My Airline Elite Status Strategy For 2023

My Airline Elite Status Strategy For 2023

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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.

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’m trying to fly as many unique airlines as possible

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
Airline status isn’t as valuable as it used to be

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 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points when you spend $40,000 in eligible purchases between January 1, 2022, and February 28, 2023. So if I were able to spend $50,000 on the card during that period, I’d earn 60,000 Loyalty Points, which would allow me to maintain Executive Platinum status.

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.

Now, that only keeps me on the hamster wheel for another year, and then I have to figure out what to do next, especially with the 2023 AAdvantage program changes.

I sure like having oneworld Emerald 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.

I’ve gotten value out of Star Alliance Gold 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.

Starlux Airlines COSMILE Insighter gift

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (44)
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  1. AHS Guest

    After 15 years of being a top tier Etihad member I'm letting it lapse, had cancer last year so couldn't make the trips but then sat down and thought of its value. Spoke to their Guest folk and they couldn't care less

    Whilst it was excellent at one time, many many first class upgrades, free chauffeured cars etc etc.

    All that is left now is access to the F lounge at Abu Dhbai and...

    After 15 years of being a top tier Etihad member I'm letting it lapse, had cancer last year so couldn't make the trips but then sat down and thought of its value. Spoke to their Guest folk and they couldn't care less

    Whilst it was excellent at one time, many many first class upgrades, free chauffeured cars etc etc.

    All that is left now is access to the F lounge at Abu Dhbai and haven't been upgraded even once in four years as it forms part of contracts for their large corporate buyers

    Looking hard at Qatar though as OneWorld Emerald is pretty easy to get by conparison

  2. SNC Guest

    I've come to the same conclusion.
    We always travel in premium cabins so status doesn't really add much to our experience.
    In our part of the world it is extremely difficult to cash in miles for premium cabin tickets whatever your status, and when you score a miles redemption ticket there is a reasonable chance it will be cancelled or changed before you can use it. Until this is sorted there is little...

    I've come to the same conclusion.
    We always travel in premium cabins so status doesn't really add much to our experience.
    In our part of the world it is extremely difficult to cash in miles for premium cabin tickets whatever your status, and when you score a miles redemption ticket there is a reasonable chance it will be cancelled or changed before you can use it. Until this is sorted there is little point chasing points or status.
    People are sitting on huge buckets of miles, topped up generously by flipping credit cards and purchase multipliers. Better to buy the best value ticket on the route you want.

  3. Alexander Guest

    Not sure if anyone mentioned it, but Starlux is extending elite status for another two years to those flying six sectors or more in 2023.

  4. Todd Guest

    I earned Executive Platinum status on American and thought upgrades would be all but guaranteed. WRONG! American now intices ALL passengers with "paid upgrade" offers leading up to the flight. And let me tell you... it is cheaper to buy a coach tickets on American and wait for the upgrade offers OR just buy a discount first class ticket on ANY OTHER airline (why limit yourself to one company). I can't tell you how many...

    I earned Executive Platinum status on American and thought upgrades would be all but guaranteed. WRONG! American now intices ALL passengers with "paid upgrade" offers leading up to the flight. And let me tell you... it is cheaper to buy a coach tickets on American and wait for the upgrade offers OR just buy a discount first class ticket on ANY OTHER airline (why limit yourself to one company). I can't tell you how many times I overpaid for a ticket just to accrue points. In a nut shell... Just pay for a first class seat. The stress leading up to travel day is not worth it. Loyalty programs are not what they profess them to be...
    Side note: FF/Loyalty Programs ruined commercial air travel! Just imagine if everyone paid for their respective seats again. If there were no more free seats or upgrades, ticket prices would be so much more responsibly price across all cabins.

  5. Darren C Diamond

    One status still worth achieving: My UA 1MillionMiler status gives both my wife and me lifetime Star Alliance Gold Status, allowing us to zip through European airport Fast Track/Gold Track from Riga to Oslo to Lisbon, while thousands (including paid First Class pax) missed flights because they had to go through regular security.

    I am @ 3 years from lifetime Platinum guaranteed 4 pm late checkout with Marriott, my favorite hotel perk, which also has...

