Best Airline Elite Status Perks for Families

Jan 15, 2019

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If you’re an airline elite and road warrior, it probably means you spend a significant amount of time away from your family. When it’s finally time to travel with your loved ones, you should be able to use some of those hard-earned elite perks to make your family’s travels more comfortable and convenient. Let’s look at some of the best airline elite status perks that can be incredibly useful for a traveling family.

Alaska Airlines

Check out Alaska Airlines elite status info.

Complimentary Upgrades — MVP Gold and Gold 75K members may upgrade one companion traveling with them on the same flight and booked in the same class of service (excluding new saver fares). Travelers can even link two separate reservations and then request a companion upgrade to either first class or premium class.

MVP Gold Guest Upgrades — Given to MVP Gold members and above to upgrade friends or family members who are not traveling with them, or for their own immediate upgrade on applicable fares.

Checked Bag Fee Waivers — Two free checked bags for elite members and those traveling on the same reservation.

Extend MVP Status — MVP Gold 75K members can also give MVP elite status to a friend or family member.

Four Lounge Club Passes —MVP Gold 75K members receive these electronic passes annually; they can be used by family members.

Inflight Entertainment Player — The elite member and a companion receive a player on coast-to-coast and Hawaii flights that still have the players available.

(Photo via Shutterstock)
(Photo via Shutterstock)

American Airlines

Read up on what American Airlines elite status entails.

Systemwide Upgrades — AA elite members at the top-tier Executive Platinum level earn four systemwide upgrades and can give them to anyone to use, even if they’re not traveling with them. These can be used to upgrade a paid ticket on American metal of up to three segments.

500-Mile Upgrades —  One companion traveling with you on the same flight is able to use 500-mile upgrades that you earn starting at the Gold level based no how many elite-qualifying miles that you fly.

Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred Seats —  Elite members and up to eight traveling companions can select Main Cabin Extra or Preferred seats for free. The only limitation is Gold members, who must wait until within 24 hours of departure to select complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats.

(Photo via Shutterstock)
(Photo via Shutterstock)


Learn about Delta elite status.

Medallion Complimentary First Upgrades — Offered only to one companion on the same reservation (or linked reservation) on paid tickets; not mileage awards, pay-with-miles, basic economy or companion tickets.

Complimentary Preferred Seats — Offered to companions on the same reservation of the Medallion member.

Economy Comfort Upgrades — One traveling companion is eligible for complimentary Economy Comfort. Seats are offered 24 hours before departure for Silver, 72 hours before departure for Gold and shortly after ticketing for Platinum and Diamond members.

Global and Regional Upgrade Certificates — You can use an upgrade certificate for one travel companion on the same flight, whether in the same reservation or a linked reservation, even if the Medallion member doesn’t need to use one themselves.

Gifting Medallion Status — Platinum members can choose to give a family member Silver Medallion status and Diamond Medallions can choose to give a family member Gold Medallion status. These are choice benefit options of the SkyMiles program.

(Photo via Shutterstock)
(Photo via Shutterstock)


Family Pooling — Once you earn Elite 20k status, you can collect and redeem miles with up to eight family members and friends.

Family Seating — Once you reach Elite 50k status, you get free advance seat selection for your traveling family of up to eight, including Stretch seats. The member then also gets 50% off Discount Den membership which translates to discounts that apply for up to six people on the reservation.

Family Status — Once you reach Elite 100k status, you get all of the benefits of the WORKS bundle for up to eight travelers on the elite member’s booking. This includes an included carry-on bag, checked bag, seat assignment (including Stretch, if available), priority boarding, flight flexibility and refundability on even the cheapest fares Frontier offers.

(Photo via Shutterstock)
(Photo via Shutterstock)



Will JetBlue elite status help your family?

Free Checked Baggage — Traveling companions on the same reservation as the Mosaic member receive two free checked bags.

Free Changes — Change and cancellation fees are waived for Mosaic members and others on their itinerary.

Discounted Even More Space Seats — Mosaic elites can upgrade themselves and those on their reservation to Even More Space seats at a discounted points rate.

(Photo via Shutterstock)
(Photo via Shutterstock)


Brush up on Southwest’s elite status program.

Officially, no A-List or A-List preferred benefits extend to traveling companions. However, there are reports of being able to get companions benefits such as free same-day standby, priority check-in and security lane access and priority boarding at times. That will all be determined by the individual agents working the day you travel and can’t be counted on in advance.

Southwest Companion Pass — Those who earn 125,000 Companion Pass eligible Rapid Rewards points or take 100 Companion Pass qualifying Southwest flights in a calendar year get the ultimate in family travel perks as a family member (or friend) can fly for just the cost of taxes thanks to the Companion Pass.

(Photo by Owen CL via Unsplash)


Read the high points of United’s elite status program.

Complimentary Economy Plus Seating — Available to Premier Silver (at 24 hour advance check-in) and Premier Gold (at booking) members and one companion. Premier Platinum and Premier 1K members can extend this benefit to up to eight others traveling together at the time of booking.

Preferred Seating for 8 — United has recently introduced Preferred Seating which does not have extra legroom but the seats are generally located more towards the front of the plane. All United elites can book Preferred Seats for up to 8 on the reservation at booking which can be key in keeping families together.

Global Premier Upgrades and Regional Premier Upgrades — These are earned starting at the Platinum level and can be used by others even when not traveling with the elite member.

Complimentary Premier Upgrades — Available for one companion on same itinerary, not traveling on an award ticket or basic economy ticket. However, United splits the reservation if the elite and elite companion are placed on the upgrade list, so there are some nuanced challenges for families who decide to make themselves upgrade eligible.

Premier Checked Baggage Allowance — Up to nine traveling companions on the same PNR receive the Premier member’s same checked baggage allowance.

(Photo by Jason Leung via Unsplash)

Bottom Line

Reduced or waived fees like close-in ticketing and mileage redeposit fees are typically based on the elite status of the person whose miles are being used, not the traveler. As an example, this means you can save a bundle of money for American and United tickets (max eight people on a reservation) when an elite member books your family’s award tickets and your plans change or you have to make a close-in reservation.

Believe it or not, I think the best family elite perk is the Frontier WORKS bundle once you reach top tier status with Frontier. Being able to buy $20 fares one-way and receive an all-inclusive package for your entire family is huge. If I lived in a Frontier focus city serving several locations, I would probably try and use the new co-branded Frontier card to score top status status.

When looking at the traditional US air carriers, getting the whole family good seats together at no extra charge is a real perk of United and American, especially at the 50k miles per year level and above where you can secure better seats at booking for the whole family.

While many of these airline elite benefits are nice, I don’t think they are typically enough to make you decide on a specific airline when it’s time for your family to travel. I would still be a loyalty-free agent and pick the best flight based on price and schedule each and every time.

Featured image via Shutterstock.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

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More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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