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Current Airline Elite Status Match and Status Challenge Information

by on February 27, 2014 · 29 comments

in Alaska, American, Delta, Elite Status, United, US Airways

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In the wake of Delta’s huge SkyMiles program devaluation announcement yesterday, as well as the fact that both United and Delta have instituted spending requirements for elite status, I know a lot of Delta Medallions and United Premiers are reevaluating their airline elite status strategy (myself included), so I wanted to post a quick roundup of the current status matches and challenges available to flyers seeking to leverage their current airline elite status for matching elite status with a competing carrier. Here’s are the airlines currently offering status challenges and matches, as well as a few more ideas for earning elite status faster.

Has Delta's recent devaluation got you rethinking your elite status?

Has Delta’s recent devaluation got you rethinking your elite status?

Alaska (Status Match)

This is a great option for the Delta Medallions looking for another program since you can credit your Delta flights to Alaska’s MileagePlan program and earn flight and elite-qualifying miles while still enjoying certain elite benefits on Delta. Even just low-tier MVP status at 25,000 (combined Alaska and partner) miles gets you a 50% mileage bonus on Alaska’s elite-qualifying partners including both Delta and American, and if you hit MVP 75K status, you earn a 100% mileage bonus as well as complimentary upgrades on Delta in the US and a 50% discount on Economy Comfort (25% at MVP and 50% at MVP Gold), not to mention other elite perks on both Delta and American such as free checked bags, priority check in, boarding and more. Not only that, but on some airlines like Korean Air, you’ll be able to earn EQM’s toward Alaska status, while you cannot toward Delta status even though the two are SkyTeam partners, so Alaska is a great alternative.

Starting January 15, Alaska flyers can earn elite miles on all airline partners.

Alaska can be a great alternative to Delta because you enjoy the elite benefits on both airlines and can take advantage of Alaska’s great partners.

Alaska matches up to their mid-tier level, MVP Gold, which requires 50,000 elite-qualifying miles within a year (40,000 if solely on Alaska). To get a match, 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)

American allows status challenges (not matches, though sometimes they will match- never hurts to ask), but it requires a co-pay and that challengers earn a certain number of Elite Qualifying Points (not miles) within a 3-month period – 5,000 for Gold and 10,000 for Platinum – so they expect you to spend a certain amount of money on the airline since EQP’s are based on fare class and deeply discounted economy tickets only earn a fraction of a point per mile flown.

American Airlines Airbus 321

The new American might just be the right new airline for you.

American does not generally do challenges for Executive Platinum, but with the recent SkyMiles changes and United also instituting elite spending requirements,  it can’t hurt to ask as there have been reports of them offering them and they did match United 1K’s to Executive Platinum in 2012.

American will also charge you a fee for doing a challenge. The most recent costs were: $120 for Gold and $200 for Platinum. Once you’ve done your research, enroll in a challenge by calling AAdvantage customer service at 1 800-882-8880.

American Airlines is now allowing you to boost to the next status.

American Airlines is now allowing you to boost to the next status.

And just remember, if you’re already an American elite, or were an elite last year but just missed the requirements for 2014, back in November, American announced that it would be launching two new options for frequent flyers to pay to requalify for status if they fall short of the miles that they need this year. These options are now live and available for purchase here through May 31.

Here is how the new options breaks down:

  • If you are within 5,000 miles or 5 segments short of reaching Gold status, you can boost to the status for the cost of $399.  If you are you already Gold and are way off from retaining it and out of the “boost” range, you can buy it back for $649. Gold normally requires 25,000 miles or 30 segments.
  • If you are up to 10,000 miles or 10 segments short of achieving Platinum, you can boost to the status for the cost of $899. If you are within 5,000 miles or 5 segments short of achieving Platinum, you can boost for $699. If you are you already Platinum and are way off from retaining it and out of “boost” range, you canbuy it back for $1,199. Platinum normally requires 50,000 miles or 60 segments.
  • If you are up to 10,000 miles or 10 segments short of achieving Executive Platinum, you can boost to the status for the cost of $1,799. If you are within 5,000 miles or 5 segments short of achieving Platinum, you can boost for $1,199. Unfortunately there is not a renewal option for Executive Platinum, which usually requires 100,000 miles or 100 segments.

