Delta Air Lines is running a very generous status match promotion. I’ve been debating about posting about it because it is a targeted promotion that likely has limited applicability. However, for those who can take advantage of it, the promotion offers great value. For the rest of us, the promotion serves as an interesting case study in the way airlines use frequent-flyer programs to benefit themselves and harm competitors. At least that’s the plan.
Like many airlines, Delta has an ongoing status-match program that offers to match a customer’s elite status in another airline’s frequent-flyer program for three months and then extend that status for the remainder of the program year plus the following year if the customer takes a certain number of Delta flights within the temporary window. That program is available to just about anyone with elite status at another airline. Delta’s new promotion has is not as widely available but it is much more generous.
Delta’s New Enhanced Status Match Promotion
The promotion involves a two-step process. First is the status match for a limited period. Second is retaining the new status for an extended period by completing required flight activity.
Those who have elite status on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, jetBlue, Southwest Airlines or United Airlines, you may be eligible to enroll in Delta’s status match challenge between October 19 and October 31, 2020. Those who qualify will receive complimentary Delta status one tier higher than their current Status – through March 31, 2021.
This promotion is the first I’ve seen where an airline doesn’t just match current status in another program, it raises your status one level higher where possible! The chart shows how tiers will match to temporary status with Delta.
For example, an American Airlines Gold (its bottom tier) matches to Delta Gold (Delta’s second tier from the bottom). Airlines call their tiers by many different names, but the benefits of the various levels are fairly uniform. And in all programs, the higher the level, the greater the range of benefits .
Those who enroll and receive temporary status in accordance with the chart above will keep their new status through January 3, 2022 by completing the flight requirements below by March 31, 2021.
- To retain Gold status with Delta fly 2 qualifying round trips or 4 one way flights
- To retain Platinum status with Delta fly 4 qualifying round trips or 8 one way flights
- To retain Diamond status with Delta fly 6 qualifying round trips or 12 one way flights
In normal times meeting those requirements in a six-month period would be a piece of cake for many business flyers and even many who fly primarily for leisure.
Limited eligibility is the kicker here. The promotion is targeted to members of the Delta Skymiles program who have elite status at one of the five U.S. airlines mentioned previously. Those people should have received an email notifying them about this promotion.
On the other hand, on Delta’s website, the description of the enhanced match offer does not state that it is available only to persons who received an email from Delta. Delta’s unprecedented generosity with this program shows it is very eager to steal customers who fly a lot on competitor airlines. There is nothing to lose by applying for it. Delta might enroll someone it deems to be ineligible for the enhanced program into the standard match. You have the option to decline enrollment in that program.
Delta’s Enhanced Status Match Program Is Exceedingly Generous
Due largely to the evaporation of demand for air travel caused by SARS-CoV-2, Delta is pulling out all the stops to attract more customers. Every customer Delta attracts is one less customer for its rivals. As stated above, I’ve never seen a promotion or program that matches one level above the level in the competitor program.
But Delta doesn’t stop there. Unlike other match promotions, in this program Delta drops all requirements for spending and flying miles or segments. It is based solely on trips taken no matter how far, the number of segments involved, or the cost of the tickets.
These days it is easy to find trips for $200 – $300. Achieving Delta’s top level, Diamond, could cost as little as $1,200 – $1,800 which could be well worth it especially if some or all trips are business travel paid for by an employer or client. In comparison, to reach Diamond, Delta normally makes members spend a minimum of $15,000 on Delta tickets minus taxes or $250,000 on a Delta credit card.
Delta provides Platinum and Diamond members with lucrative Choice Benefits. These items include confirmed upgrades to business class, $200 travel vouchers, and Delta Skymiles that can be converted to free trips. A Delta Platinum Medallion receives one choice and a Diamond receives three choices plus on for Platinum. Participants in the match program can select Choice Benefits once they complete the required flight activity. In addition Delta gives all Diamonds a complimentary $175 membership in CLEAR, a program that moves its members to the front of the TSAPre line at airport security.
While this promotion is of no direct benefit to me as I am Executive Platinum with American and Diamond with Delta already, the relaxed flying requirements make this promotion potentially very lucrative for those who are eligible for it and who are willing to fly. As SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread rapidly, there are millions who have had it and have little to fear from travelling.
Having status is good not just for the published benefits but also because airlines sometimes bend the rules for their elite members and provide them with superior service during travel disruptions. The higher the status, the more benefits are available and the better airlines treat you.
Although I’m ineligible for this promotion, Delta’s aggressive promotion may yet pay off if other airlines match or exceed it. I would jump at the chance to match my American or Delta status to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan top tier. Flyer Talk, a community of over three quarters of a million business and leisure travelers, recently voted Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan as the best frequent-flyer program in North and South America. Next year Alaska joins the Oneworld airline alliance making its program even more rewarding for international travel.
Were you one of the lucky ones who was targeted? If not and you have status with another airline, would you consider to trying to get in on this promotion? To apply it only takes having status at another airline, being a Delta Skymiles member (joining is free) and submitting an application. Act before October 31 if this program looks like it would be a benefit.
If you do not think you would complete the flight activity, which is understandable due to the pandemic, I would suggest not signing up for either of Delta’s status match programs because Delta bars people who participated in a status match from doing so again for three years. We should be on the lookout for status match opportunities in other airline, hotel, or rental car rewards programs that companies may offer on better-than-normal terms because of the pandemic.