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Airline Status Match and Challenge Information

by on July 14, 2011 · 41 comments

in Alaska, American, Continental, Delta, Points Guy Pointers, United, US Airways

A frequent flyer can mean a lot of revenue for an airline. Not only do frequent flyers often have the co-branded credit card, but they are often influential in bringing more business to the airline. What many frequent flyers don’t know, is that you can leverage your current elite status to get comped elite status on another airline. Airlines do this to attract the top customers, because they know most elite travelers don’t want to start from scratch to earn status all over again.

There are two main ways to go about transferring your elite status:

Status match: When an airline will automatically grant you elite status, just by proving to them that you have status on a competitor
Status challenge: When an airline will make you complete a set of requirements in a specific timeframe in order to achieve and maintain status with them

General rules:
1) Airlines will generally not accept a challenge from a partner/alliance airline. For example, if you have US Airways Gold status and want United status, they will generally reject the request because you are a Star Alliance partner. A workaround would be to match/challenge to Delta and then use your Delta status to challenge to United/Continental. But keep in mind  the following rule…
2) Each airline will only allow you to match/challenge once. A workaround would be to create a new frequent flyer account, though that is against the rules of many (but not all) programs, so read the rules before going this route.
3) While there are established match/challenge programs (listed below), it never hurts to ask for what you want. If you are a big spender and really want Diamond status on Delta (which they won’t let you challenge to), try reaching out to Delta and proving you will bring them a lot of business. Generally reservation agents won’t be empowered to do this, but I recommend getting in contact with their corporate sales teams or other executives who may be able to make these decisions. If you can prove you will bring the company a lot of business, they can make decisions accordingly. Also, if you work for a large corporation, your company may have a number of free elite statuses to give away. It never hurts to ask (nicely)!

The trend that I’m seeing, is that most airlines are moving away from outright matches and more towards challenges. It makes sense to me – if someone really wants to move their loyalty to your company, you want to see some evidence of commitment, right? Many people used to status match to an airline to get specific benefits for a few upcoming flights and then never actually shifted any revenue to the matched airline.

So, first assess whether you are happy or not with your current elite status. If not, then consider switching to another airline, but know the rules first. I’ve compiled a quick guide to status matching, mostly from experience and this master Flyertalk thread, but this information changes daily, so don’t assume an airline will accept your match/challenge until they’ve confirmed it directly with you. Please feel free to share your experiences or comments below!

Legacy US Airlines:
American
Allows challenges which require a co-pay and a certain number of Elite Qualifying Points (not miles) within a 3 month period: 5,000 for Gold and 10,000 for Platinum. American does not do challenges for Executive Platinum. Reading this site will give all the information you need in order to do a successful AA challenge.  Most recent costs: $150 for Gold and $240 for Platinum. Once you’ve done your research, enroll in a challenge by calling AAdvantage customer service at 1 800-882-8880.
You can challenge again if you lose your status, but it’s been reported that there is a maximum of 2 challenges per 5 year period.

Continental/United
Status Match Website
90 day challenge, Premier Executive:
You must then fly 17,500 miles or 22 segments Premier: 15,000 miles or 15 segments

Delta
Used to do direct matches, but now has a challenge program (details here). They only match up to Platinum – you will need to accrue 125,000 MQMs in a year to get Diamond status – regardless of a challenge. If you challenge and then complete 26,000 MQMs to achieve Platinum, you still need to accrue 99,000 more MQMs to get Diamond (top status).

“Customers who enroll in the Challenge and meet the flight requirement within a 90-day period from enrollment will retain their matched Medallion status through February 28, 2013, unless a higher Medallion level is earned by reaching published Medallion qualification thresholds. Medallion status must be earned in subsequent years by traveling the required amount of MQMs or MQSs.”

First, confirm your comparable status with the SkyMiles program:
Delta SkyMiles Medallion Status Silver Gold Platinum
American AAdvantage Status Gold Platinum Executive Platinum
Continental OnePass Status Silver Gold Platinum
United Mileage Plus Status Premier Premier Executive 1K
Then, determine the MQMs or MQMs needed to retain status:
Delta SkyMiles Medallion Status Silver Gold Platinum
Flight Requirements on Delta or Delta Connection 8,000 MQMs or 10 MQSs 16,000 MQMs or 20 MQSs 26,000 MQMs or 35 MQSs

US Airways:
Generally, US Airways likes to sell status outright. For example, if you’ve never stepped foot on their planes, you can buy Chainman’s Preferred (their top status) for $3,999 or Platinum for $2,999.

