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Delta’s Silver Medallion Tier Benefits, Qualifications, Upgrades, Baggage Review

It has been noted that most Delta elites are usually Silver Medallion, with fewer people achieving the upward tiers or ranks. Because of this, it is important to look at the Delta Silver Medallion Tier benefits, including qualifications, upgrades, and baggage, and help to place a value on each perk. That way, you will better understand if you should fly more to earn this beginner level and how you should value higher tiers.

In this travel guide prepared by Treknova, we will do a review of Delta’s Silver Medallion tier and also, take a look at its benefits.

What is Delta’s Silver Medallion and How You Can Earn It?

Delta Silver Medallion status is considered as the lowest of the SkyMiles Medallion elite status tiers. Delta Airlines offers tiers, which are Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond Medallion, respectively. Out of these, their Silver Medallion provides entry-level benefits to the basic frequent travelers.

Silver Medallion is by far the easiest rank to earn and is very achievable with even just a little bit of flying. Thus, to earn Silver status, you must fly at least 25,000 miles or 30 segments. For instance, a flight from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL) to Salt Lake City International (SLC) to Los Angeles International (LAX) is 2 segments.

In addition to miles, Silver Medallion status also requires $3,000 spent with Delta, or you receive a waiver for spending $25,000 in eligible purchases on an American Express co-branded credit card. For even the smallest of business flyers, flying 25,000 miles and spending $3,000 is not terribly difficult as well.

Increased Mileage Earning ($200) – Delta Silver Medallion Tier Benefits

Generally, each Medallion tier progressively earns more miles based on the fare of your ticket. So, in the case of Silver Medallion, you earn 7 miles per dollar spent on flights, which is 2 more miles compared to the non-status SkyMiles earning rate. This means that a ticket that costs $100, excluding taxes and fees, would earn you 700 miles. Now, assuming one would spend the required $3,000 per year to earn Silver, that is a minimum of 21,000 miles, nearly enough for a one-way first-class ticket that too at a low mileage rate or even a round-trip coach ticket at an incredibly low mileage rate.

The reason that Delta uses a dynamic pricing system, it is challenging to specifically place a value on each mile earned. However, for the most part, you can expect at least a one-way journey to be earned.

Complimentary Medallion Upgrades ($250)

One of the most coveted benefits of being a Medallion member is the opportunity to receive unlimited complimentary upgrades with Delta first class or even Delta One within the U.S. and nearby international destinations.

Silver Medallions are eligible for upgrades beginning 24 hours from the flight, so they are the last to be upgraded after the Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallion tiers. You can easily receive upgrades on all the paid tickets, with the only exception of E fares (which are the basic economy), all award tickets, Miles plus Cash tickets (when you use a combination of cash and miles to cover the total of a ticket), and Pay with Miles tickets (when you use miles to cover the cash cost of a ticket).

Therefore, depending on the upgrade, you can be moved up at different times:

  • For Delta One upgrades, for example, consider John F. Kennedy International (JFK) to Los Angeles International (LAX), you will get an upgrade as early as the day of departure. Keep in mind that you will be behind all Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallions.
  • For any first-class upgrade, you will get an upgrade as early as 24 hours from departure.
  • consider Delta Comfort+ Upgrades to the premium version (Delta’s version of extra-legroom economy class seating), you can very easily upgrade starting 24 hours from the flight.
  • You will not receive a Comfort+ seat at the time of booking, but may be able to move into such a seat within 24 hours of the flight, which is important as all of these seats are much more comfortable than regular economy class seats. Moving into these seats gets you additional legroom, but also remember that it allows you to continue to upgrade to the first-class cabin, which has even better seats.
  • For Class Premier (i.e first class) upgrades on select Aeromexico-operated flights, you can simply upgrade very soon as 24 hours from departure. So, to be upgraded to Aeromexico, you must have your SkyMiles number in your Delta Airlines reservation and you will automatically be added to the upgrade list.
  • If you do not clear in advance, you can request to be added to the airport list at check-in with an agent. No Medallion members are allowed to have an upgrade to AeroMexico Plus, they can’t have extra-legroom economy-class seating.
  • You can also upgrade a companion on any flight where you are seeking to upgrade to Delta One, first-class, or Delta Comfort+. In these cases, it costs no extra miles or money to upgrade a companion, though due to the availability of seats, it may be more difficult to upgrade two people over one.
  • You are allowed to upgrade a companion on all paid tickets, except basic economy, and award tickets, also including Miles + Cash tickets, Pay with Miles tickets, and SkyMiles companion certificates.
  • You cannot receive an easily complimentary upgrade to the most awaited Delta Premium Select or can select Delta One products outside of the United States.

There is one perk of sitting in first class is a complimentary meal. All Delta Medallions are eligible for complimentary upgrades on select routes. Check out how To Complaint To Delta Airlines Customer Service

What are Delta’s Upgrade Criteria?

