At the Chicago Seminars, Mommy Points had an excellent presentation about Airline Elite Status.
While I have plenty of free Hotel Elite Status, I do not have any Airline Elite Status.
After Mommy Points presentation I decided that next year I am going to try and shoot for Top Tier Status on 1 Airline, either United or American, to see what all the fuss is about ; )
That being said, the thought of flying 100,000 Butt In Seat (BIS) Miles does not particularly appeal to me, so it was great to hear about some loopholes in Mommy Points presentation.
For those of you not familiar with Aegean Airlines (wikipedia page), don’t worry, neither was I when I first heard of them.
Aegean Airlines is a Greek Airline that is part of Star Alliance.
What is “interesting” about Aegean’s frequent flyer program is how low the qualifications are for Star Alliance Silver and Gold Elite Status.
While on United or most other Star Alliance Members, it would take 25,000 BIS Miles to earn Star Alliance Silver Status, on Aegean it is only 4,000.
What is even better is that with the current sign up, you get 2,000 Miles Sign Up Bonus, so that 4,000 Miles for Silver is now only 2,000 Miles!
For Star Alliance Gold Status, on United or most Star Alliance Members, it would take 50,000 BIS Miles. With Aegean it is only 20,000 Miles!.
Once you factor in the 2,000 Sign Up Bonus, it is actually only 18,000!
Once you have Aegean Elite Status, because they are a Star Alliance Member, you get Star Alliance Silver or Gold Status, which gives you free checked bags, priority security, lounge access, etc.
The only thing you don’t get is upgrades on United, because those are reserved for MileagePlus Elites : (
That being said, given how easy it is to get Aegean Star Alliance Silver status, I suggest everyone go for that because at a minimum you will get free checked bags as a Star Alliance Silver.
The best part about this whole thing is that you don’t even ever have to step foot on an Aegean Airplane to earn this Status. Simply credit a United or US Airways flight to them and you are good.
Only thing to watch out for is that most of the discount fares on United only earn 50% credit with Aegean. A full list of earning % by fare class can be found here.
However Aegean is pretty awesome in that they give 500 Mile Minimums for United flights, so to hit the 2,000 miles needed for Aegean Silver, you can simply credit 4 segments (500 Miles earned each segment) to Aegean!
All US Airways fares earn 100% on Aegean.
If you have a long flight to Asia or Australia, I’d also recommend crediting it to Aegean.
Remember you only need 18,000 miles for Star Alliance Gold with Aegean, so 1 trip to Australia or Asia, and you are set.
Of course, I wouldn’t fly to Australia or Asia just for fun to earn this status but if you have a trip planned anyways, Aegean is the way to go.
Now if the low Elite Status qualification threshold wasn’t enough, the real kicker is that apparently as of right now, once you qualify for Elite Status, it is more or less indefinite as long as you credit a flight to Aegean every 3 years.
Gary from View From The Wing had a great piece about it and the specifics.
Of course, Aegean could change this policy at anytime.
As I’ve stated many times before, most of the miles we earn now come from Credit Cards.
So even crediting 18,000 Miles to Aegean for Star Alliance Gold Status isn’t a huge deal when you can easily earn 65,000 United Miles by signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase INK Bold.
The next time I fly on United, my plan is to simply make sure the ticket has 1 stop on each leg, so I can get the four 500 Mile Minimums and get Star Alliance Silver Status!
Turkish Status Match
While this Turkish Status Match trick won’t help you if you don’t have status, it is certainly useful if you do have status.
One of the really dumb quirks of United is that even if you are a Premier Gold Elite with them (50,000+ BIS Miles a year), you only have access to the Red Carpet Lounges if you are flying internationally.
If you have to fly Chicago to New York for work every week, you don’t get lounge access, but if you were flying Chicago to anywhere outside the U.S, you would get lounge access.
For anyone that has been in a United Red Carpet Lounge, it is not really anything special.
The marginal benefits are Free Internet, Free Beer & Wine, and comfy chairs.
If you are an United Elite and travel primarily in the US for work, you never have lounge access. Your only options would be purchase United Club Membership for a whopping $375 – $425 or get United Club Credit Card that has a $395 annual fee.
Both of those options are terrible, so if you have any Star Alliance Gold, One World Emerald, or Skyteam Elite Plus Status, I’d recommend Status Matching to Turkish Airways.
Again, View From The Wing has all the details.
Normally Airline Carriers don’t Status Match to other Airlines in their alliance because they are essentially poaching from their Business Partners, but Turkish has decided to buck the trend and do just that.
So if you have status on any of the above Alliances, I strongly suggest Status Matching to Turkish Airways.
It is free, and you don’t even have to credit any miles to them.
Once they approve you, they will send you a Turkish Airways Star Alliance Gold Card, and with that you will have access to all United Lounges, regardless if you are flying domestically or internationally!
While Turkish isn’t like Aegean in that the Status is indefinite, they do give you 2 full years of status and 2 years to re-qualify if you choose.
All of the above examples focus on Star Alliance, but if you don’t have any Status an want to get status quickly, I’d recommend doing an AA Challenge.
More information can be found here.
With a Status Match (as talked about above), the Airline matches you to their program once they verify that you have Status with another Airline.
With a Status Challenge, you will receive the Status, but you have to complete some sort of requirement.
Basically it is just to make sure you are serious and not just getting the Status so you can get free lounge access with United…
For AA’s Status Challenge, there is a fee involved of $120 – $240 depending on what level you are shooting for.
In addition, for Platinum you need to earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Points in 3 months. For Gold, it is 5,000 EQP in 3 months.
Elite Qualifying Points are different than Elite Qualifying Miles. Basically, if you fly discounted fares, you will only earn .5 EQP instead of 1 EQP per 1 Mile Flown.
A full chart of Elite Qualifying Points by Fare Class can be found here.
The reason why this Challenge is important is that if you have a big trip coming up (Asia, Australia, etc), you can easily earn Status with American in a single trip.
So assuming that you buy the cheapest fare that only earns .5 EQP per 1 Mile Flown, a trip from New York to Australia via LAX would put you at around 20,000 miles, which would still meet the 10,000 EQP requirement.
Similarly, if you are going for Gold Status and need to earn 5,000 EQP, a simple Los Angeles to Paris trip would earn you 11,300 Miles. Even if you were earning .5 EQP per 1 Mile Flown due to a discounted fare, you would still pass the 5,000 EQP needed to complete the Challenge.
Unfortunately, I only recently learned about these AA Challenges, or I would have definitely done one when I flew on paid Economy tickets to Australia, Europe, and India in my younger days!
Hopefully if you don’t currently have Elite Status and are thinking about getting some, you now have some easy ways to earn it without having to fly 100,000 Miles.
While earning Elite Status is not for everyone due to the time and money involved, the benefits of Elite Status can be significant depending on your Elite level.
The perks can really add up when you factor in how much you save on ticket changes fees, baggage fees, as well as free upgrades, lounge access, etc.
Although you do have to pay a small fee for the AA Challenge, once you complete the 10,000 EQP requirement, you will have full AA Platinum status.
As you have seen with Turkish Airline offer above, once you have Status with one Airline, it is very easy to simply Status Match to another Airline.
So even if you only earn Status in 1 year, you can very easily Status Match to another Airline for the next year! Check StatusMatcher.com for more information,
If you have any questions, please let me know!