As we are rapidly heading toward the end of the 3rd quarter, many frequent flyers are starting to look at their accounts and are wondering a couple of things about them.
First, on their main account, they are wondering if they will have sufficient mileage to achieve any status, followed by will they have enough to achieve the top tier status. If the answer is No to the first, then it’s a given that it is a No to the second. Why do travelers worry so much about their status? It is really simple, it impacts a wide variety of things that make the roadwarriors life a little easier. For example, most of the US airlines are now setting aside anywhere from 20% to 40% of all seats on a flight for those travelers who have status with that airline. That means that if you are a business traveler booking at the last minute and you don’t have status you either get a middle seat toward the back of the plane or you don’t have a seat assignment at all, which makes you the first person to be denied boarding when the flight is in an oversold mode. Other things that come from having status with an airline, complimentary upgrades on a space available basis and the ability to utilize faster lines at security screenings.
As the year starts winding down and travelers start looking for ways to get to that next tier, we, here at Christopherson Business Travel understand the importance of your status. It makes our job easier when you have status on an airline because then we can access the seats set aside for frequent flyers and it makes your life easier when you fly. Because of this, the agents will make a point of adding your primary carrier’s frequent flyer number to any flights you take on a partner carrier. For example if you generally fly Delta and you are on a Northwest flight, the agent will add your Delta number in the Northwest reservation. Likewise if you are a United frequent flyer and you are flying on US Airways, the agents will put your United number in the reservation.
If you find that you are short by a few miles of making that next level there are a number of options to consider. One is that you may opt for connecting service instead of nonstop. This strategy can add anywhere from a couple of hundred miles per trip to a thousand per trip depending on where you are traveling. The downside is that connecting adds travel time to your trip. Another strategy is the old standby, a mileage run. This is where you take one or more low cost trips for the purpose of gaining enough qualifying miles so that you achieve the next tier of status. I know that this strategy works however I would suggest that this should be the strategy of last resort. Instead I would suggest checking your carrier’s website and seeing what promotions that they are running and see if any of those get you qualifying miles. For example, right now Delta has a promotion in conjunction with Hilton Hotels where if you stay two nights, you get qualifying miles plus double miles. https://www.delta.com/skymiles/about_skymiles/skymiles_newsletter/general/index.jsp Or United has a promotion that helps you earn double elite qualifying miles between now and December 15th, 2009. http://www.united.com/page/article/0,6722,1252,00.html?navSource=mppromotions&linkTitle=2air. Most of these promotions require that you register prior to travel so be sure to read the fine print.
The other mileage related worry is keeping those relatively inactive accounts active. You know the ones where you used to fly airline X all the time and you have a bunch of miles on them and now you aren’t flying them very often however you don’t want to lose those miles just because that airline has changed their policy to deleting accounts that have been inactive for 18 months or 24 months. An easy way to keep an account active is to purchase something through one of the partners, be it a car rental, a hotel stay or music from iTunes. These all act to keep that account active.
Now is the time to start thinking about the end of the year and how many miles you need to achieve your desired status.