Do you want to maintain your Airline Elite Status? You have to pay for this - Liberty

Friday, September 8, 2023

Do you want to maintain your Airline Elite Status? You have to pay for this

 

It's time to prepare for the "great reset" of elite status.


Nothing beats getting special treatment while traveling. Think of a free upgrade from the back of the plane to the front or a room with an alley view to one overlooking the park. These perks have long been enjoyed by travelers with elite status at hotels, airlines, and car rentals, and are now available to the general public during the pandemic.

Historically, elite status privileges have not been easy to achieve, especially at higher levels. When you sign up for a rewards program, you typically start as a base member but reaching elite status usually requires spending a lot of money, flights, or hotel nights.

In the early days of the pandemic, nearly all travel was closed, so many hotel and airline programs cut requirements and extended member status. The suspension has allowed frequent travelers to maintain the levels they obtained pre-pandemic, making it easier to qualify for higher levels. Travelers (those who don't have a corporate credit card or who travel weekly) can now also get the best perks like suite upgrades and being the first to board an aircraft.

But that low-level system is about to change with what has been called the “great reset” of travel loyalty programs. As we approach 2023, many programs are returning to pre-pandemic requirements. So those who have been enjoying the perks of elite status for the past two years may find they can't live without it.

Hotel Program Extends Lifeline

Earn elite status in hotel loyalty programs, from free breakfast (for Hyatt Globalist members) to complimentary premiums through partner programs (e.g., Marriott Titanium and Ambassador members receive additional benefits from United Airlines) You can earn everything, even perks.

Earning such perks has been relatively easy over the last two years. But things are starting to change. Earlier this year, IHG increased eligible stays and points requirements. Before the pandemic, travelers had to stay 10 nights (or earn 10,000 points) to earn Gold Elite status. Hotel chains relaxed these requirements during the pandemic, allowing travelers to stay just seven nights (or earn 7,000 points). However, guests will need to stay 20 nights (or earn 40,000 points) to receive the same status in 2023. However, travelers who achieve status below the discount threshold can maintain their status until February 2023.

That said, hotels are slightly more manageable than airlines to help members maintain their status over the next year. We have launched a promotion aimed at

For example, a recent IHG promotion allows members to earn Platinum Elite status through the end of next year by staying just five nights at an IHG hotel (usually earned after 40). This tier grants member benefits such as late check-out and loyalty gifts such as points and complimentary drinks on arrival. Hilton also recently launched a promotion that allows members to earn two nights of credit every time they stay at a Hilton hotel until the end of the year.

Some experts believe that it is not worth it for travelers to book stays and pursue elite status in hotel programs, and that hotel brand credits grant status based on overall spending, not just hotel stays It states that the aim should be to acquire through cards.

“Hilton, IHG, Marriott it's easy to achieve elite status with just a credit card,” says Ben Schlappig, a travel expert who runs the points-and-miles website One Mile at a Time. Many hotel reward cards offer full elite status to cardholders, and some offer night credits that can be used to obtain higher levels of status. "And the actual qualifying is hard, so I think it's a better approach that a lot of people should take," he said.

Airlines, not so much

Most airlines are returning to pre-pandemic requirements. Some airlines, like Alaska Airlines, offer additional ways to earn status while still maintaining their revenue structure.

For example, a member wishing to earn MVP status through Alaska Airlines must earn 20,000 miles by flying 30 segments on Alaska, American, or another Oneworld alliance airline.

But Delta's medallion program, the most popular of the airline's loyalty programs, made waves in the frequent-flyer world last month when it announced a significant change to its eligibility tiers.

The minimum Silver Medallion requirement will not change, but after 2023 Gold, Platinum, and Diamond members will have to pay Delta more to maintain their status in 2024. For example, a member with Delta Diamond Medallion Status (top tier) must earn $20,000 in "Medallion Qualifying Dollars." This is based on how much you spend on Delta flights, SkyTeam partner airlines, and certain award tickets.

(Lower Tier Members are exempt from this requirement if they spend at least $25,000 in a calendar year on an airline co-branded credit card, while Diamond Medallion Members are exempt from this requirement if they spend at least $250,000 in a calendar year.) exempted.)

