Delta Airlines and their SkyMiles program is one of the most popular mileage programs in the United States. Delta has been at the forefront of negative innovation in the mileage program game. At first their program was similar to others that gave you miles based on distance but they added a spend component called Medallion Qualifying Dollars or MQDs back in 2013.
The flip side of it is that they are very lucrative when you credit partner airlines especially in business and first class so you to collect a significant amount of redeemable miles and spend at a lower cost compared to a similar Delta flight.
They were also the first airline to attach a spending requirement to their elite status requirements for members living in the United States, if you "live" abroad you can get a waiver, but for most US flyers you need to fulfill the requirements which vary depending on each status level but vary between 3000-20,000 in "spending" depending on the level you wish to obtain.
This was usually interpreted as a highly negative change for those of us who play the mileage game, but every-time a door closes a window opens up allowing us to continue to maximize our status at the lowest cost.
Partner airlines are key to obtaining miles and spend at a low out of pocket price
You can earn Delta MQMs, RDMs and MQDs from at least 384 unique airfare buckets across 4 types of cabin (First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy) and subcategories within each area on over 20 different airlines! It was a bit higher pre-Pandemic, but Virgin Australia ceased trans-Pacific flights, GOL got friendlier with American Airlines and Aeroflot was suspended from SkyTeam.
There is a huge range of earning opportunities from 200% MQMs, 300% RDMs and 60% of distance as MQDs on the high-end to as little as 0% MQMs, 0% RDMs and 0 MQDs!
Delta MQD Runs
Are you a frequent Delta flyer with significant MQMs who misses out on upgrades because of a low MQD count or are stuck at Gold when you could be a Delta Platinum or Diamond?
We have published dozens of deals that allow you to maximize the value you get from each flight. We developed the MQD Ratio model that shows how many MQDs you can obtain per Dollar spent on Partner Airlines.
If you fly Delta this value is always below 1 as certain taxes and fees are not used in the calculation of MQDs. But when flying partner airlines, MQDs are calculated as a % of flown distance (0% to even 60% of distance) and it's very possible to find ratios of 2, 3 or in some cases 5 to 1. Pre-Covid we even published a 12.69 MQD Ratio deal from FCO-SYD!
As of April 2023: We can help you find 5 to 7 MQD Ratios in many markets such as SoCal or New York with the Tijuana trick.
Flying Blue XP Runs
FlyingBlue introduced the concept of eXperience Points (XP) which provide savvy users with many Arbitrage opportunities. Their system values International flights over domestic flights, with an additional variable based on distance and cabin.
It can give weird values such as a flight from Vancouver to Seattle would earn more in the program than Seattle to New York! But within Europe it allows for some great Arbitrage opportunities from Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Portugal, the UK and more! You can obtain Silver status with 100 XPs and this allows you Priority boarding. To reach Gold Status which is equivalent to SkyTeam Elite you need 180 more XPs and then just need to fly that same amount each year to re-qualify. This level gives you the ability to redeem for Air France First Class tickets.
During 2021, there was a Double XP promotion and until June 30th 2022 they had a 50% bonus.
Overall the secret is how they reward transborder flights. The FlyingBlue program rewards individuals who fly in business class across borders, so a flight from Brussels to Amsterdam will give you more miles than a flight from JFK to Los Angeles and while it seems absurd it gives you the ability to travel hack and presents smart flyers with many opportunities.
One way to obtain status is through what is called the Denmark or Oslo connection this involves departing from a European city connecting in both Paris and Amsterdam before arriving at your destination this could be obtained for between 500 to 700 euros depending on your point of origin. This routing would give you 90 XPs which is almost enough for Silver status and two more of these would give you Gold status which is mid-tier SkyTeam status.