Delta offers SkyTeam frequent flyer status match against Qantas

By David Flynn, May 1 2018
Delta offers SkyTeam frequent flyer status match against Qantas

  • Delta SkyMiles Medallion status match challenge is open to Qantas frequent flyers
  • Get Gold, Platinum and Diamond SkyMiles status through to 2020
  • This equates to SkyTeam Elite Plus status across all SkyTeam Alliance member airlines

We've previously detailed how you can easily earn Gold-grade status valid across all Star Alliance airlines through a 'status challenge' promotion with United Airlines – now it's time to score the same VIP perks for the SkyTeam Alliance with this Delta Air Lines SkyMiles status match.

Your Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum, Gold or Silver card can unlock equivalent status in the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles scheme, which matches up against the SkyTeam Elite and Elite Plus tiers in almost 20 other SkyTeam airlines.

You'll get three months of complimentary Delta SkyMiles status, which can then be extended for as far away as January 2020 by completing as little as one Virgin Australia flight to Los Angeles or Hong Kong in a not-very-challenging "mileage challenge" during those three months.

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Locking down your SkyTeam status 

SkyTeam's roster might not boast the big-name marquee brands of Oneworld and Star Alliance but with some 20 airlines on its books, including a solid footprint in Asia, a SkyTeam Elite or Elite Plus card is a useful addition to your passport wallet.

SkyTeam members flying out of Australia include Taiwan-based China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, Korean Air and Vietnam Airlines; other members include Aeroflot, Argentina Aerolíneas, Air France, KLM and Saudi Arabia's Saudia.

Your newly-minted Elite Plus status unlocks airport lounge access, priority check-in and boarding, a generous checked luggage allowance and more.

The best bit? All this can be yours with just a single flight by taking advantage of Delta Air Lines' status match challenge to fast-track your way to SkyTeam VIP status.

And as a bonus, Delta's partnership with Virgin Australia also delivers a core range of status privileges equivalent to Velocity Gold for for Virgin flights.

(We should also call out that your Delta SkyMiles / SkyTeam Elite Plus status doesn't provide access to SkyTeam partner lounges if you're on a domestic flight within any country – status-based lounge access is only for international travellers.)

Qualifying for the Delta, SkyTeam status match

First up, you'll need to hold suitable status with the frequent flyer program of a Delta competitor.

Delta's SkyMiles Medallion Status Match Challenge website has almost a dozen airlines on the hitlist– from domestic challengers American Airlines, JetBlue and United Airlines to foreign foes such as ANA, Asiana Airlines, British Airways, JAL, Lufthansa, and Swiss.

What about Qantas Frequent Flyer?

Delta allows that if you have status with an airline which is not on that roster (as long as it's not a Delta partner, and that includes Virgin Australia) and you meet the relevant participation criteria, you can still apply for the Status Match Challenge.

A spokesperson for Delta Air Lines told Australian Business Traveller that "Qantas is, in fact, a qualifying airline" – so whip out your Qantas Platinum, Gold or Silver card.

Of course, if you're not already a member of Delta's SkyMiles loyalty program, that's a must – so click here to sign up.

Then it's time to complete the SkyMiles Medallion Status Match Challenge online registration form, including uploading copies of your current frequent flyer card and an activity statement showing "your earned elite status", Delta stresses – "complimentary status or status earned through a promotion does not qualify."

How your Qantas, Delta and SkyTeam status lines up

Qantas Frequent Flyer and Delta SkyMiles Medallion status is a straight-forward match, while the two higher tiers of SkyMiles line up against the top SkyTeam Elite Plus level.

  • Qantas Frequent Flyer Silver = Delta SkyMiles Medallion Silver =  SkyTeam Elite
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold = Delta SkyMiles Medallion Gold =  SkyTeam Elite Plus
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum / Platinum One = Delta SkyMiles Medallion Platinum =  SkyTeam Elite Plus

There's no option to challenge for the loftiest SkyMiles Medallion Diamond status.

Delta SkyMiles Medallion Silver doesn't count for much in the way of practical perks: just priority check-in and boarding, but no lounge access or even priority baggage handling.

Delta SkyMiles Medallion Gold is where you want to be to enjoy SkyTeam lounge access, while Platinum ramps up the perks if you're doing a lot of flying with Delta (click here for a comparison of SkyMiles Medallion tiers and benefits).

