Once again, the year is coming to a close and those of us vying for airline and hotel loyalty status take account of where we stand with each program and how we’re going to wrap up our status goals for 2016. Here’s how I fared in the status game this year and my thoughts on participation in each major loyalty program.
Hotel Loyalty Status
Starwood Preferred Guest – Winner
Starwood runs an excellent hotel loyalty program and their properties seem to be consistently available and affordable in the areas I’ve traveled. I have been able to complete the 25 stays necessary this year to maintain Platinum Status with the program for 2017.
The consistent upgrades, bonus promotions, and good value make it my primary hotel loyalty program. With the Marriott merger my status goals for 2017 might change but for now I’m a happy camper and plan to continue achieving status with Starwood as long as it exists.
Hilton HHonors – Winner
My travel friend has qualified for Diamond Status with Hilton HHonors on an ongoing basis so we have enjoyed the upgrades and availability of properties at our chosen destinations. Although I think the program fits my travel style and has tremendous merit, I am unable to reach the thirty required nights or $40,000 spend on their credit card it would take to maintain the Diamond Status. I give this program a thumbs-up however and if I didn’t have Starwood, this would be my first choice.
Hyatt Gold Passport – Loser
I did a status match to Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond and after hearing so many accolades from fellow travelers, my expectations were high. I have to say however, that the program fell short of providing the value I expected. The full story is that I was unable to give it total consideration due to properties not being available in the cities I visited or room costs were too high.
When I finally did book a room, the suite upgrade was disappointing. In the end it was just too much work finding suitable properties and my unwillingness to pay more than I would normally pay. I’m not saying I don’t like Hyatt or its loyalty program; it just doesn’t fit with my travel mode-of-operation.
Delta SkyMiles Diamond Medallion – Winner
I hadn’t planned to keep Diamond Status with Delta this year but it looks like it will happen. I’ve easily flown 117,000 miles with them and have a Hong Kong trip coming up after Thanksgiving which will allow me to re-qualify.
In addition to earning the appropriate number of Elite Qualifying Miles, Delta requires $15,000 in ticket purchases or a $25,000 spend on its Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express in order to qualify for any of its elite status levels. I chose the credit card spend. I find Delta offers the best flight experience for me personally despite some negative changes they’ve made to their loyalty program this year.
American Airlines Executive Platinum – Winner
I have once again managed to qualify for AA Executive Platinum this year with around 160,000 flown miles so far. Like Delta and United, American made the significant change to a revenue-based program this year so qualifying in 2017 will be a considerable challenge. They also reduced some of the benefits of top elite status, reducing the number of system-wide upgrades received at the 100,000 mile level.
In 2017 AA will additionally require revenue of $12,000 to be generated with the airline to achieve Executive Platinum. While I do plan to achieve Executive Platinum in 2017, it will require a strategic move to discounted business class fares on partner airlines to achieve the required revenue requirement. I find the upgrades, lounge access, and the availability of flights to destinations I want to go make achieving status worthwhile.
United Mileage Plus 1K – Loser
At the beginning of 2016 I made the decision not to fly United this year despite having had status for many years. It’s difficult to fly an additional 100,000 miles but I am also unable to meet the $15,000 revenue requirement for top status. Quite frankly, in my opinion, keeping airline status with three airlines is questionable behavior for me anyway. So, although I’ll probably fly about 15,000 miles on them this year, United loses out due to its many requirements and for the lack of return on the investment of my time and resources.
The good news in my quest for airline and hotel loyalty status this year is that there will be no necessary mileage runs or mattress runs for re-qualification. Just one more flight and I will have reached all my status goals for 2016. However, on January 1st, 2017, the scoreboard is cleared and a whole new game with different rules begins again.
How are you doing on your status goals for 2016? Any mileage or mattress runs left to accomplish?
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