If there’s one unequivocally true fact on earth, it’s that people are terrible at keeping secrets. That’s because most secrets are far more interesting than the publicly available information. Who cares about free checked bags when there’s a rumor that there are free michelin starred dinners for top flyers? Well, since the gossip is already out there, I figured it would be fun to share some of the best, unpublished frequent flyer benefits…

a plate of food with a sprig of thyme


The only thing more valuable than an elite flyer, is an elite flyer in a major city. As such, airlines occasionally invite top flyers to private dinners at the best restaurants in a given city to pass on new news, get feedback or simply to say thanks for keeping us in business and allowing us to throw ridiculously expensive dinners, just because. Just about every airline holds one of these, the most recent in memory being British Airways. If you’re on British Airways Gold Guest List and didn’t get invited, perhaps inquire about whether your invite got lost in the mail.

a black car next to an airplane

Proactive Trip Disruption Assistance

Whenever a flight is delayed or cancelled, there’s a fair chance that most passengers are screwed. You’ll need to flag down an agent, look at options and hope for a miracle to make your time table work. Not top frequent flyers. Airlines reward their best passengers by proactively monitoring their reservations, beating everyone else to the punch to rebook, re route or even send a Porsche to help someone make a tight connection. Every airline has some sort of program along these lines and the more valuable they are, the more they’ll do to make your day, including delaying a flight just for you.

a room with a table and chairs and a television on the wall

Create Seats Using Miles

This is both a published and unpublished benefit depending on the program, but nonetheless a very cool one. Without a doubt, the most frustrating part of collecting miles is finding the availability to use them. Certain airlines make more seats available when a top tier flyer is searching online, allowing them to see things we cannot. Other airlines will actually let you go even further and choose virtually any flight to create space for yourself using miles, even when none is available. Talk about a benefit!

a group of people in an airplane cockpit

Flight Simulator Experience / Tarmac Tour

We’re not talking about laptop experiences. In an effort to make top flyers happy, especially those who’ve held status for years, airlines will occasionally invite its top tier flyers to their headquarters for a playdate. Many flyers have gotten to fly the airlines aircraft of their choice in a multi million dollar, full size cockpit flight simulator with actual turbulence and movement.

a sign on a wall

Secret Upgrade List

There’s the upgrade list for mere mortals, and then there is the unpublished benefit upgrade list. Airlines are very proprietary and secretive about their upgrade lists, but it’s a fairly acknowledged fact that top tier flyers or high value flyers (those who spend on premium tickets often), especially those with invitation only status, climb over everyone else. If you’ve ever wondered why you went from sure to get an upgrade to back of the bus, there’s your answer.

a group of black bags with white and black ribbons

MORE Elite STATUSES + Gifts + Vouchers…

Sure, gold luggage tags are nice, but how about some actual luggage? Or complimentary top tier hotel elite status? If you’re a top tier flyer you are a valuable commodity and the ability to market to you, even with free gifts, is precious to the airline and many of its partners. Many top tier statuses will grant you a matching top hotel status, some free spa treatments, some luggage and other travel related products, just as a thank you for spending what generally is a fortune….

a sign with a arrow pointing to the right

It’s nice to think that at the end of the day, we’re not just transactions and there are courtesies and experiences airlines extend to make us feel “part of the family”. Personally, i’ve never been invited to do anything by an airline and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. The closest I’ve come was getting to experience travel as a VIP on a recent trip, no thanks to an airline. So my expert tip? If you’d like to experience any of the above, don’t start a blog, just stick to spending a fortune. Better yet, have your company do it…

As Always, Get in Touch: GodSaveThePoints@gmail.com

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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