My 2019 Mid-Year Status Qualification Update

Filed Under: Alaska, Alaska Mileage Plan
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We’re now over halfway into 2019 (I’d say “where has time gone?” but I feel like I’m always wondering that), so I wanted to provide an update on how 2019 is looking for me status-wise at the halfway point.

At the very beginning of 2019 I wrote a post sharing the status I qualified for last year, so how’s my progress towards qualifying for 2020 going?

My general elite status theme for 2019

This year I’m channeling Melania Trump’s fashion when it comes to elite status. I don’t really care… do you?

What’s funny is that in past years I’d develop a strategy early on in the year, track my progress towards that, etc. This year that’s not the case at all. Actually, the first time I really looked at my status progress for the year is when I sat down to write this post and started taking screenshots.

A vast majority of my flying has been on award tickets this year as well, which has impacted my ability to earn elite miles.

So let’s look at how status is looking for this year — I’ll start with status that’s a given (that’s earned just for having a credit card), and will then share the status that I actually have to earn.

Hotel status that’s a given

I have the following hotel status just for having certain credit cards:

Airline status that I’m earning (or not)

Below I’ll share my progress towards earning airline status for this year. I’ll share the programs with which I either earned status last year, or plan on earning status with this year.

Alaska Mileage Plan

Last year I earned Alaska Airlines MVP Gold status. I love Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and wish I were requalifying for this status, but the truth is that living in South Florida I don’t have many opportunities to fly with them. So I’ve earned zero elite miles with them this year, and am likely to lose the status.

American AAdvantage

I’ve been an American Executive Platinum for years. This year I haven’t actually made an effort of flying with them, and quite to the contrary have been trying to avoid them whenever practical.

In spite of that, living in South Florida they often can’t practically be avoided. So far I’m at just under 36,000 elite qualifying miles, so I’m just over a third of the way towards requalifying for Executive Platinum status.

As I said above, that’s in spite of actually going out of my way to avoid them whenever it’s practical. I’m not sure how I’ll end this year with American. I guess if the current pace of travel on them continues I’ll end the year right around 75,000 elite qualifying miles, which would earn me Platinum Pro.

I don’t want to shift any more business to American, though at that point is it worth going out of my way to fly American so that I at least make it to Executive Platinum? In other words, is it worth the incremental 25,000 elite miles?

I have no love for the airline (at all), but if I’m stuck flying them in many circumstances, I’d rather be Executive Platinum than not.

I don’t know, I’ll make a decision on this closer to the fourth quarter.

Delta SkyMiles

I fly Delta a reasonable amount because I think they’re the best major US airline. I don’t currently have status with them, though based on my travel booked with them so far this year I’ll at least earn Silver status. That’s not worth a whole lot — I don’t think I’ll go out of my way to fly more with them, though.

Delta’s first class fares are usually quite reasonable for the markets I look at, so I’ll probably just keep flying them when it’s convenient, with little regard for status.

Hotel status that I’m earning (or not)

While the value of airline elite status has decreased greatly over the years, I actually still think there’s value to be had with hotel status. Obviously that value varies by program, though. While I love having Hilton Honors and IHG Rewards Club as backup programs thanks to the status I earn through credit cards, there are two hotel status levels I otherwise go for.

World of Hyatt

I’m a World of Hyatt Globalist member, and get a lot of value out of that status. At the moment I’m at 33 elite nights, and need 55 to requalify. Those elite nights are partly through The World of Hyatt Credit Card, which offers five elite nights annually just for having the card, plus two elite nights for every $5,000 spent.

I should have no trouble earning Globalist status again through stays, though towards the end of the year may try to “spend” on the card for any remaining elite nights I need.

Marriott Bonvoy

Oh Bonvoy…

I’m a Marriott Ambassador member, which is a status I’ve really valued. As of now I’m only at 30 elite nights for the year, and that includes the 15 elite nights that I earned for having the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.

Ambassador requires 100 elite nights, which I actually shouldn’t have too much trouble achieving, especially as I’m currently targeted for a double elite nights promo.

The challenge is that as of this year Ambassador also comes with a $20,000 spending requirement. That’s usually not unreasonable for 100 nights, though the issue is that I’m redeeming a ton of points for stays this year, so I’m not sure I’d reach that spending threshold.

So what do I do at that point? I have lifetime Platinum status with Marriott, so do I go for Titanium status, or…?

Bottom line

I’ve never cared so little about airline status before, and it’s impacting my airline decision making.

I still end up flying American a fair bit, simply on account of being based out of Miami. I imagine at the end of the year I’ll be fairly close to Executive Platinum, and at that point the question will be whether it’s worth earning the status since I am often stuck flying with them.

