I think the best way to describe my airline loyalty over the past year has been “anything but loyal.” If you simply read back through my blog posts on this website, you probably have no clue where I stand.
Jumping out the gates into business travel I was all over Delta. And to be honest, none of that went away. Flying out of Baton Rouge, I was deciding where to connect, rather than if I had to connect. But damn. Hartsfield-Jackson is actually fun to transit through, and overall the service and attitude overall at Delta just far exceed the rest.
But then I was planning my move to the Washington DC area — which has a few different options.
I thought at first maybe I’d travel out to Dulles and fly out of one of United’s hubs — also earning some really great points. Alongside my Ultimate Rewards I was enamored by the possibilities (i.e. my experiences flying on Air Canada Business Class).
But then, the reality hit. I was flying out of Washington-Reagan airport, the closest airport, and I wanted to fly direct. So American it was. Which wasn’t all bad. I matched my status with Delta and quickly became American AAdvantage Platinum — a step down from Platinum Medallion with Delta, but with all the groups American has you at least feel like you’re boarding way early.
But, unfortunately, there just weren’t the options like I expected — and I wasn’t super connected to the American experience like I was at Delta.
The toll that business travel takes
I don’t mean for this to sound like I’m complaining about what I do. Travelling is one of the perks I wanted out of college, and I find something extremely special about simply disconnecting at 30,000 feet up. The thrill of a take-off will probably never subside.
But something I quickly realized was the value in a direct flight. And maybe more specifically, the value in not having to worry about a missed connection.
Travelling every week for work has made me not only loathe delays, but it has also made me appreciate the time I have with friends and family. So as much as I like standing on a plane, ready to get off, wondering if I can make it from ATL Terminal A to D in 15 minutes, I much prefer just getting off and going home.
Which basically means I now try to get the shortest flights, at the best time of the day, instead of sacrificing my time to stay loyal. Which I think a lot of miles enthusiasts may scoff at.
But that takes me to where I am now.
Why Southwest may not be that bad
If you asked me a year ago what I thought about Southwest, my main arguments would sound something like this:
- There is not much loyalty given to “elite” members — or in another sense, there isn’t a huge difference in benefits between the highest and lowest “tier” members. Maybe it is the constant upgrades to first class and the free drinks on Delta, but I think the target customer audience of Southwest is the “casual” traveler, instead of the weekly, business travelers.
- While Southwest does offer some pretty incredible sale fares, the revenue based program doesn’t offer any crazy good redemption’s. Which isn’t to say that Delta or American are any better, I just think the low fares, and subsequently low award prices may skew the public.
And for these reasons, I was wary of putting all my business into Southwest. Not that I disliked Southwest in any way, I had just grown accustomed to weekly travel where my seat was confirmed. And to be quite honest, I’m usually trying to earn points to fly overseas. But things have definitely changed.
I have truly decided to move over to Southwest for one reason — there is a direct flight to my client location at the perfect time — but I think my overall feelings of the airline have shifted.
- I am still not a huge fan of the open boarding policy, but as an “A-list” (er) now, a lot of the stress over whether or not I’ll get a middle seat is gone.
- Delta has some of the best customer service (if not the best), but I’d say Southwest is right up there with some of the best employees both on the ground and in the sky.
- A-List Preferred status, which I hope to get to soon, will get me free drinks and maybe more importantly free WiFi. The reviews are mixed over the quality of the WiFi connection, but either way I’d say these perks are right up there with the likes of the other US counterparts.
- While the award structure does not offer any out-sized redemption opportunities, earning Southwest RR points gives me some very valuable points to use for intra-US travel. And beyond that, I can use credit card points to redeem for international travel.
Which gets me to my main point. I’m beginning to fly Southwest for work, and wanted to make sure anyone else maybe doing the same knows about the [very] easy Southwest status match opportunity.
The very easy status match opportunity
Which puts me at the last point that I want to make.
After a few weeks of travel with Southwest, I was over the stress that is “open” seating. I would have to make sure that I set an alarm on my phone for check in, ensure I was available at said check-in, then hope that the service on my phone would load the app fast enough. Which usually doesn’t even do the trick.
As many that frequent Southwest will understand, no matter how fast your app, how quickly you log in, or however you check in for flights — you’ll probably get somewhere in the “mid b’s” with a basic ticket. Of course, you could pay up for a flight, or you could just get elite status. Easy enough?
Some airlines make the terms, or opportunity of a status match/challenge a bit of a secret. For obvious reasons, they’d rather have their customers earn elite status organically — in other words buying more flights on the carrier. But of course, like any business, it is as important to acquire new customers, by any means necessary.
And as you see above, Southwest offers this status match directly on their website. Another great part about it, you get the A-List status throughout the challenge — something a lot of other airlines are doing away with.
The picture above clarifies the details, but essentially, with another “US based carrier” you are given 3 months of temporary A-List status with Southwest. And if you fly 6 one-way, or 3 round-trip flights in that same time span your elite status is extended for 12 months. Granting you all the benefits below:
So, following the directions stated above, I sent off an email with my proper information and a screenshot of my Delta Platinum Medallion status. Less than 48 hours later I was approved! And boy does it make the experience flying easier
Why it’s worth it?
So obviously, a lot of people may have read this and found no use to it. Or maybe you didn’t make it past the first line, which I totally get. Also, thank you for the pageview.
But seriously, maybe you don’t see yourself flying Southwest a lot. Maybe you only ever see really high fares on Southwest. Which I totally understand — but the reason I even wanted to write about this was because of how easy it is to complete the “challenge” and secure status for the entire 12 months.
For comparison purposes, most airlines offer status challenges that require anywhere from 9-15 segments to get full status — and as mentioned before, a lot of them don’t even offer temporary status during that 3 month period.
So if you do end up deciding to try the status challenge, there are a ton of very cheap mileage run options with Southwest. I specifically receive a ton of promo emails advertising fares as low as $49 one-way on Southwest — so even without planned travel this could be a viable option.
As I said, flying Southwest without any status can be a bit stressful. Sure, the fares can be cheap and the crew can be awesome, but as someone who is easily irked by inconsiderate people, the open boarding policy left a lot to be desired. For some reason I’d just like to pay a bit more to be able to pick my seat prior to boarding — and if it’s at the front of the plane, with free drinks all the better!
So obviously my thought and opinions may be skewed, as having any kind of status on an airline makes a world of a difference, but for now we digress.
If you are like me, or even if you just see yourself flying Southwest more in the future, and have some kind of airline status currently (or can get it), you might as well take advantage of this promotion.