MDQs or Medallion Qualification Dollars, which are the sum total of frequent flyer miles spent on Delta flights, have been threatened by changes in policy at the airline recently, where flyers must spend $25,000 on their Delta credit card each year to qualify for MDQs.
Luckily, spending a lot of money at Delta is not the only way to earn them. Partner airlines also offer MDQs and those flights earn MQDs based on a percentage of the distance flown, rather than the fare price. Though percentages vary depending on the partner airline and fare class, the distance-based earning equation allows discount fares on long-distance flights to earn MQDs in addition to the cost of the fare, allowing frequent flyers to qualify for elite status.
Firstly, flyers must determine if the partner airline honors MQDs. It is also important to differentiate between the marketing carrier and the operating carrier, meaning who has marketed the fare and who is flying the plane. For example, a flight marketed by Air France but operated by KLM is eligible to earn Delta Miles and status credit because KLM is a member of the SkyTeam alliance. Yet, a flight marketed by Air France but operated by Jet Airways is not eligible to earn Delta miles or status credit, since Jet Airways is not a member of the SkyTeam alliance. So, to earn Delta MQDs on a partner flight, the flight must be marketed by the Delta partner and operated by that partner or another SkyTeam airline.
There are, however, some partner-specific exceptions, which are listed on the partner’s section of the partner-earning page on Delta’s website. One exception is Hawaiian Airlines since only flights within the state of Hawaii are eligible.
To determine how many MQDs you will earn, you’ll need the marketing carrier, the fare class code, and the flight distance. The marketing carrier and fare class are displayed on the booking site or your ticket confirmation, while the distance can be checked online at the Great Circle Mapper or WebFlyer’s mileage calculator.
Finally, you must ensure your flight is credited to your Delta SkyMiles account, not to your frequent flier account with the partner airline. Your flight can only earn mileage and status credit with one program or another, not both. Crediting your flight to Delta instead of the marketing carrier is simple. For most airlines, this is done online when booking or from the reservation management page after your flight is booked. If the marketing airline won’t allow you to enter your Delta account number online, you can have the check-in agent add it to your reservation. You should always ask at check-in that the correct frequent flyer account is linked to the reservation.