On the hotel front, I feel like Hilton Honors treats me very well given how easy it is to earn Diamond status, and also given their ever-increasing number of luxury properties. I also love my World of Hyatt Globalist status, especially with all of their recent hotel additions.

While I love my Marriott Ambassador, I’m not thrilled with Marriott overall, and don’t think I’ll reach the $20,000 spending threshold with them this year.

Where do you stand on elite status qualification for this year?

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  1. The value of titanium over Platinum isn’t enough to strive for if you aren’t going to earn it naturally – possible Ritz suite upgrades (good luck..) and United silver.

    If you’re at 75k AA and there’s a good QR fare to someplace you’re going anyway then sure, but given your travel pattern better to send them a message however unlikely it is to be heard. I think writing about why you’re no longer Executive Platinum, though, has the potential to resonate loudly.

  2. Just qualified for globalist with CC spend . Marriott LTE so all set there .. that is all I need .

  3. I echo Gary. I actually find it a bit easier to find customer service staff to be listening better to feedback….its more effective than being upset or boycotting.

    World of Hyatt. ✅
    Completed. Will hit 100 this year.

    AA. Lifetime Plat and former EP. I agree with the tone of Lucky…lackluster outlook. Due to the Hyatt/AA partnership I’m sitting on the offer to fast track to EP. But is it worth 5k in spend and 35k miles in 90 days!! Im on the fence and sadly my likely break point is that under this challenge you do NOT get the elevated status until you complete the challenge. Ugh

    My newest epiphany is to value status more in line with a serious focus on its future value. That is, if the following year you won’t even requalify, then you won’t be enjoying the status that much anyway. Arguably the most valuable part is the agents assistance when things don’t go as planned. Its one of the only benefits you cannot just buy when you want it. Sad you need status to be treated in the manner you feel your “lower status” friends should be treated anyway. I’ve worked really hard to love AA…more than they love me…and commonly more than their own staff may show. I will stay loyal perhaps from my own wishful thinking. Delta might have a better product today but the value of the AA mile is still superior…well, until that gets changed.

  4. IMHO it’s worth pushing on for AA ExPlat for the OneWorld Emerald status. Getting access to 1st class lounges around the world is worth pushing a few extra flights AA’s way.

  5. I’m aiming to hit Delta Gold (50K) and AA Gold (25K). Delta Gold is great for SkyPriority, more upgrades out of NYC and international lounges. AA Gold is surprisingly useful out of NYC as AA continues to lose elites – you get free standby (saves me hundreds every year), free bags, and decent chance at sticker upgrades on E175 routes.

    On the hotel front, I spread my nights around too much. I will see if I can get Marriott Platinum, which would be a huge step up. Hilton is covered by credit cards, though Diamond itself isn’t really anymore valuable than Gold. Hyatt is too limited for me – I stay in more Four Seasons than Hyatts

  6. Ben: It looks like you are barely traveling this year! I am lifetime Titanium and Aspire card holder but still logged in 57 nights with Bonvoy and 23 stays with Hilton). No way I would spend $20K with Bonvoy this year but I do not care about Ambassador. Hyatt is nice but it cannot be found in many places I have to travel. Based on completed travel I am about $0.3K short of hitting $15K EQD with AA (and at 139K EQM). The next domestic trip would bring me there. I would re-qualify two weeks ago if not AA cancellations/rerouting and a refusal to credit miles properly… Safe travel.

  7. @ Gary — Forget QR, fly KE, AF, AM, KL and VS, and credit to DL for Diamond status. Adds up WAY faster.

  8. It’s going to be impossible for me to qualify again as Exec Plat because of the LAX-MIA fares (which I guess impact you).

    Coach is dirt cheap, under $350 most time RT.
    Business is often pushing $2k RT and most of the flights are not comfortable up front for 5plus hours. Only the 777 is worth paying for F transcon and the prices are high (except the 6:40 am which is a terrible time – if I was based in Miami, I’d be taking it, but staying away from home an extra night without even a good nights sleep is hard to do).

    If the fares were still $450 or so, I’d make EP, but the raise to $15k EQD and the decrease in fares make it close to impossible.

  9. Current Marriott Titanium and at 60 nights so far 2019 , so will reach 75 , but only at $5200 spend , so no chance for Ambassador

    Will probably switch to Hyatt when possible , as soon as hit 75 , with no rollover nights , why force myself at bad Marriott. Only doing it for 10 suite nights and chance to redeem at Ritz

  10. Bens right. I’m Marriott lifetime Titanium and ready to ditch Marriott for other product. They are careless about their customers.