    One status still worth achieving: My UA 1MillionMiler status gives both my wife and me lifetime Star Alliance Gold Status, allowing us to zip through European airport Fast Track/Gold Track from Riga to Oslo to Lisbon, while thousands (including paid First Class pax) missed flights because they had to go through regular security.

    I am @ 3 years from lifetime Platinum guaranteed 4 pm late checkout with Marriott, my favorite hotel perk, which also has the highest chance of success, compared to upgrades or breakfast.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      One biggest problem people tend to forget about when it comes to lifetime status, your benefits are not based on today's program. It's based on what ever program they decide to trash you in at that moment.

      In 2026, the platinum you think you earned might have no late checkout, when Bonvoy introduces 2 more elite tiers and devalues the rest.
      Your current UA1MM gives you Premier Gold, which happens to be Star Alliance...

      One biggest problem people tend to forget about when it comes to lifetime status, your benefits are not based on today's program. It's based on what ever program they decide to trash you in at that moment.

      In 2026, the platinum you think you earned might have no late checkout, when Bonvoy introduces 2 more elite tiers and devalues the rest.
      Your current UA1MM gives you Premier Gold, which happens to be Star Alliance Gold today. Don't expect Premier Gold to always match up that way. You're promised UA status not Star Alliance.

      Lifetime status and benefits is not your retirement plan. It's a soup kitchen that is up to their mercy. We all got a lobster roll in back 2010, today it's a pizza, in 3 years it might only be 'pee' soup.

      For the love of (insert faith here), don't bend over too much to earn some superficial title that guarantees you only the 'title name' and nothing else. You're much better off to earn status year by year and know what exactly what to expect rather than trying to save up on a program that gives you a title on a carrot stick.

      Being lifetime on the higher tier i.e. UA4MM, at least would likely take more years to devalue.

    2. JWags Guest

      To your point about UA vs Star Alliance. That would play except for that fact that who runs Star Alliance, for all intents and purposes, UA and LH, hence why Scott Kirby is chairman. And given their cozy relationship, LH wouldn't do something to upset UA and vice versa. I'd imagine that stays pretty interlocked.

    3. Eskimo Guest

      @JWags

      To your point about UA and LH. That would play except for that fact that, for all intents and purposes, the party getting upset is not the airlines but the customers. And given our uncozy relationship, you can count on UA to upset and devalue their program. I'd assure you that stays pretty interlocked.

      There will always be a status equivalent to today's Premier Gold (and Star Alliance Gold), which might be called something...

      @JWags

      To your point about UA and LH. That would play except for that fact that, for all intents and purposes, the party getting upset is not the airlines but the customers. And given our uncozy relationship, you can count on UA to upset and devalue their program. I'd assure you that stays pretty interlocked.

      There will always be a status equivalent to today's Premier Gold (and Star Alliance Gold), which might be called something else in 2026, maybe Premier Gold Pro?.
      The 2026 'legacy' Premier Gold might end up with a checked bag and only a Star Alliance Silver.
      You're promised a title, never once ever any benefits was promised with the title.

    4. JWags Guest

      I'm always amazed how useful Star Alliance Gold is in Europe. Gold status on United domestically does basically nothing or than economy plus. But abroad it means lounge access, boarding absurdly early in comparison, and fast track security and immigration depending on the airport. Its great.

  6. Andrew Guest

    I've been away from this blog for a while, but starting to read it a bit more as my travel ramps back up. But I see that some things never change. Lucky just casually dropping that he's going to spend $50k on a credit card over the next 8 weeks to maintain Exec Platinum status - classic!

    1. AD Guest

      @Andrew, remember @lucky is running a business and using these cards for business expenses. That's not a lot of money for a business owner to spend. I'm going to "casually" spend $500M this, year as that's my budget at work. Sadly, I work for someone else and can't put it on my cards.

  7. Randy Diamond

    Plan is to continue with AA EXP based on flights plus CC spend. At 255K but will likely be at 300K at the end. I find that I am many times now showing as #1 on the upgrade list if not upgraded in advance. DCA based - AA is 65% of the aiport (like MIA). Of course we have UA at IAD (have LT 1K).

    EXP and PlatPro both give you Emerald. So go for EXP if you want a chance at upgrades. Otherwise go free agent.

  8. Tomas Guest

    "Since airlines mostly award miles based on how much you spend rather than how far you far..." ???

    rather than how far you fly....?

