How does the Delta Skymiles work

All information about Delta SkyMiles

Delta SkyMiles is the frequent flyer program of the Skyteam member from the United States and, alongside Air France / KLM Flying Blue, is the largest frequent flyer program within the alliance. We take a close look at the collection and redemption options and look for possible sweet spots, and finally we go into the various status levels. So you can find out for yourself quickly and easily whether the SkyMiles program is worthwhile for you!

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As with most other frequent flyer programs, participation in SkyMiles is completely free. You can register in a few minutes and start earning miles immediately!

Earn miles with Delta SkyMiles

You can earn miles through flights as well as through partners on the ground. SkyMiles does not (anymore) have a direct credit card partner in Germany, but is an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner, so that you can generate miles quickly and easily in this way.

Earn Delta SkyMiles miles with flights

Award miles on flights with Delta are based on sales, i.e. your miles are credited according to the model Factor x paid flight price minus taxes and fees calculated. Status customers receive a bonus on award miles, so that you can get up to 11 miles for every US dollar spent. Basic members only get 5 miles per USD.

A different system is used for the status miles, the so-called MQMs (Medallion Qualifying Miles) are calculated from the flight distance, with 100 percent of the flight distance for flights in the lower economy booking classes. For full-price booking classes there is 150 percent, in Business and First Class it is 150-200 percent, depending on the booking class.

For flights with partner airlines there is a chart for each airline, where the mileage credit is also based on distance according to the model Booking class factor x flight distance is calculated.

We looked at some of the charts of airlines that we believe are the most used in Europe.

First, let's look at the chart for Air France:

As you can see, the division within Economy is quite strict and there are several booking classes, such as X and O, where there are no miles at all with SkyMiles. At least there are at least 100 percent of the flight distance as status miles in all booking classes for which miles are awarded.

There is a separate chart for KLM:

You realize. that the charts are very similar to each other. This means that the cheapest booking classes are excluded from collecting, but all accepted classes give at least 100 percent of the flight distance as status miles.

Unfortunately, we cannot go into all of the charts, as that would go beyond the scope of this article. We have therefore linked the Delta website here, where all partner airlines and their tables are listed. There you will find the miles credit for various SkyMiles partners!

Earn Delta SkyMiles miles with other partners

Like most other frequent flyer programs, Delta SkyMiles has partnerships with many companies on the ground such as hotel chains and car rental companies. Here you can earn a few miles by entering your frequent flyer number. The full list of all partners can be found here.

American Express is an important partner in Germany. Although these do not issue credit cards in this country, Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Delta SkyMiles miles at a ratio of 3: 2. The ratio is slightly worse than with other airlines, but can still be used for worthwhile redemptions.

Redeem Delta SkyMiles miles

When it comes to redeeming miles, SkyMiles is not that different from other programs: You can choose between free flights and upgrades, or other travel services such as hotels and rental cars, etc. All of these can be booked through the website, which is not a matter of course and is therefore very practical.

Redeem miles for flights & upgrades

With SkyMiles you can book award flights from Delta, all Skyteam airlines and some other partner airlines. But there are no more award charts, and that Airfare becomes dynamic according to demand and date calculated. What is special is that this also applies to all partner airlines, which makes booking short-term trips rather unattractive. In addition, it is very difficult for us to get an overview of any sweetspots, as we would theoretically have to start a single search for each route in order to then find the minimum prices for these.

We have therefore limited ourselves to four sample routes in order to find out price differences between flights from Germany to different regions of the states and for comparison we also looked for a domestic flight. The travel class is always Business Class or Domestic First Class.

These were our results:

As you can see, the mileage values ​​for a return flight are not exactly attractive, especially since the taxes and fees are not exactly low either. It is also noticeable that there is no price difference for an additional change, sometimes the award flights even become cheaper. We normally only see this phenomenon on paid flights, but of course it makes sense since the price of the award flights is based on the normal ticket price. It is important to note that these are only the respective minimum values ​​and, depending on the date, it can be almost twice as expensive to book the same route on a different date.

