Airline Status Stacking: How I’m getting status on American, Delta, and Southwest


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Premier airline status. The consultant’s holy grail. More than Christmas, New Years, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa combined, airline status brings joy to many consultants each year (usually in December.)

But not this year for me. Because, although I achieved my 13th running year of airline status (Platinum Medallion on Delta Airlines – thanks Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express) in a predictable fashion, but this January has really been the month of great joy.

It all started with an American Airlines email…

On Monday of this week, I got an email from American Airlines: “Free Gold status for you.” Now, they send me an email almost every day, but this one I opened – expecting some kind of hoax-y American Airlines credit card nonsense, but intrigued nonetheless.airline status match management consulted

And the text of the email made me squeal like a kid with a candy cane – “You’ve been selected to receive free American Airlines AAdvantage Gold status through May 15, 2019.” AHHHHHH!!!

Typically, you’d have to earn 50k+ MQMs and spend way too many MQDs (the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® helps) to get Gold status. The only time I’ve had American status, in all my years of flying, was one year when I invoked a request for a status match. It was a one-time thing, or so I thought.

American Airlines – nice work, well played, I’m in

But this one is smarter. It’s not a complete annual airline status match – I have to DO something to extend it beyond the 3.5 month trial period. I have to buy tickets and fly American – I’m even considering using the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® to maximize my points earnings (the 50,000 bonus points don’t hurt).

So really – American now gets a share of my joy (Delta, I promise, I still love you – I’m just going to be seeing someone else occasionally this spring). And, more important to them, they get a share of my wallet.

I didn’t have to prove anything (they sent it to me, I didn’t beg for it), and I didn’t see any exclusions doing it this year vs. another year, and I had to sign up by today, so I did – without reservation.

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I’m flying American Airlines now, apparently

You may have seen our piece in the fall where we rated the best airlines for business travel – and American came out 4th out of 5 airlines on our list. Still, complimentary Gold status (as devalued as it is), is enough to get me to fly American when the prices and flight times beat Delta. And by God, I’m going to get that status extended. Because there are few things in this life sweeter than getting airline status for practically nothing (except maybe staying home).

But wait – Southwest gets in on the action as well

I thought it couldn’t get any better. But here I am, thinking about planning flights on American Airlines and Delta Airlines for the year, holding 16 flights on miles with Delta until my plans firm up – and along comes a happy text message.

“If you want to take advantage”….and a link to an article: “Southwest Matching to A-List Status, Again.”

MORE. GOOD. NEWS.

Southwest Airlines Status Match – Flexibility and Freedom

Here’s the skinny on Southwest’s offer: you get status match for 3 months, and then can get it extended for another 12 months if you fly six flight segments during the 3 month trial. You have to show proof you have status with another U.S. airline (ummm, well now I have two in my back pocket). It takes – hypothetically – up to 12 business days to process. However, only new flights booked after registering for the promotion count toward the status extension, so effectively you have the first month where flights may be expensive and beyond that two months where you should be able to get better deals.

Now – one of Southwest Airlines’ biggest selling points (especially for business travelers) is the flexibility it affords. That extends to this offer – I can take advantage of this status match by registering any time up until December 9, 2019. So I could use it this year – or if I have too much status (is there ever such a thing?!), I can wait, register in late November, and have status with potential extensions into 2020.

If I’m looking at the Southwest Companion Pass, flying Southwest Airlines and getting A-List status on the way just made the whole package deal a lot sweeter.

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What Should I Do?

So, here’s where I stand.

I earned Delta Skymiles Platinum Status the old-fashioned way, and it’s valid through January 2020.

I now have American AAdvantage Gold Status through May 15, 2019.

And I can get A-List Status on Southwest anytime between now and December 9, 2019. My current plan is to activate it on August 1 and start booking flights for mid-August through mid-November (our busiest travel season) right after that. But what do you think? When should I get A-List Status?

In addition, are there other airlines I should status match on?

And, pray tell, who has status on American Airlines or Southwest Airlines who can tell me how to work the system? (After 13 years, I feel like I have Delta pretty much figured out).

Help a girl out, and tell me how you’re playing the status match game this year.

Bonus Round

Not one to be left out of the party, United Airlines offers a status match program as well that would allow me to match my newly minted American Gold to United Premier Silver or my Delta Platinum to United Premier Platinum.

However, as a Delta Platinum Medallion, I have to fly 18,000 PQM (Premier Qualifying Miles) on United flights in the first 90 days to extend my United Premier Platinum status for a year. It’s worth upgrading when I know I have one long or multiple shorter international trips coming up (ex: 18,000 PQM is one round trip flexible Economy fare from Houston to Singapore).

Based on my plans for the year, and the fact that much of my travel is backloaded, it seems like the best option is to activate the status match after July 1 because then the status – after flying the 18,000 PQMs – extends until Jan. 2021.

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So – anyone have amazing suggestions on how to fly 18,000 PQMs in 1 or 2 trips in Q3 or Q4 2019? Maybe you should invite us to come speak to your school or company!

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