How To Get Airline Elite Status

One of the goals for many travellers is to reach elite status in an airline frequent flyer program. If you fly on a regular basis then having status can come in handy. In this article we discuss various ways on how to accelerate yourself into elite status.

Airline elite status comes with a number of perks. This can include mileage bonuses, advance seat selection, lounge access, priority boarding and of course upgrades. Elite status can also give you higher priority on wait lists and better service during “irregular operations” such as flight cancellations.

By their nature, frequent flyer programs are designed to incrementally increase spending from loyal customers. Elite levels and airline classes also play on the psychological need for vanity, hierarchy and differentiating yourself from the so-called masses.

With that in mind, let’s see with what we need to do to actually gain status…

Elite Status Requirements by Airline

The following tables show the annual requirements for gaining and retaining elite status for a variety of international airlines. These requirements can either be based on:

  • total real distance-flown mileage
  • special distance-based status/tier points number
  • number of flight segments flown
  • minimum revenue $ spend

American Airlines AAdvantage
GOLD: 25,000 miles / 30 segments
PLATINUM: 50,000 miles / 60 segments
EXECUTIVE PLATINUM: 100,000 miles / 100 segments
Delta SkyMiles Medallion
SILVER: 25,000 miles / 30 segments AND $3,000
GOLD: 50,000 miles / 60 segments AND $6,000
PLATINUM: 75,000 miles / 100 segments AND $9,000
DIAMOND: 125,000 miles / 140 segments AND $15,000
United Mileage Plus Premier
SILVER: 25,000 miles / 15 segments
GOLD: 50,000 miles / 60 segments AND $6,000 (Star Gold)
PLATINUM: 75,000 miles / 90 segments AND $9,000
PREMIER 1K: 100,000 miles / 120 segments AND $12,000
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Elite
MVP: 20,000 (partners 25,000) miles / 30 segments
MVP GOLD: 40,000 (50,000) miles / 60 segments
MVP GOLD 75K: 75,000 (90,000) miles / 90 segments
Air Canada Altitude
Prestige 25K: 25,000 miles / 25 segments
ELITE 35K: 35,000 miles / 35 segments
ELITE 50K: 50,000 miles / 50 segments (Star Gold)
ELITE 75K: 75,000 miles / 75 segments
SUPER ELITE 100K: 100,000 miles / 100 segments

British Airways Executive Club
BRONZE: 300 Tier Points
SILVER: 600 Tier Points
GOLD: 1,500 Tier Points
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
SILVER: 25,000 miles / 15 segments
GOLD: 40,000 miles / 30 segments
PLATINUM: 70,000 miles / 60 segments
Lufthansa Miles & More
SENATOR: 100,000 miles (Star Gold)
HON CIRCLE: 600,000 miles in 2 years
Aegean Miles+Bonus
SILVER: 24,000 (retain 16,000) miles or 12,000 (8,000) miles with 2 A3 flights
GOLD: 48,000 (24,000) miles or 24,000 (12,000) miles with 4 A3 flights (Star Gold)
SAS EuroBonus
SILVER: 20,000 points / 10 segments
GOLD: 45,000 points / 45 segments (Star Gold)
DIAMOND: 90,000 points / 90 segments
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
SILVER: 15 Tier Points
GOLD: 40 Tier Points

Continue reading How To Get Airline Elite Status

A guide to status matching

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.

Can I apply for a status match with an airline where I already hold lower tier elite status?
No, in general you cannot use matches to upgrade your status on an airline. You should not be an elite member of your target airline.

What about status challenges?
Whilst info on most status matches are generally undocumented online, the situation is a little different in the US market. The big 3 airlines offer flyers a status challenge rather than a straight match. Basically they require you to fly a specific number of miles over a 90 day period to earn the status.

American Airlines (Oneworld) offers a challenge to gain AAdvantage Gold or Platinum status. Note, top-tier Executive Platinum status cannot be gained through challenges – it can only be earned in the normal way.

Challenges can be initiated on either the 1st or 16th of the month. Over the 90 days you need to gain the following Elite Qualifying Points (EQPs):

Gold: 5,000 EQPs (challenge fee: $120)
Platinum: 10,000 EQPs (challenge fee: $240)

and you must specify which one you are going for. Note, if you already have American status then you cannot take a challenge to maintain it. Points for the challenge can also be earned when flying some selected Oneworld partners.

Aadvantage status will expire at the end of February. If you initiate the challenge during the first 6 months of year 1 then any gained status lasts until the end of February of year 2. Initiating the challenge in the last half of the year means status lasts until February of year 3. Therefore the optimal time to apply is June 16th or July 1st.

Continue reading A guide to status matching

Air France KLM Flying Blue Credit Cards

Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program of Air France-KLM, a member of the Skyteam alliance. There are a number of Flying Blue credit card options available to residents of the Netherlands, France and Switzerland.

Whilst Flying Blue is not renowned as the most generous frequent flyer program around, for those who are locked-in to travel on Air France KLM, these Flying Blue credit cards may help increase mileage earnings.

Award miles can be redeemed for flights on Air France/KLM, Transavia and other Skyteam airlines.

Below we will profile each card for the respective countries. We will also look at alternative options for UK and US residents.

Flying Blue Credit Cards (NL)

American Express has 4 Flying Blue credit cards in the Netherlands – Entry, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Continue reading Air France KLM Flying Blue Credit Cards