Airline status isn’t as valuable as it used to be, but it still matters for business travelers. I’m not scoring as many complimentary upgrades and the benefits aren’t as great. But, access to customer service agents who have some ability to make decisions when bad things happen is still a real asset. That’s why I’m struggling just a bit with what airline to fly for the rest of 2017.
I outlined my mid-year status check just a few weeks ago. The bottom line there is that I’m just about done with 1K status for 2017 in terms of booked (not flown) travel. After taking a hard look at the second half of the year, I have enough travel to make 3 choices. My choices for the rest of the year are:
- Continue to fly United.
- Put 55,000 elite-qualifying miles with American to achieve Platinum Pro status (their 75K level).
- Take advantage of the JetBlue challenge and earn Mosaic status through the end of 2018.
Let’s take a look at each one:
Continue To Fly United
I don’t see a lot of upside here, but I also don’t see a lot of downside. The most I could hope for was earning 2 more Global Premier Upgrades (GPUs) if I got to 150K PQMs with United in 2017. I don’t think that’s likely. While I probably have enough total miles left in the year to get there, some of those trips are more logical on other airlines (or alliances). In some cases, I might be sacrificing my time to earn those extra GPUs. Without fail, I’ve never had a year where I was able to redeem all of my GPUs.
Bottom line? Sticking with United is a safe choice but doesn’t earn me anything extra.
Put 55,000 elite-qualifying miles with American
I’d had Platinum Pro status on American Airlines as my “stretch goal” for 2017. I didn’t think I’d have enough travel to hit 100K on both American and United this year. I did think there was a chance that I could make it to 75K.
I had it in my head that Platinum Pro would offer me some upgrades over Platinum status. I already have lifetime Platinum status with American Airlines. Heck, I have over 3 million lifetime miles with AA. The implementation of the Platinum Pro level really hurts my Platinum status. Those folks get upgrades before Platinum members, when there are upgrades to be had.
Here’s the thing. You think I would know that the actual benefits of the Platinum Pro level. I’ve written about the level quite a few times since it’s announcement. I even noted that one of the ways I might stay loyal was if American outlined a path to lifetime Platinum Pro status.
Except, there’s really not that much difference between the Platinum and Platinum Pro levels. Upgrades clear a bit sooner (when they clear, which is another problem). You earn a few more miles. But, most of the fee waivers don’t kick in until the Executive Platinum level.
I guess while I’ve presented Platinum Pro (flying an extra 55,000 miles with AA this year) as an option for 2017, I’ve kind of told you not to suggest it!
Take advantage of the JetBlue Challenge
This one interests me. In case you missed it, JetBlue has a pretty cool status match and challenge going on right now. I have a few routes that I could fly JetBlue on to hit Mosaic status until the end of 2018. Is it worth it? My home airport of Washington-Dulles doesn’t have a lot of Jetblue nonstop destinations (JFK and Boston, to be exact). Free drinks onboard doesn’t help me much. But, free change fees if I did fly JetBlue is a nice perk.
The Final Two Pennies
I started out to present a compelling argument for all three choices. I sort of eliminated the American Airlines one, but maybe you guys have some good feedback there I haven’t considered? I hadn’t even considered that I could chase mid-tier Delta status. At any rate, I’d love to know your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment below, and I also hope you’ll vote in my Twitter poll.
What would you do in my situation?