Executive Traveller exclusive
- Delta Air Lines’ 2022 SkyMiles Medallion Status Match Challenge now includes Qantas and Virgin Australia frequent flyers
- Get instant SkyMiles Medallion Silver, Gold or Platinum status for three months; keep that status to January 2024 with just one flight
- Enjoy those status perks across all SkyTeam member airlines worldwide
Delta Air Lines is looking to woo frequent flyers with Qantas and Virgin Australia through Delta’s 2022 Medallion Status Match Challenge.
But this isn’t just a Delta Air Lines status match: it’s a SkyTeam status match, because the perks of your Silver, Gold or Platinum Medallion status with Delta’s SkyMiles loyalty program extend across all 18 members of the SkyTeam alliance, plus Delta partners such as Virgin Atlantic and LATAM.
Depending on your status tier, those Delta and SkyTeam status match benefits include
- access to Delta, SkyTeam and Virgin Atlantic airport lounges
- time-saving priority treatment at check-in, through security and pre-boarding
- a higher spot on the upgrade list
- an additional checked baggage allowance (with your bags tagged for priority delivery)
Now for the best parts: you not only get 90 days of free Delta status and all the perks that come with it, you can easily lock down your Delta and SkyTeam status until the end of January 2024 on your next Sydney-Los Angeles trip.
That’s a solid 18 months of streamlined travel across all flights with Delta, its ‘core’ partners’ such as Virgin Atlantic and LATAM, and all SkyTeam member airlines: a roster including Air France, Alitalia, Taiwan’s China Airlines, China Eastern, Garuda Indonesia, KLM, Korean Air and Vietnam Airlines.
As Delta puts it: “The Medallion Status Match Challenge is our offer for you to switch to Delta. If you currently have elite status with another airline, we will give you the equivalent Medallion Status for three months – complimentary. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to extend your complimentary status past three months if you successfully complete the challenge.”
Delta SkyTeam status match for Qantas, Virgin Australia
Delta’s 2022 Medallion Status Match Challenge launched with a dozen competitors in its crosshairs: among them Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, ANA, American Airlines, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa and United Airlines.
However, after enquiries by Executive Traveller, Delta Air Lines confirmed that Qantas and Virgin Australia were also eligible for this status match challenge.
Qantas is of course a direct competitor against Delta on the Sydney-Los Angeles route (as well as being allied with Delta’s domestic rival American Airlines), while Virgin Australia ended its long-standing relationship with Delta earlier this year to partner with United Airlines).
As a result, Qantas and Virgin Australia have now been added to Delta’s status match eligibility list.
The status tiers of Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer align with those of Delta Air Lines and SkyTeam as follows:
- Qantas Silver and Velocity Silver = Delta SkyMiles Silver Medallion = SkyTeam Elite
- Qantas Gold and Velocity Gold = Delta SkyMiles Gold Medallion = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Qantas Platinum (and Platinum One) and Velocity Platinum = Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion = SkyTeam Elite Plus
Delta SkyMiles Silver Medallion doesn’t deliver much in the way of practical perks: you get priority check-in and boarding plus one free checked bag, but there’s no lounge access or even priority baggage handling. But then, that’s life as a Silver with most airlines.
Gold Medallion adds access to Delta Sky Club lounges as your top-line benefit – although only on international Delta flights – while Platinum Medallion really puts icing onto the frequent flyer cake.
With Delta status you’ll get all the usual benefits you would expect including extra baggage allowance, priority boarding and lounge access (except on domestic itineraries), as well as complimentary upgrades when flying with Delta.
SkyTeam status match for Qantas, Virgin Australia
Thinking of the Delta Air Lines status match as a SkyTeam Elite Plus status match takes this opportunity to a whole new level.
While SkyTeam doesn’t boast the big-name brands of Oneworld and Star Alliance, its 18 airlines boast a reach of over 1,000 destinations across almost 180 countries, with an especially solid footprint in Asia.
SkyTeam Elite Plus status – which the Delta status match provides to Qantas and Velocity Gold and Platinum-grade members – offers access to SkyTeam’s five ‘branded’ lounges (including Sydney, Vancouver and Chile) plus more than 700 lounges operated by the individual SkyTeam member airlines.
In short, a SkyTeam Elite Plus card is a very worthwhile addition to your passport wallet.
Your instant Delta status match
Once Delta approves your status match against Qantas or Virgin Australia (you should hear from them after within a few weeks at most) you’ll immediately be elevated to the appropriate SkyMiles Medallion tier, and you’ll stay there for 90 days.
This means you’ll get those status perks from day one – very handy if you’ve got some Delta flights coming up – although Delta says travellers will enjoy those initial three months of status benefits only on Delta Air Lines flights, not with SkyTeam members.
(That said, we’ve heard of instances where SkyTeam airlines did honour Delta status privileges in that 90-day window, so this is a ‘YMMV’ situation.)
When that 90 days of status begins, it also starts the clock ticking on the status challenge part of the promotion.
That’s your window for doing enough flying to keep your newly-minted Delta SkyMiles Medallion status (and SkyTeam Elite or Elite Plus status) for another 18 months, through to January 31 2024.
