(Video) Sunday Reader Question: Pulling Rank With Elite Status Lines

by on May 13, 2012 · 21 comments

in Elite Status, Hyatt, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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TPG reader Brad writes:

“I just checked into the Hyatt Regency O’Hare for my company’s annual training week. Obviously check-in was a nightmare with all of the people coming in. I have Hyatt elite status so I walked right up to the Platinum/Diamond line and waited behind the guy being checked in. Everyone else was annoyed and one guy even came up and reminded me that there was a line. I showed him my Platinum card and explained that this was the preferred desk, which was enough to defuse him. But given the casual traveler’s ignorance of these lines even existing, and the general frustration of seeing someone skip in front of a huge line, is it considered a faux pas or poor taste to ‘pull rank’ and take advantage of these lines? Or is it a well-deserved and somewhat thankless perk for slaving your life away on the road?”

In short: Definitely a well-deserved perk for participating in the loyalty program, so don’t feel bad about taking advantage of it! That being said, I’d still exercise common sense when utilizing elite lines, whether in an airport or hotel.

Five Don’ts of Elite Lines

1) Don’t unnecessarily queue. This pertains mostly to airline boarding – you should respect the gate area and that most are tight spaces, so stand off to the side and then board as your zone is called. It’s really aggravating when passengers (even elites who are chomping at the bit to use their priority boarding perk) crowd the area and mess up the normal flow of boarding. Most airlines allow pre-boarding of families and passengers with disabilities, so clogging the area is annoying and these people are often called gate lice.

2) Don’t try to pull rank within the elite line. I once saw someone cut into the front of the elite lane at a hotel because they had top tier status. Who cares?! The line is usually for all hotel elite members and there is no extra priority for those with higher status. Even though you think you should be treated better than the rest, come down from your high horse and wait like everyone else.

3) Don’t use an expedited line for the sake of using it. I once saw an elite passenger make the sole gate agent who was boarding a regional jet, move over to the elite ticketing machine to scan his pass – when there was no line in the regular boarding lane! If the line is short or non-existent just queue like everyone else. The lines are there for convenience when needed – not to stroke egos.

4) Don’t be a DYKWIA (Don’t You Know Who I Am?). In general these people think they are better humans because of their elite status. Honestly, elite status is a cool perk, but don’t let it define you. It’s great for saving time and getting better service, but it doesn’t make you better than someone else. Don’t let it go to your head!

With all of these things in mind…

5) Don’t be afraid to enforce the benefits provided to you through your elite status. Often front-line employees like hotel check-in desks and gate agents ignore standard procedure to make their lives easier – even if it’s against company policy. Always be polite, but never feel bad for using an elite lane, because they were created to be used! Frequent travelers make up a disproportionate amount of revenue and profit for travel companies, so don’t think they make these rules out of kindness – you are a good customer and should be rewarded for it!

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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  • Alex

    I never heard of that comment gate lice lol :) Love it! Not sure if this is proper etiquette or not but Im SM on delta, and my gf isnt. We were at MCO otw back home and the regular line was almost out the door at 530 am for baggage. And the Elite line wasnt so I told her to just come with me to my side. No harm in that I figured, we were travelling together and there was no way I’d let her sit in that line of 60+ ppl! It can go a long ways trust me :)

  • Michael

    The question indicated that the reader was attending a company event. It is extremely likely that the individuals getting steamed were his colleagues or other business associates. Why take the risk in such instance. This doesn’t even seem like a question that needs to be asked.

  • James

    I’ve found that wearing a large machete strapped to my waist can be just as effective as a priority hotel line… but if air travel’s involved, make a custom printed shirt that reads:
    “If you don’t have elite status with this hotel/airline, I can check-in/board ahead of you!”

  • Charlie

    There is also another aspect to the airline/hotel priority line: the probability that the preferred customer has their act together and info in the system already, and therefore takes 1/2 to 1/3 of the time to check in. Seats/rooms assigned. No overweight bags to check or bell hop needed. Swipe cards, print boarding pass/activate card key. Done. Next!

    Hertz gold has my credit card, license, and preferences recorded and documents e-signed. My walking direct to the car or gold line saves them time (and money) too!

  • Mommy Dearie

    SMs are NOT allowed to use SkyPriority. Check DL’s website. Please return to the regular line.

  • thepointsguy

    I like that t-shirt idea! If I only had a merchandise section of the site!

  • thepointsguy

    Agreed- they make sense from many different angles.

  • thepointsguy

    Thats a great point.. you only get one chance to make a first impression!

  • Scott Shriak

    Am I missing something here?

    “With our zone boarding process, Medallion members are invited to board early on most flights1. This gives you more time to locate your seat and store your carry-ons before general boarding.

