What Airline & Hotel Status Did I Earn In 2018?

Filed Under: Alaska, Alaska Mileage Plan
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With 2018 now behind us, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on what status I’ve earned in the past year with both airlines and hotels.

My overall elite status “theme” of 2018

I love miles and points every bit as much as I did a decade ago. What has changed for me over the years is how much I care about earning status.

No doubt airlines and hotels are still different when it comes to this:

  • Airlines have made it more difficult to earn status while also reducing the benefits you receive for status greatly
  • Hotels have been fairly consistent when it comes to the status benefits they offer, and they’ve made it easier to earn status as well

Overall I’d say that in 2018 my airline and hotel decisions were much less motivated by elite status and loyalty, but rather motivated by what flight I wanted to take, what hotel I wanted to stay at, and where I could redeem points.

Frankly that has been really liberating. For example, this year less than half of my US travel has been on American, in spite of them being the airline that I credited the most flights to.

In 2019 I expect this trend to continue. My plan is to focus even less on earning status, and even more on just traveling the way I want to, while still maximizing miles and points.

That’s the thing I’m starting to finally separate out in my mind. Going for elite status and maximizing the points you earn and redeem are two very different things. I’m ready to jump off the status hamster wheel. Airline loyalty programs have largely reached a tipping point, in my opinion, and they’ve shot themselves in the foot.

So, with that out of the way, let me share the status I earned this year.

Airline status I earned in 2018

American AAdvantage Executive Platinum

I just barely requalified for Executive Platinum status with American. A majority of these miles were actually earned through travel on partner airlines:

I credited my Qsuites flights to AAdvantage

Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold

I earned Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold status in spite of having flown under 5,000 miles on Alaska this year (which is about all I want to fly on that airline, as much as I love their frequent flyer program).

I earned this status almost entirely by crediting partner flights to them, including:


A comfortable way to earn Alaska status

Initially I was going to go for MVP Gold 75K status, but my British Airways Nairobi ticket ended up crediting to American AAdvantage, so that’s not happening, and I’m fine with that.

Hotel status I earned in 2018

Marriott Platinum Premier Ambassador

Starwood was long my preferred hotel chain, and I’ve had SPG Platinum Ambassador status for years. While I’m far from happy with how Marriott’s takeover of Starwood has been handled, I did still requalify for Platinum Premier this year… well, maybe.

I’m still waiting on some stays to post, including my stay at the St. Regis Bora Bora, where the points posted incorrectly. Hopefully everything posts correctly, or else I may not requalify.

World of Hyatt Globalist

I put in exactly the number of nights needed to requalify for Globalist status with Hyatt, and that includes the five elite nights from The World Of Hyatt Credit Card.

I’m actually generally quite happy with Hyatt all around right now, so I look forward to requalifying this coming year. Not only will I get five elite nights just for having Hyatt’s card, but I’ll also earn two elite nights for every $5,000 spent, which should help me further.

Hilton Honors Diamond

If you’re in the US and eligible for credit cards, there’s absolutely no reason to not have top tier status with Hilton, given that you get Diamond status for as long as you have the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. I love this credit card.

IHG Rewards Club Platinum

This is status I get just for having a credit card, as the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. I find it ever so slightly useful for my random IHG stays, but this is otherwise the hotel status I care second least about.

Radisson Rewards Gold

I have the Radisson Rewards Premier Signature Visa Card, and just for having that $75 annual fee card I receive a 40,000 point renewal bonus every year, plus Radisson Rewards Gold status. That’s not hugely valuable, but better than nothing for my random Radisson stays in Europe.

Bottom line

As you can see, I still earned a fair bit of status. However, unlike in past years, I didn’t do a single end of the year mattress run or mileage run in order to achieve any of that status.

In 2019 my goal is to become even less loyal to airlines and hotel groups, and rather focus on traveling the way I want to travel, while maximizing miles and points. I’ll save my general plans for 2019 for a separate post.

How did your status quests in 2018 go, and what’s your plan for 2019?

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Comments
  1. I arrived at similar conclusions over 2 years ago. Loyalty to airlines stopped paying off. Makes more sense to me to save for a C/F class ticket, than to spend money on flying with no purpose, and hope for an upgrade.

  2. Hotels:
    Radisson Rewards: Gold
    SPG: Platinum Elite (last minute travel changes caused me to miss Platinum Premier Elite by a few nights, and family situation did not allow for mattress run)
    NH Rewards: Platinum

    Airlines:
    United: 1K
    Delta: Diamond.

    Non of my statuses earned in 2018 is based on holding credit cards. All is based on actual travel, so have been a very busy year.

    2019 is already looking busy, so I’m expecting to end 2019 with United 1K and Delta Diamond. As my travel destinations will change a bit, Radisson will end with Platinum, NH Rewards will not really be useful in 2019. Finally I’m likely to end up with either Marriott or Hilton at top level (still trying to decide which of the chains to focus on the most). Still a bit undecided with Hyatt, which will ultimately depend on a few projects at the end of 2019.

  3. For some reason I thought you earned flying blue silver status as well (or was that last year?)
    Anyway, I don’t travel for work but somehow managed to get flying blue gold this year which works well for me since I like to redeem flights on AF La Premiere.
    I don’t fly as much as I used to but for 2019 I hope to fly on NH A380 and VS A350 at some point!

  4. Why even spend the money for a rather expensive Hilton card that you´re obviously not making any meaningful use of which means you´re not gaining any benefit from it?

  5. WRT AA qualification…if willing to share, would be interesting to see how much you actually spent w/AA (versus getting EQDs credited from OW flights).

