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Attaining Airline Elite Status Series: The Basics and Why People Mileage Run

by on October 26, 2011 · 72 comments

in Air Canada, AirTran, Alaska, American, Beginners Series, British Airways, Continental, Delta, Elite Status, Southwest, United, US Airways, Video Blog Post

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This is an installment in my Maximizing Elite Status series. Articles include; The Basics and Why People Mileage RunUsing ITA Matrix to Find Cheap FlightsHow Much is Elite Status Worth?, Comparing Top Tier StatusComparing Mid-Tier Status, Comparing Low Level StatusHow to Get Elite Miles Without Flying, Understanding Elite Status Bump ThresholdsThe Lowdown on Soft Landings, How to Cope with Losing Elite Status.

As the calendar year winds down, many frequent flyers’ stress levels increase dramatically as they scramble to get the elite miles necessary to qualify for elite status, since most programs reset the elite qualifying counters to 0 on January 1. Since it’s that special time of year, I’m going to be doing a series on my tips and tricks for achieving and maintaining elite status. Upcoming posts will details my tips for finding mileage run worthy fares, how to survive a mileage run, non-flying ways to get elite miles and assorted other tips and my stories from years of chasing elite status.

To start it all off for newbies, there are two main types of miles. 1- Redeemable miles that you can use to book awards. 2- Elite miles that can’t be used to book awards, but elevate you to different levels with the airline. Each time you fly, you get a certain amount of each type of miles based on the fare class you purchase.

Why do people care about elite status? Popular elite status perks are free first class upgrades, free exit row/premium seats, mileage bonuses and priority boarding. You generally achieve status at the 25,000, 50,000, 75,000, 100,000, 125,000 levels. The higher your status, the better your perks get and you only have from January 1- December 31 of each year to get your elite status miles as high as possible before they reset. Thus, many people freak out and do crazy things like mileage runs to make sure they get their elite status. Just think – if you are only a couple thousand miles from hitting the next elite level – where you get more upgrades for the entire next year, it can totally be worth it to spend a couple hundred bucks and get a flight that pushes you over the edge. Most programs also let you qualify on segments instead of flown miles, which helps people who fly short flights frequently since it’s very hard to rack up high mileage when you are only flying a couple hundred miles a week, yet those flights often cost more than longer flights).

For example, check out my current elite status. I have 88,095 year to date elite miles with Delta. This was all done by flying on paid tickets since award tickets don’t award you elite miles – and unlike many Delta flyers I don’t have a Delta branded American Express, though I could get one to expedite my elite status (for more info see this post on achieving elite status via credit cards). As the chart states, I need 36,915 miles in order to reach my coveted Diamond status, which will keep me requalified until February 2013. So from now until December 31, 2011 I need to fly the equivalent of 7 roundtrip NY-Los Angeles flights. No big deal! (I purchased a discounted Thanksgiving business class fare from LAX to Europe which will get me a majority of the miles I need – the rest I will figure out).

My current elite status status

Some airlines let you buy elite miles, but generally the cheapest way is to get them through flying cheap, long flights. A mileage run is when you take a flight solely for accruing the miles. Many mileage runners will fly to their destination and then get right back on a plane. It may seem insane, but it easily turns into a fun hobby if you like flying. I generally don’t mileage run because I travel enough to reach my elite status on business/pleasure trips, but I did once fly JFK-LAX and then hop right back on LAX-JFK to re-up my status last year. I left after work on the 7pm JFK-LAX and then red-eyed back. This isn’t even that serious of a mileage run (some people will fly to Sydney and then get right back on the plane!), but I was pretty exhausted/cracked out the next day since my upgrade didn’t clear on the redeye return. I hate redeyes to begin with – especially in coach.

Your best strategy is to qualify earlier in the year so you don’t have to stress during the end of the year, but things don’t always go as planned. Mileage running in November and December can get tricky for a number of reasons because the holidays tend to drive up airfare prices and bad weather can wreak havoc on even the most meticulously planned mileage run.

However, this time of year is an off-peak time of year for travel to Europe and there have historically been great fare deals.

So, if you think you want to go for elite status or a higher level this year, I recommend you do a couple things right now.

