Elite Status Basics and Fast Tracks (Chicago Seminars Presentation)

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A few weeks ago I presented at the Chicago Seminars on hotel and airline elite status basics, fast tracks, and short cuts.  While “free” travel is my primary focus and goal, elite status has really surged in importance to my own family in the last 12 months.  It is not at all a “status” thing for me, but it is a very practical way to make travel much more comfortable, enjoyable, and even (at times) more affordable.  I don’t think the average family needs elite status with every airline and several hotels, but focusing on getting status in at least one or two programs makes sense in lots of situations…and it is even easier than you might think.

I made a limited number of hard copies of my presentation, and somewhat surprisingly those copies were all utilized, and more people wanted a copy of the PowerPoint I used.  Of course, not everything that was said by myself or others in attendance is reflected on the PPT (gotta get some things in person), but the bulk of the presentation is now available for anyone who would like to look at it.  I don’t promise it will stay up forever since I am having a very hard time keeping it live on my site, and I may tweak it to use again in the future.  However, I will try to keep it up for at least a few weeks for anyone who is interested.

To give you an idea of what is included in the presentation, here are the main topics:

  • Overview of Star Alliance and related Silver and Gold benefits
  • Discussion of qualifying via the US based Star Alliance carriers and associated benefits and “fast tracks” to doing so.
  • A look at some easier paths to Star Alliance Gold Status via non-US based carriers (Aegean and Turkish).  This is a much easier way to qualify for Star Gold status than via the US carriers, but you won’t get the same level of benefits on a US based carrier as you would if you qualified with them.   Regardless, those interested in Star Gold status would be remiss to not learn about the opportunities via Aegean and Turkish.
  • Overview of OneWorld Alliance and related Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald benefits.
  • A focus on American Airlines and their challenges for status.
  • Overview of Sky Team and related Elite and Elite Plus benefits.
  • A focus on Delta and their elite challenges and other ways to obtain Delta elite qualifying miles (such as credit cards).
  • Southwest Companion pass benefits and very easy ways to get and maximize that pass.
  • Alaska Airlines as a good option for those who can’t commit to just one airline or alliance.
  • Alternative routes to airline status (promotions, MegaDos, gifting status, etc.)
  • Hotel status elite basics (and it can be more valuable than airline status when you consider time spent in a hotel vs time spent in an airplane)
  • A look at Hyatt elite benefits and fast-tracks to Platinum and Diamond status
  • SPG elite benefits and fast-tracks to Gold and Platinum status (including info on the Platinum Challenge)
  • Super easy path to Marriott elite status
  • Even easier path to Hilton Gold status
  • Top tier Priority Club status via credit card or buying points
  • Leveraging elite status with one hotel chain to others via status matches (Club Carlson, Best Western, etc.)


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  1. […] Elite Status Basics and Fast Tracks via MommyPoints. Good overview of what elite status means and how you can “hack” it some alliances. The Turkish Airlines and Aegean Airlines fast tracks to Star Alliance elite status was a new one for me. Interesting. […]

  2. […] you flying the friendly skies – do you know the fastest way to “elite” status?  Mommy Points shares her tricks (hat tip to Road Warriorette).  Similarly, Savvy Sugar has some tips for how to […]


  1. I have Silver status from Marriott because of Marriott credit card. I have a free night cat 1-4 certificate upon my annual renewal a couple of days ago. Would like to use it for February 2012. Any quick way for Gold Status so I get free internet and breakfast? Also, if there is, will the free night certificate count?

  2. @Sil
    -Just email or call Marriot and request a challenge before your stay. Also, good luck using the cert, I find that most hotels I want to stay in are in a higher category.

  3. Thanks for posting this, MP. Hope to get to a seminar sometime soon, but nice to see your presentation (although I’m guessing that the Q&A, anecdotes, and in-person chats were far more valuable!)

  4. regarding the southwest companion pass, your presentation says to transfer UR pts to hilton pts to sw. why cant you xfer from Ur to sw diredtly?

    secondly, if i move 220K UR pts to hilton and the to sw, will i be able to get the companion pass that way? Thanks!

  5. I have AA Plat and currently have 9950 EQMs toward upgrades.. basically I’m short 50 miles but have any plans to fly AA again this year! Is there any way for me to get 50 more EQMs so i can get the upgrade stickers, without flying???

  6. Kay is correct – just call and request a Gold challenge. 😉
    Blaine, yeah this is just the bones of the presentation, but still gives you an idea. Hope you can make it to one as well!
    Vu, if you go directly to Southwest rather than through a partner then they won’t count toward the CP (though I think you mean Hyatt and not Hilton).
    BostonSun, I’m not sure if there is with AA or if they have a number of miles as a “grace period”. Maybe an AA flyer can weigh in on that one.

  7. This is so helpful! I want to get Hyatt Diamond before a trip in early January. I have the Hyatt card already (thanks!). If I do the Marriott challenge to get Gold, can I then get the Diamond via the status match?

    • Michelle, glad it was helpful…the downside is that everything that was discussed isn’t on the slides, so some things are missed. One of those likely is that Hyatt has recently had a tendency to ask to see stay history with the chain you are using to match/challenge with. So, even if you get status with Marriott Hyatt very likely may not allow you to do the challenge without showing how you obtained that status. That is in contrast to SPG who will let anyone do the challenge.

  8. For a Marriott status challenge, you get three months plus the month of sign-up — so, why shouldn’t you sign up on the 1st of the month (to get that whole month included)?

  9. I just successfully completed a Marriott platinum challenge by doing a mattress run of 9 stays at the least expensive one in the area ($84/night) on nights I had to work late anyway. I simultaneously did this with 2 existing Marriott promotions — so I ended up getting Platinum status through Feb 2014, 3 free category 1-4 nights, and an extra 25,000 points, plus the anniversary category 1-5 free night for Marriott card anniversary. Nice way to start the year. We have Marriott travel planned in November for Vermont and April in DC, and that’s just the start. Well worth the mattress run.

  10. Thank you for posting this! I am new to your site so can you explain a little bit about what the “challenge for status” means? Thanks!

    • @Amy, it means that if you have a bunch of flights or hotels stays coming up in a short period of time that many hotels and airlines will offer you a challenge x miles/nights in x days for status. Hope that helps!

  11. Rick, it was working for a while, but for whatever reason keeping the presentation up was really buggy. Apologies it is a little up and down, but seems to be working okay right now.

  12. What do you mean when you say ?Stays With Credit Card May Count” on the Marriott Platinum Challenge? Are you referring to the elite nights credit when you spend $3K or the annual 15 elite night credit for just having the card? Thanks!

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