Love it or leave it: TPG reporter Kyle Olsen's elite status plans for 2023
As the sun sets on 2022, I'm gearing up for another year of travel in 2023.
This year, I went against my July advice and qualified for several new statuses — most recently, American Airlines Platinum Pro, thanks to the current Hyatt elite status match. Airlines like United will revert to their pre-pandemic requirements, making it much more expensive to qualify for the status.
With several new statuses, it's not practical for me to qualify next year for all the statuses I currently hold, so I've made some difficult decisions about which statuses to retain, downgrade and part ways with.
Hopefully, my 2023 status plans can help you make similar decisions.
United MileagePlus: Requalify for Premier 1K
Since first qualifying for the status for the 2016 membership year, United Airlines Premier 1K is what I've long considered my status crown jewel.
This year, upgrades have been sparse, but PlusPoints, lesser-known benefits like a complimentary Clear membership and a phone line that seldom has a wait greater than five minutes mean that I'll prioritize requalifying for Premier 1K status.
Qualifying for Premier 1K looks quite different from what it did seven years ago. Nowadays, MileagePlus members earn Premier status through Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) and Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs). At a basic level, on United-issued tickets, you earn 1 PQP per dollar spent on base airfare and carrier-imposed fee(s), and 1 PQF for each takeoff.
For 2023, United is bringing back its pre-pandemic status requirements, requiring Premier 1K members to earn 18,000 PQPs and 54 PQFs. Alternatively, Premier 1K members can earn status with 24,000 PQPs with no PQF requirement. If you go without a flight segment requirement, you'll have to cough up around $25,000 to qualify for Premier 1K in 2023.
Next year, I'll earn the bulk of my PQPs using "the best kept secret" to qualify for United status — Star Alliance partner-issued tickets that I'll credit to my MileagePlus account. Rather than earning PQPs on the price of your ticket, partner-issued flights earn PQPs on three criteria:
- Flight distance.
- Fare class.
- Operating airline.
If you want to earn lots of PQPs on partner flights, I suggest looking for the following:
- A good deal (something that would earn more than 1 PQP per dollar).
- A long flight distance (since partner-issued tickets earn by flight distance).
- A premium fare (since premium economy, business- and first-class tickets generally earn significantly more PQPs than discounted economy fares).
- A preferred partner fare (i.e., Air Canada or ANA, since preferred partner fares earn PQP by the flight distance divided by five rather than standard partners, which earn PQP by the flight distance divided by six and have higher segment maximums).
Also, as an existing Premier 1K member, I'll start the new year with 2,500 PQPs (one of the few silver linings when United increased status requirements) to help me requalify in 2023.
American Airlines AAdvantage: Requalify for at least Platinum
There's no understating American Airlines' Loyalty Points' effect on AAdvantage status. Now, AAdvantage members accrue status-earning Loyalty Points through cobranded credit card spending, the airline’s shopping portal and elites double dipping on Hyatt stays, to name a few. AAdvantage also won TPG's Innovation Awards in the loyalty category this year.
I got sucked into the Loyalty Points game earlier this year and qualified for AAdvantage Platinum Pro status in November, thanks to a status match promotion with Hyatt. I'm set to earn 42,000 Loyalty Points in March, extending my Platinum Pro status through July 28, 2023, (the end of the second phase of my Instant Status Pass).
Similar to United, I'm primarily earning Loyalty points through partner-issued tickets. Here's what I'll earn as a Platinum Pro member on a March British Airways marketed and operated multi-city itinerary:
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to London's Heathrow Airport (LHR): I fare with 150% mileage credit, 12,345 Loyalty Points.
- LHR to Rome Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport (FCO): J fare with 250% mileage credit, 2,968 Loyalty Points.
- Dubai International Airport (DXB) to LHR: I fare with 150% mileage credit, 7,869 Loyalty Points.
- LHR to SFO: I-fare with 150% mileage credit, 12,345 Loyalty Points.
This one itinerary will earn over 35,000 Loyalty Points and AAdvantage miles (worth around $62) alone.
While it's unlikely that I'll earn another 42,000 Loyalty Points in phases 2 and 3 to further extend my Platinum Pro status, I should be able to earn 75,000 Loyalty Points by Feb. 29, 2024. Doing so will earn me Platinum status, with benefits like Main Cabin Extra on American flights, premium class upgrades on Alaska, two checked bags and Oneworld Sapphire.
My favorite benefit of Oneworld Sapphire is the ability to reserve preferred or pre-reserved seating on all partner flights. Airlines like British Airways generally charge to reserve seats, even in business class, and Oneworld Sapphire is an ideal way to avoid these pesky fees.
Related: What is American Airlines' elite status worth?
World of Hyatt: Requalify for Globalist status
Although I didn't even join the World of Hyatt program until 2020, Hyatt Globalist has become my favorite hotel status. As a result, I'll earn the 60 elite qualifying nights required for Globalist in 2023.