1) Understand how many elite qualifying miles you currently have (all major airline programs will notate elite qualifying miles separate from your redeemable miles)
2) Calculate how much travel you have booked. Most mileage programs give 1 elite mile per mile flown (with bonuses usually given for business/first/premium fares). If you need to calculate flight distances, I use the Great Circle Mapper distance tool. Tally up how much future travel you have until 12/31/11.
3) Add 1+2 together and see if it will get you to your desired elite level. If not, the gap will be what you need to achieve in excess in order to get your status.
4) Calculate how much it’ll cost you to get to the next elite level. If you start planning now, you can probably achieve elite miles for about 4-5 cents a piece – maybe as low as 3 cents if there is a great mileage run deal.
5) Decide whether that elite level is worth the amount it will cost you to attain. It’s difficult to calculate the value of elite status, so I’m going to save that for a separate blog post.

This is just the beginning of many posts, but feel free to ask questions. For your reference, I’ve linked the top frequent flyer programs and their elite status pages so you can explore whether elite status is something you’d like to attain.

Air Canada Top Tier
AirTran A+ Elite
Alaska MVP
American AAdvantage Elite
British Airways Tiers
Continental OnePass Elite
Delta SkyMiles Medallion
Southwest A-List
United MileagePlus Elite
US Airways Dividend Miles Preferred Status

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Sean Buchanan

    I’m pretty new to the mileage game here but those perks just don’t seem worth it. I don’t fly at all for work so all my miles are accrued via credit cards and vacation flying. the JFK-LAX and then back on a red eye just sounds terrible (the flight to Sydney and back sounds even worse)

    I’ll be reading to see if this series can change my mind.

  • http://twitter.com/ahow628 ahow628

    “Calculate how much travel you have booked. Most mileage programs give 1 elite mile per mile flown (with bonuses usually given for business/first/premium fares). If you need to calculate flight distances, I use the Great Circle Mapper distance tool. Tally up how much future travel you have until 12/31/11.”

    Don’t forget other ways to attain status. No need to fly all those miles if you can hit it based on segments or point (vs miles). If you fly on full fair or regularly do short, regional hops, this could be a very real possibility.

  • http://www.ipbrian.com/ IPBrian

    Glad to see this series come about Brian! I might suggest including the topic of small airports where getting those 5-6 cent/mile options are next to impossible. I fly, as I am sure many do, from the middle of the country so trans-con flights (at least without a positioning flight(s) which ups the expense) are out of the question. There are a number of issues as well as strategies if you don’t fly out of LAX or JFK and I would love to see them covered. Thanks for all you do!

  • Jon

    Not to be a party pooper but the idea of flying such huge distances for such a mundane thing kind of disgusts me. Air travel is hugely important for both business and pleasure, but the environmental impacts are immense. By getting on an airplane simply to get miles for the sake of miles you are really doing a disservice to everyone on the planet who enjoys clean air and water.

  • Mitch

    If a plane were full of mileage runners, you’d have a point. However, one more passenger (especially one doing an MR, and thus travelling light most of the time) isn’t going to increase the environmental impact of that flight in any measurable way.

  • Sfobuddy

    Jon, you’re not a party pooper, but I do enough environmentally-friendly things in my life when I’m NOT on airplane to justify what I’m doing. I’m really excited about reaching Diamond status this year and just secure my last bit of miles to do so. It’s a $792 DL tix to HND…but at Christmas! I figured the comped Economy Comfort seating and the opportunity to travel in December negated the cost of the ticket. I’m confident it IS NOT MR-worthy. But this route is normally double that during the Christmas holiday.

  • Sean

    The plane is flying the route and distance regardless so adding a few extra mile running passengers does not increase environmental impacts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=23401514 Andy Cataldo

    Does Continental drop you down one status level if you don’t re-qualify similar to AAdvantage? I’m at Platinum and will be just shy of qualifying for Gold in 2011. Wondering if I’ll only be dropped to Gold or to Silver based on mileage flown.