Buy status chart

They also have a trial program. $200 for silver, $400 for Gold and $600 for Platinum and you have to fly a certain amount to keep the status.

  • Silver: Fly 7,500 miles or 10 segments
  • Gold: Fly 15,000 miles or 20 segments
  • Platinum: Fly 22,500 miles or 30 segments
  • Chairmans: Fly 30,000 miles or 40 segments

“Call us at 800-428-1775 to try Preferred on for size today.”

US Airways also had a promo for 90 days of silver status for free. While it was supposed to end last year it allowed me to register so it might be worth a try if you see value in US Airway Silver Status (free bags, upgrades, etc).

Other airlines:
Alaska- Matches up to their mid-tier level, MVP Gold. However, I just emailed them and it looks like the match will only be good thru December 2011, which is a bummer. Per the email I just got: To verify and match your tier status with your current frequent flyer program
please email or fax a current copy of your member card or mileage statement,
along with your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account number to:
[email protected]. Fax: 206-392-2782. (An elite status match can only
be extended once during the life of a Mileage Plan account and is valid through
12/31/2011.)

1 800 452 1201

Cathay- Will match some programs to Silver Marco Polo Club status. Email: [email protected].

El Al- They sometimes grant status matches to their lower tiers. Fax: # 011-972-3-760-4043

LAN- Matches to their mid-tier level. [email protected] or fax: +562-5658983

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Lark

    Thanks for this info TPG!

    Do you have information on Hotel Status Matching? I am a Marriott Platinum Elite (about 60 nights so far this year) and am interested in learning what Hyatt and HH would match me to.

  • Cindy

    I registered for USAir silver but it didn’t give me any indication that it took. When I log in, I don’t see silver status (lost it last year by one segment – doh!). Anyway, I’m going to book a USAir flight today, so I’m hoping it will count, but so far it doesn’t look like it. If anyone else has success, please post it!

  • Anonymous

    Coming up shortly :-)

  • JBIZ

    Once I received Delta Silver I e-mailed American. They never responded but next time I checked my account I was AA Gold. I have been ever since. Wondering if I try again now that I am Delta Gold …

  • Mwwalk

    Do most of these just require you to fax a screenshot of your milage on another program? If so, I wonder how many people just use photoshop to bump themselves up a bit. It’s not something I would ever do but it’s got to be a problem for the airlines given how many people can do basic photoshop work.

  • Andrew

    as far as speaking to DL’s corporate sales teams, I was told by a SkyBonus rep that they won’t even “look at you” or “pay attention to you” unless you spend over 500k with them.

  • bspn

    Hi TPG, does my flight on British Airways count into the points required for AA challenge? Thanks.

  • HoKo

    Great info as usual TPG. I think I’m going to be accepting an offer for a consulting position that will entail a lot of travel so this could be very useful info

    Oh and btw:

    “So, first access whether you are happy or not with your current elite status”

    Access – I want access to the first class lounge
    Assess – You need to assess your level of satisfaction with your current elite status
    :)

  • jimbo

    I actually just completed the AA Platinum Challenge, and unless they raised the price in the past 3 weeks, it was only $180 USD.

  • http://millionmilesecrets.com/ Daraius

    @Cindy – You have to purchase a ticket and then wait 1 to 7 days AFTER purchasing the ticket for the status to show up.

    “Allow one (1) to seven (7) days for Silver Preferred trial status to take effect following ticket purchase date (“Effective Date”). “

  • Kevin

    Thanks for this very useful post! Now to plot where to do a challenge once I get Delta Gold in a few weeks…

  • Gene

    If you match to Alaska after 9/30/2011, your MVPG status will be valid until 12/31/2012. I plan to do this on 10/3/2011! Then, it only takes 50,000 EQMs to renew, and these EQMs can be earned on Alaska, Air France, American, Delta, KLM, and LAN flights!

  • http://twitter.com/diegogastmann Diego Gastmann

    Do you know if AC or LH also does that? Just got that in AF!