  9. Antonio Guest

    Do you have 1MM lifetime status with any program?

  10. DSK Member

    For me, it's all kind of interrelated. Marriott Lifetime Titanium gives me United Silver for as long as that program continues, but I currently have United Gold for a few months from Bilt. I also did the Singapore transfer that Ben describes so that gives me Star Alliance Gold from Singapore for a few years, which gets me United Club access when flying domestically (even when crediting to United--my success rate on that so far...

    For me, it's all kind of interrelated. Marriott Lifetime Titanium gives me United Silver for as long as that program continues, but I currently have United Gold for a few months from Bilt. I also did the Singapore transfer that Ben describes so that gives me Star Alliance Gold from Singapore for a few years, which gets me United Club access when flying domestically (even when crediting to United--my success rate on that so far has been 100%). I have Lifetime Platinum on AA but have a few months of Platinum Pro due to my Hyatt Globalist status. Delta Gold purely from credit card spend during the crazy Covid years promotions. Hilton Diamond from Aspire. No business travel for many years since I have been retired. So, other than Hyatt Globalist, I'm not really trying very hard to maintain anything through butt-in-seats or actual hotel stays, but if people are giving me elite status, who am I to say no?

    1. Travpro Guest

      I also have lifetime platinum on AA and am a Hyatt globalist. If I take the Platinum Pro based on Hyatt Globalist- would that impact my lifetime Platinum status? It’s not worth a lot, but it’s supposed to be lifetime status. Just not sure I trust that if I change due to Hyatt status that lifetime status could potentially disappear

  11. Matrix.RX1 Guest

    @Ben: I suggest you change the image of the LX Alpine Lounge in ZRH under your Star Alliance Gold mention. It is only for Business Class passengers or M&M Senator status.

  12. Down 2 earth Guest

    So much bullshit in those miles, just fly low cost and cheep as you can, it's like a bus ride , it will end in 3-4 hours and you forget about it, it doesn't worth the Hussle, you better invest in more important things in life....

  13. EndlosLuft Guest

    UA, AA, Delta, etc status aren't worth the dedicated spend or travel. Used to be loyal to United in particular but thanks to their program changes I've been free to explore other airlines. I like the other airlines more. Especially when they give me a better deal. So I couldn't agree more with your move to free agency.

    And as for alliance benefits those have been watered down over the years as well. Star Gold...

    UA, AA, Delta, etc status aren't worth the dedicated spend or travel. Used to be loyal to United in particular but thanks to their program changes I've been free to explore other airlines. I like the other airlines more. Especially when they give me a better deal. So I couldn't agree more with your move to free agency.

    And as for alliance benefits those have been watered down over the years as well. Star Gold status used to be clear in terms of luggage benefits for example but with weird "light" fares and changes to what elites are allowed to carry alliance benefits and mileage credits have been watered down too.

  14. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    Kinda disappointed to read this. I've followed your work and advice pretty religulously over the last 3 years and have earned Marriott Bonvoy Titanium and AA Exec Plat because of it. Opened at least 3 Credit Cards through your links to help me do that too. Now I'm supposed to be a "free agent" with 3/4th of my wallet tied to certain brands?. I get that your speaking about yourself here, but still taking cues from you.

    1. Donna Diamond

      @BenjaminG- I hear you! The only thing you can count on with these programs is change - lots of it. And lately, the news has been all bad except for the high spenders. Everyone has different travel dynamics and every approach to points and miles needs to be tailored often. My credit card portfolio has completely turned over in the past six years. Stay flexible and work through your points and mile balances while making a big pivot or just tweaking some accounts.

    2. Hank Tarn Guest

      I am assuming you do not have a baby. Lifestyle changes when people have a young family, out of necessity as much as active desire to. His new focus on direct flights is actually more relevant to many readers like me, we always take hold luggage so always fly direct where possible especially since the pandemic and ongoing hub airport chaos. But he will keep up the detailed reviews and Ben’s advice on earning via...

      I am assuming you do not have a baby. Lifestyle changes when people have a young family, out of necessity as much as active desire to. His new focus on direct flights is actually more relevant to many readers like me, we always take hold luggage so always fly direct where possible especially since the pandemic and ongoing hub airport chaos. But he will keep up the detailed reviews and Ben’s advice on earning via transferable points rather than single program cards makes great sense with the constant devaluations of recent years.

