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Airline Elite Status News with the Big 3, But What Really Matters?

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Airline Elite Status

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Airline Elite Status

When it comes to airline elite status, the nation’s big three airlines – American, Delta, and United – have each pushed hard for consumers’ attention recently.  While the moneymaking machines these programs have become is nothing new, the current flood of options for airline elite status across providers is noteworthy to me.  American just announced an AAdvantage program refresh, and the other two are currently offering status matches.  Unsurprisingly, many are overwhelmed by all these alternatives, including me.  I like options, but I know I can’t do everything.  So with the big three, what really matters to me right now?

Airline Elite Status

American Airlines

DDG covered the recent AAdvantage program changes in detail here.  This is what stands out most, in my view.  Loyalty Point Rewards were not devalued, and they actually improved here and there.  The previous year’s rewards are available at the same thresholds.  And AA added 1k, 5k, and 15k bonus Loyalty Points as an option at the 15k, 175k, and 250k thresholds, respectively.  I find easier access to Flagship lounges, including Flagship First Dining for Platinum Pro elites and above with miles, as welcome additions.  Time will tell what the rate will be, but for those in a world of easily, cheaply earning AA miles, a splurge here or there is a nice option.  Upgrading on partners with AA miles sounds great, as well – more info on that later in 2024.

While it doesn’t affect me since I focus on award bookings, many undoubtedly love the change of earning miles and Loyalty Points on cash upgrades to premium cabins.  Overall, AA has given me more reasons to stick around, something I already decided to do.  Confirmation bias, clearly, and I’ll take one more step.  In my view, the Loyalty Point program has been the biggest win/win for travelers and an airline in recent memory.

Airline Elite Status

Delta Air Lines

While I love Sky Clubs, Delta often annoys me elsewhere.  (Does anyone else find making “airlines” two words unnecessarily haughty?)  Most all of us found plenty wrong with last year’s devaluations, so much so that they walked back a lot of the changes.  Maybe Delta’s still trying to heal, as they’re now offering a status match many will surely jump on.

Initial Status

Since I find that the action is the juice in our hobby, I wanted to determine if I could meet the requirements before deciding if it’s a good idea.  (I highly discourage doing this backward thought process for most everyone.)  As a current AA Executive Platinum, I can easily match to Platinum Medallion for three months without any other efforts beyond paperwork.  That’s a no-brainer which I’ll tackle when I see Delta travel on the horizon.  But what about requalifying during that three month period?


Long story short, I’d need to spend $37.5k on a Delta Reserve card during those three months.  I can do that.  But, as with many things, just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should.  Neither Reserve card offers viable bonus categories for scaled (non-Delta) spending.  Earning 1x Delta miles isn’t appealing, especially in our world of inflated Delta award pricing.  But bigger picture, the primary reason for doing this is the status benefits, not the redeemable miles.  What’s good there?

Long story short, it’s a big bag of almost nothing for me: I’d pick the 20k redeemable miles as my Choice benefit, “preferred” seats, and slightly earlier boarding via Sky Priority.  Oh, I’d also pick up the false hopes of upgrades, too.  Indeed, I’ve heard from Diamond Medallions they’re rarely upgraded, so receiving one from Platinum status doesn’t exactly seem promising, either.  It’s worth mentioning that meeting the 3,750 MQD threshold would earn me Platinum through January 2026 – up to two years!  Regardless, I’m out.

Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should.

Airline Elite Status

United Airlines

Not to be forgotten, United is also offering a status match up to Premier Platinum in their MileagePlus program.  This one’s a quickie for me – I have zero plans to fly United this year, so I wouldn’t benefit.  And this also means I’m not earning Premier qualifying flights (PQF) or Premier qualifying points (PQP), either – both required to maintain the status for the remainder of the 2024 program year.  Long story short, UA status still requires butt-in-seat travel, something I just don’t have with them this year.  In this sense, United is still hanging onto the past, wanting some version of actual travel loyalty to reach longer-term elite status.  United customers who already do that probably love the requirement, and everyone else, well, you know.

Airline Elite Status – Conclusion

This is just my personal situation with each of the big three domestic airlines, so I’m just scraping the surface.  You’ll want to critically think and research about each angle yourself.  And I haven’t even touched all the status match opportunities with the other domestic airlines.  While Shawn has, that’s a level of masochism I’ve chosen not to take part in – yet.  Stepping back, though, I appreciate that all of the airlines are giving us something to consider, even if I don’t opt in.  I’d rather have that than be bored.  That’s a low bar, albeit a valid one.  What airline elite status opportunities are you currently considering and/or chasing?  Why?

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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