Video Sunday Reader Question: When Does Airline Elite Status Start and End?
TPG reader Spencer asks:
"I'll move up from Delta Medallion Silver to Gold next year... but will I still be a Silver for flights in January and February or will my level up be recognized as soon as the new year hits? My Silver status says it's valid through February 2013."
Elite status qualification and timeframe verbiage is always a little bit confusing, but let me try to make it as simple as possible. The earning period for elite status on most airlines is January 1- December 31, but the actual elite year is March 1- February 28. What this means is that you get a 2 month buffer if you don't requalify from the time you lose status. I'm assuming that this was done to allow time or partner flights to be credited to accounts since that process often takes 6-8 weeks. It wouldn't be fair to drop your status January 1 if you were simply waiting for flights to credit from a partner.
The great thing is, you don't have to wait until the elite year starts to enjoy your benefits. Once you achieve Gold Status, for example, your account should update within a couple days and you enjoy that status until the end of February of the year after next. So if you get status in November of 2012, it will be good until the end of February 2014. Due to AA Double EQM's last January and a bunch of travel I had planned, I qualified for Executive Platinum (100,000 Elite miles) by mid-February of last year and I will enjoy that at least through February 2014 - two years! However, I'll need to accrue an additional 100,000 EQMs again from January 1- December 31, 2013 to extend my status through February 2015.
Delta is unique in that they allow rollover, which means your Medallion Qualifying Miles balance doesn't necessarily start at 0 in January - you take with you all the MQM's that you earned above your current status threshold. I currently have 80,000 MQM's, which means I will carry over 5,000 into 2013, making it a little bit easier to retain status next year. You say you are going to move from Silver to Gold, so once you hit 50,000 MQM's in 2012 you account will be updated and that status will be good until February 28, 2014. Any miles you've earned this year that are above the 50,000-MQM qualification level for Gold (and below 75,000 for Platinum) will be rolled over to next year for you so your elite-qualification mileage balance won't start at zero again.
Check out this post for a thorough comparison of mid-tier airline elite status.
I hope this makes sense, but feel free to ask questions if not!