  6. Look at the benefits on the Hilton Aspire card…. it basically pays for itself and then some….. I’ve used the $250 airline credit, plus the $250 resort credit worked for a hotel I already planned to stay at, the Hilton Pattaya. I needed to spend one night in Bangkok and used the weekend night at the Waldorf Astoria there, which is lower than I wanted to redeem at, but couldn’t hold out and use it somewhere else like Beverly Hills due to work and timing, so I value that around $200 based on where I otherwise would have paid to stay.

    It also includes Diamond status, which helps me earn more points.

  7. If you’re lucky enough to afford it and corporate travel policies don’t bind you, then fly whoever you want and stay wherever you want. Aman doesn’t have a loyalty program, and I don’t mind a few hours or a couple of days in a new country to take a connection for F over direct BA J. But, if you’re stuck in a corporate travel program that won’t permit you a domestic F flight that costs less than your company lays out for your middle seat in economy … then I suspect that life sucks?

  8. I support this New Year’s resolution!

    I jumped off the hamster wheel this year and it feels great. To the point where I had the option of requalifying for my usual airline status on an international trip that would have required a stopover in Europe, but I instead chose the direct flight option on a different airline. Why be loyal to an airline when they’re increasingly disloyal to me?

  9. I don’t bother with hotel loyalty schemes, other than Accor which I am grandfathered into. Just use hotels.com with its de facto 10% off everything. I am “Gold” with hotels.com which gets me the odd room upgrade.

    OW Emerald for the third year running, thanks to flights on BA and AA.

  10. Hey Ben, if you travelled on miles and points, how did you managed to achieve status if they do not earn any credits?

  11. @Response to John: May be all good or not, but if you´re not staying with Hilton there´s no use in having the card. That´s my point. Apart from that: Who´s going to that few dozen of mediocre Hilton resorts anyways?

  12. So you hammered AA all year long and still “barely” got Exec Platinum with them? How about Delta? No status at all with the best US airline of the big 3?

  13. More than overqualified for EXP in 2018 (requalified in May and ended the year with 251K EQMs and 65K of EQDs). But, not having receive Concierge Key has left me feeling really bitter toward AA. All my flights save one were paid F or J (and the one that was not was between HPN and DCA where F is not offered). My co-worker who does about the same numbers as me, but flies United, gets Global Services every year and I’m treated like a piece of crap.

  14. Total 184 Nights and 228 Flights:

    Airlines:
    SQ PPS Solitaire
    BA Gold (OW Emerald)
    Delta Gold

    SQs callback service is probably the biggest winner here. The service I got out of that was outstanding and saved a ton of time and money. BA thanks to living in Asia and receiving 40 credits even for short haul MH inexpensive bus fares. Delta solely based on Vietnam Airlines.

    Hotels:
    SPG Plat Prem
    Hyatt Explorist
    Accor Gold

    Keen to switch all nights to Hyatt ever since the Marriott merger or stay with smaller hotels. End of the day I dont see lounge excess and a suite as a benefit but mostly once you know the hotel staff from spending many nights at the same property you are treated well. At least my experience.

  15. I’m really interested in the Hilton card, but I really don’t spend nights at Hiltons and the corporate policy is that all spend MUST be on the corporate card (HATE that policy – especially as you’re personally liable for the card anyway). If Alaska gift certs trigger the reimbursement I’d probably break even on the card. But seems weird to have just to break even. I already have the SPG card for a night that I wouldn’t otherwise spend at a Marriott. Then again I’m probably the odd duck for having IHG Spire and bottom tier hotel status everywhere else.

  16. Hey Ben,

    I’ve enjoyed your posts for a few years now. I’d like your take on the Marriott privacy breach. I’m sure you were affected in some way.

  17. The general sentiment of this choice is in line with the trend to being more “loyal” to transferable point currencies

  18. Are you thinking about crediting to Air France, Lufthansa, or Swiss to redeem in F, instead of going for Platinum on US airlines? I’m Delta Diamond and United 1K and the thought’s been crossing my mind here going into 2019…

  19. On the “status hamster wheel” and still going strong, monogamously:

    — Airline:
    UA 1K/1MM/lifetime *G . Will keep earning 1K for as long as I travel for business. Most of my points (miles) now do, however, come through CC spend (exclusively, the CSR, Ink Biz Cash, CFU), and am on pace to hitting 1M UR points by the time of my 2019 Year-end Asian Escapade(TM).

    — Hotel:
    Hilton Honors Diamond through the Aspire. Almost paradoxically, however, I just spent more on revenue stays at Hilton properties ($15K and counting) as an Aspire Diamond than I ever did when I had to (re)qualify for Diamond on base points (usually barely over $12K). When this status year ends on Jan 31, I would have earned nearly 2M HHonors points – a new record.

  20. Imagine how many nights out of the year Lucky spent in hotel beds rather than his own. That doesn’t seem to bother him.

    Earning status is one thing, but is this kind of life sustainable?

  21. Happy New Year, Ben and all.

    I also jumped off the airline Hampster wheel over the past 2 years. I’m Lifetime 1K and lifetime (1MM) AA “nobody” (gold).

    In today’s world upgrades are difficult even as a 1K and forget about AA. The big three airlines, particularly AA, prefer to sell F seats at almost any price and leave the crumbs for the 30+ names on the upgrade list so I pay a P fare for domestic and use miles for Intl F or for J on 2 cabin aircraft. You are right: Life is better when you are not “upgrade-chasing”.

    The jury’s still out on Marriott. As a SPG Lifetime Plat, I’ve almost always been treated fabulously…suites most of the time and great recognition. Marriott Lifetime Platinum (to be Premier Platinum Elite starting 2019) is an open question. If Marriott falls apart, I still have Diamond at Hilton as a back up.

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