  • http://twitter.com/jamucsb Jamison

    i love Mileage running! it’s in my blood – looking forward to reading your articles about MR

  • Jon

    I disagree. That is like saying that buying any product or service (TV, car, etc.) doesn’t impact the environment because it is already produced so it isn’t like you are forcing the production of an additional anything. But in fact when you are on that plane, in addition to adding weight (and therefore increasing fuel consumption which is astronomical on planes) you are consuming a product and changing demand. You can rationalize flying in many ways, but the “it’s only one more and the plane is already flying” won’t cut it.

  • Anonymous

    I still don’t understand why people care about elite status, or do these ridiculous things.

  • Anonymous

    It actually impacts the environment more than anything else you do in your life.

  • Anonymous

    More weight = more fuel. You might not think it, but there is actually a very noticeable impact. This is why airlines are switching to iPads (saves weight and therefore money).

  • Mitch

    Different people have different reasons, but I’ll give you mine as an example. I’m living in the UK for a couple of years, and my most frequent US destinations are Delta strongholds. Prior to Delta rolling out Economy Comfort, one needed Delta status to get a decent coach seat on the 8+-hour trans-Atlantic flight. (I contend you still need it, since the best coach seats on the 767-400 are the exit row seats in row 30, and those aren’t Economy Comfort.) I’ve made a trans-Atlantic run in an ordinary coach seat, and let’s just say I’d prefer to never do it again. Since most of my flying is on itineraries that includes an international segment, my Gold Medallion (soon to be Platinum Medallion after a semi-mileage run this weekend, officially to see the Georgia Tech-Clemson game and financed by FlexPerks points) status also gets me lounge access beyond clubs one could get into via other means. (For instance, the fabulous SkyTeam lounge at LHR T4 is only for elites and business class passengers. They don’t accept Priority Pass or AmEx Platinum lounge access. There used to be a Priority Pass lounge at T4, but it has closed.)

  • Anonymous

    I don’t understand why people care about lounge access either. How long are you actually spending in the airport before takeoff? An hour or two, max? That free bagel really worth it?

  • Mitch

    Lounges in the US are pretty crappy. The ones abroad tend to be much nicer, and keep in mind that international connections often involve much longer layovers. I also have the issue of my public transport route to LHR being highly variable (it involves two buses and a train). If everything lines up, I can be from my flat and through security in under an hour. If not, you’re looking at 90 minutes to two hours. Thus, it’s not uncommon for me to wind up through security much farther in advance of my flight than I need to be. At LHR, I can have a glass of wine/cocktail and a proper meal (not just a sandwich, but actual cooked food) in the lounge, use the WiFi and printer, etc. Is it a must have? No, but it’s worth just enough to me to focus my flying on SkyTeam, which is really competitive out of London any way. I don’t think I’ve spent more than $15 on any given trip just to fly on a carrier where I’d earn medallion qualifying miles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Elchananpdx Elchanan van Herpen

    Do think Delta will have any double MQM specials this coming few months ?

  • Tim

    This thread is making me laugh. If Elite benefits and perks mean nothing to you, don’t Mileage Run!

    It’s like 2.5 Men is not funny to me at all. But I don’t question the 15 million Americans that watch it every week – I just presume they find it funny enough to watch.

  • Matt

    AceTracer, how often do you fly? That’s a key part of the equation in terms of valuing elite benefits and lounge access.

    When you’re flying on a regular basis, perks such as getting better seats (either up front or at least preferred coach seating), access to elite checkin and security lines, lounge access, etc. really start to make a huge difference. Also, when things inevitably go wrong, status means that the airline will generally treat you like a person and you will have access to more easily get rebooked, etc. There’s a huge difference between waiting in line with 150 others to rebook when a flight gets canceled versus stopping by the lounge to do so with little or no wait, or calling the elite phone line to have them take care of you.

    With status and lounge access, I can consistently show up at the airport <1 hour prior to departure, bypass crowded checkin and most importantly security lines, go grab a coffee and bagel (or in the afternoon, a beer or cocktail) away from the crowded and noisy concourse, head to the gate ~20 minutes prior to departure, skip the line waiting to board the plane by using the elite boarding line, and take my seat, frequently in first class. Even domestic lounges are normally a big improvement over hanging out at the gate or spending on overpriced airport food/drink. When there are issues with flight delays and cancellations, the improvement is multiplied. Multiply that by dozens of segments per year, and it's a big improvement.

