How it is to be ‘elite’

We already spoke about elite perks in the previous post.  Now let’s get into some more detail about what these elite perks mean to you and to your traveling experience.

Most airline programs offer 3 or 4 elite levels.  This harmony is mostly enforced because they’re part of an alliance and need to align their elite levels to their partner airlines.  If you’re elite on one airline in an alliance you’re treated accordingly when you travel on the other airlines in the alliance.
Hotel programs most of the time have the same number of levels.  We will cover hotel programs in more detail in the next post and will focus on airline programs in this post.

There’s only one way to achieve elite status on the airline programs.  You have to fly!  Each airline has some specific requirements to achieve status.  They’re all based on a minimum number of flights or points (sometimes called level or status miles). Here are some examples how to achieve the first status level:

– British Airways Executive Club requires 300 tier points or 25 flights.
– Flying Blue (Air France & KLM) 25000 level miles (30000 if you live in France+Monaco) or 15 flights.
– Miles&More (Lufthansa and partners) requires 35000 status miles

It pays to compare programs in the same alliance.  Aegean (Star Alliance) requires 16000 miles to achieve Gold Status (2nd elite level).  Miles&More, also member of Star Alliance, requires 100,000 miles to reach the same Gold Level.

Note that level or status miles should not be confused with the miles you earn for redemption towards free flights.  In many cases you will earn both but this is not always the case. eg. Flying Air Malta will earn you redeemable miles with Lufthansa but these will not count towards status.  Most of the time flying airlines within an alliance will earn you level or status, others won’t. (exception is Korean Air that is part of Skyteam but does not earn Medaillon Qualification Miles or MQM on Delta)

British Airways is slightly different from Miles&More and Flying Blue.  British Airways is more generous and grants 100% redeemable miles on the most discount economy tickets. (Miles&More and Flying Blue only 25% or 50%).  They’re not as generous with their points towards elite status.  To see how many tier points you would earn you can use their calculator on their website.

Some airlines offer shortcuts to elite status.  They may match your status if you’ve earned status on another carrier or they may offer you status for flying a lower amount of miles in a short time span.  Contact me for the exact details of your carrier of choice.

Now you know how to become elite we should still cover the benefits for you.

Benefits vary with each airline but generally include:

– a bonus on the number of  redeemable miles you earn. (25% to 50%)
– privileges of checking-in at the business counter even if you’re traveling in economy class

Sometimes you may get a higher baggage allowance or priority tags for your bags so you should get them faster at the baggage claim.  (although my experience is that the priority tags don’t really affect the speed your baggage is delivered)  Those airlines that offer seat selection for a fee (like British Airways) will generally offer them for free some days in advance to elites.  This gives you the opportunity to pick those better seats before everybody else can.

These are just a few perks.  I’ve listed those that I enjoy most.  As I mentioned the list varies by airline.  I will compare some programs in detail in a next post.

The Lufthansa First Class lounge at Frankfurt ...

The Lufthansa First Class lounge at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Access to airline lounges is also a nice perk which is most often offered as of the second elite level.  (Aegean Miles&Bonus is an exception where this is a benefit in the first and only elite level).  I enjoy lounge access a lot.  You get to escape the crowd at the airport and relax in quiet area reserved for elites.  Some drinks and snacks are complimentary.

As already mentioned, detailed comparisons of the benefits of the programs will follow.  I hope this post could already give you some idea what elite status is about!Contact me and I will be happy to help you with your questions.

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