TPG Readers on the Worst Elite Status Gifts Received From Airlines, Hotels

Jun 8, 2019

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Elite status is often the zenith for any frequent traveler. Whether it’s with an airline or hotel chain, elite status, even entry-tier status, comes with valuable benefits, and top-tier elite status has special value. TPG’s latest valuations have American Airlines Executive Platinum status worth upwards of $7,000 while Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador status is worth around $7,430.

There are some lesser-known perks too, including unique gifts that airlines and hotels send out as thank-yous to their most loyal customers.

In a recent TPG Lounge survey, we asked readers with elite status to describe some of the gifts they’ve received from airlines, hotels or credit cards. Many were overjoyed to receive thank-you gifts. Others, however, weren’t as impressed.

Here are six of the worst gifts readers received for holding elite status.


One reader who earned Diamond Medallion status with Delta Air Lines, the highest elite tier at the airline, received socks in recognition of the achievement. The socks are pretty cool, especially for an AvGeek, but one pair of socks for flying tens of thousands of miles in a year?

Delta's gift to some elite frequent flyers. (Image via u/srbinafg on Reddit)
Delta’s gift to some elite frequent flyers. (Image via u/srbinafg on Reddit)


Numerous readers who have top-tier status with United reported receiving a set of plastic coasters to celebrate their achievement. Some have received multiple sets of coasters, with one reader claiming to have five. As another reader pointed out, each set of coasters is worth around $1,000 if you factor in the spending requirements to achieve United 1K status each year.

Some United 1K elites have taken to eBay to sell their surplus of coasters. (Image via eBay)
Some United 1K elites have taken to eBay to sell off their surplus coasters. (Image via eBay)


A common theme with Marriott Titanium and Ambassador elites as well as readers with American Airlines Executive Platinum status is that they received . . . nothing. Even some million-milers at the world’s largest airline report receiving absolutely zilch for continuously earning American’s top-tier status. If one is able to spend $50,000 or even $100,000 a year, they might be able to earn Concierge Key, at which point the gifts start rolling in, according to some reports.

Stained Bed Linens

(Image via Derek S. on Facebook)

Nothing says “Thank you for your business” quite like a room with stained bed sheets.

One TPG reader with top-tier elite status with IHG submitted a photo of their bed from a recent stay. It featured a nasty stain, something that isn’t acceptable even for guests without status. One can only hope that this reader received fresh sheets and maybe an upgrade.

Bright Yellow Luggage Tags

Many welcome hefty or customized baggage tags as gifts, but some United frequent flyers aren’t too thrilled with their “brag-tags.” United issues its top-tier elite frequent flyers bright yellow tags. There’s no question the tags help United identify its most loyal flyers, but we wonder if there’s a less outlandish color that could get the job done.

Still No Upgrades

Hitting top-tier elite status with an airline or hotel means an increased chance of scoring an upgrade. When a frequent traveler achieves the highest elite status with an airline or hotel, upgrades, which are often scarce, are often considered part of the experience.

A few readers note that this isn’t always the case. Readers who hold the highest-tier elite status with Marriott say that upgrades are still nonexistent. Not receiving upgrades as a top-tier elite customer greatly devalues that status.

Even top-tier elites aren’t guaranteed upgrades.

Bottom Line

Elite status is fantastic, no matter what tier, but even those with top-tier or lifetime elite status aren’t immune from halfhearted loyalty recognition. For the frequent traveler, top-tier elite status represents a lot of time and money spent, so it’s easy to sympathize with the unhappy customer who gets socks as a thank-you for their business.

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Featured image by Francesco Carta fotografo/Getty Images

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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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