a view of the wing of an airplane

More loyalty, more problems…

There are things that business travelers never understand about the habits of leisure travelers (like wearing lace up boots through security), but likewise, there are things that many non frequent travelers struggle to grasp. Airline loyalty problems are ever changing, but at the very top – the benefits are still fantastic. In the pursuit of reaching benefits, retaining them and not overpaying there’s a constant tug and pull. Here’s our take.

Cost Of Loyalty

Top tier airline benefits are worth a price premium, if necessary. It’s not at all ridiculous to pay between $25-$100 more for a ticket, depending on the flight duration and airport amenities offered. Enjoying fast track security, extra baggage allowance, airport lounges and priority seating is absolutely worth an added cost. There are occasions when paying even more to maintain this unison could make sense, but that could only be calculated on a usage basis. It really doesn’t make much sense for a traveler with TSA PreCheck, who skips the lounge, boards last and carry’s on to pay too much extra, sense no benefits would be consumed.

But Scheduling…

Scheduling is the great monkey wrench in the logic train of loyalty versus price. If you’ve ever wondered why some airlines have hourly flights to the same destination – there in lays your answer. Business travel is all about maximizing time on the ground, minimizing time in the air, and therefore a connection or a poorly timed flight is just hardly ever worth it – just for the perks. Connections are the real decider here. It’s tough to square a decision to add flights and unpredictability just to earn a few extra miles. Of course, if you have flexibility and enjoy hanging in lounges it’s an entirely different issue.

Sacrifice Analysis

Going full throttle in the beginning of the year, earning status early creates the greatest flexibility. To the contrary, if you’re scrambling to make last minute status happen, your logic and ability to choose the best flights, without getting price gouged becomes compromised. And as you know, there’s no worse time to get price gouged than the end of the year. If you need to make tough decisions, be sure to opt for flights where earning potential is highest, such as longer international flights. Try to get your status game flying in the first two quarters of the year. It’s a great feeling, trying out another airline to score the perfect price or schedule, when you know benefits are already in the bag for a future 12 months.

What Point Is Worth It?

This is extremely personal but you must think analytically. Even the lowest tier status in some airline alliances, such as OneWorld Ruby can be a real game changer. Ruby members can select preferred (first row of economy, or exit row) seats on quite a few OneWorld Airlines – at no additional cost. If the status is relatively painless to achieve, only swaying decisions by a few bucks here and there – hundreds can be saved on seat fees, fee waivers and other costly travel expenses. It’s truly all about consumption. if you fly an airline that chooses to charge for seats, even for Ruby members, it’s not worth a cent more, to pursue the status. Analyze what you believe status is worth, and keep a running tab of what extra travel costs would be incurred to get there.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. I live in the uk and mainly fly to DELHI with my family (4 of us in total) 2 times a year, business class. I presently fly with virgin upper class as I have their black credit card as well. I normally purchase their economy ticket and use miles to upgrade to upper class.

    Is this the best credit card and airline to accumulate miles with and upgrade or would you suggest any other airline credit card and indeed airline as long as it is business class. I do not mind having to change ie through Middle East or Europe.

    Thank you


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