TPG Team Midyear Airline Elite Status Check

Jul 8, 2019

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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. 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.

To help you decide on a strategy, today we want to highlight where TPG staffers stand so you can compare your elite status progress to TPG‘s most frequent flyers.

In This Post

Brian Kelly, The Points Guy

American AAdvantage Executive Platinum

Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMS): 79,448
Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs): 26
Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs): $19,349

Alaska MVP

Elite-Qualifying Miles: 0
Elite-Qualifying Segments: 0

Brian’s take:

I currently have a handful of airline elite statuses but am only actively pursuing two: American AAdvantage Executive Platinum and Alaska MVP. I’ve been a long-time Executive Platinum after switching my loyalty from Delta, and 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 making fee-free changes to award tickets and the four Systemwide Upgrades I receive each year. I should requalify by August, at which point I’ll start crediting my international American-operated flights to Alaska to earn MVP status. This will remove any limits to buying Alaska miles, an incredibly valuable option when it comes to booking sweet spots through the Mileage Plan program.

Other than that, I have already requalified for JetBlue Mosaic thanks to a handful of paid Mint tickets — my favorite domestic premium class product (and TPG award-winner). I also have Delta Platinum Medallion courtesy of my Centurion card and United Premier Silver thanks to the carrier’s RewardsPlus partnership with Marriott and my Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite status. All three levels come in handy when I need to fly one of these airlines, but I’m not going to go out of my way to earn any of them the hard way.

Alberto Riva, Managing Editor

Delta Platinum Medallion

Medallion Qualification Miles: 57,712
Medallion Qualification Segments: 10
Medallion Qualification Dollars: $4,623

Alberto’s take:

I’m going for keeping Platinum status this year through 2020. Although Diamond would be nice, Platinum has been good to me these past few years, with frequent upgrades including on transcontinental US flights from New York-JFK to Seattle (SEA) and Los Angeles (LAX). I typically amass around 100,000 MQMs on Delta every year — not quite the 125,000 needed for Diamond, and in any case, I would find it hard to hit the $15,000 threshold in qualifying spend for Diamond. So I go for Platinum and roll over around 25,000 MQMs to give me a nice head start the following year. This year I won’t get any MQM bonus from Delta cobranded American Express cards, so I’ve got to make it on flying alone — which won’t be hard, with a couple of round-trips to Europe and at least one to Asia already planned for the rest of 2019.

Summer Hull, TPG Family

United Premier Gold

Premier-Qualifying Miles (PQMs) 22,186
Premier-Qualifying Segments (PQSs) 17.5
Premier-Qualifying Dollars (PQDs) 4198

Summer’s take:

I’m going for Gold. Platinum would be great, but unless unplanned big trips happen, I’ll likely repeat last year and come in just under Gold naturally and buy up the rest with PQMs.

Nick Ellis, Reviews Editor

Delta Diamond Medallion

Medallion Qualification Miles: 44,436
Medallion Qualification Segments: 22
Medallion Qualification Dollars: $7,127

Nick’s take:

At this point in the year, I’m lagging a little bit behind the pace of where I should be to requalify for Diamond in terms of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), but right on track for Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs), thanks to several partner flights on airlines like Air France. I should catch up soon in my MQM count thanks to upcoming flights with SkyTeam partners — including a few in business class, which earn at a much higher clip. I value Delta Diamond for numerous reasons, but I’ve had great luck getting upgraded on most of my complimentary upgrade-eligible flights, including to California, the Caribbean and Mexico City. Also, I’ve had success already in using two of my four Global Upgrade Certificates (GUCs), which makes flying long-haul a whole lot more enjoyable. Plus, I love the flexibility of the SkyMiles redeposit fee waiver, which allows me to book tickets and then essentially return them with no penalty if the trip ultimately isn’t going to work out.

Zach Honig, Editor-At-Large

United Premier 1K

Premier-Qualifying Miles (PQMs): 139,881
Premier-Qualifying Segments (PQSs): 49.5
Premier-Qualifying Dollars (PQDs): $12,387

Zach’s take:

As much as I’d love to earn Global Services status eventually, it’s just not in the cards when you book cheap economy tickets and maximize upgrade certificates to land a seat up front. So, Premier 1K is my goal yet again. I’m well over the flying requirement but still a few thousand dollars short on the PQD front. I’ll make it with personal travel added in, but it’ll be close, with the target now at $15,000, before taxes and fees.