Even longer domestic flights are not exactly attractive, only the taxes and fees are low. The same flight in Economy Class with 21,000 miles for the return flight is a much better choice, especially since the amount of taxes and fees does not change.

The prices for upgrades are also linked to the booking situation, so that we could not find any specific values ​​for certain routes. As usual, the conditions are restrictive with regard to booking classes, so that you can only upgrade from the high-priced classes. For this you can also upgrade on some partner airlines (Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic), which is otherwise not often available.

If you want to fly with partner airlines, you should be prepared to pay a more expensive price than for flights with Delta, so that redemption here is completely impractical in most cases. However, we have not been able to check this in every case, so we advise you to always look for your desired connection when searching for flights.

There are quite acceptable offers, such as China Airlines from Hong Kong to Germany for 88,000 miles and around 50 euros in taxes and fees, but these are a bit difficult to find and not the best deals for a specific routing, so in most cases they are It is not worthwhile to transfer Membership Rewards points specifically for this purpose, for example.

Flights to Australia are generally quite worthwhile, as we have found. The minimum value for a round-trip flight is 180,000 miles, or 90,000 miles each way. You have the choice between Vietnam Airlines and China Airlines with a change at the respective hub. We even have a detailed review for China Airlines' Business Class.

The taxes and fees are also pleasantly low, only the flight times may not be optimal depending on the destination.

Redeem miles for other considerations

You have the option to use your miles for other services on the ground, for example for access to the Delta Sky Club. This gives you access to a lounge operated by Delta on all Delta and partner flights. A one-year membership is available for 54,500 miles, with an extra 2,500 miles for guests each time.

Otherwise, you can also use your miles to book travel through Delta Vacations or purchase an item in the online shop. However, these types of redemptions are usually associated with a low equivalent value, which is why we rather advise against such redemptions.

The status levels at Delta SkyMiles

For people living outside of the US, the qualification is the same as other frequent flyer programs; you can apply via status miles or segments to qualify. If you live in the USA, there is an additional hurdle, these are the so-called MQDs (Medallion Qualification Dollars). This means that you have to spend a certain amount of money a year on tickets in order to receive a status. The status validity is a calendar year and the qualification period also depends on it.

All Delta SkyMiles status levels at a glance

There are a total of seven status levels, one of which is for life and one can only be reached by invitation. We only state the required number of status miles (MQM) or flight segments (MQS) for the hurdles, as this is the information required for most people. Below is a list of all status levels:

  • Delta SkyMiles: With registration at SkyMiles
  • Delta SkyMiles Silver Medallion: 25,000 tier miles OR 30 flight segments
  • Delta SkyMiles Gold Medallion: 50 tier miles OR 60 flight segments
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion: 75,000 tier miles OR 100 flight segments
  • Delta SkyMiles Diamond Medallion: 125,000 tier miles OR 140 flight segments
  • Delta SkyMiles Million Miler: 1, 2, 3, 4 million status miles for life
  • Delta 360 °: By invitation only, exact criteria not known

The same number of status miles is required for the requalification as for the initial qualification, but there is a rollover system, whereby excess status miles for (re) qualification are credited to the next year. This benefit is only available from the Silver Medallion status level.

The status benefits at Delta SkyMiles

In this section, we will look at the different benefits that you get with each status level. The basic status does not provide any significant advantages and is therefore omitted.

The SkyMiles Silver Medallionstatus is the first status that can be achieved and contains the Skyteam Elite status. The main advantages are limited to flights with Delta. There are the following advantages:

  • 7 award miles per USD spent
  • Free upgrades on the day of departure if available
  • One free piece of luggage for everyone on the booking
  • Preferential check-in and boarding
  • Waiting list priority

The perks are quite attractive for being the lowest tier. On Skyteam flights there is priority check-in and boarding, as well as additional baggage allowance.