    3. EndlosLuft Guest

      One or two hotel cards are useful but the answer is get at least one of the following cards: Chase Sapphire Reserve, Amex Gold or Platinum, Citi Premier, Capital One Venture X. Those all transfer to various programs that you can use to either top off or get entire awards. The airline credit cards are only useful if you don't have any status with them or a partner airline.

  15. Sam Guest

    Was surprised by your comment on hotel status being worthwhile. I reached the opposite conclusion - that on hotel, you get what you pay for. What did I get as a Marriott ambassador? The ambassador service is useless. The suite night upgrades are effectively unusable - and their true value is when traveling with family, where the upgrade is essential, thus the inability to confirm and low success rate makes them useless. And what perk...

    Was surprised by your comment on hotel status being worthwhile. I reached the opposite conclusion - that on hotel, you get what you pay for. What did I get as a Marriott ambassador? The ambassador service is useless. The suite night upgrades are effectively unusable - and their true value is when traveling with family, where the upgrade is essential, thus the inability to confirm and low success rate makes them useless. And what perk is left - free scrambled eggs from a massive tray in the sheraton lounge? And then my marriott points are useless especially, again, for the larger rooms I need for my family on leisure travel.

    Now I just book the hotel and room that I want - and yes I pay a little more but it is 10,000x more worth it. What hotel benefits are you still seeing?

    1. henare Diamond

      He *didn't* say that all hotel status was equal. Marriott is kinda crap.

  16. Andy Diamond

    I agree that earning a high status has become more difficult and miles/points have been devalued. I do not agree that status benefits have deteriorated, I find them more or less unchanged.

    But one unpublished status benefit has become more useful: Not being offloaded in case of overbooking. You cannot imagine how many of my non-status employees get offloaded …

    1. AD Guest

      @Andy -- that's exactly what I was coming the comments section to say. IrrOps is when status matters. You don't get bumped and you get the first shot at rebooking. My SO's flight was cancelled Christmas day (they actually cancelled the first three flights of the day). She asked to waitlist of a flight to a different airport. She's a DL Diamond. She popped to #4 on the waitlist (bypassing 40 people) and was the...

      @Andy -- that's exactly what I was coming the comments section to say. IrrOps is when status matters. You don't get bumped and you get the first shot at rebooking. My SO's flight was cancelled Christmas day (they actually cancelled the first three flights of the day). She asked to waitlist of a flight to a different airport. She's a DL Diamond. She popped to #4 on the waitlist (bypassing 40 people) and was the last person who got on that plane. That's when status matters

  17. jetset Gold

    Airline status has really focused more narrowly on high spending corporate travelers (or the more rare leisure flyers who spend a lot) with all of the changes they've made - which is a reasonable enough decision for them.

    As at least one other person noted, one of the biggest benefits now is IRROPS handling and you really only need great IRROPS handling if you travel a lot given that you'll encounter those situations more...

    Airline status has really focused more narrowly on high spending corporate travelers (or the more rare leisure flyers who spend a lot) with all of the changes they've made - which is a reasonable enough decision for them.

    As at least one other person noted, one of the biggest benefits now is IRROPS handling and you really only need great IRROPS handling if you travel a lot given that you'll encounter those situations more often.

    I am Global Services on United which I'll be losing this year as I no longer travel frequently for work and the benefits that made it exceptional have really been degraded since 2020. It's still valuable for situations where there are travel disruptions but I think I'll survive fine with 1K this year and a much lighter travel schedule.

    1. Alex Guest

      same situation here - about to lose GS and I'm sad on the one hand, but most of what I used (club access domestically, GS entry at ORD and elsewhere) can either be replaced if I miss it as a 1K or done without. I will say, the upgrade rate was good as GS on almost every route, and the international stations do a great job at recognizing and taking great care of you when...

      same situation here - about to lose GS and I'm sad on the one hand, but most of what I used (club access domestically, GS entry at ORD and elsewhere) can either be replaced if I miss it as a 1K or done without. I will say, the upgrade rate was good as GS on almost every route, and the international stations do a great job at recognizing and taking great care of you when flying through. But not worth the crazy premium to fly UA when better options are out there (ANA, for instance, on the Japan trips). And I really really hated the devaluation to upgrading companions at booking to only one-way.