Emily McNutt, Global News Editor

Delta Platinum Medallion

Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs): 24,733
Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs): 3
Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs): N/A

Emily’s take:

I’m hoping to get to Platinum Medallion. Since I’m based in London, I’m exempt from Delta’s Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) requirement. Knowing that I only have to hit the required number of MQMs is making my decision to pursue Delta status easier.

Ben Mutzabaugh, Senior Aviation Editor

American Airlines Executive Platinum

Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs): 59,669
Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs): 28
Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs): $8,859

Ben’s take:

I’m currently about halfway to Executive Platinum. Hoping to earn it via regular travel, but a mileage run may be in order toward the end of the year. I’m hoping to earn for upgrade perks, the (unusable) SWUs, and get preferred boarding and call-center perks.

Benet Wilson, Credit Cards Editor

Southwest A-List

Tier-Qualifying Points (TQPs): 22,488
Segments: 12

Benet’s take:

I’m about halfway through my 25 one-way flights to requalify for Southwest A-List. Last year I had to do a mileage run and that wasn’t good. I’ve planned my flights through December and built in a back-up so I avoid the last-minute mileage run.

JT Genter, Senior Writer

American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum

Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs): 101,366
Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs): 24
Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs): $16,114

JT’s take:

Coming into the year, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be worth spending $15,000 before taxes and fees to re-earn American Executive Platinum status again this year. The systemwide upgrades and unlimited domestic upgrades (even on award flights) are nice, and Katie and I have become used to being very flexible with our schedule thanks to waived fees for redepositing miles when we cancel awards. However, the elevated spending threshold and less-reliable benefits made me wonder if it was worth chasing status again this year.

Then, a few opportunities popped up, and I’ve already re-earned Executive Platinum elite status again in 2019 for around $3,000 in total cost thanks to cheap premium-cabin partner bookings.

First, as both a mileage run and transportation to Aviation Festival Asia in February, I booked a Cathay Pacific premium economy fare from San Francisco to Singapore during Cathay’s Cyber Monday deal. Despite paying under $800 round-trip for the premium economy booking, the round-trip earned 25,544 EQMs and an incredible 3,487 EQDs.

Then, the Cathay Pacific New Years Eve error fare popped up. Katie and I booked Cathay Pacific First Class to get back from Asia at the end of a trip. And then we used another business class booking to position to San Francisco of the Singapore trip we’d already booked. And a third booking as an open-jaw to get back from Asia in March and to start another trip in October. We’ve flown 2.5 of these round-trips — earning 63,069 EQMs and 11,320 EQDs so far.

With those Cathay Pacific trips, there wasn’t much left to re-qualify for AA EP status. I was easily able to cross the threshold with a British Airways round-trip to Berlin for ITB Berlin and a couple of domestic AA paid flights.

Asiana Club Diamond

In December 2017, Katie and I flew an ANA business class error fare from Vancouver to Sydney. As it was the end of the year, we were looking for a place to credit these flights where the counter wouldn’t reset at the end of the year. In our research, we “discovered” Asiana.

Asiana Club gives new members 24 months from enrollment to qualify for elite status. And then the elite status is available for 24 months beyond the initial qualification period. Between the ANA flights and a couple of cheap Air Canada mileage runs to China in January 2018, we were able to earn Asiana Diamond through December 2021.

While we still haven’t flown on Asiana, we have gotten excellent value out of this status. That’s because Asiana Diamond grants Star Alliance Gold elite benefits. That’s allowed us to fly cheap $49 United basic economy fares intra-US with benefits to check a bag for free, get priority boarding and even visit the United Club before the flight.

Zach Griff, Travel Analyst

JetBlue Mosaic

Base Points: 11,633
Segments: 14

Zach’s take:

The two tracks to earning Mosaic status are either 15,000 base points or 12,000 base points + 30 segments. TrueBlue base points are earned at 3x the base fare, so I have to spend ~$1122 on JetBlue for the rest of the year to requalify for Mosaic with the former track. Since my family is based in South Florida, I fly JetBlue quite a bit up and down the East Coast, with the occasional Mint trip out west. The free changes and cancellations save me and my family tons of money, and I can’t imagine my travel life without JetBlue Mosaic.

