Why I Gave Up Airline Loyalty

A few years ago, I managed to earn American AAdvantage Gold status — a feat I never thought possible. Due to a series of strange events, most of my travel was concentrated on American Airlines that year. I earned this status through flying with the airline, which is pretty crazy considering I usually pay for flights with airline miles instead of cash.

For the year and a half I had status, I was pretty stoked. I did get a handful of automatic upgrades on flights under 500 miles, and I scored a few upgrades on domestic First class I didn’t even earn. I also cashed in my 500-mile upgrade certificates strategically, ensuring that my husband and I had cozy seats for one of our many flights to the Caribbean.

I Don’t Care About Status

But when American Airlines emailed earlier this year to see if I wanted to renew my status for 2019, I almost laughed. I mean, they wanted me to pay $699!

No way were the benefits of Gold status worth anything close to that. I probably wouldn’t have paid $100 to extend my status, let alone $700.

Here’s why I just don’t think it’s worth it anymore:

  • I book the cheapest flights…period. Over the next 12 months, I’m flying a ton of different airlines — Icelandair to Norway, British Airways to England (booked through Finnair), American AAdvantage to Italy, Delta to Turks and Caicos, and the list goes on. Some of these flights were paid in cash and the rest in miles. Either way, I always want to go with the best or cheapest option in rewards or money — regardless of status.
  • I don’t care about domestic upgrades anyway. Low-level status with airlines may help you score a few domestic upgrades per year, but you can’t expect to score upgrades on long haul flights with lie-flat seats. I do like domestic First, but not enough to chase status for it or to fork over more of my own miles for a slightly larger seat.
  • I prefer to earn miles without flying anyway. One of the biggest benefits of most elite status with airlines is the fact you can earn more miles for each dollar you spend the higher you climb. With the American AAdvantage program, for example, you a tiered “elite mileage bonus” for each level you climb ranging from 40% more miles to 120% more. The thing is, I prefer earning my points and miles with airline and rewards credit card spending versus flying. And I strive to pay with miles when I can, which means I don’t earn a lot of miles via flying anyway.

The Bottom Line

Elite status is nice if you can earn it without any hassle or stress, but I cringe every time I hear about someone doing a crazy mileage run to earn low level Gold status. Unless you’re trying to score an airline’s top tier status and you fly that airline all the time, it’s crazy to put too much effort into it unless you have special circumstances.

Personally, I couldn’t care less about elite status. I just want free and cheap travel, and any airline will do just fine.

Do you care about elite status? Why or why not?

 

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

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