Whether you know it or not, and whether they will publicly acknowledge it; or simply just wink, every airline has an invitation only "secret club" of customers who receive unpublished and frankly, unimaginable benefits. The first rule of secretive clubs is that you can't ask, you must be invited.
The second rule is that if you've gotta ask, you're probably not getting in. Many of us fail to recognize that airline loyalty programs have millions of elite members, and as such, it's easy to get lost in the fray, even for elites and those at the highest tiers. It's for this reason the airlines have created secretive clubs, often with less than 1,000 members world wide. They're not all based on how much you fly, in fact most are based on how much you spend....
EMIRATES INVITATION ONLY
Sometimes film plots are too easy to follow. Predictably, Emirates "Invitation Only" program is perhaps the most over the top of all. Not only will one of their Senior Sales Managers personally deliver your precious metal frequent flyer card, brand new Mont Blanc wallet, luggage tags and additional Gold card for anyone you wish, they will include a list of phone numbers unique just to you. You will call and someone will greet you by name, naturally, because they are assigned just to you. In addition to all of the pomp and circumstance, Emirates will pick you up and drop you off with their chauffeur service on every flight regardless of cabin, guarantee a business class seat for you and have a team escort you through the airport ensuring a seamless experience.
As with any genuinely secretive club most all we can do is speculate based on experiences. Phone holds? Ha! Never. You'll get a dedicated concierge team. Porsche rides on tight connections are a given, upgrades on virtually every flight are almost guaranteed, and an escort through the airport, passing even the other business class travelers is all but guaranteed. It's everything that Delta Diamond Medallion offers on steroids.
British Airways Executive Premier
Gold? Anyone can buy gold. Premier however is an exclusive club which holds an incredible amount of power. Late to the plane? British Airways will literally hold a flight at its discretion for up to 30 minutes to accommodate a Premier Executive Club member. In addition to delaying 300 other passengers just to keep you smiling, you'll get a dedicated reservations team, private phone numbers, upgrade priority over everyone, a special services team to help welcome (and fast track) you in most major cities and naturally, a Concorde Room key.
American Airlines Concierge Key
This status was commercialized in the cult frequent flyer film "Up In The Air". In the film, George Clooney receives his membership while on a flight, handed to him by the airlines most senior pilot. In the real world it's pretty awesome too. This status is neat because it links directly into the frequent flyer program securing you ten worldwide upgrade certificates, good for almost any fare to anywhere in the world. Because business class check in and service couldn't possibly be good enough, Concierge Key members are granted access to American's "Flagship First" check in lanes, departure lounges and services. The highest level offered by the airline. Oh and though we can pay for it on a case by case basis, they throw in their "Five Star" VIP service where someone meets you at the curb and escorts you through the entire itinerary. Essentially, you're a rock star from start to finish.
Qantas Chairmans Lounge
It's not just an exclusive and secretive club in which each and every member are vetted by the airline's CEO, it offers access into secret passage ways in an airport. It's not a Harry Potter movie, it's a real status with insane benefits. You'll always receive free upgrades on Qantas, personalized airport assistance and first class check in, but most notably, you'll be granted access to a completely secret, unmarked Qantas lounge area known as the Chairmans Lounge. There are no signs, no markings and less than 1,000 people world wide know where they are. Inside you will have access to just about anything your heart desires as well as a concierge team to fulfill just about any wish you have. I can't think of a better time to hold a status than on an airline who's flights are always amongst the longest in the world.
United Global Services / Chairmans Club
Wheels within wheels of secrecy. United has an infamous Global Services status which they publicly acknowledge bringing benefits such as Mercedes ground transfers, VIP escorts and upgrades. Yeah, everyone has something like that. For those on the highest end of the highest end, the company has an elusive invite only Chairmans Club, again, with each member being approved by the chairman. On top of all the private transfers, upgrades, proactive flight assistance and the ability to trump almost any other United flyer for just about anything the Chairmans status is apparently the ticket to free dinners, complimentary tickets to try out new routes, up front of course and much much more. To get in your company (or you), will just need to spend a measly five million dollars per year with the airline. Piece of cake!
Air France Club 2000
Yet another who's who of secretive clubs. This status, which for some is granted for life, is mostly offered to heads of state, corporate titans and celebrities. It's not how often you fly, it's how much you spend and how much you influence the brand. Rumors are that the card opens all of Air France's doors including their ultra luxurious La Premiere service, even if you're flying on a competing airline! In addition to the usual suite of upgrades, exclusive ground treatment and priorities, you will be greeted by name on every flight by each member of the cabin crew and looked after based on your personal preferences. Very cool.
Are there others? You bet. Can you imagine an airline with someone spending north of $1,000,000 a year without an elusive and secretive club to reward them? If they're not doing something, someone else will. There is such a fantastic mystique surrounding these unpublished benefits and perks. Sadly, I'll likely never know the intimate details. Will you?
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