With it now being 2023, I thought it would be fun to share my airline elite status strategy for the coming year, following my recent post about my hotel elite status strategy. To be honest, I don’t particularly value airline elite status anymore. However, that doesn’t mean I’m without status.
In this post:
What my airline travel in 2023 will look like
With most pandemic travel restrictions behind us, I’m hopeful that 2023 will mark a bit of a return to normal for me when it comes to flying.
What am I expecting in terms of my potential flying patterns this year?
- In terms of miles flown, my single biggest kind of travel will be “pure” review trips, intended to review new airline products, mostly while redeeming miles
- For most of my other travel (including with Ford and Miles), my priority is flying as comfortably and directly as possible, while also getting the best value
- Admittedly I live in Miami, and American has a massive hub here, which means that American is my most frequently flown airline
I don’t really care about airline elite status anymore
16-year-old me would be so disappointed to hear this, but I generally don’t think it’s worth going out of your way to attain airline elite status anymore. I tend to think there’s huge value in seeking out elite status with hotels, given how useful the perks are, and also given that status can in many cases be easy to earn. I can’t say the same about airlines, though.
Airline elite status has become so much less valuable over the years:
- Airlines have made elite status much more costly to earn; the days of earning 100,000 elite miles with American for $3,000, while earning eight systemwide upgrades, are over
- Since airlines mostly award miles based on how much you spend rather than how far you far, there’s less value in earning miles through flying, not to mention award costs have gone up
- Elite benefits have been hugely watered down, and getting upgrades has become much harder than it used to be
Let me be clear, though — I still think there’s huge value in leveraging airline loyalty programs, I just don’t think it’s worth going out of your way to strive for elite status. Here’s my strategy, in a nutshell:
- I try to rack up transferable points currencies, and then redeem then for aspirational travel, as that gives me the most flexibility and value
- I value first class domestically (it allows me to be productive), so I’m happy to book whatever airline has the cheapest first class fare (if the premium is reasonable), try to find a route where my status will get me a complimentary upgrade, try to confirm an upgrade in advance using miles or other instruments, or book something like the Spirit Big Front Seat
My 2023 airline elite status strategy
Just because I don’t value airline elite status in the same way that I used to, doesn’t mean that I no longer have elite status. Quite to the contrary, I have both oneworld Emerald and Star Alliance Gold status, though it’s anyone’s guess for how long that will be the case. Here’s where I stand as of now, as we enter 2023…
American AAdvantage Executive Platinum status
I’ve had AAdvantage Executive Platinum status for roughly a decade now. American made major changes to its loyalty program in 2022, with the introduction of Loyalty Points. It’s now possible to earn status exclusively through credit card spending, if you’d like to. I have mixed feelings about the new program for myself, though I think it’s kind of brilliant.
Status is no longer based on the calendar year, but rather runs from the beginning of March until the end of February of the following year.
It’s crunch time for me — Executive Platinum status requires 200,000 Loyalty points, while I’m currently at around 100,000 Loyalty Points. Based on the travel I currently have planned, I should be at somewhere around 140,000 Loyalty Points by the end of February. While that’s enough to earn Platinum Pro status, it’s only around 70% of the way to maintaining Executive Platinum status.
Now, the catch is that I haven’t earned any Loyalty Points through credit card spending, since I’d ordinarily prefer to use a card that offers me more lucrative rewards. However, I might make up that difference in the next couple of months.
Specifically, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (review) offers a 10,000 Loyalty Points bonus after reaching 50,000 Loyalty Points in a status qualification year. Earn another 10,000 Loyalty Points bonus after reaching 90,000 Loyalty Points in the same status qualification year.
While I’d rather use a card that’s better for everyday spending, I do think the math checks out here. Why? Because the Loyalty Choice Rewards program. For passing 200,000 Loyalty Points (and I’ll have flown the 30 required segments), I can select 60,000 additional AAdvantage miles as a benefit. That means that I’m earning over 2x AAdvantage miles on my spending when all is said and done, all while maintaining Executive Platinum status.
Singapore KrisFlyer Gold Elite status
In mid-2021, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer had a promotion where you could receive KrisFlyer Gold Elite status if you transfered 250K bank points to the program. I did that, and I’m happy I did, because I redeemed those miles for two tickets in Singapore A380 Suites.
That status was initially supposed to be valid through June 2022, but status ended up being extended by a year, through June 2023. The primary benefit of KrisFlyer Gold Elite status is that you get Star Alliance Gold status, which offers lounge access and priority services. Unfortunately I have no plans to renew that status.
Starlux COSMILE Insighter status
This is more a gimmick than anything, but back in 2021, Taiwanese airline startup Starlux Airlines had a status match opportunity. That status match was valid for a few years, and I currently have the status through February 2024.
While I haven’t gotten value from this when actually flying with Starlux Airlines, the airline did send me a cool commemorative membership card gift. I am hopeful that I’ll actually be able to fly with Starlux Arlines this year, as the airline starts flying to Los Angeles with Airbus A350-900s.
While I obviously love airline loyalty programs, nowadays I value the ability to redeem miles, rather than the value of elite status as such. I like being a mostly “free agent,” and being able to fly the airline that works best for a particular trip. Thanks to the value of credit cards, I can redeem my rewards across all kinds of airlines.
I am still on the American AAdvantage Executive Platinum hamster wheel for now, but we’ll see for how much longer…
What’s your airline loyalty strategy for 2023? Does it differ from past years?