It’s worth noting that even if you fail to meet the flying criteria to retain your status-matched tier but qualify for a lower tier, you’ll keep that lower – so if you're Qantas or Velocity Platinum you can still pocket SkyMiles Medallion Gold and SkyTeam Elite Plus status.
Winning the 90-day Delta SkyMiles Medallion Challenge
So how do you lock in your Delta and SkyTeam status to January 2024?
It’s all about earning Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) during those first 90 days.
- Medallion Qualification Miles or MQMs – think of them as something like Delta’s version of status credits – are based on the distance you fly and your fare class
- Medallion Qualification Segments or MQSs are based on based on the number of flights you take
(SkyMiles members based in the US also have to earn a minimum amount of Medallion Qualification Dollars, which is based on their travel spend, but that requirement is waived for non-US residents.)
Obviously, Qantas and Velocity frequent flyers living in Australia are better off qualifying for Delta status by earning MQMs instead of MQMs – a flight between Sydney and Los Angeles is almost 7,500 miles in distance but just one flight ‘segment’.
Here are the MQM targets for winning your Delta Medallion and SkyTeam status during the Delta status challenge:
- Silver Medallion and SkyTeam Elite status: earn 6,250 MQMs within 90 days
- Gold Medallion and SkyTeam Elite Plus status: earn 12,500 MQMs within 90 days
- Platinum Medallion and SkyTeam Elite Plus status: earn 18,750 MQMs within 90 days
Delta has set the bar very low during this status challenge phase – each status tier usually require four times as many MQMs per year.
The number of MQMs you earn on any Delta flight is calculated as a percentage of the number of miles flown, and that percentage depends not only on the cabin you’re in but the type of fare you’ve purchased.
Between Sydney and Los Angeles, Delta flies an Airbus A350 with effectively four classes: Delta One (business class), Premium Select (premium economy), Comfort+ (extra legroom economy ) and Main Cabin (economy).
Here are the MQM earning rates for those travel classes and fare types:
- full-fare Delta One and Premium Select: 200%
- discounted Delta One and Premium Select: 150%
- full-fare Main Cabin: 150%
- Comfort+, standard and discounted Main Cabin: 100%
(Note that the cheapest Basic Economy fares don’t earn any MQMs.)
Based on the 7,488 miles between Sydney and Los Angeles, here’s your MQM haul for a one-way trip:
- full-fare Delta One and Premium Select: 14,976 MQMs
- discounted Delta One and Premium Select: 11,232 MQMs
- full-fare Main Cabin: 11,232 MQMs
- Comfort+, standard and discounted Main Cabin: 7,488 MQMS
This puts a challenge-winning haul of MQMs – and 18 months of Gold or Platinum Medallion (and SkyTeam Elite Plus) status – within easy reach:
- a one-way flight between Sydney and Los Angeles in full-fare Delta business class or premium economy tops the 12,500 MQMs needed for Gold Medallion and SkyTeam Elite Plus
- a return Sydney-Los Angeles flight in discounted Delta business class or premium economy comes in well above the 18,750 MQMs needed for Platinum Medallion and SkyTeam Elite Plus
No matter which way you slice it, a Sydney-Los Angeles trip during Delta’s Medallion Status Match Challenge is your ticket to 18 months of premium travel perks all the way through to January 2024.
Earning Delta status with Delta partner airlines
You can also earn Deltas SkyMiles MQMs flying on partner airlines, even during the 90-day status challenge qualification period – which could prove an even more convenient way to help reach your Medallion tier target.
This covers both Delta’s set of ‘core’ partners such as Virgin Atlantic, all SkyTeam members and other Delta partners such as Hawaiian Airlines.
Just have your SkyMiles number entered against your flight for your nominated frequent flyer program.
Applying for the Delta SkyTeam status match challenge
Here’s how to make your Delta Air Lines status match challenge application.
1. You’ll need to be a member of Delta’s SkyMiles loyalty programme; if you’re not, it’s fast and free to join – so head to the Delta website and sign up.
2. Armed with your SkyMiles membership number, click through to the SkyMiles Medallion Status Match Challenge page, scroll down and click the Enroll Now button to call up the SkyMiles Medallion Status Match Challenge online registration form
3. As part of the application process you’ll need to provide proof that you hold current status with one of the eligible airline’s frequent flyer programs and provide “a current statement from another airline showing your earned elite status and activity with that airline program.”
“For both of these materials, you may upload a photograph, screenshot of your app or computer screen, or other file format,” Delta suggests, “as long as it clearly shows the required information, your elite status level, and your name.”
Allow a few weeks for Delta’s Medallion Status Match Challenge team to get back to you, and if you’re ticked all the right boxes then you’ll have 90 days of free Silver, Gold or Platinum status (based on your current Qantas or Virgin Australia tier) and be ready to keep that Delta status – and the equivalent across all SkyTeam airlines – until January 31, 2024 with your next Delta Air Lines flight between Sydney and Los Angeles.
Additional reporting by Matt Lennon