Will we be upgraded in 2022? Here’s where TPG’s staff stands midyear on our airline status quest
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We’ve officially entered the second half of the year, and if you’re trying to maintain elite status, now may be an excellent opportunity to map out your goals for the rest of the year. After all, with travel picking up again, it’s looking less likely that airlines will fully extend status by another year again.
Do you have summer travel planned, holiday travel for later in the year, or upcoming business trips? Is this your first time chasing elite status? You may be wondering whether it’s even worth it to pursue elite status for the rest of the year.
Obviously, chasing elite status looks a lot different this year. Many airlines have reduced elite status qualification requirements and offer various promotions, making it significantly easier to qualify for status than usual.
To help you decide on a strategy, we want to highlight where TPG staffers stand so you can compare your elite status progress to our most frequent flyers.
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Brian Kelly, founder and CEO of The Points Guy
United Premier 1K
Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs): 4
Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs): 9,548
American AAdvantage Executive Platinum
Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMS): 31,950
Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs): 6
Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs): $7,175
Mosaic Qualifying Points: 1,914
I currently have a handful of airline elite statuses but am focusing on one in particular: United Premier 1K. I’ve been flying United from Newark (EWR) a lot more recently, as it’s the easiest to get to from where I quarantined in Pennsylvania.
I also should be able to requalify for American AAdvantage Executive Platinum thanks to the reduced requirements and all of their recent promotions. For instance, when registering for the mid-year loyalty promotion, I took advantage of the opportunity to purchase 10,000 EQMs for $495. Even though we’ve seen a number of devaluations over the years — including the long-feared, apparent shift toward dynamic pricing — I still get a ton of value from the Systemwide Upgrades I receive each year.
Other than that, I expect to requalify for JetBlue Mosaic through spending on my cobranded JetBlue card. Exclusively for 2021, I can get automatic Mosaic status by spending $30,000 on my card and earning just 4,000 Mosaic Qualifying points.
Summer Hull, Director of Travel Content
United Premier Gold
Premier qualifying flights (PQFs): 10
Premier qualifying points (PQPs): 5,000
I’ve had Gold status the last few years, goal is either Gold or Platinum this year. I’ll be at 6000 PQPs and about 16 PQF by mid-way point by end of July. That means Gold is a guarantee and with the summer PQP bonus, but I may enter the fall with a chance to hit Platinum if I shift spending to my United Club Card and pick up more PQPs that way. Building a house may help with having expenses to leverage on one card or another.
Clint Henderson, Senior News Editor
Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75K
Elite-Qualifying Miles: 57,167
Elite-Qualifying Segments: 27
Delta Platinum Medallion
Medallion Qualification Miles: 82,645
Medallion Qualification Segments: 2
Medallion Qualification Dollars: $540
I’m going for top-tier Alaska Airlines status again this year as an MVP Gold 75K. I’ll also requalify for Delta Platinum (thank you rollover MQMs). I will not requalify for AA Platinum Pro but the entry of Alaska into Oneworld means I will retain top tier Sapphire status and it will get me upgrades on AA metal with my Alaska Mileage Plan number.
Benji Stawski, Strategic Travel Reporter
JAL Mileage Bank Diamond
FLY ON points: 45,029
Alaska Airlines MVP
Elite-Qualifying Miles: 3,681
Elite-Qualifying Segments: 1
Although it’s going to be a challenge if Japan Airlines doesn’t announce any more loyalty promotions, I’m hoping to keep my JAL Mileage Bank Diamond status. This Oneworld Emerald status allows me to access American Airlines lounges and Flagship First Check-In even when flying domestically in the U.S. While first class upgrades are rare, I also get to select Main Cabin Extra seats on American Airlines flights at the time of booking for no additional cost.
Despite being the lowest tier in Alaska’s program, I’ve also been chasing Alaska MVP status for the last several years. I get free exit-row seats at the time of booking and am often upgraded to first class, including on transcontinental flights. Plus, with the 50% bonus on redeemable miles I earn, I can quickly rack up some pretty valuable miles. However, my progress for requalifying is pretty grim and now that Alaska joined the Oneworld alliance, I’d rather credit flights to JAL. But who knows, I only need about three-and-a-half more transcontinental roundtrips to requalify and there’s no elite spending requirement.
