Once you've experienced the "good life" in travel, it's so hard to be kicked back out into the cold. Goodbye friendly first class check in desks, see ya later fast track security, au revoir lounges, ciao upgrades. Losing elite status flat out sucks. Before the day that your precious metal based card fades, there are quite a few things you can do to keep it alive.
Request A Soft Landing Or Extension
Kicking someone while they are down is never a smart move, especially if it drives them into the arms of another. It's for this reason that it absolutely never hurts to ask for a soft landing or an extension of your status. If you are just short of making requirements for the next year or simply need an extra week or two, ask. Many airline and hotels as a courtesy will bump a higher level elite down to a lower level for the following year rather than kick you to the curb. Similarly, if you are right on the verge but need extra time let the program know and see if they can grant you an extension. Everybody wins. The best way to do this? Pick up the phone or Email and don't settle for the first person you speak to, ask for a supervisor or an executive email address. I can help provide those : )
Status Match Until The Sun Goes Down
The greatest move a frequent traveler can possibly make is to leverage one status into many statuses. You don't give up your current status when doing so either, you just gain extras. I've highlighted some amazing status matches from Emirates, Hilton, Alitalia, Hyatt, Copa, Marriott, Air Berlin and Turkish Airlines. Some are straight forward, others require some finesse. Either way you can turn status with one airline or alliance into status with every alliance, same for hotels. Follow the links for each program to see what matches are still out there.
Join The Loonies, Mileage or Mattress Run
If you are close to reaching that pinnacle of frequent flying glory, but will likely fall just short, a mileage or mattress run is a likely answer. The aim is to do as much flying or as many hotel nights as possible for the least amount of money. For flying, finding great business deals can make it a lot more fun, for staying, searching local hotels offering promo rates that you may choose to not actually sleep in can be perfect too. Either way you'll find these resources for economy mileage running and Premium Fares very helpful.
Take A Challenge
A status challenge is a wonderful way to have only a brief moment in the cold, or if you start it before your current status expires, an accelerated way to enjoy a whole new horizon of benefits. A status challenge is a try before they buy for the airline, and for you. Essentially, rather than have to qualify over a year with a very high requirement, it's an opportunity to fly less over a 2-3 month period and be granted the status on good faith. You'll want to time your acceptance of a challenge around a busy travel time, but if you can make it work, you can land a top tier status with just 10-20,000 miles of flying.
The thing about status is that once you have it, you should never lose it. Sure, it may not be with the same airline but in the current system you should always be able to parlay something into another. Benefits equal savings both in time and cold hard cash. I value both very highly...
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