Last week I wrote about how I would think about earning Diamond Medallion status with Delta after the changes going into effect for Medallion Qualifying Dollars in January, 2018. I then quipped on Twitter that "If you're just a rich guy who wants Diamond Medallion status just get a Delta Private Jets Card."
I was referring to the ability to deposit $100,000 on a Delta Private Jets card and receive Diamond Medallion status. You would then have 2 years to spend the $100,000, which you can redeem either for private jet flights or for commercial flights marketed by Delta. If you buy full fare commercial tickets you also get a 20% discount (they would still be much, much more expensive than the "discounted" tickets ordinary people buy; I assume this benefit is targeted at companies that insist on booking refundable tickets).
This is, obviously, not worth doing for an ordinary travel hacker. But you can imagine a well-connected rich guy, or even a very frequent reimbursed business traveler who wouldn't earn enough Medallion Qualifying Miles or Segments for Diamond Medallion status, getting quite a lot of potential value from this benefit.
That's because the status you get from Delta Private Jets is supposed to give you "immediate" access to Diamond Choice Benefits, for instance, that could be worth a thousand dollars or so, between Sky Club membership, global upgrades, or just selling Gold Medallion status. If you get Diamond Medallion status for the year you join and the next two years, you could potentially receive three sets of Choice Benefits to offset the cost of prepaying for your Delta travel.
Unfortunately, I haven't seen any reports of how this benefit works in practice. Folks with that kind of money don't spend a lot of time posting on public message boards, I guess.
Two other ways to get Delta Private Jets access (but not Diamond Medallion)
When I started writing this post I hoped to reveal a secret backdoor into Diamond Medallion status. You see, there are two ways to get a Delta Private Jets card without spending $100,000:
- American Express Platinum cardmembers can deposit as little as $50,000 on a card, and receive a 3% bonus on the card's value (if you were planning to deposit $100,000 you would want to open a Platinum card just for this benefit; paying a $550 annual fee for a $3,000 boost in value);
- all SkyMiles members can redeem 2,500,000 SkyMiles for a $25,000 Delta Private Jets card.
What the internet couldn't tell me is whether people pursuing either of those options would still receive Diamond Medallion status! So, I picked up the phone and committed journalism: I called Delta Private Jets and asked.
What I found is kind of interesting in its own right. While these three methods of buying a Delta Private Jets card all seem different to a travel hacker, with different thresholds and benefits, Delta Private Jets doesn't actually seem to differentiate between the methods internally. You can redeem SkyMiles in any amount in excess of 2.5 million, and you can use a Platinum card to load any amount in excess of $50,000 to receive a 3% bonus, or both.
But regardless of how you pay for the amount you load, the benefits you receive depend only on the amount you load. There are a few minor differences concerning hourly rates and such, but the two important ones are:
- Loads of less than $100,000 expire in one year, rather than two years;
- and loads of less than $100,000 don't grant Diamond Medallion status.
In other words, Diamond Medallion status is a benefit of the amount you load, not a benefit of Delta Private Jets membership (this has been misreported absolutely everywhere I have looked for it).
One hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money to spend on airfare, and it's a hell of a lot of money to loan to Delta interest free for two years in the hopes you'll spend it within 24 months. On the other hand, for somebody rich enough to not mind the float, but not rich enough to actually fly private and shop around for the best private jet pricing, and who knows they'll spend $100,000 on Delta-marketed flights for themselves and their employees, friends or relations in the next 24 months, this is the quickest and easiest path to Diamond Medallion status I know of.