    When I was a non status flyer, I'd pop in the earphones and try to find a semi-quiet corner of the concourse or gate area to insulate myself from the activity. As a status flyer, the lounges, line-bypassing, etc. does this for me, and the whole experience has moved from something you tend to endure to something more akin to relaxation.

  • Anonymous

    What Matt said!

  • Dave

    Would you pay $2,500/year for
    US Air – Platinum, Virgin Airlines – Gold, Delta – Platinum
    Hilton – Gold, ICH – Platinum and Starwood – Gold?
    Along with a 24hr concierce service and other perks?

  • Sean

    Adding a 200 lb body to a 200,000 lb plane (assuming 757 for a mileage run) would be a small increase in fuel consumption otherwise they’d be charging way more than $200 for a ticket. That’s one of the the benefits for mass transportation – buses, trains, planes – it is already spending a ton of energy just to make the route. The initial energy cost is already being paid, adding additional payload only increases efficiency. That is not the same as buying a product or service (TV, car, etc.) which is produced for and consumed by one person. The amount of mileage runners is not significant enough to change demand and energy consumption increases are negligible.

  • Anonymous

    You don’t really understand the value of having airline status until you’ve actually had it.

    I’m at 44K MQMs and Silver on Delta from trips I already had to take, I’m only 6K away from Gold Medallion, which can be found for <$200 if you plan (LAX-DTW-MIA and return would work). Those $200 would come back in the form of many perks. If I fly 32K miles next year, I'll earn 24K more Skymiles just from the 100% bonus instead of 25% bonus. If I fly in coach internationally, I'll still get access to lounges, which are great after a 9-hour flight for a 4-hour layover (and save me $50+ each time). With Delta introducing domestic Economy Comfort, I'll get that for free instead of having to pay for it as a Silver. Lastly, I'll get Sky Priority and priority baggage and screening each time I fly, which will save me loads of time.

    There's also the intangible, such as better treatment and higher customer priority from the airline. Even as a Silver, I have never waited more than 1 minute to speak with a rep, even when the general line had a much longer wait. This saved me when I had to negotiate with Delta about a family member's flight that day, where Delta wanted to erroneously charge $1000 to change a flight, yet I got it down to $50. I've also been automatically rebooked, once into first class, when a plane of mine had mechanical troubles … Other passengers had to wait overnight.

    Of course, mileage running isn't for everyone, but one of the things about miles/points is calculating return on investment, and for some people, a small investment can yield a significant return. Fortunately for me, I'll get the 6K MQMs from a trip this weekend that I planed last minute (not an MR). I fiddled with the routing to make sure I hit 50K while only adding about $5 in extra taxes.

  • http://www.frugaltravelguy.com deltaGOLDflyer

    Why not push just short of 125k and roll over 49k and make PM EZ next year as well? How are your upgrades this year as DM/PM?

    See you friday at ORD DO!

  • Anonymous

    Having done a JFK/LAX and back in one day (from another airport to start) and a R/T to Sydney and back (stayed in the lounge for 2 hours), I can tell you that it is not all that bad! Why do I do that? On the Sydney run alone, I was able to amass a little over 120,000 redeemable miles – for $880 and two days of flying. That is enough for a business class ticket anywhere in the world, PLUS it gave me a ton of status miles. The best part about being on a plane that long is I got to take a ton of work with me that I had not been able to get to because of distraction and polish it off during the trip!
    Once you begin earning the perks, the occassional MR can actually seem like a vacation since you are bringing almost nothing with you, you have priority access, you may get the occasional bump, you are spending downtime in the lounge, and you get to fly just for fun once without having to worry about hitting the ground and running off to a meeting. Not only that, but if I am careful about the routes and times that I choose for my MR, I get to set up front the whole time. I get to do catch-up stuff, watch something, get served a decent meal, bathroom is 15 feet away, drinks are constant – it is really a great time!

