For years status matching of elite level frequent flyers has been common practice in the airline industry.
Let’s say you have elite frequent flyer status with airline A. Status matching is where you apply to an airline B to see if it can offer you complimentary equivalent status in its loyalty program. Such status can give you benefits such as priority check-in and boarding, lounge access and mileage bonuses.
Airlines offer free status matches in the hope of gaining high revenue customers from direct competitors.
Flyers tend to request status matches for a variety of reasons – perhaps they are changing jobs or moving to a new city / country which could require different travel patterns on other airlines and alliances; or they just have a number of upcoming flights booked on a new carrier they wish to try and would like to temporarily enhance their benefits.
Airlines sometimes offer status matches on a temporary basis only – such as targeting residents of a specific country or frequent flyers from a bankrupt airline.
Can I do a status match with one of my airline’s alliance partners?
Generally no. Partners in each of the 3 main alliances – Oneworld / Skyteam / Star Alliance – have informal agreements in place to ensure they don’t ‘steal’ each other’s elite passengers. It may be possible to match within an alliance if moving to another continent or via a corporate program.
How often can I status match with one airline?
In most airline frequent flyer programs you can only undertake a status match once-in-a-lifetime of membership. However some airlines in the US will allow more frequent matching such as every 5 years.
How do I get a status match?
Status matching is discretionary and is generally done on a case-by-case basis. The first step is to contact your target airline’s loyalty program by phone or email – you should already have a membership.
You will then have to send some documentation – a photo of your frequent flyer card along with account statements which gives the airline a review of your flying activity. Try to make a compelling case for the match – mention how much business you will do with the new airline. It will help your case if you have some up-coming flights booked with them.
If the airline accepts the match they will upgrade your account in due course.