It’s July 1: time for a mid-year status check!

If my calendar isn’t lying to me it’s July 1 (I’m hoping it is and it’s actually April 1, because that’s the only way I wouldn’t feel horrible about all the changes happening in the industry lately), which means it’s the start of the second half of the year. That’s a great time to track elite status progress for the year, and see what areas need to be concentrated on in order to avoid the end of the year mileage run and/or mattress run rush.

In my case I’ve had a pretty weak first half of the year. So far this year I’ve flown over 100,000 butt-in-seat miles on award tickets, which isn’t good news for my elite status requalification. While it’s great to redeem miles, award tickets also don’t count towards status, so I’ll have to focus a bit more on revenue flights and less on award flights for the remainder of the year.

Award_Trips_2013
Some of my award flights so far this year

And frankly I’m having a similar issue with hotels. I’ve been staying at too many hotels without loyalty programs, and am a bit less than half way to requalifying for status with my two main programs.

With that in mind, here’s where I stand on elite requalification for the year with the programs that matter most to me:

American AAdvantage

American_Status_Tracker

I’m just under half way to requalifying for Executive Platinum status. That’s probably because I haven’t done a mileage run to China yet this year, which I’ll definitely do in the fourth quarter of the year when fares are typically cheapest and upgrades are easiest to confirm. I’m not worried at all about requalifying with American.

Alaska Mileage Plan

Alaska_Status_Tracker

Since moving to Seattle, status with Alaska has become very important to me. As an MVP Gold member you can change and cancel tickets without any fees (the money simply goes into your travel bank), so that’s an extremely valuable benefit. I’ve also yet to miss an upgrade on Alaska, though I’ve also only flown them up and down the west coast.

I’m way behind on requalifying for MVP Gold, though, which requires 50,000 flown miles on Alaska and their partners. At the moment I have only about 14,000 elite qualifying miles, many of which are from my Emirates trip earlier in the year, which I credited to Alaska. The other issue is that I’ve booked a lot of last minute award tickets on Alaska using British Airways Avios given how few Avios are required, and I don’t earn miles on those tickets.

Anyway, after Labor Day I’ll start looking for some mileage run fares on Alaska, as they usually have same day transcon turns for under $300 roundtrip in the off season. My biggest frustration with them are their lack of power ports, which makes it very difficult to be productive on a same day turn mileage run. I’m thinking of upgrading to a new MacBook Air, which comes with 12 hours of battery life — that would certainly help make my transcon turns more productive.

So while this requires a lot of flying, I’m confident I’ll requalify, and it’s something I have to do if I plan on staying in Seattle next year (which is a whole different can of worms for another post).

British Airways Executive Club

BA_Status_Tracker

I got matched to British Airways Gold status when they took over British Midland. As an American flyer the single most valuable benefit of British Airways Gold status is access to the American Flagship Lounges even when traveling domestically. While on one hand I’ve considered trying to requalify (given that there are some efficient ways to do so by mileage running to the Caribbean on American in first/business class), I’ve come to realize that I only connect in airports that have Flagship Lounges maybe a handful of times a year, at least on domestic itineraries. On international itineraries I already get access to those lounges on account of my Executive Platinum status. So it’s just not worth putting in effort to requalify for access to a nicer lounge for a few trips a year.

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood_Status_Tracker

While I can requalify for Starwood Platinum status on either 25 stays or 50 nights, I definitely want to reach the 50 nights. That’s because last year Starwood introduced new elite benefits, including 10 suite night awards for Platinum members that reach 50 nights.

While I’m more than half way in terms of stays and half way in terms of nights, I’m really pretty far behind. That’s because I get four elite stays and ten elite nights towards status requalification every year just for having the Starwood Personal American Express and Starwood Business American Express (each offers two elite stays and five elite nights annually). Without those I’d only be at 14 stays and 15 nights. So it’s time for me to play catch up. Big time.

Hyatt Gold Passport

Hyatt_Status_Tracker

I plan on qualifying for Hyatt Diamond on 25 stays as opposed to 50 nights, so I need 14 more stays. The issue with Hyatt is I’ve made quite a few award stays this year, and Hyatt doesn’t count award stays towards elite status, so I need to do more revenue stays for the rest of the year. I’m still hoping for a decent promotion in the second half of the year that makes mattress running more efficient. It does kind of make me long for the days that I lived in Tampa, given the number of properties there that I could efficiently mattress run at.

