Can Million Miler Elites Status Match to Another Airline?
Reader Questions are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.
Earning lifetime elite status with a major airline requires flying a million miles, which is no small feat, even for the most serious of road warriors. After decades of commitment, you'd expect people to stay loyal to that airline for life, but programs change, people move and you may find yourself wanting or needing a new carrier. TPG reader Linda wants to know if she can use her million miler status to match to a new airline ...
[pullquote source="TPG READER LINDA"]I'm an AA million miler with lifetime Gold elite status. I don't fly much with AA anymore, and I'm wondering if I could status match to Delta Silver with my million miler status?[/pullquote]
For starters, we have a complete guide to airline elite status matches and challenges with full details on each of the major carriers. However, the requirements vary. Some may offer a straight-up match, while others provide an accelerated pathway to status by requiring a certain amount of flying. Others may ask for a screen shot showing recent activity, whereas others may simply want a membership card. Finally, it's worth pointing out that these requests are generally reviewed manually. As a result, there's no guarantee that one person's experience will match another's — even if they hold the exact same elite status.
In order to answer this specific question, I turned to two in-house experts on the TPG team who currently hold Million Miler status with different airlines. Brian Biros — TPG's resident backpacker — is a million miler with United. He told me he had no problem status matching to Delta Gold Medallion status last fall using this screenshot of this account — which makes it clear that his United Premier Gold status is from his million miler status and not his year-to-date flying.
As noted above, most airlines simply require a screenshot documenting your elite status to initiate a status match, but some have more stringent requirements. For example, to match to United, you need to submit the following(emphasis mine):
"A copy of your most recent mileage summary or 2019 membership card for the frequent flyer program you are matching from. It must clearly identify your current elite status, including your status expiration date."
Because Brian has United Gold status for life, his account doesn't show an expiration date anywhere for this elite status. However that's not the case for every airline.
TPG's resident Delta guru Darren Murph is a Delta million miler, meaning he enjoys Silver Medallion status for life — though he typically earns a higher tier each year. Even though his Silver status will reset every year, his account does show his Silver status expiring January 31, 2021. This should be more than enough to satisfy United's proof of expiration requirement if he wanted to initiate a status challenge.
Finally, it's also worth remembering that most status matches/challenges require an extra step. You'll usually be given the status you're matching or challenging to for 90 days, and if you want to extend it, you'll need to fly a certain amount. In Linda's case, matching to Delta Silver status will require her to earn 6,250 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or 8 Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and $750 Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) or an MQD waiver from credit card spending to extend her Delta Silver status past the three-month promotional period.
If you're a million miler, you've really earned your status, and the good news is that you should be able to use that status to match or challenge with another airline. The only caveat would be that some programs require additional information like proof of status expiration or recent activity in a program to successfully enroll in a match/challenge, and not all million miler accounts show would have those details. For complete information, be sure to check out our guide to airline elite status matches and challenges.
Thanks for the question, Linda, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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