  11. Not bad even though you have severely cut back on your travel this year. I know you have a complicated relationship with AA but you’re well positioned to reach EXP again and the One World benefits are worth it even if the AA benefits are not what they once were. That extra 25k EQM is just a TATL trip in J – I’m sure you could find something worth reviewing among AA or it’s partners. Perhaps that new BA 350 cabin on a flight this fall – I’d greatly appreciate your review of that product.

  12. I am based out of DFW so I am stuck. As of 07/04/2019 I have $10,000 out of $15,000 EQD, 57,000 out of 100,000 EQM and 20 out of 120 EQS, so I am on-track for 9th year of EXP. The service sucks. They never call me by name, even on international business class flights. They just want to hurry up and go retire in the back of the plane and get away from the people who pay their salary. Very sad.

    I am 925 out of 1,000 life-time nights and 13 out of 10 years at Hilton, so I am 75 nights away from life-time Diamond. I had 150+ nights in 2018.

    I flew JL first class using AA miles and the experience was amazing. A few months ago I flew CX first class using AA miles and the experience was disappointing.

    I do not fly DL, UA or any other airline, I do not stay in any other hotel chain.

  13. Does your existing EXP status make you ineligible for the current AA challenge offered to Globalists? Seems like that would be a good way to lock it in for $5k.

  14. Looks like you are spending over $1k per round trip on Delta (only 7 segments and spending $4k). My average spend is far less (($300 per round trip). You are the guy buying up the first class seats I’m trying to upgrade to LOL!

    Even if you take away my first class Delta seat (joking), I will always be grateful to you for showing me the light re: Hyatt (seriously). Being a Globalist pays off for me so much. I basically live in suites (80% upgraded) and always check out at 4 PM (100% of the time). There is simply no comparison to the other hotel chains.

  15. I still find airline and hotel status highly useful when travelling a lot. The Pier in Hong Kong, the Qantas F lounge in LAX, the JAL F check in and security line in Narita are some of the main highlights of making my travel so much easier thanks to Emerald status. While far from as good, I do find Star Alliance Gold quite useful when doing short hops around Europe and the US

    For hotels there is a huge benefit to visiting the same properties a lot, but it does still help a lot to come with a decent level of status. Due to the footprint I find Marriott much easier to work with than the other main chains. IHG and Accor have too many hotels in a range that I don’t want to stay in, so their useable footprint is not great. Hyatt just don’t have enough properties that fit my travel patterns. But Hilton does offer a good second chain for me.

    Status for the first 6 months, requalified on OWE, two flights of qualifying for Star Alliance Gold, 55 Marriott nights. Other hotel chains not tracking well this year. Not living in a region where I can get credit card induced hotel status of value

  16. 41 nights w Hyatt – the only status I care about these days. I stopped caring about airline status about 3 years ago

  17. Credit card status here in the UK is nothing like we read about in your blog. I don’t even bother with hotel and airline credit cards. The only ones worth having have significant charges and I’d rather just have my cards that give me either cashback in money or favourable exchange rates and free ATM withdrawals on foreign currency transaction. By the way whatever happened to the article you said you were going to write about UK cards many moons ago?

    For hotels I continue to attempt to retain my IHG Platinum status and am on track. I think it gives me enough better rooms, free beers, late checkouts and bonus points to make it worthwhile. I have this year ditched Marriott. I’ve stayed one night on points but have yet to pay for one single stay. I was SPG Gold and have been for years. I was well on the way to getting lifetime Gold but now Bonvoy Silver isn’t worth the no-longer issued plastic it isn’t written on. I think SPG members have been treated badly but I have many points. I completed Gold last year thinking it would make using up my points a better experience but I can’t be bothered to do the same this year. Bye bye Marriott and good riddance. You know what you can do with your double elite nights promotion. I’ll pay for a stay at some point though to stop my points expiring. On the back of IHG I have a comp’d Best Western Diamond card that’s been useful for a few stays that I would have made with Starwood, though I doubt I’ll stay enough to keep that status. At some point I’m hoping to start a Hilton status challenge. I’ve just earned back my Silver, having lost it last year, and when I know I have a good run of stays coming up I shall attempt to get Gold, which I haven’t had for about ten years. If I manage HH Gold, it will be my second chain and I plan to keep it, so it will replace Starwood.

