Elite status matters and it's actually not that hard to achieve. Some lower tiers can even be achieved with a round trip flight and during a status challenge higher tiers can even be the same. When things go wrong, or really right, elite status is often the deciding factor making a huge difference in your outcome. At its best, status can mean priority security, free lounge access, constant complimentary upgrades, VIP services, expedited baggage, dedicated phone lines and more. When things are the worst, elite status can mean the difference in receiving a hotel for the night versus sleeping at the airport, getting your lost bags sooner, or grabbing the only seat on an oversold flight. For years elite status meant butts in airplane seats.These days elite status isn't only about actual flying, many airlines offer elite qualifying miles for using their credit card, staying in hotels and promotions.
A very common question is which airline status is best? The answer is that top tiers are very comparable and it all depends on your routes, and location. Choose an airline and alliance which services your main destinations well. I personally think that lately American Airlines offers the best benefits and most bang for your miles. Whether you are a daily, weekly or never flier, you can achieve elite status by following these tips...
Fly Any Airline In One Alliance, Credit All Miles To Only One Airline:
We have a bunch of friends on the ATP Tennis Tour. I was surprised to learn that many don't hold meaningful elite status despite flying every week. Though it may seem obvious to some, flying within one airline alliance is the best strategy to earn elite status. Within an alliance, no matter which airline you fly, you can use your frequent flier account from one airline (within the alliance) that you choose to receive all the miles. If I am flying in the One World Alliance, I could credit all of my flights to American Airlines, even if I am flying on Cathay, Finnair, Iberia, Qantas, TAM, British Airways and more. The same applies to each alliance, most notably Sky Team and Star Alliance. By doing so you give yourself more flexibility to book a cheaper ticket on different carriers, while pooling all miles and associated elite qualification to the airline you want. Upgrades, check!
Status Match Or Challenge:
It goes without saying that fliers occasionally fall out with an airline. Whatever the reason, you can often have a soft landing by Status matching or challenging. A status match is when an airline is simply willing to offer you comparable status without any effort just to bring you in from the cold. A status challenge is when an airline asks you to prove your worthiness in an expedited manor. For example, American Airlines generally offers a status challenge where you pay a nominal fee of $200 and then have 90 days to complete a certain amount of flying. For platinum status this can be accomplished with one and a half round trips between London and New York on most fares or two round trips between California and New York. Not bad for Platinum Status for the next year which scores you lounge access, fast track security and upgrade opportunities every time you fly! Additionally, FoundersCard offers a suite of up front elite statuses and benefits which I detail here.
Look For Your Airline's Credit Card:
A Majority of US based airlines, and a few internationals like Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Qantas, ANA, Air France And Lufthansa offer elite qualifying miles and bonus airline miles when you sign up for their credit card plus additional elite miles or benefits such as companion vouchers when you meet spending bonuses. There are some cards and airlines where you can achieve elite status without even flying, just by signing up for the card, getting the initial bonus and then completing the yearly spending bonus. With Delta for example, you receive 10,000-15,000 elite miles for every 25,000 in spending. If you are a big spender you can get to Platinum just swiping your card. If you have been a lower tier flier looking to upgrade to a top tier, or a non tier looking to get a tier, this can be a great trick to double up your actual flying, or be elite without flying at all!
Earn Elite Credit While You Sleep:
I can't say it enough, sign up for airline marketing emails. I have a separate email account that doesn't go to my phone so that I can have peaceful dinners. I check the account daily and never miss out on a promotion. Just about every airline allows you to earn miles for staying in hotels, but there are often also bonus promotions (which you occasionally need to register for) which allow you to earn elite points for your stays. Starwood, Hilton and Marriott have close ties to airlines which can earn you over 50,000 airline miles or elite credits just for a few nights sleep. Turn vacation into benefits! Get in on it!
Laura actually fell short of earning Delta Silver medallion status last year, but because we put a large portion of spend on the Delta American Express card and she was currently an elite, they offered her an incredible promotion to gain Gold Medallion status for the next year after one flight. Amazing. Purposeful spending, hotel research and flight booking can make you a much happier traveler without much further effort. Don't miss out.
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