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Is it worth it to maintain airline status?

by John the Wanderer
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Is it worth it to maintain airline status?

I am an American Airlines Executive Platinum which requires 100,000 elite qualifying miles in order to maintain status. By keeping the status I am frequently upgraded on domestic flights and I receive 8 system wide upgrade certificates each year.

I also get to pick main cabin extra seats at reservation date and I get access to first class lounges on international flights.

I pay for my own travel so it can be difficult obtaining the 100,000 elite qualifying miles per year. Over the past, I have found value in having the status as it makes travel more comfortable.

I end up spending a lot of money because fare sales are more common from other cities, which requires me to book additional positioning flights to get to the city where the sale is offered.

Looking back, last year I spent around $9,000+ on airfare in order to keep the status and I had a number of mileage run trips. This year is a little less because there have been more sales from Minneapolis, but still I am spending a lot of money to keep the status. I am currently on track to re-qualify this year with three additional trips before the end of the year.

American Airlines is the only plan that still earns miles based on the distance. It is likely to change next year so I am thinking about whether or not it is worth it to try to maintain status.

I really enjoy the lounge access on international flights as that makes the experience much better. Also the fact that I get Main Cabin Extra seats on international flights saves a lot of money. Of course the upgrades are nice as well…..

I recently attended a conference with other travelers and the majority of them said the mileage run is dead and that it is better to spend more time on miles and points and look to redeem more trips in premium cabins where status doesn’t matter.

To me having status allows for traveling a little more comfortable. I value it a lot but as the mileage programs all move to the revenue model, keeping status when paying out of pocket doesn’t make as much sense.

For example, if I fly somewhere such as Cape Town. I can earn up to 20,000 elite qualifying miles and get around 60,000 miles that can be used for a trip in the future. When the programs change to revenue, I would still earn 20,000 elite qualifying miles; however, I may only earn around 6,000 – 8,000 miles that can be used for a future trip. This is a dramatic change.

I like the fact that I can earn miles based on the distance so that I can book miles tickets for my wife or for family members… if that goes away, it makes me feel like I would be flying all that distance for nothing.

I am curious what you think about it? Do you keep pushing for status? Or change to only miles and points travel?


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