’t earn MQDs on those flights. However, if you attach your SkyMiles number to those flights you will receive elite benefits (such as complementary upgrades) during your flights.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to sign up for this status match challenge?
Ideally you would sign up when you expect to fly Delta a lot within the next three months. Alternatively, if you have big spend planned on a Delta Reserve credit card, that could be a good time too.
It is no longer preferable to wait until July to sign up or to complete a challenge.
Do award flights earn qualifying MQDs for meeting the challenge?
Yes. If you book award flights with your Delta miles, you’ll earn MQDs upon completing those flights. MQDs are earned based on the number of miles spent (1 MQD per 100 miles). For example, if you spend 25,000 miles on an award flight, you’ll earn $250 MQDs.
Do Basic Economy flights count?
No. Basic Economy tickets do not earn MQDs.
I already had Delta flights booked before starting the challenge. Now that the challenge has started, do I need to rebook for those flights to count?
No. Travel booked before starting the challenge will still count as long as the flights are flown and completed during the span of the challenge.
Do credit card MQD Headstarts count?
No. Delta Platinum and Delta Reserve cardholders get $2,500 MQD “Headstarts” per card per year, but these Headstarts do not count towards meeting the status match challenge.
Can I leapfrog to a higher level of status?
No. Some ask whether being matched to Gold status (for example) will get them closer to earning Platinum status. The answer to that is no. To earn a level of status higher than your match, you must still meet the full requirements for that status level. That said, any MQDs earned towards meeting the status challenge do count towards your quest to earn the next level of status.
If I’m matched to Delta Platinum will I get Choice Benefits?
Yes, but only after meeting the challenge requirements for extending your status. Read about Delta’s Choice Benefits here.
What are the benefits you get with Delta elite status?
The elite benefits Greg has found to be most valuable are:
- Unlimited complimentary upgrades (when available, upgrade from coach to first class on domestic flights). Higher status leads to better chance of upgrades.
- Waived same-day confirmed fees and waived same-day standby fees (switch to different flight on same day as ticketed flight). Requires Gold or higher. Info about getting value from same day changes can be found here: Leveraging Delta’s Same Day Flight Changes.
- Complementary Preferred seat selection (choose exit row seats with lots of legroom)
- Complementary Comfort+ Seats (more leg room, free drinks, better snacks).
- Regional upgrade certificates. Puts you to the front of the line for regional upgrades. This is great to use for flights where upgrades are most important to you. For example, I use these for flights of about 3 hours or longer. This is a choice benefit for Platinum and Diamond status. Upgrade certificates can be applied to both paid and award tickets.
- Global upgrade certificates. Use these to upgrade from coach to premium select, or to business class on any flight when upgrade space is available. Delta will no longer confirm an upgrade in advance from cheap economy to Delta One business class. Instead, Delta will immediately upgrade you to Premium Select and then put you on the upgrade list to business class 24 hours before your flight. This is a choice benefit for Diamond status only. Upgrade certificates can be applied to both paid and award tickets.
- Free award changes and cancellations. This used to be huge, but now all awards originating in North America are free to change or cancel for all members. With Platinum and Diamond status, that benefit extends to flights originating elsewhere. Requires Platinum or higher for free changes on awards originating outside of North America.
What is the difference between the requirements for extending matched status and earning status outright?
When earning Delta elite status from scratch, all MQD earnings count (including $2,500 MQD Headstarts from each Delta Platinum and Delta Reserve card you have) and you have the full calendar year in which to earn the required MQDs.
Delta’s 2024 status match requirements:
In each case, the challenge requirements are exactly one fourth of the usual requirements. That makes sense since the challenge period (3 months) is one forth of a year.
Requirements for earning Delta elite status from scratch in 2024 for the 2025 elite year:
To reach each elite tier, Delta SkyMiles members must earn the stated number of MQDs shown above. MQDs reset each calendar year. MQDs = “Medallion Qualifying Dollars.” Medallion Qualifying Dollars are the sum total of your base-fare spend (e.g. doesn’t include taxes) on Delta-marketed flights. Additional Details:
- Award Tickets: Flights booked with Delta SkyMiles for Delta’s own flights earn MQDs. Award tickets earn MQDs at a rate of 1 MQD per 100 SkyMiles redeemed (e.g. 1 cent per SkyMile).
- Partner Flights: Paid flights booked on Delta partners earn MQDs as long as the member’s Delta SkyMiles number is attached to the ticket. MQDs are calculated as a percentage of miles flown rather than the amount paid. Details, by partner, can be found here.
- Exception Fares: Flights booked as part of vacation packages (other than Delta Vacations), cruise packages, consolidator fares, etc. are considered “exception fares”. With these flights, you’ll earn miles based on the distance flown. Details can be found here.