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Believe it or not, 2015 is over 60% completed, which means that assuming your travel is evenly distributed throughout the year, you should be about 60% of the way to qualifying or re-qualifying for the elite status levels that you would like to earn with your preferred hotel and airline partners. Not very long ago I was pretty dedicated to earning elite status including doing “mattress runs” to earn hotel elite credits and “mileage runs” to earn elite qualifying airline miles. In 2014 I had top tier United 1K status, top tier Hyatt Diamond status, and my husband had top tier SPG Platinum status. We were pretty set with some decent perks and we used them as much as possible.
These top tier elite status levels got us upgrades, occasional suites, waived change fees, bonus points, and all around somewhat better service. However, that ability to dedicate time and resources for that much travel came and went, and in 2015 I dropped to second tier United Platinum status, we no longer have SPG status, but we still have more airline/hotel status than the average bear, and plenty to make many of our travels a bit more comfortable.
Then this year life has not only obviously continued to make it much more difficult to devote resources to travel, but I also have just had less desire to spend chunks of my life on the road or in the sky unnecessarily. My husband also no longer has a job that has him on the road and earning miles/points, so not only are we naturally earning fewer points, but we are obviously not really making progress toward elite status for next year.
In fact, United Airlines wanted me to know that I’m a slacker. A couple weeks ago I got an email from them showing my progress toward re-qualifying for Platinum status, and as of July 15th and I only had earned 11,755 elite qualifying miles of the 75,000 that would be needed to retain Platinum status for another year. It doesn’t take a calculator to realize that is way off the pace and August is going to come and go without me making any additional progress toward 75k.
I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in August Texas heat that I will hit 75k elite qualifying miles again this year. Just hitting Gold status at 50k may be a stretch even though I do have several flights booked on United in September – December. Some of the drop-off is due to tightening our finances, some is due to just wanting to be home more, and much is due to being too pregnant to travel and then caring for a newborn. Even if everything else had stayed the same, having a baby will do a number to your elite status levels…which of course is a small price to pay, but a reality none the less.
However, I really don’t care. Sure I would prefer to keep my elite status with United as it has really made life a bit easier with waived award ticket change fees, free E+ seats for my family, etc. but the reality is those perks are only worth as much as you use them. I don’t know exactly what 2016 will have in store for us, but I do know I will have a daughter in kindergarten and another daughter who is between 6 months and 18 months that year, so I don’t think I’m going to be spending huge chunks of time flying around the world taking advantage of elite status levels.
We will take some trips in 2016 for sure, but probably not enough to justify investing time and money into doing tons of mileage runs for a higher elite status level. Instead I can just pay for the extra legroom seats or suite upgrades when we want them, or bite the bullet on award change fees when life throws us curve balls. That may result in a few hundred extra dollars a year in travel expenses, but that’s far less than when it would take to go from 11.7k miles to 75k elite qualifying miles from September to December. If you are in a similar situation, keep in mind that some co-branded credit cards can give you “elite like” perks or even low/mid-tier elite status levels just by virtue of having or using the cards.
I expect that there will come a time again in the future that higher tier elite status is something that I will earn either naturally or through a bit of extra work/travel, but that time is not right now and that is totally okay by me. I appreciate United letting me know I was slacking, but not enough to actually do much about it.
How are you doing with your elite status levels, or are you mostly not worrying about it like us?