January 10, 2015

The Status of Status for 2015

2014 was the year of airline devaluations.  United announced multiple devaluations of the award chart and announced the migration to a revenue based frequent flyer program.  The economy is improving and planes are full.  I guess the fact that oil is cheap is just gravy if you're an airline CEO these days.

After a couple of great years as a United 1K, I made the decision last year not to chase any status (airline or hotel).  I have plenty of points and miles in the bank and am perfectly happy (so is my bank account) redeeming more awards and earning less from staying/flying.  It is a great time to earn points and miles from credit card bonuses and spend and will continue to focus on earning that way during the year.

To that end, here's where things stand for 2015:

Airline:  Will drop to United Premier Silver after flying 35,000 paid miles last year.  Emily will be dropping to Silver as well after roughly 40,000 BIS (butt-in-seat) miles.

Hotel:  I qualified for Starwood lifetime Gold and am pretty happy with that.  Dropping from Platinum stings a bit (will miss free breakfast) but it's really not that big of a deal.  I also have Hilton Gold, IHG Platinum, Hyatt Platinum, and Marriott Gold from credit card benefits.  Having "mid-tier" status with all the major hotel chains is plenty.  Free internet, bonus points, and upgrades when available are nice perks.

While United and Starwood will remain my core loyalty programs, relinquishing higher tier status makes it much easier to "cheat" on the core programs.  If American is offering a cheaper flight with better times, I'll book it.

The biggest downside dropping from Gold to Silver is losing the ability to book Economy Plus tickets at the time of booking for free.  As a Silver, I can only select Economy Plus (for free) at check-in.  I am taking advantage of the my last month as a Gold - booking as many tickets as possible for 2015 so I can select premium seats without a fee.

In some ways, I'm happy to be a little less loyal.  More freedom = good.

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