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Which US Airline Has The Best Elite Program?  
User currently offlineAero0729 From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 76 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 9131 times:

United and American have stuck to a segment upgrade program while Continental, Delta, Northwest and US Airways offer unlimited Comp. upgrades. Although during peak travel times an upgrade can be tough to get on the Unlimited carriers, it also offers Gold and Platinum Elites many more upgrade oppurtunities. Any thoughts of which one works the best?

24 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineCommavia From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 11752 posts, RR: 62
Reply 1, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 9107 times:

Quoting Aero0729 (Thread starter):
United and American have stuck to a segment upgrade program while Continental, Delta, Northwest and US Airways offer unlimited Comp. upgrades.

For its top-tier frequent flyers, AAdvantage Executive Platinum members, American offers complimentary unlimited upgrades within North America.

Quoting Aero0729 (Thread starter):
Any thoughts of which one works the best?

I know that many are angry with the Continental/Delta programs now that neither program gives customers full credit for flying, even if on discounted Economy fares. American has a unique system that gives all AAdvantage frequent flyers credit for all their flights flown at full mileage-flown levels, but also rewards elite members who fly on full-fares with a unique 'Points' system. In addition, I believe United and Northwest still allow customers to earn full mileage-flown, butt-in-seat credit for all their flights, regardless of the fare class, even if it is a discounted or deeply-discounted Economy Class fare.


User currently offlineAero0729 From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 76 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 9093 times:

Delta never penalizes for cheap fares. 100-150% MQM on every fare!

User currently offlineTVNWZ From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 2398 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 9089 times:

Quoting Commavia (Reply 1):
believe United and Northwest still allow customers to earn full mileage-flown, butt-in-seat credit for all their flights, regardless of the fare class, even if it is a discounted or deeply-discounted Economy Class fare.

And it is precisely for this reason I fly NW and Skyteam. I get upgraded almost all the time as Gold Elite. A friend of mine comparably elite on AA and DL gets upgraded far, far less.


User currently onlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20743 posts, RR: 62
Reply 4, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 9086 times:

Quoting Commavia (Reply 1):
I know that many are angry with the Continental/Delta programs now that neither program gives customers full credit for flying, even if on discounted Economy fares.

I think you'll find that Delta corrected the error of their ways, and Continental still gives full credit when tickets are booked on continental.com for their lowest fares:

http://www.delta.com/skymiles/ways_t...iles/earning_miles_delta/index.jsp



International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlinePhilhyde From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 678 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 9082 times:

Quoting Commavia (Reply 1):
I know that many are angry with the Continental/Delta programs now that neither program gives customers full credit for flying, even if on discounted Economy fares.

CO provides 100% EQM on discount economy, you just have to buy the ticket online.



HoustonSpotters Admin - Canon junkie - Aviation Nut
User currently offlineAero0729 From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 76 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 9048 times:

The nice thing about Delta is that they have a nice ratio of First to Coach seats on most planes and a good chance of an upgrade, even as a Silver. HINT!!! The day of the flight, you can go online and see what flights still have free upgrade availability. If a flight has upgrade availbilty, call Delta and change it for the $25.00 fee-within 3 hours(free for Gold and Plat). Delta also now allows ANY change to the return trip of a domestic itnerary on any fare for only 50.00, confirmed anytime after original travel starts, this is a very nice rule. CO and NW also offer the 25.00 confirmed.

User currently offlinePiercey From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 2233 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 9041 times:

Quoting Commavia (Reply 1):
I know that many are angry with the Continental/Delta programs now that neither program gives customers full credit for flying, even if on discounted Economy fares.

Have to correct you on this one. CO will give full mileage for ticks online and DL is full milage period, as noted above.

Either way, I'm a very happy CO OnePass member, and just got my elite card a few days ago  highfive 



Well I believe it all is coming to an end. Oh well, I guess we are gonna pretend.
User currently offlineCommavia From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 11752 posts, RR: 62
Reply 8, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 9019 times:

My apologies about the mistake about cheap fare mileage earning on CO/DL. I stand corrected.

User currently offlineFCYTravis From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 1191 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 8991 times:

It really comes down to a choice of what you want out of the program and where you live. There's no one "best."

United has a strong F-cabin product, Economy Plus and reasonable mileage redemption. But even top-tier 1K flyers must purchase 500-mile certs to upgrade, and with small F-cabins on a lot of aircraft (8F in the 737s and A319s) upgrades can be tricky - especially given the vast numbers of elites that Mileage Plus has.

