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In a previous post I discussed the different ways you can use your current elite status to get status on another carrier by simply asking or completing a “challenge”- a shortuct toward elite status that airlines offer to lure customers away from their competitors. Elite status is extremely valuable and generally when you request a match or challenge after July 1 of each year, that status is then good until February of the year after next. That means if you were to get matched/challenged to status today, it would be good until February 2014. Last month, I sent a request to United for Premier 1K, their top tier status, using my current American Airlines Executive Platinum status. In response, United confirmed that couldn’t match me to 1K, but they would still match me to United Premier Platinum. I then sent another email confirming that I would like to be go ahead with the match, and another representative responded that they had signed me up for a Untied status challenge that would require me to fly 25,000 paid, elite-qualifying miles, or 30 segments, within 90 days. Nowhere in their initial response did they indicate that it would involve a challenge, so I sent back another email asking them to honor their original decision to match my AA Executive Platinum to United Platinum. I received a response that my request was being escalated to management and after about two weeks I got a response stating that they would honor what they said in their initial email and simply grant me a status match to Platinum, even though the representative offering me the match was incorrect. While I think this was a one-time exception from United prompted by the mistake of one of their MileagePlus customer service representatives, I still appreciate that United made good on its original terms and granted me Platinum status until February 2014.
My United Platinum Experience So Far My elite status has already paid off in several ways so far – getting me upgraded twice and saving me a ton in award ticketing fees. I had purchased a cheap economy class ticket recently from Los Angeles to San Francisco and I was able to make a same-day flight change for free (normally $50) and was upgraded to first class. Then I redeemed 25,000 miles for a last minute business class award from Los Angeles to JFK and my Platinum status saved me the $75 last minute ticketed fee and I got upgraded from business to first Class, which I assume was because the flight was oversold and they bumped elites from business to first class. I was also able to change a recent award ticket back from Europe on United to Lufthansa so I could experience the airline’s new first class product without paying any late award booking fees (normally $75 for non-elites within 21 days of departure, and $50 to change award tickets even for lower-level elites). Overall, being Platinum has saved me money and allowed me to fly more comfortably- something I’ll continue to enjoy for another 17 months!
Other Top-Tier Match Opportunities American allows challenges for a co-pay and requires challengers to earn a certain number of Elite Qualifying Points (not miles) within a three-month period: 5,000 for Gold and 10,000 for Platinum. You must also pay to enter a challenge: $120 for Gold and $240 for Platinum. You can enroll by calling AAdvantage customer service at 1 800-882-8880 or emailing email@example.com. American does not generally do challenges for Executive Platinum, though earlier this year they were matching United 1K to Executive Platinum, and more recently they have begin matching Delta Diamond Medallions to Executive Platinum. The most current offer I’ve heard is a match to Executive Platinum for the remainder of the year with a challenge that requires 45,000 Elite Qualifying miles by the end of 2012 to retain the status until February 2014 and to receive the 8 SWU’s. While there is no indication on their site, it can’t hurt to ask by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org as well! Delta also allows challenges up to Platinum Medallion status from AAdvantage Executive Platinum and United Premier Platinum and 1K. To achieve it, you will need to accrue 26,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM’s) or 35 Medallion Qualifying Segments within 90 days. If you register and complete the challenge now through June 30, 2013, your status will be good through February 2014, so now is a good time to take this on if you have a lot of travel coming up since you could earn status for another year and a half. If you do complete the challenge and are awarded Platinum status, you will not receive a choice benefit until you fly 75,000 miles though. United ordinarily only offers challenges up to Premier Platinum, which you have to be Platinum Medallion with Delta to qualify for (it’s not offering status matches with American now). Within 90 days, you will need to fly 10,000 qualifying flight miles or 15 flight segments to retain Premier Silver status, 17,500 qualifying flight miles or 22 flight segments to retain Premier Gold status, or 25,000 qualifying flight miles or 30 flight segments to retain Premier Platinum status. Right now, if you complete a status challenge and qualify, your status with United will be good until February 2014.