Know this for sure: any and all frequent flyer statuses, no matter how small – make a difference. On standby lists, upgrade lists, baggage waivers and priority boarding, having one hurdle over other passengers can be invaluable. Unfortunately for most, reaching that initial hurdle can prove difficult. Here’s how to obtain elite frequent flyer status as quickly and easily as possible. And remember, in most cases, you don’t even need to fly on the airline you’re earning status with. In fact, you can fly with 15 or more airlines to earn a single status.
In case you haven’t noticed, airlines are awarding fewer and fewer miles for flying economy. At the same time, the earning rates for flying premium, business and first class have skyrocketed. We know what you’re thinking – but in reality, it’s easier to fly these cabins than ever. Thanks to brilliant mistake fares and just solid deals, it’s not impossible to fly long haul business class for $600. A single trip of this sort could secure a year of elite status.
Star Alliance Gold is a fantastic status to achieve, allowing lounge access, airport fast track lanes, extra baggage and all sorts of goodies. A couple airlines make it really easy to achieve, too.
Aegean: Aegean offers the easiest track to Star Alliance Gold. If you’re able to fly six segments with them, you only need to collect a total of 36,000 flown miles in a year for Star Alliance Gold status. If you don’t want to fly with Aegean, earning 48,000 miles by flying on any Star Alliance Airline will secure Star Alliance Gold. Since many (even cheap) business fares earn 200% mileage with Aegean, one big trip could secure Star Alliance Gold. It’s easy to retain too.
Asiana: Asiana Club offers Star Alliance Gold by with Asiana Diamond membership. The status requires only 40,000 miles, which makes it one of the lowest hurdles to lock in Star Alliance Gold. Many premium economy and business fares earn 125% of the miles, making this very realistic.
Turkish: Turkish very frequently offers status matches. Therefore, if you have airline status with a competing chain, it’s easy to earn Star Alliance status, by applying for a match from Turkish. You’ll keep your current status, but gain status with an entire new airline group.
Even the lowest tier, OneWorld Ruby can secure great perks like improved standby status and free exit row and bulkhead economy seats, which would usually require payment. But starting at Sapphire things get really nice. OneWorld Sapphire and Emerald members receive lounge access, upgrades and fast track perks – amongst other clutch benefits.
American: American Airlines offers a status challenge. For those with a short spurt of travel, who may struggle to qualify using traditional standards for qualification, this is an excellent fast track opportunity. Unfortunately, you’ll need to spend $200 to take the challenge, and an additional $2000 in flights, or 16 flight segments to complete the Platinum challenge – in three months. To take the challenge call 888-697-5636 (Skype works, too).
SkyTeam ElitePlus is the equivalent of Star Alliance Gold or OneWorld Sapphire. Once the status is achieved, members receive “SkyPriority” benefits on all flights. This is an extremely worthwhile status which streamlines any journey, with security fast tracks, lounge access, excess baggage waivers and priority boarding.
Air France: Air France Gold status secures ElitePlus with SkyTeam, and SkyPriority on all flights. For residents outside of France, the status only requires 40,000 qualifying miles flown. This is amongst the lowest opportunities out there. With the ability to earn on Delta, KLM, Korean, Garuda Indonesia and countless other SkyTeam carriers -it’s a very realistic opportunity.
Delta: Delta offers credit cards in the U.S. which make it possible to earn SkyTeam ElitePlus status just by spending. In addition, if you’re able to secure elite status with a competing airline, Delta offers a fast track status challenge, requiring just 18,750 qualification miles within three months for Platinum status. That’s a mere fraction of the 75,000 miles generally required.
FoundersCard is a membership based organization, which runs frequent promotions for discounted membership. For roughly $450, you’ll get access to accelerated fast tracks with Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and more. Virgin Atlantic Silver status requires just one flight. Full details here.
Non U.S. based American Express Platinum Card members have an instant fast track to Star Alliance Gold, requiring just three flights. For those in the U.S. and elsewhere, the instant match to Starwood Gold creates loyalty benefits with Delta. By joining your Starwood and Delta memberships, you’ll be higher on priority for upgrades and other perks when flying.