I’m ending 2021 with top-tier Alaska and Hyatt status: Here’s my plan for 2022

Dec 26, 2021

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The pandemic has been a giant roadblock to my life goal of hitting every state in the United States and getting to every country on the planet.

Still, looking back on 2021, I sure did better than I did in 2020.

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(Screenshot courtesy Great Circle Mapper)
(Screenshot courtesy Great Circle Mapper)

Considering it was in the midst of a pandemic, I flew quite a bit — more than 115,000 butt-in-seat miles.

My goal for the past decade was to see at least six to seven new countries a year. Obviously, COVID-19 wrecked that plan, but I did manage to check French Polynesia and Belize off my to-do list in 2021.

I also visited Alaska four times in 2021, including a fun visit with my “work wife,” Benét Wilson, and a trip on the Alaska Railroad with my dad for Father’s Day.

Thanks to lucrative earning bonuses and elite qualification shortcuts, I managed to earn Alaska’s new top-tier Gold 100K MVP. I also managed to hold on to Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Platinum status for the third year.

My elite ride with American Airlines is coming to a rather anticlimatic end (though I did manage to squeeze out an extra few years of Platinum Pro with pandemic extensions).

On the hotel front, I took advantage of an incredible offer at the end of 2020 to get World of Hyatt Globalist status through 2023, and I’ll hold on to my Hilton Diamond status, IHG Rewards Club Platinum status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status by virtue of simply holding a few credit cards.

Here’s how it’s shaking out — and what I’m striving for with each program next year.

In This Post

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Alaska 100K MVP benefits email. (Screenshot courtesy Alaska)
Alaska 100K MVP benefits email. (Screenshot courtesy Alaska)

The airline I flew the most in 2021 was Alaska. They offer three to five daily flights to their hub in Seattle from my temporary home airport in Bozeman, Montana, which gave me access to their many flights from the West Coast.

I parlayed a status challenge in 2019 into multiple years of top-tier status with Alaska Mileage Plan. At the time, I couldn’t have even anticipated I’d soon be living near their largest hub. But since I moved from New York City to wait out the pandemic at my father’s ranch in Montana, it’s worked out great.

Despite my travel picking up in 2021, I still didn’t fly nearly as much as I had prior to the pandemic.

Related: How and why I went for Alaska’s new top-tier MVP Gold 100K status

I flew less than 50,000 miles, but that was enough with rollover miles and promotions to get me over the top for the new Alaska MVP Gold 100K status level.

Alaska had the “fast track to status” promotion this year, plus for every $2,500 I spent on my Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card (or the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card) until Nov. 16, I got 2,500 EQMs toward Alaska Airlines elite status. You were able to earn up to 20,000 EQMs without ever getting on a plane this way.

With this promotion, I ended up earning an additional 7,500 elite-qualifying miles via credit card spend.

Alaska email outlining 2021 flying. (Screenshot courtesy Alaska)
Alaska email outlining 2021 flying. (Screenshot courtesy Alaska)

I’m looking forward to exploring more of Alaska’s route map, including doing a few of their flights to Costa Rica and Hawaii.

After all, I got to see a new country in 2021 (Belize) because Alaska launched service to the gorgeous Central American destination.

American Airlines AAdvantage

My long love affair with American Airlines is finally coming to a close. I held AAdvantage Executive Platinum status for many years, but in 2018, American started making it more difficult (and expensive) to achieve top-tier status.

That’s when I decided to try a few other airlines. I did a status challenge for both Delta and Alaska, and I cut back on my flights with American. Still, I managed to hit Platinum Pro in 2019 and that status has been extended for the past couple of years due to the pandemic. It will finally expire at the end of January 2022, though, and I won’t even make it to Gold.

That said, now that Alaska and American Airlines are Oneworld partners, I’ll still end up with status when flying American. However, I’ll be using my Mileage Plan number for reservations on American instead of my AAdvantage number.

Related: What is American Airlines elite status worth?

Delta Air Lines SkyMiles

Delta SkyMiles account balance. (Screenshot courtesy Delta Air Lines)
Delta SkyMiles account balance. (Screenshot courtesy Delta Air Lines)

When I realized I wouldn’t get to Executive Platinum on American back in 2019, I did a status challenge to get Delta Platinum. I decided if I was only going to achieve mid-tier status, it might as well be with an airline that seemed more customer-friendly and reliable. You can sign up for a Delta Air Lines status challenge here.

I’ve managed to hold on to that status level since Delta made it easier to qualify both this year and last. I ended up getting more than 40,000 Delta rollover MQMs and ended the year with 134,550 MQMs. That would have been enough to get me Delta Diamond status before they added an onerous spend requirement of $15,000. My measly $3,262 in MQDs wasn’t even in the ballpark.

I will, however, keep Platinum status since I spent more than $30,000 on my Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, which gives a spend waiver up to Platinum status if you spend more than $25,000 on the card in a calendar year.

The $550 annual fee is steep (see rates and fees), but let’s hope they throw in some bonuses again next year.

All my extra MQMs will also roll over to 2022, giving me a giant head start on earning Platinum status again next year. Now, I just need to figure out if it’s worth putting all my spending on that Delta credit card.

