December 4, 2022

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Want to Hold Onto Elite Status With Your Airline? It’s Going to Cost You.

3 min read

Threads on FlyerTalk, considered the most prominent social-networking platform for elite-status hobbyists, are full of panicked travelers trying to chart out their elite-status path through the end of the year. (It’s important to note, however, that some programs have extended status for members through as late as the spring of next year.)

With ‌less than two months until Dec. 31, some travelers are ‌‌using unconventional methods to secure top-tier elite status for another year. Strategies for mileage runs — where a traveler takes a flight solely to rack up qualifying miles or segments — have dominated FlyerTalk boards for months. Other travelers have planned to spend the holiday season in cities like Las Vegas “mattress running” — or booking a stay at a qualifying hotel you otherwise wouldn’t — to keep status with the World of Hyatt program. MGM has several inexpensive hotels in Las Vegas, and the chain partners with Hyatt, meaning nights stayed at these properties will count toward earning status.

Anthony Cave, a copywriter for a cybersecurity nonprofit, is planning a mileage run from Everett, Wa., to Boston — he lives in Las Vegas — to keep his Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan status. He likes having Alaska’s M.V.P. Gold status, but the bigger prize is that Alaska’s program gets him reciprocal benefits with airlines in the Oneworld Alliance, principally American Airlines. Alaska M.V.P. Gold earns fliers Oneworld Sapphire status, granting access to that alliance’s business-class lounges worldwide — a perk that can come in handy ahead of a long-haul international flight.

“You don’t want to lose status,” Mr. Cave said. “Especially for me, being 7,000 miles away from M.V.P. Gold; if I don’t get that, I’d be pretty disappointed, just because I’m so close, and I already did all the traveling throughout the year.”

He is also planning to qualify separately for American AAdvantage Gold status by taking a long-haul flight to Sydney next week. Holding onto Gold means that every dollar he spends on American Airlines flights earns him 7 miles (members without any elite status get 5 miles for each dollar spent), earning him perks much more quickly. And the higher his status is, the more miles and, thus, Loyalty Points he’s able to accumulate.

But some road warriors are eagerly awaiting Jan. 1, when most tier qualifications reset.

For months, frequent fliers have bemoaned how long it can take to get into an airport lounge or complained that they have been unable to get upgrades they would have enjoyed prepandemic. Among the biggest complaints: the long wait times to access Delta SkyClub lounges, which are open to certain Medallion members as well as to American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders.

It’s something Nick Henderson, a commercial pilot based in Jacksonville, Fla., has noticed — and he’s eagerly awaiting the reset.

Victoria M. Walker

2022-11-11 13:15:05

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