Status Upgrades for Frequent Fliers

Tracy Stewart, December 16, 2008
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. A while back United Airlines had a deal where elite members could nominate a friend for a status upgrade. I fly for work, but my employer books my flights, and thus I have my mileage spread out on many different airlines. And so, it was great to be able to be upgraded to Premier without having to accumulate all the milage. Do you know if any of the other airlines offer something similar to their frequent fliers?

    A. We put this one to our friend Tim Winship at FrequentFlier.com, who had this to say:

    First, a word on terminology, to avoid any confusion. 'Status match' has a very specific meaning when used by the frequent flyer program cognoscenti. Generally, a status match is when one airline matches the elite status a traveler has earned in another airline's mileage program, as a way to encourage that traveler to switch his allegiance.

    Steph's question concerns something very different.

    Until recently, United and American both offered elite members of their programs the option of bestowing elite status on a friend. It was one among several so-called threshold bonuses elite members could choose to receive if they reached various mileage thresholds.

    I'm only aware of one airline that currently allows elites to nominate a friend for elite status, US Airways. The benefit is reserved for flyers who have reached that airline's highest elite tier, Chairman's Preferred, and entitles them to designate one person to receive Silver Preferred status.

    Also, Airfarewatchdog notes that if you have a Delta Reserve credit card from American Express, you can earn bonus Medallion qualification miles, which you can give to friends and family, allowing them to reach Medallion status faster.
     

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