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It takes a lot of effort and money to earn a top-tier status, but it can all be worth it given the benefits that it provides, and today, we’ll focus on the top status tiers from the United MileagePlus and Delta Medallion programs.
The highest tier in the MileagePlus program is Premier 1k, while the highest tier in the Delta Medallion program is Delta Diamond. In general, Delta Diamond and United 1k benefits are similar in most aspects, but there are a few differences that will be the deciding factor for you, which is what we’re going to discuss today.
Read More: Delta Partners To Earn SkyMiles With
Delta Diamond Medallion Overview
The Delta Diamond Medallion status is the highest tier among the 4 status tiers in the Delta Medallion Program (except for Delta 360, which is an invite-only status). The other lower tiers are Platinum, Gold, and Silver.
While the Diamond status may be hard to achieve, it comes with premium benefits like priority services at the airport, lounge access, a SkyTeam status, complimentary seat upgrades, and more. It’s perfect for travelers who want an upgraded flying experience.
How To Earn Delta Diamond Status
Compared to other top tiers from competing frequent flyer programs, the Delta Diamond status is one of the hardest to earn. You’ll need a combination of MQMs, MQSs, and MQDs to earn it, which are essentially the number of miles, flights, and dollars you’ve accumulated.
Here are the requirements:
- 125,000 Medallion Qualification Miles(MQMs) or 140 Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and
- $15,000 Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) or MQD Waiver
We know it can get confusing, so you might want to read our guide about Delta Medallion requirements first.
Additionally, there are ways how to earn these requirements faster. Delta has great co-branded credit cards that come with bonus MQMs that can provide a little boost to your status-earing efforts.
For example, the Delta Reserve Card allows you to earn up to 60,000 MQMs per year plus an MQD waiver. This perk is available on the personal version, which is the Delta SkyMiles Reserve® American Express Card, and the business version, which is the Delta SkyMiles Reserve® Business American Express Credit Card.
Delta Diamond Benefits
Delta Diamond status holders will receive a plethora of incredible perks that are worth thousands of dollars in value.
- Delta Choice Benefits: These are additional perks only available to Platinum and Diamond members, ranging from upgrade certificates and Delta Sky Club memberships to bonus miles.
- Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades: Delta Diamond members get complimentary upgrades in the U.S. and select international destinations, such as the Caribbean, Mexico, and Canada.
- Earning More Points: Earn 11 bonus miles for every dollar spent on Delta flights.
- Highest Priority Boarding: Delta Diamond members belong to boarding group 1 along with First Class and Delta Premium Select Passengers.
- Delta SkyPriority: Get priority check-in, faster security checks, and expedited baggage service so you can travel within airports faster.
- Free CLEAR Membership: SkyMiles members typically get discounted CLEAR memberships, but Diamond status holders get it for free.
- Free Checked Bag: You and up to 8 traveling companions will get a free first checked bag on all Delta and partner flights.
- Waived Same-Day Confirmed Fees: Diamond members with confirmed flights can move to another flight in the same fare class at no cost.
- Waived Same-Day Standby Fees: Diamond members with no confirmed flights can list themselves on another flight in the same fare class at no cost. If a seat opens up, they’ll receive it at the gate.
- Dedicated Phone Line: Diamond members will have their calls prioritized over other Medallion members.
- Priority Waitlist: When there are no available seats, Diamond members will be the first ones to book the next available seat that opens.
- SkyTeam Elite Plus: Diamond members will get a corresponding SkyTeam Elite Plus status which comes with more travel perks.
- Hertz President’s Circle Status: Diamond members will get a complimentary Hertz President’s club status.
- Delta Vacations Savings: Get a discount based on the type of Delta Vacations package that you purchase.
- Luggage Tags: Get a free Diamond member luggage tag that you can show off at the airport terminal.
- Reclaim My Status: Delta lets you reclaim your status if you lose it due to unforeseen events like pregnancy, childbirth, or death in the family. Contact Delta, and they will provide a challenge for you to reclaim your Diamond status. Typically, the challenge requires you to earn 31,250 MQMs or 35 MQSs and $3,750 MQDs (or an MQD waiver) within 3 months.
United Premier 1K Overview
United Premier 1k is the highest status level among the 4 published tiers in the United MileagePlus program.
Premier 1k members will receive the most special perks from United Airlines, such as massive miles bonuses, priority services at the airport, lounge access, free checked bags, and more.
How To Earn Premier 1k Status
You can earn a Premier 1k status in two ways: a mix of Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) and Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs) or purely with Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs).
- 13,500 PQPs and 36 PQFs in a calendar year, or
- 15,000 PQPs in a calendar year
The good thing about the United MileagePlus program is that the requirements are less complicated than Delta Medallion. Plus, United also offers co-branded credit cards that come with bonus PQPs to help you earn status faster. For example, the United Quest℠ Card lets you earn up to 3,000 PQPs per year through credit card spending.
