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Airline Status Match & Status Match Challenge Options
An airline status match is the best way to make your existing elite status work even harder for you. For consultants and many other frequent business travelers, the airport feels like a second home. That’s why no matter what the day or season, we’re always looking for ways to make our travel experience as comfortable as possible.
Airlines have capitalized on this desire by offering loyalty programs that make it tough to sacrifice the perks of status (lounge access, upgrades, early boarding, etc.) for the potential of a lower fare or better schedule on a different airline.
While most frequent traveler elites earn their status by spending a vast amount of the year in the air, there are now ways to bypass certain requirements or utilize expiring status and switch to another airline. Keep reading to learn more about the status match / challenge options offered by various U.S. carriers.
What is a Status Match / Challenge?
A status match / challenge is a quick way for you to qualify for elite status with an airline you currently don’t have status on, while retaining status with your original carrier.
For example, if you currently have American Airlines AAdvantage Gold status and want to start flying United Airlines (or just want the flexibility of having status on two airlines), you would ask United to grant you their MileagePlus Premier Gold status so you can fly on United with the same perks you earned with American. Airlines provide status matches in the hopes that you will continue to be loyal to them once you make the switch.
Possible Responses to a Status Match / Challenge Request
When you request a status match, you will receive one of four possible responses:
- Status Match – The airline grants you immediate corresponding elite status valid for a specified period of time without any further requirements (most likely to happen for the two highest tiers of elite status).
- Status Challenge – Unlike a pure match, the airline will not grant you corresponding elite status until certain requirements are met. Requirements include miles/segments flown or ticket spend within a certain amount of time. However, these requirements are often much lower than the normal requirements for earning status.
- Combination – Here, the airline grants you immediate corresponding status and then requires you to complete additional challenge activities. Again, these often include flying a certain amount of miles or meeting revenue requirements in a short window of time to extend the status period.
- Denial – In this case, you may be denied for a few reasons. These include: your current airline is not eligible for the status match, the status match is no longer available, or your current status was earned through a promotion (such as a credit card) or other status match.
Airlines that Offer Status Match / Challenge
Alaska Airlines Status match
Alaska Airlines grants an elite status match to their corresponding elite status with no further challenge requirements. The status is usually good for the remainder of the current calendar year or for up to 15 months, depending on when your request is approved. This is one of the most generous airline status match policies we’ve seen.
Get to Alaska Airlines rewards faster: Apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, and get 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare for $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22). To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
American Airlines Status Challenge
American Airlines does not offer a status match, only a status challenge — and it requires you to pay a fee up front to participate. You can also purchase immediate status so you’ll be able to complete the challenge with status benefits. You do not need to have current elite status with another airline to purchase an American Airlines elite status challenge.
Note: American Airlines does offer complimentary status matches to elites of its competitor airlines (Delta, United). You cannot apply for this status match, but read about how we were recently invited!
Submitting a request: You can send an email to request a status challenge with American Airlines or call AAdvantage customer service at 888-697-5636.
Get to American Airlines rewards faster: Apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® to earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Delta Airlines: Status match and challenge
Delta grants status immediately and then requires a challenge be completed to extend it. You will be required to fly a specific number of miles and spend a certain amount of money with Delta in order to complete the challenge.
Submitting a request: Complete Delta’s online status match form and attach copies of your elite membership card and flight history.
Get to Delta Airlines rewards faster: The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express is currently offering a 60,000 mile bonus after spending $2,000 in the first three months. Offer ends 4/3/19.
Hawaiian Airlines Status match
Hawaiian Airlines will status match to any of their elite status levels for a period of 12 months. No further action is required — but if you have an upcoming Hawaiian Airlines reservation, you should include that information in your request.
Submitting a request: Complete an online customer service form to request a status match with Hawaiian Airlines. Attach a copy of your elite membership card, flight history with your current airline, and include any upcoming Hawaiian Airlines reservation information.
Southwest Airlines: Status match and status challenge
If you currently have valid elite status with a U.S. airline, Southwest will grant you a status match for a period of 90 days. To extend that status for another 12 months, you can complete a challenge of 3 round-trip flights within those 90 days.