With theSkyMiles Gold Medallion Status there is the Skyteam Elite Plus status, which also gives the partner airlines a lot of advantages. Here are the benefits of flying with Delta:

  • 8 award miles per USD spent
  • higher priority for free upgrades
  • Some service fees waived
  • Preferential handling on the ground with Sky Priority (check-in, security control, boarding, baggage handling)
  • Lounge access on international flights

The last two benefits are also available with all other Skyteam airlines, so that your travel experience is significantly improved with this status. We therefore advise everyone to aim for gold status, as it brings the most advantages with an easily achievable status hurdle.

Please note that there is no lounge access on domestic flights in the USA, unless the flight is a feeder for an international flight with Delta or a Skyteam partner.

TheSkyMiles Platinum Medallion Status is located above the gold status and also contains the Skyteam Elite Plus status. As a result, there are no advantages on partner airlines compared to gold status, only on Delta flights:

  • 9 award miles per USD spent
  • higher priority for free upgrades
  • No change fees for award tickets
  • Selection of a choice benefit

A Choice Benefit is a selection of various additional services from which you can choose one. The following options are available for Platinum Status:

  • four regional upgrade certificates
  • Giving away a Silver Medallion Status
  • 20,000 bonus award miles
  • $ 200 Delta Travel Voucher
  • Tiffany & Co $ 200 Gift Certificate

The choice benefit is a nice addition and the selection is interesting, but otherwise the additional advantages compared to the gold status are limited, so this should only be actively pursued if you are often on the road with Delta.

TheSkyMiles Diamond Medallion Status is the highest status that can be achieved in a year, but also only offers the Skyteam Elite Plus status. In addition to a further increased collection rate of 11 award miles per USD spent, there are slightly improved choice benefits to choose from:

  • Delta Sky Club Membership (Lounge Access)
  • Upgrade voucher for domestic and international flights
  • Gold status as a gift
  • 25,000 bonus award miles

There is also a free membership with CLEAR, which speeds up the security check even more, and an exclusive hotline only for Diamond members.

TheMillion milers status is a lifelong status and, as the name suggests, is awarded at certain thresholds, namely 1, 2, 3, and 4 million status miles since registration. With the status thresholds you will receive one of the Delta Medallion status levels from Silver to Platinum:

  • 1 million tier miles: SkyMiles Silver Medallion
  • 2 million status miles: SkyMiles Gold Medallion
  • 3 million status miles: SkyMiles Gold Medallion
  • 4 million status miles: SkyMiles Platinum Medallion

When one of these thresholds is reached, there is also a gift in addition to the associated status, which is why the 3 million threshold is also listed here. There is a selection of luggage and jewelry from Hartmann, Tiffany & Co and Tumi, which are very high-quality brands.

Of course, something like that is very nice and a lifetime status is certainly an attractive thing, but you have to decide for yourself whether it is worth aiming for this only.

Last but not least, we come to the Delta 360 ° Status. There are no published status thresholds for this, you have to wait for an invitation from Delta. It is estimated that the current thresholds are around $ 55,000 per year and 180-240 segments with delta.

The advantages are also not published, but include, among other things:

  • a private car transfer for tight connections
  • exclusive telephone support
  • A bottle of champagne as a present in the mail
  • Top priority for upgrades

However, this is reserved for the real frequent flyers of Delta and, like most other exclusive status programs, definitely anything but easy to achieve.

Conclusion on Delta SkyMiles

In order to achieve frequent flyer status with the Skyteam Alliance, the program is certainly a good recommendation, as cheap tickets often give 100 percent of the flight distance as status miles and through the Delta SkyMiles Status Challenge. With a status level you can also collect a lot of award miles, but redeeming them is quite complicated due to the dynamic pricing and the minimum values ​​are not too attractive either. For domestic flights, however, SkyMiles can be an interesting option, provided you book well in advance. It can also be worthwhile to have some American Express Membership Rewards points ready for transfer. All in all, it is an acceptable program within the Skyteam alliance, and anyone who travels with it frequently has a good opportunity here.