Why do we pursue Elite Status with Airlines, Hotels, Car Rental Companies, Retailers? For me, it is because of the benefits that the status gives us. I’ll try to summarize the benefits of each elite status that I personally go for each year, and why, and also share where I am at the moment, in the hopes that my experiences can help you in deciding what to chase and what to let go.
American Airlines Executive Platinum
First of all, 100,000 (butt in seat) miles are a ton, but I feel its worth it. Last year I did a status match from being a United MileagePlus 1K, and I could not be happier. It is literally night and day. If only for the fact that you get a really tasty cookie in First Class.
As an Executive Platinum member you get (note, this is the highlights not a comprehensive list):
- 8 Systemwide Upgrades (without fare class restrictions).
- Unlimited Domestic Updates (and I’m 11/13, but one of them was an RJ w/o First Class).
- Acknowledgement of your status if you don’t get the domestic upgrade (e.g. a free beverage and snack) which takes the sting out of flying in domestic economy.
- OneWorld Emerald status which offers access to OneWorld First class lounges when traveling internationally.
- The usual checked baggage allowance (3), Priority Boarding, etc.
- Oh and don’t forget the Cookies!
Right now, with a trip to Hong Kong on American’s new 777-300ER, I’m forecasting about 91,000 miles. I’ve got to find another ~9k or so miles, so I’ll be on the hunt for a quick weekend trip, maybe Anchorage, maybe Hawaii, maybe Europe. Or two transcons or maybe Panama?
Marriott Rewards Platinum
Marriott Platinum status is one of the highest top-tier hotel elite status requirements out there, at 75 nights. I really enjoy staying at Marriott’s overseas, or domestically when I travel for work.
Lately though, I haven’t been traveling a whole lot for work, so I’m not sure how I’ll make it work out for the status. I do have some ideas, but its still money out of pocket that I’m not sure I want to do.
As a Marriott Platinum member you get (note, these are just the highlights):
- Platinum Arrival Gift
- 50% bonus on points for stays
- Upgrades (when available)
- Guaranteed lounge access/breakfast
- Complimentary United MileagePlus Premier Silver Status
The greatest benefit to me, is the lounge access. I find that I really enjoy the lounges.
I status matched to Hyatt in 2011 when my wife and I were planning to visit Tokyo. Until that point, I had been a pretty loyal Marriott guy, but I was faced with a Courtyard or a Ritz, and neither had a lounge. Hyatt on the other hand had the world famous Park Hyatt Tokyo (from Lost in Translation fame among other reasons), as well as a Grand and Regency Hyatt. I timed the match so that we could hotel hop (we were going to anyway), and knock out part of the required stays.
As you can see, I’m nearly 40% of the way to the 25 required stays re-qualify based on stays. That’s actually pretty good considering how little travel I’ve done so far this year.
Here’s what a Hyatt Diamond member gets:
- 4 confirmable suite upgrades.
- 30% point bonus when choosing points for rewards for stays.
- Access to the Regency Club or Grand Club lounge, including breakfast.
- Welcome gift or points.
Again here, I like the lounges as the primary benefit, here’s the spread from the Grand Hyatt Dubai.
While I’m forecasting myself at 91% toward Executive Platinum, my hotel stays have been below average. Should I stick to top tier status at two hotel chains? I don’t know, but I probably won’t make that decision until later in the year. Besides, I still need to finish getting the Southwest Companion Pass.
What elite status are you going for? How close are you?