90 days of gratis status with Delta SkyMiles

If Delta approves your status challenge (you should hear from them within three weeks at most), you'll have three months at the appropriate SkyMiles status.

Delta says that during this time you'll receive status benefits only on Delta-operated flights, so don't count on it for hitting the SkyTeam or Virgin Australia lounges right away.

When that 90 days of status starts, so does the timer on doing enough flying to rack up the necessary number of miles to hold onto your newly-minted Delta SkyMiles status and have your perks extended to SkyTeam and Virgin Australia.

Completing the Delta SkyMiles Medallion Challenge

Delta SkyMiles status is earned by dint of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) – Delta's version of Qantas status credits - or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs).

MQMs are the key here, and you earn a base rate of one MQM for each mile flown.

(Note that you won't also need to earn a minimum amount of Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) as required for US-based members.)

Here are the challenge targets for each of the three SkyMiles Medallion tiers within that 30 day period:

  • Silver: earn 6,250 MQMs or 8 MQSs
  • Gold: earn 12,500 MQMs or 15 MQSs
  • Platinum: earn 18,750 MQMs or 25 MQSs

That's just 25% of the usual MQM count needed for each status level.

Earning Delta SkyMiles on Virgin Australia flights

Now here's the best bit: Delta SkyMiles MQMs can be "earned on partner airline flights" – which includes Virgin Australia, alongside other SkyTeam airlines.

In fact, on Virgin Australia the MQM earning rates start at a full serve of miles even in 'deep discount economy' travel (for those times when your company insists on 'cheapest fare of the day'), with up to 150% of miles flown for a full economy fare or premium economy, and up to 200% in business class.

Only MQMs count for SkyMiles Medallion status on Virgin flights, not the segment-based MQSs. Virgin has a minimum earn of 500 MQMs per flight, which gives you a little bit of a bonus on Sydney-Canberra flights.

Apply some mileage maths and you'll see that to qualify for SkyMiles Medallion Gold status – which we rate as the sweet spot for SkyTeam – you need to make just one Virgin Australia business class return flight from Sydney or Melbourne to Hong Kong, or just credit one leg of a business or premium economy trip between Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane and Los Angeles.

If for some reason you have your eye on a SkyMiles Medallion Platinum card, it can be yours by crediting both legs of a Virgin Australia business or premium economy return flight to Los Angeles to your Delta SkyMiles account.

Note that if you don’t meet the criteria for your requested challenge but do for a lower tier, you can keep the lower tier – so if you're Qantas Platinum you can just shoot for SkyMiles Medallion Gold.

Also, if you register for the status challenge before June 30 2018 and clock up the necessary MQMs your SkyMiles status will run through to only January 31 2019.

However, if you can hold off applying until after July 1 2018 and making your qualifying flight within that subsequent 90 day challenge period, your status will last all the way through to January 31 2020.

You'll get three months of complimentary Delta SkyMiles status, which can then be extended for as far away as January 2020 by completing as little as one Virgin Australia flight to Los Angeles or Hong Kong in a not-very-challenging "mileage challenge" during those three months.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

13 May 2015

Total posts 24

D'oh - I applied before reading the whole article and now realise you only have 30 days to qualify from the date you're approved. I've emailed and asked if they'll cancel the match request and let me re-apply in a few weeks time.

06 Oct 2018

Total posts 14

Have you received any feed backs from DELTA?

13 May 2015

Total posts 24

Yes - they were fantastic! All done.

06 Oct 2018

Total posts 14

Congratulations! I am still waiting for mine and I did the exact same thing - booked before realising the travel date was actually outside the 90 days' period. I have also emailed DELTA and asked them whether they could slow my application down towards the end of October. Now it is November ;)

06 Oct 2018

Total posts 14

MEL-SYD-HKG-SYD-MEL in Class I flying VA with promo code 10% off and 3% Cash back amounts to AUD$3,000 return fare with the following calculation:

(500+4,580+4,580+500) x 150% = 10,160 x 150% = 15,240 MQMs

I'm not sure if going for the Medallion Platinum is necessary if you are not flying to the US on a regular basis. But 15,240 is awfully close to 18,750 needed to reach the next tier.

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