  • Anonymous

    Ive thought about it.. but I just really like having top tier status and on JFK-LAX its hard enough as a Diamond..forget about it as a Plat

  • http://www.frugaltravelguy.com deltaGOLDflyer

    be sure to ask me about my best kept secret at the DO for DELTA!

  • DLElite

    The primary value of elite status is indeed when you’re flying, so if you travel primarily for leisure (and are redeeming credit card miles to do so), it’s unlikely that mileage-running will be worthwhile for you. Depending on your travel patterns, however, you might find that pursuing hotel elite status is valuable: in contrast to frequent flyer status, the perks conferred by hotel status (suite upgrades, access to hotel lounges, waived parking/Internet/breakfast charges) are often most desirable for your leisure travel.

  • tjs

    There are multiple reasons I pay for lounge access. The big one is access to concierge level support. Three times in the last year going through Ohare there was massive delays (I know, pretty lucky it was only 3 times at Ohare). Each time the service desk in the terminal was swamped (one time with probably 200+ people in line). I walked down to the club, checked in, got in line (1 person in line, 3 agents working). Got an improved flight. Sat down with a snack and free wifi for an hour and relaxed. Stepping back out of the lounge into the terminal it was pure chaos. Standby for my flight was 120 deep!

    I flew the night of the United nationwide computer meltdown. Thanks to club access I landed at my destination 10 minutes ahead of my original itnenary. Took 3 flight and one city change but the agents blitzed me through.

    I’ve travelled a few times with coworkers who hadn’t been in before. They now rave about the trips and how awesome and relaxing they were.

    So yeah, I care about lounge access.

  • Anonymous

    No.

  • Robert MacGregor

    This is exactly right, because mileage runs are almost always on discount tickets that probably wouldn’t be sold at all. That’s why the airlines still sell them at this low price, if everyone paid that price that route would be unprofitable, but the marginal cost of adding another passenger is very low, so you can offer some cheap tickets if those seats would otherwise go unsold. I still don’t understand the people who do immediate turn-around mileage runs though, unless you need a single trip to pass a limit for EQM’s or something. But those that see mileage running as a way to do spontaneous travel to destinations they wouldn’t have considered visiting for a weekend I can totally understand. If I had more money and weekend time I’d be doing that too.

  • Michael

    On America, having elite status includes 8 eVIP systemwide upgrades per year. That allows me to fly LAX-ORD-PVG (Shanghai) for $1100 RT and sit in business class the whole way — an $8000 value. Now add in LAX-JFK-BCN $848 (Barcelona), LAX-SFO-CDG $888(Paris). LAX-ORD-DUB $746 (Dublin!) all in business class — and you can see why I prefer to be Executive Platinum in American. Now let’s add up being automatically upgraded on 26 of 27 domestic flights on AA this year, all tickets purchased at the lowest fare bucket, and you can see why I yearn to be Executive Platinum. Now add in arriving at LAX 40 minutes before the flight, bypassing the long lines, and having my first class seat awaiting for me, or, if the flight is canceled, ducking into the Admiral’s Club where they will prioritize my standing and get me on the first available flight, offer me a glass of wine while I wait and perhaps I’ll take a shower to rejuvenate, and you can see, Ace Tracker, why many of us will never relinquish elite status.

  • ryle

    Oh my god!! This is such an awesome post. I’ve always been so confused with people in FT posting info about mileage runs. Now i finally understand. Thanks!!

  • Matt

    The main value from Centurion, out of what you listed, would be in the multiple airline statuses, plus whatever you get out of the concierge and other perks. The value in the airline status depends on how much you travel and also how much you need to use multiple airlines. Starwood Gold and ICH platinum don’t offer all that much, and Hilton Gold is easy enough to get via other means.

    It’s certainly a lot easier to advocate for the value of the Amex Plat.

  • Gary

    great read, quite a newbee at this, I just got platnum on AA and need 22,000 to exec, quite a stretch, are there any reasonable options to make Exec?