Continental has free upgrades for everyone and a very good domestic F-cabin, but the upgrades are notoriously hard to come by. Even Platinums are often completely shut out, thanks to lots of reasonably-priced F-fares. If you're a CO Silver, count yourself lucky to be upgraded one out of every ten flights. Also, mileage redemption is very, very difficult - their program didn't get the nickname NonePass on FlyerTalk for nothing.

US Airways also has free upgrades for everyone, and the upgrades are *very* generously lavished out. Top-tier Chairman's members get upgraded up to a week before the flight date, and even Gold and Silver members report 50-75% upgrade success. The flipside is that the F-cabin product is not particularly lavish and, especially on the East Coast, there's zillions of RJs with nowhere to upgrade to anyway. (This is also true for Continental.)

Northwest, I've heard, has a reputation for lots of upgrades, but again, the F-cabin product is definitely not industry-standard. Pitch is tight, the seats a bit uncomfortable and, domestically, the product overall is pretty bad (no IFE on any domestic flight.)



USAir A321 service now departing for SFO with fuel stops in CAK, COS and RNO. Enjoy your flight.
User currently offlineAero0729 From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 76 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 8945 times:

I agree, it depends on where you live and what you want! Being in Orlando is great for Delta Elites, not good for United due to so many Ted flights with no F Cabin. As a silver on Delta this year I have upgraded 17 out of 21 flights! My father has flown over 30 legs as a Plat. and has not missed one!

User currently offlineBurnsie28 From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 7554 posts, RR: 8
Reply 11, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 8945 times:

Quoting FCYTravis (Reply 9):
Pitch is tight,

No different really then most airlines in the US, infact its got more pitch on comparable aircraft then CO's. Also NW has a minimum of 16 FC seats, more then any other carrier on comparable aircraft sizes.



"Some People Just Know How To Fly"- Best slogan ever, RIP NW 1926-2009
User currently offlineAero0729 From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 76 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 8915 times:

Northwest seats are fine, they arent great but they are good. NW offers a nice meal service on many flights even under 1000 miles (ex: all FL markets to DTW) Their food service is better or comparable to CO, but their flights in ECON are terrible and lack of inflight ent. leaves economy passengers with much to desire.NW and CO Elites can upgrade on each others flights!

User currently offlineFURUREFA From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 805 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 8905 times:

I don't know which one is the best, but I as an AAdvantage gold member, can still upgrade on very full/popular routes (BOS-ORD, DFW-ORD on the wed. before thanksgiving). AA used to be VERY generous with trans-atlantic upgrades (25K miles, almost any fare), whereas now it is $250+25K miles one way. AA also has a large # of F seats on it's S80s (16F, 120Y).

Matt


User currently offlineSllevin From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 3376 posts, RR: 6
Reply 14, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 3 days ago) and read 8830 times:

It definitely depends on the type and quantity of flying you do.

NW, for example, tends to make getting upgraded very easy on domestic flights. However, international flights can only be upgraded from the two highest coach fare classes (Y and B) and even those upgrades can be tough. International Business class awards can be very very tough as well.

AA has some good international upgrade availability, although it will cost $250 each way in addition to miles if the upgrade clears (except for Y/B fares). Domestic upgrades will cost money, however, unless you fly more than 100,000 miles (or as little as 67,000 miles if you fly on premium fares). If you go make AA top tier, you will also get 8 one way upgrade certs (which take the place of miles+fee for upgrading). One downside, of course, is that you can't earn or redeem miles on BA over the Atlantic. So if you live on the west coast that means you will have to fly the last leg home in a domestic aircraft (and, of course, go throgh security one more time).

UA sort of splits the difference. There's no limitation over the Atlantic or the Pacific, but their mileage earning on partners isn't as good as AA's, and you get fewer upgrade certs for International that are more restricted than AA's. Domestic upgrades also aren't free. You do earn domestic upgrade credits, but only for the flying you do on UA/US metal. The main reason I chose AA over UA was that much of my paid-for (business) flying is over the Pacific to Asia, and you earn less when you are flying NH or SQ. Whereas traveling business class on Cathay Pacific earns the same as travelling on AA (or AA's extensive codesharing with JL).

Steve


User currently offlineWesternA318 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 5700 posts, RR: 24
Reply 15, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 8809 times:

Quoting FCYTravis (Reply 9):
Continental has free upgrades for everyone and a very good domestic F-cabin, but the upgrades are notoriously hard to come by. Even Platinums are often completely shut out, thanks to lots of reasonably-priced F-fares. If you're a CO Silver, count yourself lucky to be upgraded one out of every ten flights. Also, mileage redemption is very, very difficult - their program didn't get the nickname NonePass on FlyerTalk for nothing.

ive flown almost 85 segments this year domestically, and every single time Ive been upgraded, and Im just a Silver Elite



Check out my blog at fl310travel.blogspot.com!
User currently offlineArtsyman From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 4745 posts, RR: 34
Reply 16, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 8805 times:

Continental has free upgrades for everyone and a very good domestic F-cabin, but the upgrades are notoriously hard to come by. Even Platinums are often completely shut out
****

While I am platinum, not silver, my experience is like the flyer above. I have only sat in coach 4 times this year, and it is mid september. I am well over 90% in upgrades.


