Traditionally, when you earn status with an airline or hotel program, it expires at the end of February in the year following your most recent qualification. So, if you earn Executive Platinum for the 2011 qualification year, that status would expire on February 29, 2012.
Since we just passed that milestone, and United is in the process of merging their computer systems with Continental this weekend, I decided it would be a good time to reevaluate where I am headed in terms of re-qualification this year. Here’s a list of my status levels and what I think I’m keeping (and junking):
American Airlines (Executive Platinum): I’ve been EXP for a number of years now, and this is by far my favorite status. I already have 72,000 EQMs (elite qualifying miles). I need 100,000 to retain my status. I’ll get an additional 10K EQMs from credit card purchases, so that leaves me 18K. That shouldn’t be any problem at all.
United Airlines (1K): This was my first year as a 1K (top tier). I have 15K EQMs so far. Again, I need 100K EQMs to retain top tier status. I think this is a long shot unless we do StarMegaDO 4 later in the year and UA participates with EQMs. However, because of the recent merger with Continental Airlines, there’s now a 75K EQM level (Premier Platinum). I think that’s definitely within reach, unless AA comes out with a great Elite Rewards offer for the end of the year and I book another 25K miles with them.
Starwood(Platinum): I retained my Platinum status last year with 25 stays on the button. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be renewing my Plat status, but then a couple of things changed with the SPG program:
1. SPG changed the program rules so that award stays count towards status.
2. SPG made a number of program changes effective this year, including lifetime status.
I put a pretty high value on lifetime status. I figure the benefit of spending a ton of time away from the family is the ability to retain some status for travel when I’m old and decrepit (some will say I’m already there). I’m already SPG Lifetime Gold. I’m pursuing Hyatt lifetime status as well, so I was a bit conflicted about pushing a bunch of stays over to SPG. But, since I can put all my award stays with SPG, that should get me at least halfway there. I still need about 200 nights and 5 years of Platinum status to qualify. Unless something drastic changes with my travel patterns, I’ll retain this status again in 2012 with 20-ish award stays.
Hyatt(Diamond): I’m currently Diamond (top tier) status. Due to a ton of paid stays over the past two years and a temporary glitch related to the new Hyatt credit card, I’m about 30% of the way to lifetime Diamond status. This is probably the lifetime status I covet the most. It requires $250,000 in lifetime spend as opposed to the night’s requirement for the new SPG lifetime status. That’s a pretty steep goal, so there aren’t a lot of lifetime Diamonds. Unless they change this requirement, the lifetime Hyatt status should be much more valuable than SPG Platinum.
Hilton(Diamond): I was comped top tier status last year based on a change in business patterns. Then, things changed back and I stopped staying at Hilton. It would require 28 stays to retain Diamond status. Because of the value I place on Hyatt and SPG lifetime status, I’ll be focusing all my attention there.
I still retain Silver status on Marriott somehow, which I rarely use.
So, there you have it. I’ll keep churning on both Hyatt and SPG this year, and if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll try to retain 1K. My first year as a 1K was less than spectacular, but being a mid-tier elite with them for 3 months was worse. And, there’s lifetime status to earn on UA as well, although I have a LOOONG way to go.
What are your status plans this year?