    As for airlines, I continue to accrue Star Alliance points in Aegean to keep my Gold as my long haul flying has fallen off and in a bad year a few carefully planned trips in Europe is enough to keep *A Gold. Having said that, I have a couple of long haul *A get trips and I’ll have requalified within a few weeks. What bothers me is the constant decline of earning opportunities with Lufthansa (including Eurowings replacements) and perhaps soon Brussels that operate routes I would otherwise use for business. I therefore opt for BA instead on most of those routes enogh to keep Bronze, for what it’s worth, but I shall probably fall well short of BA Silver as I never use One World long haul. I add a few points to FlyingBlue but nowhere near enough to earn status. However, it means at least I can pick up a few points from Delta when I can’t fly *A in the US.

  18. What a refreshing report Ben. Well done for getting off the hamster wheel. Here in Australia I see lots of posts from people doing insane 2 day status runs across the continent to maintain QF and VA status ( that becomes ever less rewarding)

  19. Despite what you keep saying, you are not forced to take AA. Just start flying DL out of MIA.

  20. Carlos – you really need to branch out. AA and Hilton both have way better competitors.

  21. Where’s Jetblue Mosaic?

    One of their biggest hubs is Ft Lauderdale, so theres no excuse.

  22. @PHIL in ATL I believe his MQDs are high because of partner flights which works roughly the same as AA, calculated as a % of the distance flown. I’ve just flown the outbound of a TATL on Iberia Premium Y which gave a nice boost to my EQDs.

  23. Ben you say is it worth the extra 25,000 miles of flying for EXP or Plat Pro?
    I say maybe on miles, but you need an extra $6K spend and that is where I draw the line. Plus if you just make the $15K you will be at the bottom of the EXP upgrade list.

    Before I could get EXP with $6K spend + $6K from Barclay and needed to earn 80K EQM + the 10K from Barclay ($50K) and another 10K from Citi (at $40K).

    I will just get Plat Pro this year and will perhaps drops to Plat the next. I have Lifetime UA 1K so will just move back to UA.

    But my EXP upgrade rate is way down – likely due to low spend this year. So no – not worth going for EXP unless you are more like $25K or $30K spend.

    I am generally some where from 7 to 12 on the upgrade list these days. On an international 777-300 flight trying to use a SWU – and EXP next to me in coach said she called and there were 8 CK on the upgrade list. CK status seems like a joke the way it is given out.

  24. Not too hung up on status here but I take what comes. I feel no real loyalty as airlines and hotels no longer show loyalty but I collect the miles and points. No CC freebies in this part of the world.

    Skyteam Platinum secure until 2021, *A Silver and will be Gold soon, OW I rarely fly but still likely to end up Emerald.
    Hilton Gold, Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Gold, Shangri La Jade.

    My ‘best and most useful status’ I probably have on giving me 1 free night for 10 and that gives me the genius benefits that are actually worth something.

  25. This was my experience… not caring about status was the experience of growing older (and having control over how you spend your travel budget). I imagine you’ll push for Exec Plat this year given your location … but prob lose interest in that in a few more years.

  26. Why no mention for United, even when despite not flying on Alaska at all you still have a section for them?

  27. I doubt that Marriott will contemplate greater benefits for Titaniums: doing so would further alienate PLTs who are already feeling a bit second class after the merger; also the $20,000 Ambassadors would be thrilled to have upstart Titaniums creeping up the food chain in respect of perks.
    This is all of Marriott’s own making: in their indecent haste to launch the merged program they failed to understand the implications of the changes to levels. And even today they’re continue to dilute the Titanium tier by offering these double night promotions.
    Like many others, I’ll be stopping at 75 ( and in no rush to get there) and continue to stay/credit elsewhere. No way in the world I’m going to spend 20K to renew Ambassador ,given the very lukewarm benefits it offers.

  28. United, American, and Delta’s frequent flyer programs are becoming largely irrelevant if you are flexible about departure cities (using Spirit or Easyjet to position in US and Europe) and booking discounted business class tickets. Now a total free agent since I can’t trust any of these guys to not downgrade their programs and the value of their miles.

    A 1K doesn’t get access to Polaris lounges unless he’s flying international business. And GPUs are hard to use so why bother.

    Domestic upgrades are hard to get and frankly on a 2-3 hour flight … who cares. American miles are hard to use, their new configuration stinks, I won’t fly them if I need to be sure that I will actually to get to where I need to be in a timely manner.

    It’s kind of a relief that I don’t have to care about any of the US majors anymore. I’ll soon be BA Silver and have status with AF/KLM but not really by trying.

    It’s fun to just fly when you need to and hunt for those bargains. But the thing I just don’t get with all the program devaluations why would they airlines kill any motivation to stay loyal. It makes no sense that they are driving loyalty out to the programs. My spend is way down and most importantly my focused spend to achieve a particular level is gone. I’m happy not sure they will be in the long run.