  18. Donna Diamond

    I remember my early AA days spending close to $10,000 per year and only qualifying for Platinum Status because I missed the 100,000 seat in butt threshold. I find the system today more fair given my situation. It’s easy to make EXP each year based on ticket purchases alone which are all Premium Cabin long haul flights. The best benefit is the earn rate for redeemable miles which I gift to family members. Another good...

    I remember my early AA days spending close to $10,000 per year and only qualifying for Platinum Status because I missed the 100,000 seat in butt threshold. I find the system today more fair given my situation. It’s easy to make EXP each year based on ticket purchases alone which are all Premium Cabin long haul flights. The best benefit is the earn rate for redeemable miles which I gift to family members. Another good benefit is the EXP customer service operators when you need one.

  19. Oyvind Guest

    There is one thing you do not write about, and that is the benefits of holding a high tier card when irregularities happens. Beeing a travel agent I often see elite card holders getting quick service with the perfect alternative booked, while the rest gets what is available in the end.
    I am a Flying Blue platinum for life and I am 4 years away from Star Alliance gold for life with SAS Eurobonus....

    There is one thing you do not write about, and that is the benefits of holding a high tier card when irregularities happens. Beeing a travel agent I often see elite card holders getting quick service with the perfect alternative booked, while the rest gets what is available in the end.
    I am a Flying Blue platinum for life and I am 4 years away from Star Alliance gold for life with SAS Eurobonus. To keep the status with just some small adjustments to secure status for life is well worth money and time spent. I am 50 years old and hope I have many years with enjoying two top tier cards in two major alliances left.
    So to keep status for service and for lifetimestatus is worth it, the rest is maybe not that interesting

    1. Bluebell Guest

      Can't speak for all airlines but I think even that is becoming less useful now that there are more elites in general. I had a flight cancelled last week and after 45 minutes on hold, the UA 1K line got me a flight for 3 days later. Granted that was during an air grid disaster but I still expect more.

    2. JWags Guest

      The 1K line is useful for getting some fees waved and a few profile related changes that only an admin can do, thats really about it. I think its been 2-3 years since I was working on a flight change or rebook with them that I couldn't access and book myself through the app, they see everything we do really.

      Further, they have moved a few things away from 1K too. Ive had 2 different...

      The 1K line is useful for getting some fees waved and a few profile related changes that only an admin can do, thats really about it. I think its been 2-3 years since I was working on a flight change or rebook with them that I couldn't access and book myself through the app, they see everything we do really.

      Further, they have moved a few things away from 1K too. Ive had 2 different instances in the last 3 months where I was on hold for 20-30 min because 1K had to patch into normal United CS and that took forever.

      That said, I will never not appreciate the calm easy to understand and pleasant 1K desk vs the crap shoot of a 3rd party call center in lord knows where.

    3. Lee Guest

      Bluebell is correct. Nowadays, even if someone has (regular) top tier status, the telephone wait times are too long to be of practical assistance. Delta Diamond might be the one exception. As for non-regular, only if someone has Concierge Key, Delta 360, or Global Services will a person have a short telephone wait time. But, these individuals are tracked prior to departure and while in the air. If something goes bingo, AA/DL/UA is typically already...

      Bluebell is correct. Nowadays, even if someone has (regular) top tier status, the telephone wait times are too long to be of practical assistance. Delta Diamond might be the one exception. As for non-regular, only if someone has Concierge Key, Delta 360, or Global Services will a person have a short telephone wait time. But, these individuals are tracked prior to departure and while in the air. If something goes bingo, AA/DL/UA is typically already aware of the issue and is considering alternatives before the member even calls in.

  20. mdande7 Diamond

    $50K spend in two months! I'm clearly in the wrong line of work.

    1. DLPTATL Guest

      I'm guessing Ben is going to be making a sizeable estimated quarterly tax payment on 1/15/23 that should take a big bite out of that spend, if not the entire $50k. I'm sure he also has healthy spend on online services.

    2. henare Diamond

      Yup. Isn't there an article in today's emailing from OMAAT about using your card to pay taxes?

    3. Angel Guest

      I used a cc to make my state tax payment last year. I was pissed about having to pay but happy to gain the points.