Submitting a request: Send your request to [email protected] along with your Rapids Rewards number and a copy of your current U.S. airline elite membership information.
Get to Southwest rewards faster: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening. These points can be converted to Southwest Rapid Rewards Points on a 1:1 basis (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points = 60,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points).
United Airlines: Status match and challenge
United offers an immediate corresponding status match valid for 90 days, and then requires you to complete a challenge during that time by flying a certain amount of miles or flight segments. When you complete the challenge, your status will be extended.
Submitting a request: Complete United’s status match form or send an email to [email protected] . Include your MileagePlus account number, your full name, mailing address, and email address. Attach a copy of your current membership card (front and back) and a copy of your account statement.
Get to United Airlines rewards faster: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening. These points can be converted to United miles on a 1:1 basis (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points = 60,000 United miles).
If you don’t have premium United status and want a better boarding position, free checked bag, and TSA Pre✓® reimbursement, check out the United[SM] Explorer Card. The Explorer Card offers 40,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first 2 months, and an additional 20,000 bonus points after you spend $8,000 in the first 6 months. Apply here.
Air Canada Status Challenge
When requesting a status match with Air Canada’s Aeroplan Altitude program, you will most likely receive a challenge that requires you to fly 18,500 miles (or 18 segments) within 90 days. In rare cases you may receive a status match. If you receive a challenge, you will be granted Air Canada Altitude Elite 50K level elite status at completion.
Submitting a request: Send an email with your request and a copy of your current membership card plus flight history to [email protected]
Cathay Pacific: Status match with flight requirement
Status matches to Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club are usually granted to Silver regardless of your current elite status. Cathay usually requires you to have either flown on a Cathay Pacific flight recently and/or have an upcoming reservation.
Submitting a request: Send an email to [email protected] requesting the status match; include your Marco Polo Club membership number, a copy of a recent flight on Cathay Pacific, or an upcoming reservation. Also attach a copy of your current elite membership card and flight history.
Emirates Status match
Emirates will give a straight match to Skywards Silver for almost any airline status shown. However, note that no other status will be given because, “To upgrade anyone into this (Gold) tier would devalue the support of some of our existing top flyers who have worked hard to achieve this status.” Silver status is good until the end of the calendar year in which you apply.
Submitting a request: Complete Emirates’ “contact us” web form and you should receive an email offering Silver status in exchange for proof of your carrier’s status.
LATAM Status match
As long as you’ve flown a paid LATAM flight in the last 12 months, you can request a status match up to LATAM Black, which is equivalent to Oneworld Emerald status.
Submitting a request: Use the contact form on the Chilean LATAM website with the following information: a photo of your other frequent flyer program member card, a screenshot of recent transactions in your frequent flyer account and proof that you’ve flown LATAM in the last 12 months.
Turkish Airlines: Status match and status challenge
The initial status match granted by Turkish Airlines is valid for 4 months. To extend this status to 1 year, you must complete at least 1 international flight during that period. Keep good records and be persistent, as the process can be tedious.
Submitting a request: Use the Turkish Airlines feedback form to submit your request. Select the Miles&Smiles program as the topic. Be sure to include a copy of your current elite membership card (front and back) and a copy of your current statement. You’ll also want to include your Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles membership number.
Other Things to Note
- If you consistently fly international, the Platinum Card® from American Express is one of our top recommendations for international business travelers. It gives you access to multiple premium lounge networks, as well as a 60,000 Membership Reward Point bonus after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.
- If you haven’t already, sign up for the new airline frequent flyer program before you submit a status match request. This should help expedite your request.
- Some airlines limit status matches to once per lifetime, so be sure you have thought through the timing of your request. Other carriers limit requests to once every 3-5 years.
- If you are approved for a status challenge but don’t meet the requirements within the specified period, your temporary status will expire.
- Most airlines do not typically status match to their top level elite tiers.
- Expect a reply to your status match request in 2-4 weeks.
If you currently have airline status, there’s no harm in applying for status matches or status challenges. Before you embark on the process, however, be sure you will be able to complete the status challenges to extend your status, and prepare your documentation thoroughly before contacting each respective airline.
Best of luck to you!
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