Airline Status Match and Challenge Information For 2013

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At the end of February, many of you who did not accrue enough elite miles/points in 2012 will be dropped from your current elite status level. However, you can still use your existing status to challenge to another airline, which can be good until the end of February 2014. Just note that if you did hit your elite status goal and can wait until after July 1, you can status match/challenge and the status will be good until the end of February 2015 instead, so if you can wait six months, that’s another full year for you, but those of you who need your elite fix now, there’s still time (and hope!).

For anyone unfamiliar, a status match is when an airline will comp you elite status if you have elite status on a competing airline. A status challenge is when they make you complete a set of short-cut requirements before giving you comped status.

Airlines do this because they know that elite customers may want to switch their loyalty for a variety of reasons, but not start from scratch since it’s rough going from being a top-tier elite VIP on one airline to non-status on another, so they want to roll out the red carpet for potential high-value customers. This is where you can benefit – especially if you still have elite status from last year but won’t hit it again for 2013.  Although July is generally the best time to ask for a status match or challenge since you can essentially get 18 months of status with a relatively small amount of flying, if you’re in a pinch for this year, it could be worth status matching or challenging right now.

I compiled the current state of matches/challenges to the best of my knowledge, but if you have any other experience please feel free to share in the comments section so others can learn from your experience.

Alaska (Status Match)
Alaska matches up to their mid-tier level, MVP Gold. You can email [email protected] a statement of your recently activity along with a copy of your elite card. You can also fax them a current statement of your airline frequent flyer account showing your elite status level (and a copy of your card wouldn’t hurt either) to: Mileage Plan Customer Service, 206-433-3477.

American (Status Challenge)
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 generally do challenges for Executive Platinum, but with the recent SkyMiles changes it can’t hurt to ask as there have been reports of them offering them. While the requirements to fly are less than Delta and United, they do have charge to sign-up for the challenge. The most recent costs were: $120 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. Earlier this year, American was doing status matches for United 1K to Executive Platinum’s but that offer is no longer valid (view the Flyertalk post for more information). Though it can’t hurt to ask.

Delta (Status Challenge)
Details on Delta’s current challenge program can be found here. However, Delta only matches up to their high/mid-tier Platinum level. To achieve it, you will need to accrue 26,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM’s) or 35 MQ segments within 90 days. However, if you hope to go for Diamond, you will still need to rack up the usual 125,000 MQMs in a year to get Diamond status – regardless of a challenge. So for instance, 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). Delta will match your current status and that is the level to which you can aspire during the challenge.

Here are the details from Delta: “If you register for the offer between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013 and you complete the flight requirements, your Medallion status will be maintained until February 28, 2014. In order to extend your Medallion status after the 90-days, you’ll need to earn a specific number of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) within the 90-days of enrolling by flying Delta. The number of MQMs or MQSs required is based on your matched Medallion level.”

First, confirm your comparable status with the SkyMiles program:
Delta SkyMiles Medallion Status Silver Gold Platinum
American AAdvantage Status Gold Platinum Executive Platinum
United Mileage Plus Status Premier Silver Premier Gold Premier Platinum/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

United
United currently has a special challenge program  for Delta Medallion Members: Within 90 days, you will need to fly 7,000 qualifying flight miles or 8 flight segments to retain Premier Silver status, 12,500 qualifying flight miles or 15 flight segments to retain Premier Gold status, or 18,000 qualifying flight miles or 22 flight segments to retain Premier Platinum status. Earned 2013 Premier status is valid through January 2014. For customers who qualify for this promotion on or after July 1, 2013, benefits are valid through January 2015. To be considered for the status challenge, you must either email [email protected] or fax them at (605) 343-4104. Be sure to include your MileagePlus account number, name, complete current mailing address and email address, and a copy of your most recent mileage summary, or your 2013 membership card identifying your current elite level in Delta’s program. although United says it does not offer status matches or challenges to its 1K level, some readers have reported being offered matches to it from American Executive Platinum, so it can’t hurt to ask.

US Airways (Buy Status):
Though it doesn’t offer status matches, US Airways actually sells status outright by selling bundles of Preferred Qualifying Miles. You can buy Chairman’s Preferred (their top status) for $3,999 (though that drops to only $2,999 as long as you have at least 1 Preferred Qualifying Mile) or Platinum for $2,999 ($2,499 if you have at least 1 Preferred Qualifying Mile). If you want to try to get status on the airline without dropping a chunk of change they do offer trial status challenges (which is basically a paid status challenge like American’s) for between $200-$600 depending on what tier you’re going for, and you don’t need to already have status with a competitor. When you pay the fee and complete the flight requirements within 90 days, you get to keep your status for the rest of the year (in this case, just until February 2013).

The levels: $200 for Silver, $400 for Gold and $600 for Platinum and you have to fly:

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

You can enroll for their trial Preferred offer online, and when you pay for your challenge and complete the flight requirements, you will be awarded the status level you have completed, through February 2014. If I were doing it myself, I would wait until the date was pushed further into the future.

Virgin America
Between now and April 30, 2013, qualifying elite level flyers from United Airlines and American Airlines’ frequent flyer programs will be able to request matched status to Virgin America’s Elevate Gold and Elevate Silver Status levels. To match to Gold status, you’ll need to be either a United Premier 1K or Platinum, or an American Executive Platinum. To match to Silver status, you’ll need to be a United Premier Gold or American Platinum member.

To status match, you have to do the following:

1. If you haven’t already, join Elevate.
2. Email [email protected] with your Elevate number and one of the following:

  • A copy or screenshot of your most recent mileage summary showing your name and current elite level.
  • Or, a copy of your membership card that identifies your name and current elite level in the United Air Lines or American Airlines frequent flyer program.

Aerolineas Argentinas
Aerolineas Argentinas is now offering status matches in their Aerolineas Plus program to Elite Gold or Elite Platinum levels, according to the level you have in the another airline’s frequent flyer program. The only domestic airline they are matching is American, so if you are American Platinum, you’d receive Air Plus Oro (Gold), while Executive Platinum members would receive Air Plus Platino (Platinum). To be considered an Aerolineas Plus Elite Member [email protected] with subject “Elite Status Match” and send a copy of your Aerolineas Plus membership number, full name, e-mail address and a copy of the account summary and the card that identifies you and your actual status of the other frequent flyer program. Once you have your new status, you’ll be able to check free bags on Delta since Air Plus Gold comes with SkyTeam Elite status and Air Plus Platinum means you’ll be SkyTeam Elite Plus.

Unlike Star Alliance Gold, SkyTeam isn’t as generous with their international lounge access policy so you wouldn’t be able to use the Delta Sky Clubs while flying domestically using your Aerolineas Argentinas elite status. However, SkyTeam Elite offers priority check-in, priority boarding, and priority standby in addition to free checked luggage. SkyTeam Elite Plus comes with all that plus priority baggage handling and guaranteed reservations on sold out flights.

Air France/ KLM (THIS OFFER IS NOW CLOSED, But you can always still try submitting) 
Air France is also currently offering a status match for Danish, Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian residents. They claim that Gold Members (which I take to mean, any other airlines’ mid or top-tier status) of any alliance program can now become Gold Members of Flying Blue. They are matching status now through February 28, 2013. To complete the challenge, just head to the Flying Blue site and fill in your name, Flying Blue membership number, and other airline info and then upload a picture of your elite status card from the other airline. Flying Blue Gold Members enjoying many benefits, including: an automatic 75% Elite bonus, SkyPriority check-in, and boarding, a guaranteed seat in economy class, an elite reservation service, and lounge access when traveling internationally to name a few.

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