Airline Elite Status Match 101
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As an elite qualifying year comes to an end (December 31, 2010), it’s a great time to decide whether to go for elite status if you haven’t already achieved the level that you desire. I’m currently 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles short of Delta’s top tier (Diamond Medallion, 125,000 MQMs), so I planned a weekend trip to Dublin, Ireland, leaving from Pittsburgh, so that I qualify for their double MQM promotion. This is also a good time of year to evaluate whether your preferred loyalty program is working for your needs. A little known secret about the travel industry is that many airlines and hotels will automatically match your elite status from a competitor. So if you are currently a Continental frequent flyer, but want to switch to Delta, you won’t have to start from scratch. This is known as “status matching” and it can generally only be done once per airline, so use your match wisely.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
In general, if you match in the last half of the year, the matching airline will give you elite status for the entire next year and up to February of the next. So if you get granted a status match today, November 15th, 2010 – your matched status will be valid until February 2012. In order to retain that status, you need to meet the elite status requirements during 2011.
Not every airline will match status, but below are the main airlines that do. Remember, make the airline want your business, so do you best in providing information. Most will want:
- Subject: Status Match
- Frequent Flyer Number (with their program)
- Phone Number
- A copy of your most recent statement, that shows your elite status level. If you have a lot of paid premium class travel, it can’t hurt to show that information as well.
- A copy of your current elite status card (can’t hurt to throw it in)
Alaska– Matches up to their mid-tier level, MVP Gold. 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– AA won’t match your status, but they will let anyone do a challenge, where you pay a fee and have to accrue a certain amount of Elite Qualifying Points (not miles) within a 3 month period: 5,000 for Gold and 10,000 for Platinum. American does not do challenges for Executive Platinum. Reading this site will give all the information you need in order to do a successful AA challenge. Most recent costs: $80 for Gold and $150 for Platinum. Once you’ve done your research, enroll in a challenge by calling AAdvantage customer service at +1 800-882-8880.
Cathay– Will match some programs to Silver Marco Polo Club status. Email: email@example.com.
Continental– Things may change soon with the merger, but they generally have matched status, including their top Platinum status. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Delta-They have been very aggressively trying to “match” elite passengers, especially Continental’s. They used to only match up to Gold status, but they may match Platinum. I don’t believe they match to Diamond (their new uber-elite level), but please correct me if I am wrong. Fax: 404-773-1945
El Al– They sometimes grant status matches to their lower tiers. Fax: # 011-972-3-760-4043
LAN- Matches to their mid-tier level. Gerlanpass@lanchile.cl or fax: +562-5658983
United- 90 day challenge to fly 15,000 miles. Unlike American, you get the status at the very beginning, but you higher fare classes don’t expedite the process- you must fly 15,000 miles in that time period. No fee. email@example.com
While most other airlines don’t have official status match programs, it can never hurt to ask- especially if you purchase premium cabin fares. If you work for a corporation, ask your travel department or agency if they can help at all. Some companies get a certain number of elite statuses to gift to employees.
Happy “elite” flying!