The Citi Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard is also currently offering a sign-up bonus of 100,000 AA miles when you spend $10,000 in 3 months, and then if you spend $40,000 on it in a calendar year, you earn 10,000 EQM’s, so that can be a nice boost to your elite balance.

Delta (Status Challenge)

Although I doubt many flyers are eager to pick up Delta elite status given the multitude of terrible program changes recently including hacking away at elite same day confirmed changes, if you are interested in trying out the airline, you do have some options.

Delta’s current challenge program information can be found here. The terms state, “If you register for the offer between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 and you complete the flight requirements, your Medallion status will be maintained until February 28, 2015.” So if you are thinking about this, better get to it fast since your status will only be good for about another year.

Delta will let you challenge to/from the following levels with American and United:

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 3.04.07 PMSo if you are AAdvantage Gold or Premier Silver, you can match to Silver Medallion by earning 8,000 MQM’s or 10 segments. And if you are AAdvantage Platinum or Premier Gold you can match to Gold Medallion status by earning 16,000 MQM’s or 20 segments. Executive Platinums, Premier Platinums and Premier 1K’s can only match to Platinum Medallion status by earning 26,000 MQM’s or flying 35 segments. All flight/MQM requirements must be completed within 90 days of enrollment. Also remember that to requalify for next year, you’ll still have to meet normal flight and spending requirements.

In terms of spending requirements, check out this post for help Determining What Spend Counts Toward Medallion Qualifying Dollars, and then also remember that you can get out of the spending requirements of between $2,500-$12,500 depending on your tier by spending $25,000 on an Amex-Delta co-branded credit card within the calendar year.

The Delta Platinum Personal or Business cards both also allow you to earn MQM’s. Each comes with a current sign-up bonus of 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles and 35,000 miles when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months and a $100 statement credit when you make your first Delta purchase within 3 months, and then you can also aarn up to 20,000 MQM’s a year (10,000 for $25,000 in calendar year spend, and another 10,000 MQM’s for a total of $50,000 in calendar year spending).

The Personal or Business Delta Reserve cards also come with current sign-up bonuses of 10,000 Medallion qualifying miles and 10,000 bonus miles with the first purchase and the opportunity to earn up to 30,000 MQM’s per calendar year with spend (15,000 at $30,000 and another 15,000 at $60,000).

United will reward two global upgrade certificates for every 50,000 EQMs past 1K.

Delta Medallions can currently challenge to United status.

United

United currently has a special challenge program  for Delta Medallions. If you meet the criteria to participate, you will automatically be awarded your target status for a 90-day trial period as you complete the challenge.

You can match from Silver Medallion to Premier Silver, Gold Medallion to Premier Gold, and Platinum Medallion to Premier Platinum. There is no match to Premier 1K.

Then to retain that status, within the 90-day period, 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.

Premier status is valid through January 2015, though this offer is currently around through March 31, and according to United, “Customers whose Offer Period enables them to meet the PQM/PQS requirement on or after July 1, 2014, will retain their matched Premier status through January 31, 2016, unless a higher Premier level is earned,” so it could be worth stalling a bit and trying to hit the requirement as late as possible to extend your status for another year – and possibly a workaround to United’s new revenue requirements.

Here are the other terms:

To be considered for Premier status through this promotion, please send your request with all necessary information by email, fax or postal mail, as follows.

Required information:

  • Your MileagePlus account number (If you are not yet a member, join today.)
  • Your name, complete current mailing address and email address
  • A copy of your most recent mileage summary or 2014 membership card that clearly identifies your current elite status in the frequent flyer program you are matching from

Please allow 7-14 business days for processing after receipt of your request.

Confirmation will be sent by email if your request is approved.

