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Is it worth pursuing entry level elite status?
[USER=4]@Lucky[/USER], first apologies if this has been covered previously, but I don’t recall a recent post directly on point. Your post earlier this week about how AA is adjusting benefits for Gold, including eliminating the 50% discount on MCE, got me thinking…is pursuing elite status worth it for someone like me? I fly a mild to moderate amount (lets call it maybe 20-40K miles per year, depending on the year). I do a lot of short hops around CA and the West Coast and a handful of transcontinental trips every year, plus the odd international trip. The reality is that my paid travel is often right around the threshold of earning entry level elite status, but I almost never earn it because a) I tend to spread my travel dollars around a bit based on convenience (for example we fly WN a fair amount but having had A list at times I don’t especially value it). When I take a longer trip, especially international, I am often redeeming miles that I have earned from signup bonuses etc. for premium travel…so ironically the years where I fly the most distance I sometimes earn even fewer miles. I value my elite status with a few hotel programs and have enjoyed having airline status the few times I’ve picked it up (I currently have AA gold and have found the phone agents to be a cut above for sure), but I’m just not sure it’s worth the effort for someone like me to pursue being elite. So my question is, should I be loyal to one airline when I can be? If not, at what point would this change (i.e. how many paid miles do I need to be flying in a year for it to be worthwhile) and how can I do a more objective calculation of the costs and benefits going into next year. Seems like maybe if you aren’t taking a paid flight somewhere at least 1x/week or so it’s not really worth it…Any insights would be much appreciated. Thanks!
If you pay for your own travel, it’s very tough to justify bothering with elite status at all compared to the alternatives. With that few flown miles, I think you’re better off being loyalty agnostic and leveraging the best prices/redemptions, personally. I did write about this a few years ago, if that’s helpful at all (obviously some things have changed since then, but I think the sentiment stands): [URL]http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/12/04/miles-and-points-for-infrequent-flyers/[/URL]
[QUOTE=”Tiffany, post: 58624, member: 7″]If you pay for your own travel, it’s very tough to justify bothering with elite status at all compared to the alternatives. With that few flown miles, I think you’re better off being loyalty agnostic and leveraging the best prices/redemptions, personally. I did write about this a few years ago, if that’s helpful at all (obviously some things have changed since then, but I think the sentiment stands): [URL]http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/12/04/miles-and-points-for-infrequent-flyers/[/URL][/QUOTE]
[USER=7]@Tiffany[/USER], thanks so much for the quick reply. And I should have known you’d covered this, although 2014 is a while back that article remains useful. Interestingly you did answer my quantitative question with 25K revenue miles flown per year being the minimum to make the effort for status. I’m curious given the decline in benefits whether that still holds (I fly out of LAX primarily so have plenty of options) or would you need to fly enough to get at least a middle tier to make it worthwhile?
Anyway, thanks for confirming my instinct about being loyalty agnostic…I may sometimes be sitting a little bit farther back in coach, but if I’m sitting there for free (or close to it) I don’t really care 🙂
Yeah, I would suggest just really thinking about the benefits you’re getting from whatever status, placing a price on them, and then evaluating from there. It probably makes more sense to just buy the better seating or early boarding on the flights when you need them, versus overpaying or sacrificing schedule convenience to stay loyal.
And there is a compelling argument emerging in these days of eroding elite benefits, that even top status isn’t worth much. I had four SWUs age out last year because I couldn’t find any flights on which to use them. Even as an AA EXP, I have to compete with higher EQD EXPs for upgrades and I’ve had limited success. Should be able to use at least two of my SWUs this year, so hopefully I will use them all. In your situation, I would choose free agency.
@ Gia, thanks for weighing in and that definitely makes sense. Seems like elite is only good if you’re a high dollar road warrior in which case it takes the sting out of some of the little indignities of regular travel. As I said above, I do get a lot of value from my hotel status… Also, I know you’re not the only one struggling to use SWUs, an EXP buddy of mine has offered me his SWUs twice in the last few years because he couldn’t use them…last year he called me the week before they expired and it happened I was taking my wife to Monterrey that weekend so we burned 4 SWUs LAX-SJC. It seemed like a tragic waste but he said he was happier to see them used then not used…