Related: Why I’m keeping my Delta Reserve card even when I’m flying less

World of Hyatt

Globalist welcome email. (Screenshot courtesy World of Hyatt)
Globalist welcome email. (Screenshot courtesy World of Hyatt)

I was a Hyatt Diamond member under the old program, and I loved it, but when the brand launched the new World of Hyatt program in 2017, they also raised the stay requirements.

Related: How a successful status challenge rekindled my love affair with Hyatt 

That had me giving up on Hyatt — until 2020, at least, when they launched several incredible promotions that put me on the fast track toward status. The series of fantastic offers gave me top-tier status until 2023.

I even opened a Chase World of Hyatt Credit Card again.

Related: What is World of Hyatt elite status worth?

I’ve been treated well by Hyatt this year, including a fabulous stay at the Grand Hyatt in Bogotá, Colombia. In fact, I’ve stayed a total of 53 nights in 2021 — and I plan to book most of my stays with Hyatt in 2022. I’ve already booked the Grand Hyatt in Seoul, South Korea, and I’ve got my eye on several more iconic Hyatt hotels.

If Cambodia opens up, I’d like to try the Park Hyatt Siem Reap. I’ve also wanted to stay at the gorgeous Park Hyatt St. Kitts since it opened, and the Park Hyatt Maldives seems like a once-in-a-lifetime destination.

Marriott Bonvoy

Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club, Autograph Collection December 2021. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club, Autograph Collection December 2021. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Thank goodness for The Platinum Card® from American Express, which gives me status in several hotel programs, including Marriott.

I have Gold status with Marriott Bonvoy courtesy of my Amex Platinum card, though I did end up with enough nights to requalify for Gold (25 nights) either way.

I earned 37 nights in 2021, including 13 given out as promotional nights. That’s not enough to get me to Platinum with Marriott Bonvoy (50 nights), and since I’m not that impressed with Marriott’s program as a whole, I’m content to remain at gold for 2022.

I won’t go out of my way to stay at Marriott properties, though I do like to have status with the brand since I occasionally stay at Bonvoy hotels for work.

Related: Guide to gold status with Marriott and Hilton via your American Express Platinum

Hilton Honors

Conrad Bora Bora October 2021. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Conrad Bora Bora October 2021. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

I ended up with 33 nights at Hilton properties in 2021, including one of my best-ever hotel stays at the stunning Conrad Bora Bora.

As I mentioned above, simply holding the American Express Platinum card gives you automatic Gold status in several elite programs, including Hilton. That’s how I got Gold status with Hilton back in 2019.

Related: What is Hilton elite status worth?

But in 2020, I also picked up The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. It comes with Hilton Diamond status for as long as you have the card. While the card has a hefty annual fee of $450 (see rates and fees), there are other valuable inclusions such as a $250 annual Hilton resort credit, a $250 airline credit every year and a free weekend night when you open the account and each year on your card anniversary.

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: How to choose the best Hilton credit card for you

I’ve now had Hilton Diamond status for the past couple of years. While I certainly have had some nice stays at Hilton properties, a few have been not-so-great. I have, however, been able to use the resort and airline fee credits, and while I haven’t gotten many upgrades at Hilton properties, and it’s not as rewarding as Hyatt Globalist, I will keep the Aspire card and my diamond status for 2022.

Related: Why Hilton’s top card has me switching my loyalty

IHG Rewards Club

Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown pool. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

I ended up with just 16 nights at Intercontinental properties in 2021, but one of them was one of my favorites stays this year: the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown.

I have Platinum status with IHG Rewards Club simply by virtue of holding the IHG Rewards Club Select card (no longer open to new applicants). It includes a handful of nice perks (such as a fourth night free on award stays and better bonus categories) but best of all it gives you Platinum status and a free night award to use at lower category properties.

I used mine the first year I had the card in Singapore. Since then, my reward nights have been much more pedestrian including a stay at a Holiday Inn in Butte, Montana, in 2020. I did have an incredible stay at the Kimpton Armory Hotel in Bozeman, Montana, this year.

The information for the IHG Rewards Club Select card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Automatic Platinum status with the IHG Premier Card

The new version of the card is the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card which also gets you Platinum status, but keep in mind the annual free night award is capped at properties costing 40,000 points or less a night. The annual fee is $99. I’ll keep my IHG card for status (and a free night) in 2021.

Account status for IHG Rewards. (Screenshot courtesy IHG Rewards)
Account status for IHG Rewards. (Screenshot courtesy IHG Rewards)

Looking ahead to 2022

I’m excited for what’s ahead next year. Despite the rapidly spreading omicron variant, I expect I’ll be able to travel more, and I already have trips booked to Bangor, Maine; Detroit, Michigan; Miami, Florida; Santiago, Chile; and Seoul in South Korea.

I’m eager to put my status to the test again this year. I’m most interested in seeing how American Airlines recognizes my Alaska Gold 100K MVP and Oneworld status on American-operated flights. If nothing else, it should make for a good story in 2022.

Featured image of an Alaska 737 landing in Juneau, Alaska in 2021 by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.

Updated on 4/27/22.

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