Please note:

  • Offer is not valid for members who have participated in the OnePass or MileagePlus status match program within the last 5 years.
  • A Premier membership card will be not issued for the 90-day qualification period. You may enjoy Premier benefits on United, United Express or Copa Airlines-operated flights by providing your account number when making reservations or at check-in. During the 90-day period, you may not have access to all reciprocal Premier benefits with United’s partner airlines, including access to Star Alliance lounges.
  • Through this offer, you will not be able to qualify for a higher Premier status level than the one you are matched to in MileagePlus. For example, if you are matched to Premier Silver, you will not be able to earn Premier Gold status through this offer, even if you will fly more than 12,500 United, United Express or Copa Airlines PQM in the Offer Period. However, you will still be able to qualify to a higher status level if you reach one of the published qualification thresholds for Premier status.
  • If you are unable to complete the PQM or PQS requirement within the 90-day period, your matched MileagePlus Premier status will expire and you may be returned to a lower earned Premier level, or general member status, at United’s sole discretion.
  • Qualifying PQM or PQS must be posted to your MileagePlus account.

US Airways

Though it doesn’t offer status matches, US Airways actually sells status outright by selling bundles of Preferred Qualifying Miles - although this is changing as of March 1, 2014.

So for today and tomorrow, 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). Here is the price breakdown, and as you can see, the new prices will be very different and much higher:

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 3.19.56 PM

After March 1, you’ll only be able to buy up to 24,999 Preferred-qualifying miles. Buying between 1-1,999 miles will now cost $499 instead of $249, 2,000-4,999 miles will cost $699 instead of $399, 5,000-9,999 miles will cost $999 instead of $579, 10,000-14,999 miles will cost $1,499 instead of $789, and 15,000-24,999 miles will cost $2,499 instead of $989.

Just buying up to Silver status after March 1 if  at least 1 Preferred Qualifying Mile will cost almost as much as you can currently pay to buy up to Platinum status (if you have at least 1 PQM). If you have been thinking about buying up to Preferred, I’d suggest doing it immediately before the new rates go into effect at the end of the month, and your status should be good through February 28, 2015.

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 2014).

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 2015.

Although US Airways and American Airlines are currently merging and are offering some reciprocal elite benefits in addition to reciprocal mileage earning/redeeming, I wouldn’t expect the two frequent flyer programs to be combined anytime soon, and probably not for benefits purposes until 2015, so I wouldn’t suggest this as a workaround to getting American AAdvantage status if that’s all you’re interested in.

Also remember that if you have the US Airways Mastercard, you can earn 10,000 Preferred Qualifying Miles each calendar year you spend $25,000 or more, so that’s a nice little benefit that can push you over the threshold for that next elite tier.

In the past, both JetBlue and Virgin America have offered status challenges and/or matches, but neither airline is currently offering one.

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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  • Snider

    The United offer page has two statements that are similar but actually different in an important way:

    “Customers whose Offer Period enables them to meet the PQM/PQS
    requirement on or after July 1, 2014, will retain their matched Premier
    status through January 31, 2016, ”

    “For customers who qualify for this promotion on or after July 1, 2014, status is valid through January 2016.”

    Do you have to have an offer period that extends after 7/1 (say, start it 4/2 and possibly complete it before 7/1), or do you actually have to fly the flight that completes the challenge after 7/1 in order to keep status to 2016?

  • Section328

    FYI, I talked American down to $200 for Platinum Challenge last month.

  • KCH

    Same. They charged me $200 in early January and just made Platinum last week. They gave Gold benefits during the challenge. Pay attention to the fares; on discounted fares (most company fares) – you only get 50% points for the mileage shown.

  • Chad

    Curious–does anyone have recent experience with getting American to agree to an Executive Platinum challenge?

  • M Cohen

    Thanks for this article. I am currently AAdvantage Platinum but am thinking of matching to United since I moved to Beijing last year and Air China is a member of Star Alliance. A few questions:

    1) If I flew two United segments for a total of more than 12,500 miles (Beijing/East Coast roundtrip), would that suffice for my Premier Gold challenge? I know that to qualify for any Premier level outright, one must fly at least four segments on United or Copa.

    2) Does United’s $5,000 Premier Gold MQD requirement apply to status matches?

    3) I assume that I could not fly the 12,500 miles on Air China – correct?

    Thanks!

  • Joe

    I paid $200 last month for the AA Plat Status Challenge. Not the regular $240. AND it counted to my AA Exec World Mastercard statement credit.