The Diamond Medallion tier is one of the hardest to reach but comes with perks such as complimentary first-class upgrades, complimentary membership to the expedited security screening program CLEAR, lounge access, and more.

Schlappig said travelers should plan now (and those plans should spend more money) or prepare to move out of their elite status tier at the end of the year.

He also said pursuing status might ultimately not be worth it, given the high percentage of first-class seats currently being sold. executives said they sell nearly 80% of those seats, with far fewer seats available for upgrade.

"This is a big reason why many people should either give up elite status or not pursue it too much if they can't get it naturally from flying," Schlappig said. "It's a lot of effort for a small reward."

Delta isn't the only airline to make significant changes to its loyalty program requirements.

American Airlines revamped its AAdvantage program this year, theoretically allowing you to reach elite status without even ever flying. Members earn what the company calls loyalty points to qualify for different tiers. Earn on American Airlines and other Oneworld alliance airlines, or by using a branded American Airlines credit card. The US status calendar resets on March 31st.

American Airlines credit cards earn 1 loyalty point for every base mile earned on purchases. Travelers seeking to reach America's highest tier, Executive Platinum level, must earn 200,000 loyalty points.

AAdvantage members can also earn loyalty points for spending at other travel providers such as Hyatt Hotels, Hertz, and Marriott International.

Also, United Airlines recently announced that it is increasing the requirements for earning or maintaining elite status. All United MileagePlus members must fly a minimum of four segments on United or United Express jets. However, travelers must also earn a combination of Premier qualifying flights and Premier qualifying points, or a certain number of points, to qualify for status in the 2023 qualifying year. The exact amount you need depends on the status level you are trying to earn.

"You don't want to lose your status"

Threads on FlyerTalk, considered the most popular social networking platform for elite status enthusiasts, are filled with panicked travelers trying to plan their path to elite status by the end of the year. (However, note that some programs have extended member status until next spring.)

With less than two months to December 31st, some travelers are using unconventional methods to secure their elite status for another year. The mileage run strategy where travelers fly only to earn eligible miles or segments has dominated FlyerTalk boards for months. Other travelers plan to spend the holiday season in cities like Las Vegas to maintain their World of Hyatt program status. MGM owns several budget hotels in Las Vegas, and the chain is affiliated with Hyatt. This means that nights spent at these properties count towards earning status.

Anthony Cave, a copywriter for a cybersecurity nonprofit, is planning a mileage run from Everett, Washington, to Boston (he lives in Las Vegas) to maintain his mileage plan status for Alaska Airlines. increase. He likes having an Alaskan M.V.P. Gold status, but the bigger prize is that the Alaska program will reciprocate with Oneworld alliance airlines (mainly American Airlines). Alaska M.V.P. Gold achieves Oneworld Sapphire status, granting access to Alliance business class lounges worldwide. This is a useful perk before a long international flight.

"you don't want to lose your position," Cave said. Especially for me, 7,000 miles away from MVP. Gold; I'd be pretty disappointed if I didn't get it. Because I am so close and have already traveled all year round. ”

He will also take a long-haul flight to Sydney next week to qualify for American AAdvantage Gold status separately. Holding Gold means he can earn 7 miles for every $1 spent on American Airlines flights (5 miles for every $1 spent for members without Elite status), allowing him to earn rewards faster It means that you can get a higher status, the more miles he earns, so the more loyalty points he earns. But some Road Warriors are looking forward to January 1st when most tier qualifications will reset.

For months, frequent flyers lamented how long it took them to enter airport lounges and complained about not getting the upgrades they would have enjoyed pre-pandemic. One of my biggest complaints is the long wait to access the Delta Sky Club lounge. This lounge is open to American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders as well as select Medallion Members.

That's what Nick Henderson, a commercial pilot based in Jacksonville, Florida, has noticed, and he's longing for a reset.

He lamented the long lines snaking through the terminal to enter the SkyClub lounge, and "waited 30 minutes to get my name on the list to get a text."

“If you have a two-hour layover in transit and want to get away from the crowded gate area, grab a bite to eat, and get some work done, you can go into the lounge,” he said.

Henderson said he looks forward to returning to a "traditional approach" to elite status.

“I think this will take some of the pressure off the sky clubs, and I think it will benefit those of us who travel all the time and work hard to get these statuses,” he said. said.

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