User currently offlineFCYTravis From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 1191 posts, RR: 6
Reply 17, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 8794 times:

Quoting WesternA318 (Reply 15):
ive flown almost 85 segments this year domestically, and every single time Ive been upgraded, and Im just a Silver Elite

How in the world are you Silver Elite at close to 85 segments? 60 discount-fare segments (EQPs) gets you Gold.

You would be considered a miracle from heaven over on the FlyerTalk Continental OnePass forum.



USAir A321 service now departing for SFO with fuel stops in CAK, COS and RNO. Enjoy your flight.
User currently offlineWesternA318 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 5700 posts, RR: 24
Reply 18, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 8791 times:

Quoting FCYTravis (Reply 17):
How in the world are you Silver Elite at close to 85 segments? 60 discount-fare segments (EQPs) gets you Gold

My bad, I completely forgot about my status as my Gold card arrived a few days ago, lol. But hey, for a Silver on the way to gold that was pretty damn good!



Check out my blog at fl310travel.blogspot.com!
User currently offlineGokmengs From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 1123 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 8774 times:

I don't know why DL has a bad rep. about this. I'm a PM(most of my flying is international) but I fly domestic around 10-15 round trips a year and not once have I not been upgraded. I have to add that half those roundtrips were with my girlfriend and I got the companion upgrade every single time.


Gercekleri Tarih Yazar Tarihide Galatasaray
User currently offlineDutchjet From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 7864 posts, RR: 57
Reply 20, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 8743 times:

The forums in Flyertalk probably have more exact information for you on this topic.....you can read lots of discussions (complaints!) about each of the airlines programs.

As with most things like this, there is no set answer.......each program has its advantages and disadvantages and a lot of what you hear is very personal and based upon individual experiences. For example: Our friend above was upgraded nearly all the time as a SIlver Eilite on CO, so he is very happy with the OnePass program - while others will tell you that in many cases even OnePass Platinum members are not getting upgraded and are therefore unhappy with the program. To be honest, I think that with very full airplanes and airlines keeping a close eye on their bottom lines.....none of the programs offer big advantages unless and until you are a premium elite member. If you are a casual flyer, then just pick the program for the airline that offers the most convenient service from your hometown airport and hope for the best.


User currently offlineAero0729 From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 76 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 8721 times:

Quoting WesternA318 (Reply 15):
ive flown almost 85 segments this year domestically, and every single time Ive been upgraded, and Im just a Silver Elite

I find that VERY hard to believe. I was Silver on CO last year and some of their 737s only have around 8-10 F-Seats, can be vry hard to upgrade.


User currently offlineAero0729 From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 76 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 8720 times:

Delta is the only airline to offer unlimited companion upgrades to Silvers, even on some discount fares. After reading about some of the havoc in dealing with segment upgrades, I love that ever Delta flight I take, even to the carribbean, alaska or MEX gives me a fair shit at an upgrade.

User currently offlineDutchjet From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 7864 posts, RR: 57
Reply 23, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 8714 times:

Quoting Aero0729 (Reply 22):
gives me a fair shit at an upgrade.

Oh, that is just too funny.


User currently offlineKaukau From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 106 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (8 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 8685 times:

Hi everybody! Hawai'ian Airlines offers Pualani Platinum members (HA has two elite levels - Gold and Platinum): 100% bonus (double miles), on all paid tickets, free inter-island u/g to F, trans-Pac u/g to F for $150 (5-6 hour flight; HA 767 F seats have footrests and 4 adjustment buttons: seat back, lumbar, raise/lower footrest, extend/retract footrest; HA maintains a fantastic full meal/full bar service on all x-Pac flights!), elite TSA screening line at HNL, free Club access, no charge for changing same-day, inter-island flight times, free extra baggage, priority boarding, priority seating, and more, at 40K butt-in-seat miles. (About 8 trans-Pacs.) I think these benefits are on a par with the benefits the Legacy Carriers give at 100K, but I could be wrong. Anyway, Mrs Kaukau and I both really love being HA Platinum!!!!!

[Edited 2006-09-17 01:27:37]

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