  • Cory

    I can definitely see the value of a lounge for those reasons. I just achieved Gold Medallion and have been silver for about a year, so I’ve done a fair amount of flying in the past year even though I’ve never once flown for business. I have only stepped foot into the entrance of a lounge once, that was in LAX just to glance around. I didn’t stay long, as I wasn’t going to spring for the $25 it would have cost me as a Delta Amex holder to gain access for the hour or 2 I’d have been there. So I can’t comment on the joys of lounge access, but it’s not really for me as far as I know. I don’t drink and try to avoid airport/airplane food (Unsuccessfully, but it’s my goal) as much as I can.

    I have noticed the value of my status many times. Even as a silver for the past year I was surprised at the frequency of upgrades to 1st class on domestic flights. While I don’t really view the benefits of 1st class as being all that great, my preference in choosing seating is always to be as close to the front of the plane as possible. My goal in a flight is to always be the last one on and the first one off. Haven’t quite reached that goal yet. 1st class provides that for me. I have flown Frontier, United, American, and Turkish Airlines this year. I have never felt at all uncomfortable on any of those flights, but certainly it’s a more pleasant experience as a Medallion on Delta. I suspect that I will lose my medallion status at some point in the next few years, because there’s only so much pleasure traveling most people are capable of doing. We’ll see what kind of capacity I have left. I will keep flying and will miss my status, but it won’t be the end of the world.

    The biggest problem I have with being a Medallion and trying to keep it is that I am banking a lot of Skypesos and never using them because I need to pay for flights to get the MQM. I guess I’ll figure something out eventually to use them. But status chasing can shackle you into not using miles.

  • Sean Buchanan

    Thank you for all your replies! While I can see how the flight perks would be valuable to most of these folks I end up only taking maybe 2 flights a year to most of my vacations. Although elite status would be great on the (hopefully) one international trip I’m going to start taking annually I just don’t see how I’d get to elite outside of spending exorbitant amounts not in my normal spending habits.

    Without required travel for work or much recreational spending money to just purchase MR tickets I might focus more on the hotel perks that DLElite mentioned. Since I only fly twice (there and back) on a vacation but stay 4, 5 or 6 nights getting upgrades at hotels may just be the way to go.

  • Alex

    I totally feel your pain. I fly out of TUL, and getting good DL deals is very difficult since they are limited. AA,UA and Southwest fly out of here all the time.. I really prefer to get DL status (even as Silver).

  • http://www.ipbrian.com/ IPBrian

    I am out of SGF…I sometimes drive to TUL, STL or MCI for a better deal. ;-)

  • Hlm3

    #1 thing you can do to positively impact the environment: Don’t have any kids.

  • Anonymous

    You’re absolutely right, which is why I don’t/won’t have any.

  • LonePalmBJ

    I’m doing something completely oppositte this year: I’m being careful and using reward flights so as to NOT hit the next elite level. Allow me to explain:

    I’m currently Platinum on Delta. I live in Atlanta, and for whatever reason much of my business travel this year was short hops or even driveable. Since we are spoiled and fly direct from here almost anywhere, I had no chance of making Plat again by miles or segments and was going to be happy to barely make Gold.

    My wife also travels, and she’s hitting Diamond this year, so my plan is this: Intentionally fall just short of Gold, (like 49K MQMs say), roll over 24K to next year and let the darling wife just gift me Gold as a Diamond reward. I end up with the same status I would have received AND I get to roll over nearly 25K to start the year. I just need to be careful that weather doesn’t cause crazy alternate routings that gets me extra miles!

    The things we do for status.

    Brent

  • http://twitter.com/jamucsb Jamison

    executive platinums get the best treatment ;) i cant wait to re-qualify for Executive Platinum status next calendar year

  • Matt

    If you are gifted gold you will only roll over miles above 50k. There may be a way to drop to silver and then get gifted gold after the fact, but peruse the rules carefully to make sure you know what to expect and that you get the timing right if it is possible. I know I recall people complaining about this (reasonable) policy earlier this year.

    You roll over mqms in excess of whatever status you have, whether earned or gifted. This isn’t an unreasonable policy, but if misunderstood can cause some consternation.

