Using a Status Match to Avoid a Fee — Reader Success Story

Jan 2, 2019

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Arun, who found a creative way to save on a flight cancellation when his plans changed:

I did something recently that I wouldn’t have done without knowledge I got from The Points Guy about status matches. I had booked tickets for me and my wife to Hyderabad (HYD) flying Cathay Pacific first class, using 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles each. We were flying on different dates due to our schedule conflict. She was able to make her flight, but unfortunately, about a month in advance I realized I couldn’t make my own.

I called Alaska Airlines customer service and found out it would cost $125 to cancel the award. Then I read your article about status match programs published in March of 2018, did a quick search on Alaska’s website, and submitted a request to match with my United Premier Gold status. It took three weeks for the request to process, but I was able to cancel my flight with no fee. I’m glad that I did search for options; otherwise I would have paid the $125.

Award travel offers plenty of opportunities to exercise your creative problem solving skills. When you’re faced with an obstacle like change or cancellation fees, an insufficient points balance or a lack of award availability, consider all the tools at your disposal and how they can remedy the situation. Arun’s United status couldn’t help him avoid fees on a Mileage Plan award directly, but Alaska’s status match offer cleared a path for him to put his existing benefits to work on another airline. That unconventional solution saved him at least $125, and could provide more value if he continues to put his matched status to use.

One flaw I see in Arun’s plan is that Alaska only allows a single status match for the lifetime of each Mileage Plan account, and is one of the few airlines that lets you match to top-tier status. I think that opportunity is too valuable to expend on avoiding one cancellation fee. In his shoes, I might rather wait until I had a few Alaska Airlines flights scheduled and could maximize benefits like mileage bonuses and guest upgrade certificates. In short, I think it’s worth $125 to preserve that status match until it will really pay off.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Arun a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes, or to contribute to our new award redemption series. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured image via Shutterstock.

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