Katie Genter, Senior Writer
American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum
Elite qualifying miles (EQMs): 9,196
Elite qualifying segments (EQSs): 5
Elite qualifying dollars (EQDs): $394
Delta Airlines Silver Medallion
Medallion qualifying miles (MQMs): 14,266
Medallion qualifying segments (MQSs): 6
Medallion qualifying dollars (MQDs): 2026
United MileagePlus Premier Silver
Premier qualifying points (PQPs): 0
Premier qualifying flights (PQFs): 0
Asiana Club Diamond
Tier miles: 0
I didn’t fly much during the pandemic before becoming fully vaccinated. And even now, many of the routes I like to travel for lucrative airline elite earnings are still closed to tourists. My elite status goals and plans have changed a lot since the start of 2021. Frankly, this will be a difficult year to earn the higher-tier airline elite statuses that I’m working toward.
American Airlines status
The above stats for American Airlines are before I accept the most recent promotion of 3,000 bonus Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) and up to 10,000 bonus Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs). But, even after these promotions, I’ll be far from the 80,000 EQMs and 20,000 EQDs required for Executive Platinum (or even the 60,000 EQMs and 7,000 EQDs required for Platinum Pro).
However, I have a lot of Oneworld flights booked during the last six months of this year. In particular, I have flights that would get me up to 112,130 EQMs and 13,442 EQDs by the end of 2021 before considering the promotional EQDs and EQMs. But, due to border closures and ever-changing entry and transit requirements, it’s impossible to determine now whether some of these trips will be possible.
Delta Medallion status
I didn’t expect to go for Delta Medallion status this year. But, a last-minute work trip to Italy to try out the COVID-tested flight experience as a tourist got me halfway to Silver status. And, I have enough SkyTeam flights booked during the remainder of the year to get me close to Delta Gold Medallion (59,030 MQMs and 5,304 MQDs). However, I expect some of these trips will get canceled due to ongoing border closures. As such, I expect I’ll only earn Delta Silver Medallion this year. But, if border restrictions ease significantly in the upcoming months, I may push for Gold Medallion.
United Airlines status
I plan to earn Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status this year. And, one benefit of this hotel elite status level is being able to enroll in complimentary United MileagePlus Premier Silver status thanks to Marriott and United’s Rewardplus partnership. So, I’ll likely earn United status despite not crediting any flights to the airline.
Finally, there’s Asiana Diamond status. Asiana Club uses a 24-month qualification window based on when you initially enrolled. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, I haven’t made any progress during my 24-month evaluation window (Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2021). And to maintain Asiana Diamond status for 2022 and 2023, I’d need to earn 30,000 tier miles or fly on Asiana Airlines 30 times.
I have flights booked in 2021 that would get me 11,940 tier miles. But, this won’t be nearly enough unless Asiana lowers its requirements or extends the qualification window. However, requirements to maintain status are less than requirements to earn status from scratch. So, it may be worth booking more flights near the end of 2021 to keep Asiana Diamond status. After all, I enjoy having Star Alliance Gold status when flying with Star Alliance carriers.
Benet Wilson, Senior Credit Cards Editor
Tier-Qualifying Points (TQPs): 19,1-5
Stella Shon, Writer
Delta Gold Medallion
Medallion qualifying miles (MQMs): 40,407
Medallion qualifying segments (MQSs): 4
Medallion qualifying dollars (MQDs): 712
Card spend: $5K
Andrew Kunesh, Senior Reporter, Cards & Loyalty
Delta Platinum Medallion
Medallion Qualification Miles: 64,538
Medallion Qualification Segments: 13
Medallion Qualification Dollars: Credit card waiver
This year I’m focusing on Delta Platinum Medallion status. Delta has been my airline of choice over the past year or so, mostly due to its extensive NYC route network and better-than-average service. I think Platinum status is the best deal for Delta elite status since it has valuable benefits and is eligible for the $25,000 Amex MQD waiver. It’s also easier to earn this year with Delta’s status boost program.
Featured photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.
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