Now Is the Time to Get a Delta Elite Status Match (UPDATE: Challenge Complete!)

update! Christmas came early!

i was only expecting to get Gold out of the challenge for my flight to Johannesburg (see below, but it was SFO-ATL-JNB-CDG-JFK-SFO, with JNB-CDG operated by Air France) because the rules state that only Delta-operated flights were supposed to count. however, i guess i did get credit for the JNB-CDG segment because i’m now Platinum!

i’m thinking it may have been because it had a Delta flight number on it? but in any case, you can also see from this screenshot how few qualifying dollars i earned on this flight, which is why i could never make it with a spend-based program like Delta or the upcoming United. blech!!!

unfortunately, i booked a $235 mileage run to Chicago in a couple weeks — which is now completely unnecessary. i guess it’s a good thing since i really could use a weekend at home (even if it’s just to get some work done). let’s hope there’s some sort of waiver or last-minute schedule change so i can get a refund!

p.s. i got this flight (and now Platinum status) for $862.20. i wasn’t originally didn’t have the super-long ATL-JNB segment (as i recall i was originally flying through Amsterdam) but thanks to a schedule change i was able to get on this Delta-operated flight, which definitely was the key to completing this challenge.

update to the update: you do indeed qualify for a Choice Benefit once the match is complete. it was a pretty easy choice for me — 20,000 skypesos since i am not traveling on them enough to make use of any of the other ones.

original post follows:

UPDATE: OOPS! thanks to Carolina Travel Girl for pointing out i totally confused Diamond and Platinum. the highest status you can match to is PLATINUM, which is what i got.


as my first and only year as a United 1K draws to an end, it’s high time i started figuring out my strategy for next year and beyond. i wasn’t planning on flying SkyTeam a lot, but i booked some deals i couldn’t pass up, so being elite on one of the carriers would be beneficial. and since Delta, so trailblazing amongst the legacy carriers, instituted a spend requirement for elite status, i probably won’t ever make any significant level of Delta elite again, so i am using my one and only match chance now.

sidebar: United State of Affairs for the record, i just passed 100,000 Premier Qualifying Miles on United this past weekend (which would have gotten me 1K again under the old rules), but as i will just pass $5,000 in Premier Qualifying Dollars by the end of the year, i will only qualify as Gold under the new rules. thanks, though, to spending enough on the Mileage Plus Explorer card, i qualify for the PQD waiver and thus will make Platinum (since you can’t waive all the way to 1K).

behold, the match

basically you get 90 days of matched status and in order to keep it, you need to fly a certain amount in those 90 days (the challenge). keep reading for details.

why i’m doing the match now

cuz i’m a cheapskate

as i mentioned above, there’s likely no way i will ever spend enough on plane tickets to meet the Medallion Qualifying Dollar amount for anything other than the lowest level, if even that. but if you do the match/challenge, there is no spend requirement. currently, as long as you complete the challenge in the second half of this year, you will get status for the rest of the year and all of next year, no matter what you spend. yep, all you need to do is meet or exceed the miles or segments requirement in 90 days — full details are available on their match page.

because i have flights booked

i will qualify for at least Gold on my trip to Johannesburg in November (thanks in part to a schedule change that got me off a KLM flight and onto a Delta flight) — i will make Platinum if Delta-marketed flights operated by a SkyTeam carrier also count, although it doesn’t look that way from the terms and conditions — i think must be Delta metal (i.e., on a Delta plane) as well. oh well. i just want lounge access for my SkyTeam RTW flights next year so Gold is fine for me.

My planned (so far) SkyTeam flights

my South Africa trip will get me 16,769 qualifying miles if the Air France-operated Johannesburg-Paris flight doesn’t count; you need 12,500 to get Gold or 18,750 to get Platinum, and you can qualify for any level at or below your match level. if there is something quick and cheap i may do a mileage run to get the extra 2,000ish miles to get Platinum. i should note that they lowered the requirements earlier this summer — you used to need 16,000 miles for Gold and 26,000 for Platinum. ACK! (methinks they realized the new requirements are…off-putting.)

steps to sign up for the match/challenge

  1. visit the match page for all the rules and regulations — currently it seems like they are only accepting matches from American and United, although i think i’ve seen reports they may match other airlines’ elite statuses as well, but not as generously.
  2. click the link at the end of that page and complete the form
  3. send an email with your current United or American elite card or statement
  4. wait.

it says it can take 7-14 days to get a response, but after 7 passed i got antsy (because i didn’t want to wait on getting Economy Comfort seat choices!) and sent them a polite email asking about the status of my match via the Comment/Complaint form on their site, choosing the following options:

i got an answer the same day with my temporary Platinum status starting the next day!


Thanks for your note. You are now enrolled in the Elite Match Challenge.

Your temporary Platinum Medallion status will be effective on September 19, 2014, look for additional terms and conditions to the e-mail address in your SkyMiles account.

We appreciate your interest in our Medallion program.

Medallion desk

benefits from day 1

all the promised bennies work! i can choose economy comfort on my Delta and KLM flights! i had to call in to the KLM (=Delta) number to get those seats since the website didn’t recognize my new status, but i was automatically routed to the Platinum line after i entered my SkyMiles number and had prompt and friendly service. and what savings to be had!

should you do this?

i think if you qualify (never did a match/challenge or got complimentary status in the past, are not currently Delta elite, and have elite status on another airline, especially American and United), and SkyTeam flying is in your future (planned or purchased, or even likely), this may be worth it. but, if you are a cheap flyer like me and will never otherwise make the spend requirement, DO IT NAO if you have the flights to meet the challenge! (remember, only Delta flights will count!)

p.s. if you’re trying for a Virgin America status match, GOOD LUCK. it took about a month, four emails, and a tweet, and they ended up matching me to the wrong (lower) status. not even going to bother to fix it.

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