Airline and hotel elite status is always a game of “what have you done for me lately”. An airline might be thrilled that you flew 150,000 miles last year with them. But, with just a few minor exceptions, they’re not going to give you a head start on this year’s status because you flew 50,000 more than you needed to in order to qualify for their top-tier earnable status such as American Airlines’ Executive Platinum or United 1K (United has another level above 1K, but the qualifications are not published, thus you can’t hit a specific known threshold to earn it).
Every year, those counters reset to zero and you’re forced to climb that same mountain again. That’s why lifetime status is so important to me. I would certainly welcome the opportunity to not have to climb so many mountains.
I started out this year with the following goals (in order of priority by loyalty type, flight and hotel):
Earn enough EQMs on American to retain Executive Platinum (100K EQMs). I’ve been EXP for at least the last 5 years and it’s my favorite status by far.
Earn enough EQMs on United to retain Star Alliance Gold (50K EQMs). Most of the time I travel with my family on United we’re redeeming miles for Business or First Class anyways, so the difference between United Premier Gold and 1K isn’t too significant for my leisure travel patterns (YMMV).
Stay with Hyatt enough to retain Diamond status. Commit as many paid stays as possible to Hyatt to accelerate lifetime earnings.
Stay with Starwood enough to retain Platinum status. Commit as many award stays as possible to Starwood since those count to lifetime status, where Hyatt only counts paid stays.
Now that we’re at the end of the first quarter, let’s see how I’m doing:
American Airlines: 20,107 Elite Qualifying Miles(EQMs) and 21 segments. I can re-qualify for EXP with either 100,000 miles or 100 segments (also with 100,000 Elite Qualifying Points, which is virtually impossible unless you buy full-fare coach or paid First Class).
I generally qualify on EQMs as opposed to segments (100 flights is a lot). I’m averaging about 1,000 miles a segment but I would expect that to rise a bit as the year goes on.
United Airlines: 15,673 Premier Qualifying Miles(PQMs). I need 50,000 to retain Gold and 100,000 for 1K.
These results surprise me a bit, as I thought I’d be a bit more heavily weighted to United at this point in the year. I’m missing some PQMs that United has failed to post yet, so these numbers are pretty close to even, whereas I thought I’d be 2:1 in favor of American at this point in the year.
Hyatt: 9 stays and 18 nights. I need 25 stays or 50 nights to re-qualify for Diamond. This appears well within reach, since I have a dozen or so nights in Hyatts before the end of May. I’m almost halfway to lifetime Diamond status as well, which is the thing I’m most eager to attain right now.
Starwood: 15 stays and 38 nights. At first blush, this would seem to be out of whack since I value the Hyatt Diamond status more highly. But, our family just got back from Panama, where I credited all 3 rooms at a Starwood property to my account. Some were awards, some paid, but that’s 18 of my 38 nights.
Things seem to be on track. I’m a bit behind on American re-qualifying, but I suspect that will pick up a bit as the year goes on.
How are you doing qualifying/re-qualifying for status? What is your top priority?