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Best Airline Elite Status Perks for Families

Jan. 15, 2019
9 min read
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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.

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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)

Delta

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)

Frontier

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)

JetBlue

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)

Southwest

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)

United

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.

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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards

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10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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Recommended Credit

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Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more