Brendan Dorsey, Associate Editor

Alaska Airlines MVP Status

Elite-Qualifying Miles: 0
Elite-Qualifying Segments: 0

Brendan’s take:

I hope to re-qualify for Alaska MVP status this year, but my progress so far is pretty grim — I have flown exactly zero miles on Alaska-operated flights in 2019. I usually make semi-frequent trips between New York and San Francisco to visit my family in Northern California, and that’s led to having MVP status for the last two years. However, that hasn’t been the case this year, as they’ve either visited New York or I’ve met them in other cities for vacations.

I love the Alaska elite program because I’ve actually been upgraded to first class quite a few times on my transcontinental flights. And as a person with the lowest level elite status, that’s incredibly rare compared to the big three US legacy carriers. Also, Alaska still awards elite status and redeemable miles based on the distance flown. That means after only four transcontinental trips, I can get MVP status (and there’s no elite spending requirement). And with the 50% bonus on redeemable miles I earn, I can quickly rack up some pretty valuable miles that can be used for partner flights like Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines in first or business class.

I’m still planning on earning status, because I know I’ll have at least three round-trip transcontinental flights between NYC and San Francisco before the end of the year. That’ll get me 75% of the way there, but I’ll need to make at least one mileage run before December 31 to re-qualify — I plan on just booking a cheap transcon flight and making a fun weekend out of it!

Darren Murph, Senior Strategist/Writer

Delta Diamond Medallion

Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs): 93,847
Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs): 24
Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs): $4,064

Darren’s take:

I’m well on my way to achieving Diamond Medallion for the seventh year running from an MQM standpoint, but barring an impromptu business class ticket overseas, I’ll likely need a couple of MQD runs in the second half of the year. While I’ve traveled many miles, I’ve done so frugally, which means I’m not on pace to meet Delta’s $15,000 MQD requirement for Diamond. Diamond is a definite goal, as I place a high degree of value on Delta’s Global Upgrade Certificates, which are only available as a Choice Benefit at the Diamond level.

Katie Genter, Senior General Assignment and Updates Reporter

American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum

Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs): 98,601
Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs): 24
Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs): $15,517

Katie’s take:

I’ll easily re-earn Executive Platinum status, as I need just 1,399 more EQMs. This status is essential to me — and not just for first class lounge access when traveling on most international routes, ability to select Main Cabin Extra seats during booking for no additional cost and frequent upgrades when flying domestically. It also offers the ability to cancel and refund AA mileage awards. As a digital nomad whose plans frequently change, being able to cancel award flights for no cost brings huge value.

I also have two other statuses that I’ll be keeping for next year — though likely not beyond. Last October, I saw Malaysia Airlines was offering a Triple Everything promotion. I used this promotion to book 18 flights across 16 days to earn Malaysia Airlines Gold (Oneworld Sapphire) until March 31, 2021, for less than $500. Although I did this status run mainly for the story, I enjoyed seeing Medan, Indonesia and four Malaysia cities besides Kuala Lumpur — and the Oneworld Sapphire status has been beneficial for accessing American Airlines Admiral’s Clubs and Flagship lounges when flying domestically in the US.

Finally, due to a 24-month qualification period and subsequent 24-month status period, I’ll have Asiana Diamond (Star Alliance Gold) status through December 2021.

Benji Stawski, Intern

Alaska Airlines MVP

Elite-Qualifying Miles: 10,308
Elite-Qualifying Segments: 4

Benji’s take:

I’m currently about halfway towards requalifying for MVP status. I try to primarily fly just Alaska for all my transcontinental trips between school in Boston and home in LA. Each round-trip yields about 5,200 elite-qualifying miles, so I’m able to earn status with about 4 round-trips a year. Although MVP is Alaska’s lowest level of status, I love it because I often get upgrades to first class, including on transcontinental flights.

How do your stats compare with the TPG team? Let us know in the comments below!

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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