Points Panda Tips
There’s another tier that’s higher than Premier 1k but it’s an invite-only status that’s extended to the VIP United Airlines customers, and it’s called United Global Services.
United 1k Benefits
Premier 1k members will get the following premium travel benefits below:
- Priority check-in. Premier 1K members have access to a separate check-in line than standard guests, even when flying in economy.
- Bonus Miles: Premier 1Ks get 11 miles per dollar spent on flights.
- PlusPoints: Get 280 PlusPoints per year which you can use toward flight upgrades.
- Dedicated Security Lanes: Premier 1k members will get expedited security checks by passing through a dedicated lane.
- Priority Boarding On United Flights: Premier 1k members belong to the pre-boarding group along with United Global Services members, military personnel, and passengers with special needs.
- Discounted United Club Memberships: Premier 1K members will get $100 off on United Club memberships.
- Free Checked Bags: Get free checked bags, regardless of your fare class, up to 3 70-pound bags per flight.
- Waived Fees For Confirmed Flight Changes: Confirmed flight changes within the same fare class will be free of charge as long as it’s 24 hours prior to departure.
- Waived Fees: Pay zero fees on phone bookings, and award ticket redeposits.
- Free Clear Membership: Get a free CLEAR membership to get past airport security faster.
- Access to most sold-out flights. Access to Y or B fares when booked at least 1.5 hours prior to departure.
- Complimentary Economy Plus Seats: You and up to 8 traveling companions will get complimentary access to Economy Plus or preferred seating.
- Complimentary Upgrades: Get free upgrades 96 hours prior to your departure.
- Complimentary snacks and beverages: Premier 1K members will get one free drink and snack on Economy flights.
- Instant Upgrades To A Premium Cabin For Economy Tickets: Premier 1k passengers on Y, B, or M fares will get instant upgrades to premium cabins.
- Complimentary Elite Statuses From Other Programs: Premier 1k members will get a complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status, Avis President’s Club elite status, and Star Alliance Gold status.
Read More: What Are The United Club Access Rules?
The Delta Diamond and United 1k benefits are mostly similar across multiple categories; however, there are a few differences in some areas, particularly on upgrades and club memberships.
Upgrades & Upgrade Certificates
Whether they’re paid, or award tickets, Delta and United elite members will get top priority to receive complimentary upgrades on domestic flights and short/medium-haul international flights.
Both Delta Diamond and United 1k elites will also receive upgrade certificates, although the policies vary for each airline.
Delta doesn’t provide upgrade certificates directly to Diamond members directly, but they can be earned through the Delta Choice Benefits program. Diamond members earn 3 Choice Benefits and can use 1 Choice Benefit to select upgrade certificates (you can’t pick the same choice benefit more than once).
After that, you can select only 1 type of upgrade certificate from the following options below.
- Four Global Upgrade Certificates.
- Eight Regional Upgrade Certificates.
- Two Global Upgrade Certificates and four Regional Upgrade Certificates.
Upgrade certificates can be transferred to other traveling companions as long as they are on the same travel reservation.
Meanwhile, United Premier doesn’t use upgrade certificates, but a currency called PlusPoints. Members pay a certain amount of PlusPoints depending on the fare they’re currently booked in and on the fare class to which they will upgrade.
For example, if you’re booked on a discounted Economy international flight (Fare class S, T, L, K, G), you’ll have to pay 80 PlusPoints if you want to upgrade to Polaris Business Class. Remember, Premier 1k members automatically get 280 PlusPoints per year, which is a lot of upgrades.
Delta Diamond members have access to Sky Club lounges, and Premier 1k members have access to United Club lounges, but only Delta provides a full annual membership for its top-tier members.
Diamond members can use 1 of their Choice Benefits to get an individual Sky Club membership (can bring two guests for $39 each) or use 2 of their Choice benefits to get an Executive Sky Club membership (can bring two guests for free).
Meanwhile, Premier 1k members will only get a discount of $100 on annual memberships. The price for an annual membership for Premier 1k members is $550, but even with the discount, it’s still pricey.
Bottomline: Which Top-tier Status Is Better?
We hate to break it to you, but there’s no way we can answer that question. The Delta Medallion and United Premier loyalty programs work differently for every traveler.
But as a general rule, you’d want to earn a top-tier status from a frequent flyer program that has a hub in your city. Carriers usually offer full benefits and services in their respective hub cities.
For example, if you live in Atlanta, a major Delta hub, your first choice should be to join the Medallion program and earn your way toward Diamond status. If you live in Houston, go for the MileagePlus program and earn Premier 1k status.
You also need to look at the benefits that you frequently use. If you want lounge access, having a Delta Diamond status is your best option since it offers a full Delta SkyClub membership, unlike United, which only offers discounted memberships on United Clubs. However, if you frequently book award tickets, go for United because it has the best award availability compared to Delta and even American.
If you think you’ve picked the wrong program and already earned a top-tier status, don’t worry because you can always use a status match. Most major airlines, including Delta and United, offer great status match programs for frequent flyers.
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