    4. Ethan Guest

      Also at the end of day, for a well connected blogger like Ben, he has tons of MS methods in sleeve.

  21. Lee Guest

    Wise realization. Ask a simple question: What is it that elite status provides that is otherwise not available with a premium cabin ticket (paid or points)?
    - One already has the "upgrade" so to speak as well as free bags and priority check-in, security, and boarding
    - Lounge access on international itineraries
    Yes, on paid tickets, a higher earn rate and (maybe) better phone support. Yes, if OneWorld Emerald, access to first...

    Wise realization. Ask a simple question: What is it that elite status provides that is otherwise not available with a premium cabin ticket (paid or points)?
    - One already has the "upgrade" so to speak as well as free bags and priority check-in, security, and boarding
    - Lounge access on international itineraries
    Yes, on paid tickets, a higher earn rate and (maybe) better phone support. Yes, if OneWorld Emerald, access to first class lounges. But, other than that, it's an illusion.

    1. Ivan X Guest

      I half agree. But for me, the number one reason to have status is phone support, full stop. Being able to call the United Premier Desk rather than the front door is everything, and I hate flying other airlines where I don't have status for this specific reason. Premier Silver's good enough for that.

      (With that said, I've certainly observed the decline of the Premier Desk this year -- service is decent, but inexplicably slow,...

      I half agree. But for me, the number one reason to have status is phone support, full stop. Being able to call the United Premier Desk rather than the front door is everything, and I hate flying other airlines where I don't have status for this specific reason. Premier Silver's good enough for that.

      (With that said, I've certainly observed the decline of the Premier Desk this year -- service is decent, but inexplicably slow, I think because the front line people no longer know how to do anything and need to wait for supervisors on their end to actually execute anything out of the ordinary, which is why I am usually calling.)

      But, also free Economy Plus at booking for Gold is motivating when it's prohibitive to fly 1st/biz. Not so motivating I'm going to spend much more on a United flight when an equivalent flight on another airline is available. But if it's a small difference, enough to make me fly United.

      Upgrades aren't frequent enough at the Gold/Plat level to make it a real factor, but it's nice when they happen. But I usually try to book into 1st/Business anyway.

      I did also make use of a unicorn Plat/1K only Business Saver fare this year, but those don't turn up often enough to make me feel like it's worth trying to get past Gold.

      The decision for me is whether I want to lean in on United credit cards (and it requires a *lot* of leaning) to clear any or all of these thresholds, as opposed to earning more valuable and quickly earned Chase and Amex points. Fortunately, award tickets now count towards status earning, and still often represent best values on some routes compared with cash, even after devaluations, so earning miles on spend doesn't feel quite as useless as it used to.

      I also generally disagree regarding hotel status. Sure, they offer real benefits, but, unlike airlines, which are largely the same and there are only a few of them, there are a billion wonderful independent hotels in the world with their own charms, and being able to be a free agent for any of those is well worth sacrificing perks that limit me to one brand. Frankly, I like showing up somewhere and throwing the Hotwire or Hotel Tonight dice, and seeing what I discover.

  22. Ned Member

    Does this mean you've abandoned hopes of top tier status with Flying Blue?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Ned -- Yeah, with the changes to La Premiere awards it's simply not worth it to me.

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Andrew Guest

I've been away from this blog for a while, but starting to read it a bit more as my travel ramps back up. But I see that some things never change. Lucky just casually dropping that he's going to spend $50k on a credit card over the next 8 weeks to maintain Exec Platinum status - classic!

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Donna Diamond

@BenjaminG- I hear you! The only thing you can count on with these programs is change - lots of it. And lately, the news has been all bad except for the high spenders. Everyone has different travel dynamics and every approach to points and miles needs to be tailored often. My credit card portfolio has completely turned over in the past six years. Stay flexible and work through your points and mile balances while making a big pivot or just tweaking some accounts.

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Lee Guest

Wise realization. Ask a simple question: What is it that elite status provides that is otherwise not available with a premium cabin ticket (paid or points)? - One already has the "upgrade" so to speak as well as free bags and priority check-in, security, and boarding - Lounge access on international itineraries Yes, on paid tickets, a higher earn rate and (maybe) better phone support. Yes, if OneWorld Emerald, access to first class lounges. But, other than that, it's an illusion.

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