Over the coming weeks I will talk a lot about my upcoming move. In short, I have relocated with my work to the Washington DC area, a long time dream of mine, and what that means here is that a lot of my travel changes.
I will still be traveling with the same frequency, but obviously out of a different airport. So the biggest thing I have to decide is where I want to keep, or shift, my loyalty. I alluded to this point earlier with my thought that maybe I’d transfer my loyalty from Delta to United. That was with the thought that I’d be flying from Washington Dulles, a United hub, but I’m not sure that will be the airport of choice for the future.
Washington Reagan will most likely be my “home” airport, given its convenience to the downtown DC area. While Reagan has most all national airlines operating, Southwest and American offer the most direct flights. In other words — I’d still be connecting on United and Delta from that airport, so I probably wouldn’t switch to United while being a Platinum Medallion.
Long story short, if I do end up switching my allegiance, I’d want to take advantage of my current status — which means some kind of status challenge or match.
What is a status match?
To promote frequent, or elite, flyers, airlines offer the opportunity to match status from one airline to another (Platinum Medallion with Delta should get you Mosaic with JetBlue).
A lot of the US based airlines will offer a challenge for that status match — in other words, you must fly xx amount of miles in a certain amount of time and then you’ll receive that status.
Let’s quickly take a look at your status match opportunities with the US “big 3:”
- United: Will match with both Delta and American elites up to MileagePlus Premier Platinum for a 3 month challenge period. You will be awarded status during the trial period, and in order to retain that status you will need to fly a certain amount of miles or segments. Refer to the United website for exact details. You are not able to complete one of these challenges if you’ve already completed within the last 5 years.
- Delta: Will match with both United and American elites up to Platinum Medallion. You will be awarded status during the trial period, and in order to retain that status you will need to fly a certain amount of miles or segments, as well as spending a certain amount of money. Refer to the Delta website for exact details. You are not able to complete one of these challenges if you’ve already completed within the last 3 years.
- American: Well this brings me to the point of my article. For one, it is a lot harder to find a published option for status challenges with American. Where the other two can be found through a simple Google search, American does not . Through other posts, and getting in contact with American directly, I’ve found out about some pretty ugly things. I’ll explain further, but basically — you have to pay! There is a website that will potentially offer you a targeted status challenge without any prior status.
There are obviously a ton of other options, in which I’d recommend heading over to statusmatcher.com and seeing where your current status might take you!
The predicament I’ve found myself in
As I alluded to before, I’m [resistantly] considering giving some of my business to American as they offer a lot more availability from my future airport, and are usually considerably less expensive.
I absolutely love Delta. From their industry-leading customer service to their superior on-board domestic product, Delta has given me the least disappointment in my travels. More often than not, they really have exceeded my expectations for an airline. So is that something I’m so quick to give up?
The answer is in two parts. One, no. I don’t think American or United will do me anywhere near the justice. But also, yes. As much as I fly, the more non-stop flights I can get the better. So that is where I give American serious consideration. In order for me to switch, though, I don’t want my hard-earned Platinum elite status with Delta to just go to waste — enter American’s status match challenge.
American status match challenge laid out
So, let’s take a look at the exact specifics of the challenge that American has offered.
In order to even enter a challenge, you must pay $200 — depending on your “matching” status you will then have to complete a travel and spend requirement. On top of that, you could pay an extra $200 and get Gold status immediately or an extra $300 and get Platinum status immediately. Either way, these are the specifics of the challenge:
Gold: 7,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or 8 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS) and $1,000 of Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) in spend
Platinum: 12,500 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or 16 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS) and $2,000 of Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) in spend
There is also a chance that I mentioned earlier where you could receive a targeted offer — not even requiring previous status.
What I think about this “challenge”
For one, I think it is ridiculous that there is a fee to sign up for a status challenge — but then again it’s American, so nothing surprises me.
On top of that, you have to hit a certain minimum spend! We saw that United does not even have a minimum spend for their status challenge.
And the icing on the cake — it’s not an automatic status challenge. Well, at least it isn’t for that one small fee. They want you to pay possibly $500 for a status match in order to get complimentary status.
Obviously, it makes sense to only pay for this if you know that you’ll complete the challenge, but if you don’t — no luck! Thanks for trying! At this point it’s almost comical.
My final decision
I say all of this, complain about paying, but the final tale to my story is that my company has a partnership with American to get a status challenge and match for free. As a larger American company, with a majority of employees who travel, I’m sure that $200 is made up in full!
Ultimately, I’d still object to this challenge no matter what.
- I think it’s crazy to pay for a status challenge of any kind
- I don’t think American’s domestic product is worth any money to upgrade to a higher status
- There are other options that I would take — I’d give up on American.
The idea of having to pay for something that should award you for already being a loyal customer, and then require more spending seems crazy to me! It goes against all the good things we look for in this travel hacking hobby — but I guess that’s where the greed of the American elite sit.
On top of that, while DCA is a major American airport, I don’t think they’d be considered a “major hub.” In other words, I will have a lot of options with them but it won’t always be the best option (as opposed to a place like Dallas). Because of this, I’m not wholeheartedly committing to American — and definitely not paying $200 for it.
I decided to stay away from looking at this in terms of straight up value. If I’m able to fly for the rest of this year, and maybe years to come in first class or better it’s obviously worth $200. I wanted to make a point that I think this is just a stupid idea in the first place. I understand that margins are so fine in the airline business, but I think a better idea would be to charge people in the event they don’t complete a challenge. That would keep your most loyal customers loyal, and earn some money on those who are just “trying it out.”