Hilton HHonors

Hilton_Status_Tracker

I earned Hilton Diamond this year by spending $40,000 on the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card. While the program devaluation sucks, I still wanted to see what Diamond status was like if for no other reason to share my experiences. The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card comes with Gold status for as long as you have the card, which more or less gets you the same benefits as Diamond. So I may just decide to pay the low annual fee on the credit card in the future and take advantage of the Gold benefits when Hilton’s are the most convenient properties. Then again my first stay as a Diamond member was impressive as I got a suite upgrade without asking, something I’ve never gotten as a Gold member.

Conclusion

It’s time to book revenue flights for the rest of the year and stick to Hyatt (revenue rates only) and Starwood (revenue and award rates) for my hotel stays.

How are you guys doing on your 2013 elite status requalification?

(In the interest of full disclosure I earn a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the above links — thanks for your support!)

Comments

  1. @ Nick — Whoops, thanks. Fortunately also my most protected account thanks to the fact that they let you put a password on it. 🙂

  2. Ben,

    Just go to vegas and hotel-hop for a week with Hyatt and you’ll rack up stays for under $50 (if you go Sunday through Thursday)

  3. @ Roy K — That’s the qualification threshold for Hyatt Diamond. You need either 25 stays OR 50 nights.

  4. Ben – you ever miss UA in any aspects, relative to AA? Seems like you still get your *A miles just fine at least!

  5. Good thing you dont fly AC. I read they are facing more devaluations. I guess that 13 in 2013 serves a purpose. Yuck what a year.

  6. Bit of a tangent, but given that you mainly fly award tickets in a premium cabin, does that ever change your perspective on qualifying as a top tier elite? Meaning, if you’re flying international F all the time, then you don’t need to be Star Gold because you’ve got the lounge access (and baggage allowance, not that you would really need it) as part of the ticket), etc.

    I realize there are still perks to being elite in terms of phone agents, flying on revenue tickets, etc…but still wondering if it changes your perspective at all.

  7. @ Andrew — It definitely does change my perspective somewhat, though for me the main benefits of top tier status are actually benefits that complement my award tickets:
    — The ability to make free changes to award tickets, which is more valuable than ever given that award space is tougher than ever to come by.
    — The ability to travel in comfort domestically. Domestic flights are usually not a good use of miles, so being able to fly domestically in comfort over the course of my “normal” travels is worth quite a bit to me.

    Funny enough even though the eight systemwide upgrades on American are awesome, I could probably live without them, since I’m happy with most of my international tickets being awards.

  8. @UA-NYC – I reckon Lucky has lifetime status with UA of some sorts. If I had to make a guess, I’d wager on 2MM, which allows for waived fees on all things related to award tickets. Thus, it’s not necessary for him to try and reach any annual status with UAL.

  9. Leisure traveller alert ex-Europe

    SPG 29 stays / 50 nights (my goal for the year)
    AA 33,748 miles (working on renewing AA Plt, 50kEQM)

    Haven’t chosen a new *A programme yet with juicy redemption possibilities ex-EU. Any suggestions??

  10. @Antonio – IIRC I think he had just passed 1MM right around merger time.

    @BMVaughn – why have so many stopped (or lessened) flying UA? 🙂

  11. Lucky, how has your experience with Starwood Suite Night Awards been in practice? I’ve only tried to use them a couple of times but with no success, and there’s quite a bit of frustration/disappointment with them on Flyertalk right now. May turn out they’re not actually as worthwhile as they feel like they should be, especially if qualifying with 25 stays is a better fit for someone’s normal travel patterns.

  12. @ Bgriff — I’ve actually been quite pleased with them — have yet to been denied a suite upgrade when requested. What properties have you requested them at, if you don’t mind me asking?

  13. @Lucky Personally I’ve tried at the W Lakeshore Chicago and the Park Lane in London. The former was quite busy on my dates so the outcome wasn’t surprising, though there was a suite available for sale during much of my 5-day window. The latter it did not clear but I got upgraded at check-in. There seems to be some kind of capacity control on the execution of SNA requests, even within the 5-day window.

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