  29. Titanium for Marriott – at 73 nights for year.
    Going to get the remaining nights required for Spire Elite thru IHG – Got the status match. (Already Platinum thru card.)
    After IHG will complete required nights for Hyatt Explorer status thru 2020.
    Have Hilton Diamond currently, but this end this year. Will not achieve again thru stays. Have their AMEX with Diamond status on my list for late 2020 or 2021.
    United Silver thru Marriott Titanium status.

  30. Solid write up man!, I’m about 2yrs into heavy travel and only have a couple credit cards… titanium Elite is solid with bonvoy! I’ve scored massive upgrades around the country! Including executive suites at the ritz dt la we have a 90+% upgrade rate and early checking of 4am and out at 4pm consistently.

    I am a delta and marriot loyalist. Hit diamond on Delta last year and Titanium on Marriott. This year I’m sitting at:

    Marriott: 238nights $16,864 thanks to a double nights promo and heavy double room booking. Will have Ambassador status by middle of July. I have redeemed about 400,000 points thus far.

    Delta: 69,331/125k MQMs, 91/140 MQSs $17,756/15k MQDs. That’s with the month of Jan off, so will easily qualify for Diamond Medallion this year, on segments most likely.

    A solid reminder to fellow biz owners…. the skybonus program is worth a million plus miles a year for me!

  31. Shouldn’t you have united silver through your Marriott status? I didn’t see any mention of that.

  32. I just requalified for EXP. I’m too lazy to start from scratch with any of the other airlines, and where I travel often AA is usually the best option anyway, so as much as I hate AA, I’d rather have status with them, even as devaluated as the Aadvantage program is, than being a nobody. So, no love for AA here, but it is what it is. What has changed for me is that I’m giving AA 100% of my travel, just about 130K miles/year. The rest, about 30-35K/year goes to WN. On the hotel front, I’m been Spire Elite with IHG for many years and Honors Gold (through Amex credit card), so I’m covered there.

  33. AA Plat Pro and Hyatt Globalist. Hyatt is great, and fortunately their smaller footprint does not impact me as much because they happen to be where I need to travel.

    AA is a dumpster fire. The status is nearly worthless. They treat their customers like garbage. Their planes are flying Greyhound buses. Their cancellation and delayed rate is laughable, made worse by the way they handle it. They are an absolute foul and vile experience—a festering toilet of an airline.

    Yet I am forced to fly them because I am PHL based.

  34. Ben has an “it’s complicated” relationship with UA MP so no surprise of a lack of mention there.

  35. For me the take away from this post would be that you should get a good financial planner to start investing your income for the future. To me it sounds like you are starting to get ready for a change. Maybe not a change away from the miles and points racket completely but a change. I hope you can keep your passion alive.

    But, start planning and investing into cash generating asset classes so that you have income away from this blog.

    My thoughts and personal opinion

  36. I feel like this is extremely obvious and assume you’ve already considered it. Nevertheless, why don’t you book a $3k -AARP business fare on BA YYZ-LHR-DXB-LHR-YYZ in October or November? 28k EQM and 3.5K EQD. You’re going to review the A350 product anyway and I assume it’s fully tax deductible as a review trip.

  37. Of course you’ll MR to keep explat with AA: You live in MIA after all.

    The problem becomes is that the rocky saga between you and AA will continue. They clearly aren’t giving you what you want and that’s not going to magically change in the next 12 months. Like I tell a lot of fellow high-mileage flyers, how many times are you going to do the same exact thing and expect different results?

    For me, AA serves their purpose. I’m DFW based. I’m a CK. While American doesn’t bend over backwards like they used to, they also don’t go out of their way to shit on me either. For the time being, if I want the seat in F, I buy it. I don’t worry much about upgrades. That’s a game I was glad to stop playing.

    I do love reading about how all of these people hate AA… And then continue to fly them like ridiculous sheep. Vote with your wallet kids. Step away from the situation.

  38. It’s clear, I am right where I intend to be: Bonvoy Lifetime Titanium (and yes, they do usually treat me very well), Hilton Diamond as a back up, Lifetime 1K on UA and 1MM “lifetime nobody” on AA. I live in Dallas but I would not hit Exec Plat again and Plat or Plat Pro are not worth the effort. I am quite content with where I am.

  39. Why not bail on MIA all together and start flying from FLL? That would certainly cement the move away from AA and not feel beholden to both AA and the shitty airport that is MIA.

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