Point Me to the Miles

Navigating the Path to Great Travel

Why Elite Status Matters

The all-familiar roam-about “ding” rings out, yet you feel trapped in the middle seat between Big Bubba and Chatty Kathy, not to mentioned your cramped legroom–or lack thereof.  You are a part of the “self-boarding” cargo.

Courtesy of USA Today

But their is good news:  There are still ways to enjoy the magic of flying, in particular having elite status.  Having status with an airline or hotel chain can make the process go a bit smoother, and you don’t even have to fly quite as as much as  this guy, Ryan Bingham:

So, ranked in order of importance, here are the reasons Elite status matters when traveling, in my right humble opinion :

  1. Upgrades, Upgrades, Upgrades– It can be done otherwise (and has happened complimentary to me, on occasion), but it is hard to play up your loyalty so-to-speak if you have none.

    Photo Courtesy of travelsmarter.com

    Of course, when I say “upgrade” many think First Class or Suite, but there are other forms of enhanced accomodations.  A number of airlines feature Economy Comfort products with extended legroom and snack selection (usually free alcohol) –like Main Cabin Extra on American Airlines.

    Main Cabin Extra

    Also, hotel chains like Starwood feature preferred (meaning usually a better view or slightly larger) rooms for their elite members.

  2. Expedited Customer Service– If you have to call about your travel a lot, or need to make a call in a hurry, having to wait on a phone line can be a major pain.Recently I realized how much I love having status in this instance when I was exiting a building and attempting to call Delta.  In the time that it took me to make it to my car while entering my personal information, a real, LIVING agent was on the phone ready to assist me.  Even if I am “just” a mid-tier Gold, gotta love Medallion status! 🙂
  3. Trip Insurance– I don’t mean the type that the airline tacks on to the cost of a flight.  What I mean if something is wrong, you are likely to receive assistance in a timely manner.For example last fall when I was checking in for a flight, I was informed that it would be delayed for a little bit.  I mentioned my somewhat close connection, and I was IMMEDIATELY put on the standby list for an earlier flight, which my Medallion status helped me clear.
  4. Waived Fees/Charges – For airlines this may include ticketing change fees and baggage fees.  For hotel stays this may include complimentary internet and breakfast.
  5. Early Arrival (Pre-Boarding/Early Arrival & Late Check-Out) – To most carry-on wielding passengers, especially of the BEASTLY size, getting on the plane first is important for securing a spot for their bag.  Usually this is not an issue for me, as I can usually stow my carry-on under the seat in front of me.  But if you need tomake  space for your  bag, this can be quite important.Also this can be fairly important in the hotel realm, in the case that you arrive somewhere early and don’t have anywhere else to go, or your flight leaves in the afternoon.
  6. Lounge Access(Sometimes) – There certainly credit cards like the American Express Platinum and United Mileage Plus cards which can you provide you access to the airlines’ airport club lounges, but elite status is also a  way to earn your way in.  Plus,. in the case of hotels, you will usually not be granted club lounge access with at least some level of elite status.

    Delicious Breakfast in the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti Club Lounge

     

  7. Priority Security Access– In addition to the Global Entry program providing expedited customs, the TSA has instated their TSA Pre-Check  program.  It is available at larger airports, with a roped-off areas for their elite members.

    TSA-Pre-Check

    These benefits are what make maintaining elite status worth it to me.

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5 thoughts on “Why Elite Status Matters

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