  • Matt

    Honestly for that level of travel you may well be best off just looking for the best deals or best promotions, independent of seeking elite status. Top-tier elite status normally requires something around 25 stays a year in a single program to maintain, and is where the upgrades normally become significant. I would say something like getting Hilton Gold (google for hilton MVP for a quick way there) via promo or getting status via credit card spend or membership would probably be the best option with a limited number of stays.

    How much flying, and how many hotel stays, can you reasonably expect in a year? There are minimum amounts of each before it makes sense to pursue status.

  • Watdafoc

    Shut up tree hugger. Go find a blog that cares about the plant, clean air and water.

  • http://twitter.com/golikebright LikeBright

    Great post! While I am a bit obsessed with airline status, it puts things into perspective for me…. Although I hate that I am just letting one airline expire, it isn’t worth the time or effort for me to have that status. http://blog.likebright.com

  • LonePalmBJ

    I appreciate the comment. My intention is to allow my status to slip to Silver, wait until the rollover MQMs post in January, *then* attempt the Gifting to Gold. I’ll let everyone know how it works out.

  • Mitch

    I’m pretty sure there were reports on FlyerTalk last year of people doing exactly that and having the rollover MQMs confiscated retroactively.

  • http://twitter.com/NoviceFlyer Alex

    Wow.. that’s like a 3hr drive each way :(…Probably when I re obtain Silver, I’ll shoot try to come up with a plan for Exec Plat on AA just for the Sys Wide Upg lol :D so worth it from what I hear!

  • Hlm3

    Me neither! Phew!

  • Sean Buchanan

    I think I could reasonably expect 2-3 flights a year (about 5 vacations with 2-3 of them being road trips instead of flying) and around 15-20 nights a year (5 vacations at usually 3-4 nights each).

    I’ve always just looked for the best promo’s and deals as you suggested and I think that will continue to be my focus.

  • Tony

    Yeah this isn’t going to work. Delta will retract those MQMs once they see you doing this.

  • Garrett

    16,000 to go for Lifetime AAdvantage Platinum.

  • Garrett

    If anyone has any information on “buying” elite status with one of the major US-based airlines…please do tell.

  • Anonymous

    You can buy directly from US Air and get elite miles via spend as well.. see this post
    http://thepointsguy.com/2011/10/sunday-reader-question-how-can-you-spend-your-way-to-elite-status/

  • Alb

    I was trying to see how much it would cost to get EQM by purchasing and canceling a ticket on continental.com but I started a new reservation and got all the way to purchasing the ticket without any offers for mileage or EQM accelerator/upgrade. Am I missing something?

  • tjs

    You have to complete the reservation (Continental let’s you cancel for free within 24 hours). After you do so it takes a min to an hour for them to ‘complete’ the reservation. Then you can see the option to purchase miles. Make your purchase then cancel your flight. For most of the year it was 7.5 cents/mile they just started going up. My flight Sunday is at 9cents/mile. That amount will get significantly higher towards year end.

    7 cents/mile seems to be the floor during the first part of the year. Every 10k eqm then costs you $700.

  • LAXflyer

    If you are Diamond in this calendar year and roll over more than 125K MQM’s…..did you get a choice benefit selection next year? I am just under that level and am wondering if I should travel on another airline.

  • Moustachio Slendergent

    What?! Who will be around to read my kids the Riot Act?

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  • Sellular

    Jon seems a little sensitive.

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  • Tagestrom

    Is there a way to earn Continental Elite Qualification Points other than by flying? I need just a couple of points to reach next status level…

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  • DB

    With airlines selling elite status now (get their credit card or other method) the perks are not what they used to be. I have been on flights where the whole plane is ‘elite’ so boarding was a mob scene as was the elite line for TSA security. They are also selling upgrades cheaper so that they don’t have to give them away free to the frequent flyers like they used to. Elite status used to be something you earned by traveling a lot, now anyone can buy it so the poor schmucks who have to get on a plane 100 times a year (like me) don’t really get preferential treatment any more. So much for loyalty to regular customers.

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  • guest

    I’m trying to obtain status and I’ve realized that if I spend 4000 dollars I will hit status without going on a mileage run. Does anyone know about making a purchase on a linked credit card obtaining status and then returning the item after the new year? Will they take away my status?

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