Last night I flew out of LGA, and I noticed that whenever elite/priority holders were called to board, seemingly half the plane lined up. I even peeked at a few boarding passes of people I was suspicious of based on their ultra-casual dress and non-demure behavior, both of which tend to differ from well-seasoned travelers, but sure enough, they all had elite/priority status.
I realize that airline loyalty programs are designed to encourage and reward continuous loyalty to a particular airline/alliance, but at what point do categories like "elite," "premier," or "platinum" start to lose luster and meaning?
If airlines keep creating higher tiers, lower level holders will get annoyed, and yet if airlines toughen requirements, lower level holders will get annoyed. There isn't much of a way I see that airlines can win here.
Is this form of elite inflation becoming a problem? Are airlines doing anything to deal with the matter? I realize I was at LGA, which tends to be particularly elite-heavy.
Just curious about what others think.