  • SS

    Does anyone know if this will work for Hotel Loyalty Programs? I’m Gold at Hilton and want to switch to Starwood.

  • Larina Lavergne

    It doesn’t appear on the United status match website link that you posted, but I’ve seen threads on flyertalk that say United will match their top 1K status for certain top elite tiers from Delta (Diamond etc), American etc. Of course you still have to do their challenge. Might be worth it if you do a whole bunch of international travel since United gives out those upgrade certificates to 1Ks valid for most fare classes unlike the fairly useless SWUs from Delta that can only be used for YBM fares.

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/united-mileage-plus-pre-merger/1169573-status-match-certain-programs-1k-may-now-possible-jan-2011-a.html

  • Anonymous

    Yep- I contacted them about it- writing a post about it as we speak!

  • Pho Real

    I booked on Alaska this past week, hoping to get upgrade due to its partnership with Delta. End up with no upgrade, sitting in middle seat since it’s a full flight, last to board. And btw, I am Diamond Medallion status. Wow!! Never again.

  • http://www.theefficienttraveler.com TheEfficientTraveler

    I’m a Continental platinum and Gold Delta Medallion. Applied for Platinum match on Delta. They flat denied me…apparently if you already have status on Delta, you’re ineligible. I was hoping with the “new” United that Delta would give case-by-case exceptions, but NO! Despite repeated emails and a phone call up to the supervisor level, who flat out told me “NO”, Delta doesn’t appear to want my loyalty that I’m willing to give away. Sad.

  • Anonymous

    Yea, unfortunately no airline will match your status if you currently have elite status with them. Your only option would be to create a new frequent flyer account and see if that works (maybe use a business address or slight name variation).

  • Sabian69

    The Points Guy helped me out considerably with this information on an earlier blog. I am a lowly gold medallion with Delta and have been since NW became Delta, but trips to Mexico have always been handled by Continental (some of you may remember this partnership before Continental said goodbye to Delta). I took TPG’s advice to the letter and sent my info to Continental @ their e-mail database, and I will be damned if it didn’t work. Seems that they wanted my business, because they granted me immediate Gold Elite staus in OnePass for the remainder of cal yr 2010, but also ALL of 2011 until Feb 2012. Sadly reading this latest post with the new merger Continental will only accept a challenge.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1423706237 Spencer Wheelwright

    Is your hotel loyalty match write-up on the site? I’m interested but haven’t been able to find it. THANKS!

  • Anonymous

    I was advised by Alaska Airlines they will match my Delta Elite Status for all of 2012
    if I wait till mid Oct 2011 to ask for match. So I will wait as I am Delta Platinum now.

  • wills

    Points Guys, do you know if those with US AIR status can do a challenge? I am gold but would love to do a plat or CP challenge… thanks

  • Pierre

    FYI I have a gold card on BA (oneworld emerald) and when I asked AA whether they would transfer my status (in a random lounge somewhere), the agent made a couple of calls and told me to call the exec plat team to enter a challenge to get the exec plat level directly. I did not follow suit as I’m happy with BA that’s way better for y travel pattern, but maybe it’s worth giving a try then for those who need it.

  • David Lichtman

    TGP — If I am doing a United/CO status match, do you know what counts towards the 17,500 miles? Is that the same as 17,500 EQMs or 17,500 miles including all the bonuses?

    Thanks!

  • Peter K

    David – Did you get any insight into what actually county towards the 17,500 miles? I’m in a similar spot and I’m flying on a Star Alliance partner…trying to figure out if those points count toward this.

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  • Shawnehman

    Does American send the card when you register(AKA the level that you register for, aka Platinum?)

    I am taking a BA flight, and im not worried about the points but would like to have a possibility of an upgrade…..

  • Scott

    Has anyone done this with southwest status to United? I know it’s not exactly apples to apples…

  • Sam

    Can you buy Platinum from US Air $2,999 and then get a match through another carrier, like united and get Premier Executive.

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  • lee

    which airlines can do status match with British Airlines?
    please help me for this . Thanks.

  • http://nanek.name/ Lance Nanek

    Yeah, I’m gold on Delta and Alaska is supposed to honor it, but they’ve flown with empty first class positions and me in the back before, so they don’t at all. Only thing they are good for is if I need to fly American and can book through them I can still get SkyMiles for it.

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