Status Match Journey
Back in 2013 I managed to quickly register for an American Airlines status challenge that was briefly made public. At that time I wasn’t as elite crazed as I am today, so I opted to just fly 12,000 EQMs in order to earn American Airlines Platinum status. To get Executive Platinum it would have required flying 30,000 miles.
In order to get the status as cheaply as possible, I booked a cheap roundtrip with an 80 minute turn around on the now defunct route to Asuncion, Paraguay. By flying LAX-MIA-ASU-MIA-LAX I earned 12,300 EQMs, about 14,000 redeemable miles and AAdvantage Platinum status through February, 2015. The trip went according to plan other than a forced landing in Aruba due to the ground crew in Paraguay failing to service the toilets!
Matching to Alaska
As 2014 came to an end, I suddenly had the realization that I would be elite-less. Thankfully I was able at that time to match my AAdvantage Platinum status to Alaska Airlines MVP Gold status through the beginning of 2016. I didn’t use my status much, however I was able to use some free upgrades to get my entire family in first class on a flight to Hawaii.
Alaska’s status match program is supposed to be once per lifetime, so I have often regretted doing that match. Sure, I did benefit on our flight to Hawaii, but I wasn’t able to maximize the status as much as I would have liked. It did get me almost two years of Alitalia Gold status though which got me into the SkyTeam lounge in Hong Kong and slightly better treatment on China Eastern. I also matched to Star Alliance Silver with Copa!
Almost 4 Years
If you are following along, that one flight to Paraguay in 2013 lead to American Airlines status through 2015, Alaska Airlines status through 2016 and Alitalia/Copa status through 2017. That was almost 4 years of elite status from one single flight! That really demonstrates the value of status matches.
Another American Airlines Opportunity
Of course I wasn’t done with status challenges/matches. In late 2015 American Airlines briefly opened up a new status challenge. Once again I quickly registered for it before the link died and was yet again on a fast track towards elite status. This time I decided to go all the way for Executive Platinum!
Thankfully at the time there were some cheap flights in Business Class to Panama (via JFK & MIA). I enjoyed sitting up front on two roundtrips to the country. Heck, I even managed to tack on a quick trip to Cuba at a time when there were no direct flights from the United States. My feelings about Cuba were mixed but I enjoyed Panama and the flying which included a few transcon flights on AA’s lovely A321B with lie flat seats.
Keep the Train Going
During 2016 I managed to use my Executive Platinum status quite a lot. In fact I got so used to being upgraded to domestic first class, that I really wanted to keep it. Thanks to the British Airways Business Class Avios deal of the year I already had about 50,000 EQMs in 2016, but alas didn’t find it economical to get the rest via mileage runs. So, in February of this year I dropped back to being a lowly Platinum with AAdvantage. Can I tell you a secret? I don’t really like flying with them anyway! 🙂
An Alaska Hail Mary
On the flip side, I love flying on Alaska Airlines and their new subsidiary Virgin America. For that reason I threw up a Hail Mary in late February just before my Executive Platinum status was to expire. Despite Alaska’s once per lifetime rules, I decided to match to them once again. Since I am giving up on American, I plan to hopefully credit flights to Alaska and re-qualify. Thus, I asked for the match because I want to switch my loyalty to Alaska.
To ask for the match I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org and sent a copy of my flight activity and my elite card as attachments. Then, I never heard back. A few weeks ago after remembering about my request, I logged into my account and found that I had been upgraded to MVP Gold 75K! That is Alaska’s top level status. They had apparently emailed me in March, but I missed it.
Quite the Journey
My elite status journey since 2013 has been quite fun. I think it is safe to say I am a bit of an elite junkie, although I do admit with all of the devaluations, I am very hesitant to show too much loyalty to one airline. I love matches and I love upgrades and will continue to pursue them. As long as Alaska keeps high value in their MileagePlan program, I think I’ll stick with it for awhile. Of course that won’t stop me from looking for my next match opportunity!