Airline status for most business travelers is the ultimate hamster wheel. Run as fast as you can all year long, flying enough to secure benefits for the upcoming year of travel. The end of the year hits, the counter resets to zero and the race begins again. In some ways, airline status has gotten both more and less critical. As airlines have taken away benefits from lower level elites, maintaining higher status is the only way to hold onto some key benefits. And yet, the loss of those benefits has turned some business travelers into “free agents”, making decisions more on price and route than on promised (but sometimes not delivered) benefits in the future.
I’ve been a top-tier elite member of two programs the last few years. I’ve been an Executive Platinum member with American Airlines since 2008 or so and the last few years added 1K status with United Airlines. I came into 2014 determined to hold onto Executive Platinum status and fairly determined I wouldn’t be earning 1K. Then, my travel patterns shifted and it looked like I would get close to 1K. A mileage run opportunity came up and it looked even more likely. Then, I started doubting myself and asked all of you to help me decide if I should keep 1K. Here’s what the numbers look like as of the end of June:
That’s actual flight miles, but the tally by airline in terms of elite status is a bit more interesting. Occasionally, I’ll end up on a fare that awards more than one elite qualifying mile per mile flown. And, irregular operations can sometimes be your friend when it comes to qualifying for elite status. Let’s just say you’re booked on United Airlines and your plane breaks. You ask to be re-accomodated on American Airlines. When you get to the gate of your American Airlines flight, you give them your AAdvantage #. Then, when you get back home, you call United and ask them for “original routing credit” because of the mechanical issue that forced you onto another airline. Double dip!
I’ve actually been
lucky unlucky lucky enough to have that happen on a couple of trans-continental flights this year, bumping up my numbers considerably. I also credited my US Airways and Alaska Airlines flights to American Airlines. That means I’m at roughly 43,000 EQMs on American, well on my way to 100,000. I’ve also got 10,000 EQMs still to come from the Citi Executive Card when I finally spend $40,000 this year. I’m holding out hope that I’ll be able to combine the elite qualifying miles I earned from my US Airways credit card with those to give me a big boost achieving elite status on American Airlines this year.
With some bonuses and a couple of mechanical issues, I’m actually above 40,000 Premier Qualifying Miles on United Airlines. That means I’ll definitely hit Gold status this year, and likely hit Platinum status. But, I’m thinking that 1K will be out of reach because I’ll choose to stay at home and spend more time with the family (or end up on the road with them somewhere, but not enough to hit 100,000 miles). I’m oddly at peace with that decision, though maybe not oddly given how poorly United is doing compared to the other legacy carriers right now.
For those folks who are a bit more of an aviation geek, I had some new cities and new routes in the first half of the year. New airports included CDG and SJD (Paris, Charles de Gaulle and San Jose del Cabo for folks who don’t have all the letters memorized).
I added a new plane to the list with my first ride on the Boeing 747-8i.
And, though I had transited MCI (Kansas City) before, this past June was the first time I ever had a stay there. Side note, the BBQ was pretty good.
How are you doing? Are you ahead or behind on your chase for elite status?
Here’s some other stats for the first half of the year.
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