  • Juan

    i am platinum and will be EP at the end of year and wanted to do a challenge and they refused very politely and said that once I attained my EP status I would appreciate their efforts to keep it for those flying the requirements

  • lookcle

    TPG, Thanks for the great post.! I have Delta Status that expires on Feb 2015. I understand if I request Alaska to match my Delta status before Nov 1st, it will expired 2 months later. If I wait until November to make the request. will they still give me status for the full 2015 year even when my Delta status ends on Feb 2015. Thanks

  • John

    Wow, all this hooplah. Take a guess WHY the airlines are cutting
    back??? It because of bloggers like this and Gary Leff who put out info
    to ‘game’ the system. People do it and go nuts with it. It’s like
    those extreme couponers. Do the research yourself as these wannbe reality
    bloggers who what their 15 seconds of fame don’t tell you what any
    traveler can figure out on their own. Plus if you really do the math, he’s clueless. Read his bio and then read into his posts – he’s a wannabe hack who thinks he some big celeb who’s now mad that the game changed – wahh

  • sam miller

    John, please do all the research and math for yourself, but don’t comment on blogs you hate. Your anecdotal crap is almost as offensive as your grammatical errors.

  • Flyer Fun

    I did a match in the last three month of 2013 with my United 1K. I am now American Executive Platinum with 8 upgrades through February 2015. I got immediate Executive Platinum benefits. Since it was a match, I did not have to pay a fee. It is based on points and not miles. Only certain airlines (including BP) are listed for the points. So I did most of the match in Premium Economy (1.5 points per mile) with BP Airways to Asia. Does that help. Couldn’t be happier. I am switching my flying from United to American going forward,

  • JustSaying

    Why not just gain Delta 2d tier status with Credit card spend and then fly on Alaska with the benefit? What added benefit would you get by actually challenging with Alaska and gaining their 2d tier over the Delta benefit?

  • mkm

    I have kept loyalty to Delta due to KLM and Northwest years ago. I’m fed up with the announcement from yesterday – just sent a request to Alaska – thanks for the info!

  • Annalise Kaylor

    I’m joining the ranks of those sending their info to Alaska. I’m a consistent GM, having that same status for years now. Flying in/out of ATL, Delta is often the most plentiful option, but being a GM out of ATL doesn’t net me a wealth of UGs or perks beyond the extra travel mileage accrual.

    As most of my flights are to/from SFO, I’ll lose a fair amount of miles in 2015. I’d much rather accumulate the miles via Alaska and be able to tap into the rewards network of American and the other non-Delta partners, too.

  • Chris

    Why all the hate for Delta? It has a superior inflight product relative to UA and AA, the elite qualification has not changed, and most people get most of their miles through credit card spending anyways. What is the big deal about a change that mostly hurts people that fly long-haul deep discount economy, and has only minor impact on everybody else?

  • shay peleg

    Wrong there is a challenge for 1k

  • Yga

    TPG, two quick questions:

    * One of the major benefits that I enjoy as a silver status member on Delta is the ability to switch to preferred economy seats from vanilla economy on the day of my flight (there is usually at least some availability). If I did a status match with Alaska, would I still get that benefit? (Would it matter if it was a code share?)

    * What are your thoughts on the value of flying delta within the US but switching my status to another skyteam member (e.g. KLM/AF; Kenya; etc)

    Thks!
    /YGA

  • John Johnson

    I have flown Delta for a couple decades and love(d) them. Now, they are changing the way they award status and that demolishes my status. I normally take about two trips from HNL->NGO a year and one trip HNL->AGS a year. As a gold medallion, I get 18,000 for my Japan trip and 20,000 for the trip to Georgia. And I get 10K from credit card purchases. The crappy thing is it costs 65K or more to go ANYWHERE from my home in Hawaii. With the NEW rules, I get only about 6,400 for my Japan trip if it is around $800 and about the same for my Georgia trip if it is the same. So I go from making about 78,000 miles a year to 35,600. In other words, I will be at the lowest level of loyalty for 4 trips a year and the miles accrued will get me a trip every other year. I have a family of 4 so this loyalty program is of little use to me anymore…

  • Sam C.

