Is It Actually 262.5% MQMs on Delta Premium Cabin Awards in 2021? (Not 175%?)

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Delta today announced a raft of changes to elite status qualification flight earnings that apply for flights from April 1-December 31, 2021. This will automatically apply to all SkyMiles accounts; no registration required.

The first big piece is that Award Tickets and Miles + Cash tickets will earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) along with paid (cash) tickets at a base rate of 100% of miles flown. This, and everything in this article, only applies to Delta SkyMiles awards on Delta-coded and Delta-operated flights. Any partner flights in an award will not earn miles, though you will still earn for the Delta flights in a mixed Delta and partner ticket.

The next part, which I and many others overlooked, is that the 50% class of service bonus for premium cabin tickets (Premium Select, First Class, Delta One) will also apply to award tickets. I thank TC for pointing this out to my disbelieving eyes, and MR for digging up the sourcing.

That means, before the promotion boost is applied, premium cabin awards will earn 150% of miles flown, just like their cash counterparts.

Up from 150%?

The headline numbers of this promotion are that all tickets that earn mileage will be eligible for further MQM boosts:

  • 50% boost for tickets in Basic Economy, Main Cabin, Comfort Plus
  • 75% boost for tickets in Comfort+, Premium Select, First Class, Delta One

Here is a table of examples from the Delta announcement:

Delta 2021 Mileage Boosts

Image courtesy: Delta press release

This table does not have an example of an award booked in First Class, though the last row, the Main Cabin ticket with paid upgrade to First Class, will work the same way.

The extensive FAQ in the announcement includes this section (bold emphases added):

How will I earn MQMs, MQSs and MQDs on Award Travel?

  • Special for only the remainder of this year, SkyMiles Members can earn MQMs, MQSs and MQDs for Award Travel on flights that are both marketed and operated by Delta and flown April 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021.
  • MQMS: You will earn MQMs on Award Travel tickets based on the distance flown and cabin bonus (if applicable) – a 50% or 75% bonus will be applied to this value, depending on your cabin purchased.
  • The base MQMs for Award Travel tickets in Basic Economy, Main Cabin and Delta Comfort+ will be the distance flown
  • The base MQMs for Award Travel tickets in First Class, Delta Premium Select and Delta One will be 50% of the distance flown plus the distance flown (or 150% of the distance flown)
  • Just like purchased tickets, the minimum amount of MQMs you will earn on a flight (prior to the application of bonus MQMs) is 500.
    • For example, if the distance of your flight booked in Delta Comfort+ is 700 miles, you would earn 700 MQMs, plus 75% of that total: 1,225 MQMs
    • If the distance of your flight booked in First Class is 700 miles, you would earn 1,050 MQMs (50% of the distance flown + the distance flown), plus 75% of that total: 1,838 MQMs
  • MQSs: You will earn MQSs like you normally would on retail tickets. Members earn 1 MQS for each segment of their journey. Depending on the cabin you paid for and flew, a bonus will be applied to each segment.
  • MQDs: MQDs on Award Tickets will be calculated based on the miles redeemed for the flight divided by 100 – a 50% or 75% bonus will be applied to this value, depending on the cabin purchased
    • For example, if you redeem 50,000 miles for a First Class ticket, here is how many MQDs you would earn: (50,000/100) = 500; 500*75%=375; 500+375= 875 MQDs

262.5% MQMs

According to the example in the FAQ above, a First Class flight of 700 miles will earn 262.5% MQMs for a total of 1,838 MQMs.

There’s a lot else to the Delta announcement that you can dig into the details on the Delta site and other coverage. What I haven’t seen any flag up is that Premium Cabin Award Ticket flights should earn 262.5% MQMs instead of 175%.

Note that the boost crediting won’t be up immediately. Flights April 1-May 15, 2021 will be retroactively credited by May 31, 2021. Flights from May 16, 2021 onward should have the boosts credit along with the regular flight activity. My mid-May we’ll see if this is correct.

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