Secrets of Frequent Fliers – Status Matching

If you are working on obtaining status with an airline, you want to “buy local” whenever you have a choice of flights and airlines.  By this I mean that someone working on building status on Delta  (for example and just to show no hard feelings after all) should always try to fly Delta or a Delta code share partner (this includes airlines like Virgin Australia, Air France, KLM, Alitalia Joint Venture, etc…)  Every flight adds to your status. 

You may have worked your way up to Platinum on Delta, only to have your boss promote you to a new territory, or give you a new project with a customer in a different city.  As a result, the cheapest, most direct flight will always be on another airline (in my case when I moved out to the Coachella Valley, Alaska). 

Or you may be a Platinum member sitting in Coach next to a Diamond Delta member, and a Delta Million Miler, while three empty First Class seats are easily visible through the curtain, taunting you.  This actually happened to me on a 5 hour flight from LAX (Los Angeles California) to HNL (Honolulu Hawaii).  We were all flying for business and none of us were going to shell out the extra $225 for an upgrade that Delta felt we should be pleased to pay on our way to Paradise.  Maybe if we were on a once a year vacation that would have felt like a bargain.  Not so much if you’re flying back and forth three times a month.  I’m not sure how the others felt but I was all…

Verklempt and such. 

The only really good thing about having a commute that involves hauling luggage, braving the TSA, and nights away from family, friends, children, and furry babies… is having the kind of status that gets you a FREE upgrade to First Class where the legroom is better, you’re not crammed elbow to elbow with fellow travelers, and you can get some work done while enjoying a free adult beverage.  I know this may not seem plausible, but you’d be surprised how much work people can get done after a G & T. 

This had been happening for six months.  Sometimes, if I really needed to get a lot of work done, or I was short on sleep, or just plain exhausted… I’d go ahead and spring for the extra $225.  But I was just a working girl getting by in Los Angeles. I didn’t have money to burn.  I was also planning to fly to Europe for a writing trip to Scotland.  So I did the ultimate Frequent Flier

*fck u* very much… 

… and applied for a status match with United. 

What this involved was a phone call to a sympathetic customer service representative with United who was happy to extend my Delta Platinum status to me on United flights, contingent on my flying 30,000 miles in the next 90 days.  

This was back in 2012 mind you, so the rules have probably changed, but the premise has not. 

At that point, with the flight to Europe included, it was a slam dunk.  To this day I remain a loyal United flyer whenever possible, despite all the negative press.   Overall, United has treated me quite well, even when I had no status at all. 

Of course, I know how to work the system, which includes having a United Airline VISA card that I use whenever booking a flight… which guarantees me early boarding and free baggage checking.

If I were building my status, I might buy the United Economy Plus membership, which as far as I’m concerned used to be the best deal around to get you extra leg room, and boarding priority so you can get your suitcase over your seat.  They’ve now bumped it up to $499 (whatever the market will bear, thank you Capitalism), so you have to know you’re going to be stuck in Coach a whole lot, before that becomes worth the price.  Either that or you are going to be flying abroad more than once a year.  Then… definitely worth it. 

If I wanted to plunk down the extra $450 a year (as of 2018) for the United Mileage Plus Club Card, I could include unlimited access to United Club Lounges  (and a few codes hare partner clubs) for me and a travel partner. Two international trips, and you really start to appreciate the freebies, clean bathrooms, reliable WiFi,  comfortable chairs and quiet desk space. 

BONUS TIP: The VISA fee is $100 cheaper than buying the club membership directly from United, plus you get points for all the charges on the card.  
It’s actually a pretty sweet deal, the clubs (and the cards).  But that’s a blog for another day. 

What about you? Any good status match stories?    

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