Understanding Airline Elite Status Bump Thresholds

Dec 13, 2011

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This is an installment in my Maximizing Elite Status series. Articles include; The Basics and Why People Mileage Run, Using ITA Matrix to Find Cheap Flights, How Much is Elite Status Worth?, Comparing Top Tier Status, Comparing Mid-Tier Status, Comparing Low Level StatusHow to Get Elite Miles Without Flying, Understanding Elite Status Bump Thresholds, The Lowdown on Soft Landings, How to Cope with Losing Elite Status.

While most airlines have stated qualifications, usually in miles or segments, needed to achieve elite status levels, they often give some wiggle room. So if you are close to achieving the next level, but fall short, some airlines will give you a courtesy bump to the next level. Here is a rundown of how some programs have historically handled these situations. Note: almost all of these programs are unofficial so don’t bank on it happening.

American Airlines
24,500 EQMs for Gold
49,000 for Platinum
99,000 for Executive Platinum

Since they make it so easy to get MQMs, there should be no reason to get a grace bump to the next status level. I’ve heard of some people within 500 MQMs of Diamond getting the complimentary bump, which is what they didn’t want since they’d rather roll over 49,500 MQMs. Someone recently reported tweeting @DeltaAssist and asking to be bumped to the next level since they were 425 MQMs short and Delta agreed. I can’t vouch for that, but if you are close – it never hurts to ask!

You can combine your Continental EQMs for 2011 to give you 2012 status. If you haven’t already done so, you can do that here. In general, United has given some people status if they are within 2%, but that was back when the economy was bad and they were aggressively trying to retain elite members. This may happen again because they want to keep people happy with the merger, but to be safe, I’d take advantage of the Elite Maximizer (currently EQMs are being sold at about 13 cents a piece) to ensure your 2012 status.

US Airways
Based on past experience, they will bump if you are a couple hundred miles short, but I’d be safe and Buy Up to Preferred if needed.

See my other post on Buying Elite Miles if you are looking for non-mileage-run ways to lock in your 2012 elite status!

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