Here’s how Delta prioritizes all upgrades:

  • Medallion status is the very first and most important differentiator.
  • By fare class, so, costlier fare classes can be receiving priority over the cheaper fares.
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card cardholders, with cardholders receiving priority over non-cardholders.
  • By Delta corporate travelers, when you include the corporate ticket designator on the ticket.
  • SkyMiles members who complete the $25,000 spending in a year to waive the Medallion Qualification Dollars component to status.
  • By the date/time of the upgradation of the request, is the last and the least important indicator.

So, using the logic from the above-mentioned upgrade criteria, here are a few common upgrade scenarios:

  • A Diamond Medallion on a lower fare will always be on the receiving end of an upgrade over a Platinum on even a higher fare.
  • A Silver Medallion attached to a pricier ticket will consider being received as an upgrade over another Silver Medallion with a much cheaper ticket will receive the upgrade first.
  • A Silver Medallion who completes the $25,000 of spending in a year to waive the Medallion Qualification Dollars component will receive priority over a Silver Medallion who doesn’t, assuming the fare class of the ticket is the same, and both are or are not Delta Reserve cardholders.

While Silver Medallions will be at the bottom for upgrades, they can possibly receive a seat up front, especially on routes that are not so popular and during less preferred times of the week.

Tips to Increase Your Chances of Upgrades

Here are some common tips that may help you increase your odds of receiving an upgrade:

(i) Prefer flying when others are not flying. Also, try to avoid peak travel days when a lot of business travelers fly and you are competing for upgrades.

(ii) Usually, an upgrade out of a hub is much more difficult than an upgrade to a hub, depending on the city. So, keep this in mind as you book travel.

(iii) Having the Delta Reserve card increases your chances of an upgrade when both your Medallion status and ticket fare class are the same.

(iv) Choose larger planes, when possible. It is easier to receive an upgrade on a 767 from ATL to LAX than a 737, which has a smaller premium cabin.

Keep in mind that Delta’s program is much different than some other carriers. On Delta, every elite status passenger is eligible for an upgrade, and there is no need to request an upgrade or purchase upgrades like American Airlines, for example.

Because every elite is eligible for an upgrade, and therefore every Silver member will be vying for the same upgrades, there’s much more competition for seats, and, in general, it is harder to secure an upgrade on Delta.

Free Checked Bags ($100)

One of the more expensive costs of travel is checking bag fees. As a Silver Medallion, you will get your first checked bag free when traveling on a Delta or airline partner flight. This is good for yourself and up to 8 travel companions, which can be significant savings depending on where you are traveling to. This is also good for all flights, both domestic and international. Your carry-on baggage is free, however, a first checked bag on Delta is charged $30, and a second checked bag under 50 pounds (22 kg) can cost you around $40.

So, for a group of a maximum of 8 people traveling, that cost becomes around $240 to check 8 bags, when a Silver can get you these for free.

Baggage should be among the first to come out as these bags are tagged with a special tag at check-in to indicate to the ground handlers that the bags should take priority. Delta generally does a good job of getting these bags out on time. Also, Delta offers a 20-minute baggage guarantee, where if your bag is not on the claim belt within 20 minutes you can choose between SkyMiles or a voucher form of compensation.

Delta Priority Boarding ($25)

Essentially what happens is that if a seat becomes available in the class of service you are desiring, it is offered to you first as a Medallion member before being released back into the general booking pool. Delta’s Silver Medallion members receive priority boarding privileges. However, it is worth mentioning that they are far from the first to board the aircraft.

Silver Medallion members do not have a dedicated Priority Boarding zone on Delta flights departing Amsterdam International (AMS) and Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) due to Air France-KLM boarding policies. Delta Silver Medallion members are the first main cabin group to board, behind all other elite customers and those seated in the premium cabin. They are ahead, however, of those seated in Main Cabins 2 and 3.

It is not surprising on many hub-to-hub flights that Silver Medallions need to board midway through the boarding process due to a large amount of higher elite customers onboard.

Hertz Car Rental Bonus Miles ($25)

This is a very minor benefit. However, as a Silver Medallion member, when you rent a vehicle with Hertz you earn 1,000 bonus SkyMiles for every qualified rental. Most flight rewards start at a minimum of 5,000 miles, and generally, these are off-peak days with flights that are not very popular.

So, to even receive one of these free flights, you would need to rent five times from Hertz. That said, free points are better than no points.


Delta’s Silver Medallion tier status is certainly a fine entry-level status that also comes with a variety of benefits for both occasional leisure travelers and business travelers. Moreover, throughout the course of the year, you are looking at approximately $1,085 in value if you use each benefit.

Above all, Silver Medallion members will get to experience complimentary upgrades, access to reservations agents before general members, and priority check-in privileges, among other benefits, thus, making it very useful for enhancing your travel experience.

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