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Chasing Status or Just Getting Miles

Thu Dec 27, 2018 4:36 am

I thought I'd start this thread here as this forum is more general in travel preferences than what could be posted at a more specific travel site.

Almost 4 years ago I became a regular road warrior (self employed, so $ matters) and out of personal choice at the time I decided to just fly Delta Airlines. They have treated me well and I feel that their fares are not out of range on a whole. By 2017 I reached Platinum status with DL. Yes I used some of the perks of this status but interestingly enough I was upgraded only once due to status in 2017, used my 4 Regional Upgrade Certificates for a Vacation with the Mrs in the same period.

2018 hit and I decided to try some other airlines for price, convenience and an airport closer to where I live. So I applied and received a couple airline credit cards offering bonus miles for signing up, 1 free check in piece of luggage and so called earlier boarding position. Plus I went for an Amex Platinum Business Card with a big sign on bonus (points you can move to other airlines like Delta).

With the recent announcement of boarding order being changed at Delta (starting January 23 I believe) along with their encouragement of using miles/$ for upgrades, I realized that I would be better off just going after points/miles than chasing the various forms of status (Silver/Gold/Platinum/Diamond). Getting points by just flying and using the individual airline credit cards is easy. I've purchased about 7 trips just on points alone.

This year (2018) I'm at Gold status on Delta, didn't receive one upgrade but decided to status match to A-List for the first part of 2019 on Southwest. At times boarding position is important to me since just due to time I have to carry on and having 2 free bags to check is helpful if I have to bring demonstration equipment and brochures. That's why I'm working on being an A-Lister at Southwest along with the point boost you get for the purchase of future flights.

I don't have a problem buying an Economy ticket and staying there for domestic flying, however I do love having a lay flat seat when I go to Europe for business and I've used points for that.

What's your thoughts? Airline status better than points/miles? Point/miles better than airline status?
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Re: Chasing Status or Just Getting Miles

Thu Dec 27, 2018 6:01 am

I definitely don't see the point in status.
I fly in business whenever there is a business class cabin on the plane, so I always get lounge access + bigger baggage allowance.
This results in me having status on essentially every airline I've ever flown in and I've never really actively used any perks - faster mileage accrual and I was Platinum on Qantas once so I got to use the first class lounge when in business which was nice I guess.

Miles on the other hand are super useful, and I use them very often. Since I spend over $1m a year on credit card, I don't have to pay for flights very often - just churn sign up bonuses and earn points, plus credit all flights I take on any airline to a mileage program I'm a member of. Have well over a million points on Qantas and Virgin Australia, and over a quarter of a million on Lufthansa & Korean.

Never had any trouble redeeming points either.
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Re: Chasing Status or Just Getting Miles

Fri Dec 28, 2018 6:10 pm

This topic comes up every so often on this site and the general consensus is basically if you are someone who has to nickel and dime and really make a concerted effort to barely even make the 25,000 mile/30 segment elite level, you are probably better off travel-related credit card, whether though an airline or Chase/Captial One, then actually booking flights on whichever airline and airport is cheapest, most convenient, etc.

As you note, most airline credit cards offer at least 1 piece of free checked baggage and priority boarding, which, along with the ability to book preferred seating, are pretty much all the benefits that are available at the 25K/30 level.

I do not fly DL, but others on here who do have said it is pretty much impossible for lower-level SkyMiles elite flyers to get F upgrades except for maybe point-to-point routes or the occasional 5:30 a.m.-on-a-Saturday departure. As a former UA Gold, I used to have some level of luck with free upgrades on them, but that was in the 2000s and I was also living in L.A., which is a hub for UA with numerous flights on big planes, so more availability.
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Re: Chasing Status or Just Getting Miles

Fri Dec 28, 2018 8:52 pm

In my case it is status. status. status.

Although it all depends on the status and, with respect to miles, the cabin of travel. Within Star Alliance and Skyteam the top tier status offers benefits that are generally offered to business class passengers, whereas on oneworld the Emerald tier provides international first class level benefits on any ticket. (Yes, there are a few exceptions but I'll pass over those)

I use AA to fly domestically and my BA Gold status offers access to Flagship Check-in/security and Flagship lounges, something that a miles ticket in AA FC doesn't offer except on the premium transcontinental routes. So status has something that I literally cannot obtain through a ticket, short of purchasing AA Five Star Service for a few hundred dollars a go. That's great as a flyer where JFK is my home base but if I lived somewhere that didn't have a lounge then status isn't worth as much.

Although BA is my primary FFP I don't really use my Avios points very much. I might use them to upgrade from Club World to First but it's pretty unusual for me to use Avios for outright longhaul tickets on BA. You forgo the miles and tier points earned when paying a cash ticket, yet still have to fork out about $1000 in taxes, surcharges, etc. and have to put up with whatever dates have availability.
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