Why you should pay attention to your elite status progress — even if you aren’t chasing status

Dec 10, 2021

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I’ve never been one to chase elite status. I’m a budget traveler, and my flight and hotel decisions are almost always made with price in mind, not brand. Because of that, I’ve never paid much attention to the elite status trackers in any of my apps … and that cost me elite status for next year.

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After a recent flight on American Airlines, I realized that I’ll end up missing gold elite status by under 3,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs). I hit the Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD) threshold needed through work travel, and I am pretty close to hitting the EQM requirement.

screenshot of the elite status tracker in the American Airlines app
(Screenshot courtesy of the American Airlines app)

While I don’t find gold elite status worth a last-minute mileage run before the holidays, knowing I was so close to hitting status may have shifted my strategy on my most recent work flights.

Just last week, I flew Delta from New York City to Phoenix, Arizona, for a work retreat. I could have just as easily flown American Airlines (in fact, many coworkers did). That round-trip flight alone could have been enough to get me over the EQM threshold for gold elite status.

Now, losing out on gold elite status for 2022 isn’t the end of the world. While TPG values AAdvantage gold elite status at $855, I wouldn’t use the benefits frequently enough to get that much value out of it. I almost never check a bag, I get priority boarding regardless on work trips and flying out of New York, I’d rarely (if ever) get upgraded in favor of higher-tier elites.

The only benefits I would likely use regularly are complimentary access to preferred and Main Cabin Extra seats.

But still, it would have taken one otherwise inconsequential flight change on my part to hit status for next year if only I had paid any attention to the elite status tracker on my American Airlines app earlier on in the year.

And this situation could have easily applied to elite status with other brands — say, Explorist status with Hyatt.

I was surprised to find that I’d hit Discoverist status with Hyatt earlier this year because I never paid attention, and I’m not too far off from Explorist. I definitely would have made more of a concerted effort to stay at Hyatts during my last couple of trips had I realized I could hit that next tier of status (which comes with a 20% point bonus on stays and room upgrades) without a mattress run.

We’re coming up on the end of the year, which means the clocks will soon restart on elite status for 2022 and beyond. Even if you aren’t someone who strives for elite status, make sure you’re checking in on your loyalty apps throughout the year. You may find yourself closer to hitting status than you would otherwise think, and a couple of minor changes in which airlines or hotel brands you book throughout the year could help you score status for 2023.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy. 

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