    Via our Delta Sky Priority lane, all passengers in BusinessElite®, First, or Business Class will be invited to preboard (Zone PREM). All Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallion® members, SkyTeam ElitePlus customers, and Alaska Airlines® MVP® Gold members are then invited to board (Zone SKY). Silver Medallion members and SkyTeam Elite customers can begin boarding after that using the Sky Priority™ boarding lane when traveling in Economy Class (Zone 1)”

    Says in plain English that SMs can use the Sky Priority boarding lane.

  • SeaBee3

    Alex was referring to the baggage line upon check-in while your quote is in regards to boarding. Yes, Silvers can us the SP boarding lane, but not until PREM boarding is done (GM and above). As for Alex, the baggage/check-in lines at most large airports do not allow for SMs to use the SP Check-in line. At smaller, regional airports, you will see signs that say that it is for SP passengers, and then below it, it will say that SMs and Skyteam Elites may also use it. Generally, that is not the case at larger airports.

  • Patti Hearst

    I saw you two whales at MCO that morning. It was offensive that the two of you took up two counters bc of your large size.

  • da elite status police

    whenever i read a list of rules about how not to do something, i question who really are the ego maniacs – those doing the dont’s or those complaining about those who do the don’ts or people like me that complain about the complainers. did these five don’ts get passed down from the airlines/airports and hotels? were you on the rules committee during the ratification of such rules? i was there, but i said ‘present’ for you when they called your name.

    side note, isn’t it a bit hypocritical to say, “we’re all equal but some of us are more equal than others and if you are more equal than me in elite status, here are a list of rules that you must follow to make me feel less less equal. but if you have less status than me, here are a list of rules that you should know i’m going to play by
    so watch out – kind regards, my fragile ego.”?? man…

    back to the point, ultimately there are no fines or prisons for those who violate these five rules. so why make rules that can’t and won’t be enforced by the elite status police, which don’t exist outside of this post of course. if dirty looks or raised eyebrows didn’t stop us from accruing extra points and miles and elite status in somewhat questionable ways, why should it stop us from exercising our ascertained rights in such ways? who are you draw that arbitrary line in the sand for another as opposed to request others to be courteous?

  • J G

    Very timely topic. I just checked-in yesterday at the Copenhagen Airport Hilton, where the check-in line was 20-deep. While leaving my bag in line, I walked up to the Hilton Honors desk and asked if they would honor my Gold status with an express check-in. The agent invited me to come forward to check-in, avoiding 20-30 minutes of waiting.

    While I did get some glares (and I was not traveling with anyone I knew), I believe expedited service is one of the major tangible benefits of having status with airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. No apologies here.

  • Jamison

    I love it when hotels have an empty “elite lane” and I just jump right into it

  • LIH Prem (David)

    “this line is reserved for members of our Matterhorn program”

  • Charles Clarke

    Usually true. Though sometimes that elite person then tries to rebook their entire trip right then because of some change. Sometimes it needs to be done right then and sometimes it could wait until the rush has died down. Being sensible and sensitive is good.

  • Peach Front

    I’m done with ignorant busybodies yelling at me, “The line’s back here.” Yes, the line is certainly way back there for you guys, but what’s that got to do with me? On my last trip, I finally told the jerks, “I’m in first class. I’m ahead of you. Get over it.” If an airline employee makes a mistake and tries to move me out of the Elite line, they apologize. But if busybodies make a mistake, they NEVER apologize. They just assume that since I’m a short woman, I couldn’t possibly have status. Jerks. Why do people who rarely fly assume they know what’s going on, and they can butt in and tell the frequent flyer what to do? If a clerk is allowing people with no status to push ahead of the Elites, then that clerk should be reported so that they can be properly trained.

    It sounds like Brad’s busybody was handled politely and properly. Sounds like Brad did exactly the right thing. However, I hadn’t had my coffee when I broke out with, “Get over it,” and I still make no apologies for it, because the busybodies heckling me didn’t stop yelling even though it was explained to them both by me and the Delta rep. It isn’t DYKWIA to acknowledge that you’re better and cooler in every way than a busybody who doesn’t know what they’re talking about and yet won’t stop yelling.

    Here’s my guess, based on multiple experiences: The busybody could see the sign perfectly well telling that it was the Elite/Diamond/Platinum desk. He just made an executive decision that Brad couldn’t possibly be an Elite due to whatever prejudices he holds for whatever reason. Brad has nothing to feel bad about.

  • Alex

    Well this wasnt during boarding it was during check in for our baggage.

  • Alex

    Orlando actually has a sign that says SM check in as well just below the SP sign. I even asked the Delta attendant who was monitoring and making sure people went to the right check in line. She directed me to the SP check in line. No biggie really.

  • JMSL

    Someone needs to stop by the lounge for a drink. Jeez.

  • compubit

    I try to be courteous when in the elite lines if I’m doing something that involves some sort of change – i.e., letting fellow elites go ahead, and making sure that this isn’t the only rep before I tie her up for a few minutes. Makes the guy that I most likely will be sitting near on the plane happy, and we all prefer happy flyers!

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