By placing status at Hyatt hotels while college dorms were closed, I earned 1,000,000 World of Hyatt points. With Globalist status, my points have become significantly more valuable.
I've grown to love the numerous perks such as a proper daily breakfast for all registered room guests, suite upgrades, milestone bonuses, club lounge access, waived resort fees and guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkouts. After all, it's no secret that Hyatt Globalist is a fan favorite at TPG.
While Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors (the two other hotel chains I hold top-tier status with) have fully pivoted to dynamic pricing, I appreciate the predictability of World of Hyatt's award charts. Hyatt's award charts allowed me to use just 5,000 points per night to stay at the Category 1 beachfront Hyatt Regency Bali earlier this year to stay in a suite selling for more than $300.
Hyatt also has developed a reputation for offering generous promotions, including Bonus Journeys, which has allowed World of Hyatt members to earn double points for qualifying 2022 stays.
I'll earn five qualifying nights for holding the World of Hyatt Credit Card and two extra qualifying nights for every $5,000 I spend on the card. That will help get me to the 60 elite nights required for Globalist.
Also, World of Hyatt and American elite status complement one another well. As the two travel providers have a close partnership, elite members from both programs can double dip. For each base dollar you spend at a Hyatt property, you earn one Loyalty Point and AAdvantage mile. Conversely, you earn one World of Hyatt point for each base dollar you spend on American Airlines' marketed and operated flights.
Related: 5 easy ways to qualify for Hyatt Globalist status
Marriott Bonvoy: Goodbye, Ambassador Elite
I also earned 5,000,000 Marriott points and Marriott's Ambassador Elite status by placing students in hotels during the pandemic. While the other brands can't match Marriott's expansive portfolio of hotels worldwide, I don't think Ambassador Elite status is worth it.
Ambassador Elite provides just two benefits that Titanium Elite status doesn't offer: Your24 (a way to access a hotel room for 24 hours) and the dedicated Ambassador Service team.
Marriott is making Ambassador Elite status more expensive in 2023 by increasing the annual spending requirement from $20,000 to $23,000. The 100-night elite requirement remains unchanged. Marriott has announced that personal ambassador customer service agents will return sometime in early 2023.
Platinum and Titanium Elite status offers valuable perks like increased award earnings, a guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, suite upgrades, lounge access, annual choice benefits and complimentary breakfast at most Marriott brands.
If I don't have enough Marriott Bonvoy elite nights by the end of next year, I'll consider opening the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card.
The Brilliant card comes with automatic Platinum Elite status and 25 elite qualifying nights that could help me get closer to Titanium Elite. That said, I'm considering the possibility of pivoting away from Marriott with the instability of Marriott's award charts; plus, since Hyatt's Globalist status has arguably far better perks (particularly regarding waived fees) than Marriott Platinum or Titanium Elite.
Related: What is Marriott Bonvoy elite status worth?
Other statuses I'll earn
In addition to the statuses mentioned above, I also value the other tiers that I enjoy, including:
- Hilton Honors Diamond: Maintain as a cardmember perk of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Hilton Honors Diamond status provides perks like a food and beverage credit on domestic stays or breakfast abroad, room upgrades (though Hilton is increasingly charging for what should be complimentary room upgrades), club lounge access and late checkouts.
- National Car Rental Executive Elite: Maintain through a status match from United Premier 1K. My National Executive Elite status allowed me to rent a $100,000 BMW 7 Series for $3 a day in October. On paid rentals, I've routinely enjoyed European luxury cars for the price of a midsized sedan.
- MGM Rewards Gold: Maintain as a benefit of the World of Hyatt and MGM Rewards partnership. MGM Gold offers waived resort and valet parking fees at most MGM properties.
- Hertz President's Circle, Avis President's Club and Europcar Elite: Maintain through status matches with United Airlines Premier 1K. Though nowhere near as valuable as National Executive Elite, Hertz, Avis and Europcar status can help get car upgrades and fee waivers, particularly when renting abroad.
Related: The complete guide to car rental elite status matches
While it isn't feasible to requalify for all the statuses I currently hold, I've carefully considered which programs have given me the most value. Without question, United Premier 1K, Hyatt Globalist and National Executive Elite have made my travels much more enjoyable.
One year ago, I would have prioritized Marriott status, but like many TPG readers, I don't like what Marriott dynamic pricing has done to my hard-earned points. After all, many former Category 8 Marriott hotels are now over 100,000 points per night when the Park Hyatt down the street is 25,000 points per night, offering a better elite breakfast and waived parking fees on award stays.
We realize it can be difficult to strategize elite statuses before 2023 has even started, but now is a good time to develop plans in the new year. If you're like me, you've already started searching for discounted alliance partner flights that earn more than you would on your airline's own flights.
Most importantly, revisit your elite statuses, and devise a plan now. If you stick to your plan, hopefully, you'll qualify for your targeted status without mileage and mattress runs.