    No, Chris. The majority of elite flyers do NOT earn their Medallion status through credit card spending. You show your ignorance by making such an assinine statement. That’s why it’s called MILEAGE qualifying miles or segments, not CREDIT CARD qualifying miles. Delta is well-known to have the lowest award redemption in the industry, often requiring twice as many miles to actually redeem an award as other airlines’ programs because of their really awful award seat availability at saver levels. As an example, I have redeemed 3X in the past 2 years on UAL’s program for FIRST CLASS tickets to Singapore and Thailand (on Asiana or Singapore or ANA) for 130-140K UAL miles RT each time. Delta on the other hand has required 240K miles to redeem RT seats on their much inferior Business class product to Europe and South America. Effectively, Delta’s award miles have always been worth barely half of every other program’s because of their poor redemption availabilty. Now that Delta is restricting the ways Elites earn those award miles in the future (even if Elite qualification has not changed), we will have even less miles to to work with to try to redeem an award flight. After all, isn’t that what we all ultimately keep award miles for????? After 15 consecutive years as a Platinum with Delta, it is time to show Delta the middle finger and take my business elsewhere. Hopefully, my lifetime Gold and 2M miler status will still allow me a smidgen of a chance of redeeming my remaining 900,000 Delta miles for something useful. Or does anyone want to trade for UAL or AA miles????

  • jjflysalot

    Brian, would a AA GLD benefit at all doing the AK status match? At least be able to pick better seats on-line? Thanks!

  • SteveCA

    Just applied for status match with Alaska. Please note the additional credentials they are requesting before processing the request:
    Thank you for your interest in our award winning Mileage Plan program. In
    order to process a Tier Match to our program please send us a copy of your
    current elite card (front and back)*, a mileage statement showing your current
    elite status in the other program and your driver’s license or passport.

    If your original email did not include all of these documents, please send us a
    new email with your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan number and all three documents
    attached.

    *Please Note-We only offer Tier Match for the following Airline programs-Air
    Canada, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian
    Airlines, Jet Blue, Southwest, United, Us Airways, and Virgin America

  • Andrew Wood

    Question for the community…I’m currently AA gold and fly around 30,000 miles / yr. so I expect to re-qualify. Do you think it’s financially worth doing a Platinum challenge for the extra benefits? It would be highly unlikely I’d ever get to Platinum normally unless my travel habits change in the next year.

  • Phil

    The main added benefits of Platinum over Gold are lounge access on international flights, and Priority tags for your luggage. You also get a 100% mileage bonus, so see how those benefits affect your plans.

  • Pingback: United Moves to Revenue Frequent Flyer Program for 2015 | The Points Guy

  • Ross Davis

    I have Delta Platinum Medallion. I emailed United asking if they’d status match to a lower tier like Silver so I can easily do the 7,000 miles within 90 days, but they won’t. Anybody have any workarounds? Ask Delta to drop my status to Silver?

  • Ross Davis

    Also, does TPG think there will be another status match program after 31st July offering a later expiry than 31st Jan 2016?

  • Álex R. Vargas

    It is not hate at all. If anything, I love DELTA and I’m so sorry (truly!) to move on to American or Alaska (haven’t decided yet). But the fact remains that the new changes are detrimental to loyal customers, like many on this site and myself, and as such we voice our unhappiness. But this is not hate! It’s simply a reaction to a lack of appreciation, and inherent alienation, from Delta to its most faithful customers.

  • s shanky

    Does anyone know how to get AA to match (or allow challenge) for a platinum executive qantas account? I want to start using the AA program instead of Qantas. I am shocked at how much qantas charges (in terms of miles as well as fees) to redeem miles. they never offer upgrades, and hardly recognize status. I could buy AA tickets and fly codeshare, or at minimum fly Qantas but earn the miles in my AA account. I just don’t want to lose my platinum status. Thanks

  • Ad2b

    Though I am late to this party – you sir and an idiot!

    I am 15,000 from 1M on this debacle of an airline and will be switching to someone different.

    When I used to get 9,000 miles per flight on current plan, now I’m going to get 2,500 miles and some idiot that has never flown Delta will get the same mileage?

    Well, count me out.

    NWA while many hated it had THE BEST frequent flyer program in the market – as stated by USA Today and others… (they sucked, however, at many other things)…

    So, I’m out. Who do I go to now???

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