Is it worth being Golden? With the start of a new year and a new qualification period for frequent flyer status I have been wondering if it is still worth the effort to become an elite tier member with most airlines.
The answer is yes. But that’s a little more of a qualified yes than it would’ve been in previous years.
For example with Delta Air Lines you need 75,000 qualifying miles to reach Platinum. For this privilege you get 2 free checked bags, special seating in economy comfort at no charge, upgrades in the USA on any ticket subject to availability 3 days prior to travel, upgrade certificates you can use worldwide on full fare coach tickets and a dedicated call line. Upgrades are tough internationally and they only do this when coach is oversold. Being Diamond means racking up 125k a year. That’s not with bonuses, that’s actual flown miles. The difference is just a little more personal attention on the dedicated reservation line, upgrades up to 5 days prior to travel and access to lounges. But the key is here is that you hit the top list of everything. You have a much better chance for upgrades to clear and waitlists to open up and that is a real tangible benefit.
Most US carriers are similar to Delta. AA is a little more willing to upgrade on international flights in my opinion. The only problem is that there are lots of people on AA’s top tier list so the upgrade on a full flight is determined by who has the highest base fare. I’m not sure how this may change when they amalgamate with US Airways. That is the subject of intense internet rumor and discussion.
International carriers do not have the volume of top tier level customers flying from US routes and that’s great news since it means that once you attain status you become a little bit more of an Elite
Korean Air and Thai have been lucky for me.
In the end I think it’s best to try to stick to one airline and one alliance be it oneworld, Star or SkyTeam. You are eligible for reciprocal perks on partners but beware they still look after their own customers first. Which is fair.
So happy flying, rack up those miles smartly and hopefully this will be another great year of travel.
Daniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.