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TPG reader Michael is wondering how you can maintain status on multiple airlines while still frequently booking travel using miles:
“I have only discovered your blog in the last year (since gaining status for the first time). It seems like you take a lot of trips on miles, so I wanted to ask (maybe naively) how do you maintain status on so many airlines if this is the case? I’d guess you have a lot of speaking arrangements (or other reimbursed travel), but I wasn’t totally sure.”
This year, I’m actually having some trouble maintaining status since, as Michael notes, I’ve been taking so many trips using miles instead of earning them. Since I have the miles I always want to use them whenever possible, especially on expensive premium international awards, but then I end up falling behind on my elite status qualification.
My Status Past
Two years ago I was a Delta Diamond and was dropped down to the Platinum level. Luckily that year I was flying Delta a lot domestically, which helped me retain Platinum for the time being and then later on I was able to status match to United. Status matches with United are pretty uncommon, usually they only allow challenges but since they told me I would be able to do it, they honored the match and I didn’t have to complete any qualifying flight challenges.
In January of 2012 I went on the One World Mega Do and was given the opportunity to do a challenge with American where I had to fly a certain amount of miles in 90 days. Once I met the requirement I would become an Executive Platinum with American. With the help of the Mega Do and a very lucrative double EQM promo on American, I was able to meet the qualifications for Executive Platinum by March of last year and have been enjoying the benefits of it ever since.
Right now I have Platinum on United and Delta and Executive Platinum status on American, though as I mentioned before I may have some trouble maintaining these as the year goes on. My goal is to requalify for Executive Platinum on American, but it will be difficult since I only have about 13,000 EQMs to date. I will be flying South America with my mom next week on a paid $900 business class fare on American, but after that I really need to focus on my travel plans and make sure I will requalify.
How Will I Maintain Status?
I don’t have that many speaking engagements that require flying, but with TPG Managing Editor Eric in LA and splitting my time between New York and Miami I do fly domestically quite a bit. Aside from that I make sure I get in on any mistake fares when they come out so I can earn some miles that way. I also plan on getting a couple more credit cards this year that will let me earn elite qualifying miles through spending bonuses like the Platinum Delta SkyMiles from American Express and the Citi Executive American Airlines AAdvantage World MasterCard.
The Platinum Delta American Express will give me 40,000 miles and 35,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles, which should take care of maintaining my Platinum status on Delta for the most part. When I was recently in an Admirals Club I picked up a pamphlet for a 50,000 mile offer for the Citi Executive AAdvantage card which will get me 10,000 elite-qualifying miles after spending $40,000 within the year.
Although the spend threshold to get the 10,000 EQMs from the Citi AAdvantage card is high, it is doable. Luckily I use Bluebird to pay whatever bills I can and I also frequently book trips for friends and family so I can rack up points and miles that way. As long as I make a majority of my purchases using that card I shouldn’t have too much trouble. In the mean time I’m going keep my fingers crossed for another double EQM promo!
Basically I’ll be keeping my eye on the prize for the remainder of this year,which is keeping my Executive Platinum status on American. If I end up losing my status match with United there are different ways to try again by using a different frequent flyer account. Even though I don’t really fly United that often I really benefit from having Platinum status because I like transferring my Ultimate Rewards points from Chase and I can change awards as much as I want while avoiding any major fees.
So that is my plan for now and I’m going to do my best to maintain top or at least close to top-tier status on all 3 major airlines. Feel free to share your tips below on how you maintain your status on different airlines.