Some Thoughts On Lifetime Status

Traveling for work has it’s high points.  But, there’s a lot of crappy beds, late planes, rude employees and other distractions that make the travel less fun than it used to be.  So, what are the upsides?  For me, lifetime status is definitely one of them.

Starwood Preferred Guest recently announced a whole slew of changes to their program, including the introduction of lifetime status levels.

I want to be able to enjoy all these perks I receive as an elite member.  However, when you squeeze in 150 days of travel a year with, well, real life, it becomes hard to sneak away as often as I’d like.  For me, I’m focusing my travel dollars with companies that give me an opportunity to preserve that status for those times (hopefully) when work travel slows down and I have time to enjoy more personal travel.  Here’s a list of what I’m working on:

American Airlines:  I’ve already achieved Lifetime Platinum, their highest tier, by earning 2MM miles.  Almost to 3MM.  There are no other current lifetime tiers to hit, although you do get some extra systemwide upgrades for every 1MM miles you earn after 2MM.  Some benefits of Platinum status:

Free baggage allowance

Priority Boarding

100% mileage bonus on all paid flights

Ability to earn or purchase upgrades on domestic US flights.

Those systemwide upgrades are a pretty cool benefit as well.  Each one is good for a one-way upgrade on virtually ANY fare to the next class of service.  Buy a cheapie ticket to Rome and sleep in a business class bed instead!

United Airlines:  This one is a bit of a longshot for me.  I currently have just over 100K butt-in-seat (BIS) miles with United.  1MM BIS miles gets Star Alliance Gold status for life.  The big benefit here, along with a lot of items similar to AA, is that Star Alliance Gold’s get REALLY good treatment elsewhere in the world, including some pretty cool lounge access.

Hyatt:  The single biggest reason I switched 100 nights a year from SPG to Hyatt.  Hyatt awards lifetime Diamond (their top tier) status if you earn 1MM base points (essentially spending $200K at Hyatts).  All reports are that Hyatt Diamonds are treated like kings, with VIP greetings and awesome suites.  I was reasonably content with SPG, but they had no lifetime status when I made the switch.  Now, Hyatt takes great care of me, so I want to stay for the service PLUS the future lifetime benefits.  I’m about 30% of the way there.

SPG:  Starwood now offers lifetime Gold status to those who have been an elite member for 5 years and stayed 250 nights.  I’ve already achieved this status level.  But, SPG Platinum is their top-tier status (at least it still appears to be, lots of changes and lots of different flavors of Plat now).  Platinum is a bit tougher.  You need 10 years as a Platinum and 500 nights.  I’m over halfway to this.  This single change by SPG will cause me to switch at least 25 stays a year from Hyatt to SPG.  But, I’ll make sure they’re either 1-day stays or award stays.  Why?

Bottom line, Hyatt Diamond still outweighs SPG Platinum by a considerable margin, even with the most recent changes.

Some of my 3 readers may not find the above all that fascinating.  More of a scorecard for me than anything else.  If I keep my travel up at the current level for the next 5 years (and my wife doesn’t leave me), I should be able to enjoy lifetime status of all of the above in my retirement.

About the Author

My goal in life is to fill my family’s passports with stamps, creating buckets of memories along the way. You’ll find me writing about realistic ways for normal people to travel the world, whether you’re on a budget or enjoy luxury. I also enjoy taking us on the occasional detour to explore the inner workings of the travel industry.

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12 Comments

  1. Aw, as long as you continue to fly home late at night when she REALLY needs help with two sick kiddos, I bet she’ll keep you around. Maybe. 😉 For record, I think there are a least four readers now. Keep it up!

    1. Yeah, I’m not exactly sure what bug was happening in WordPress, but that post is over a year old. Apologies, though I still do really enjoy lifetime status discussions. And, I think I’m up to 4 readers, counting you and I.

  2. It would be interesting to read your thoughts on miles vs lifetime status as an investment. I realize you’re going to book some of this travel anyway, but you will obviously make some compromises to distribute your travel among certain programs.

    1. Scott, I’m not sure why WP decided to burp that post up again, it was from 2012. But, I do agree that there’s sacrifices I make in order to pursue lifetime status as opposed to doing the most to achieve the next mile. That would make for a good future post.

  3. $200,000 at Hyatt? Yikes. Even at 75 nights a year, at $170/night that would still be 15 years. I don’t see myself hitting that.

    1. Glenn, I have good reason to believe that Hyatt will change this hurdle in 2015. I’m hoping they don’t as I have a good chance to be in a very small club. But, such is life. 🙂

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