Elite Upgrades (Almost) Explained in a Video

A video is making the rounds, Free Business Class Upgrades, everytime.

It’s basically an explanation of elite status, and tells you that you need to fly a lot on one airline in order to get upgraded.

Here’s the thing though. It makes broad, sweeping claims — many of which are wrong.

The example in the video is American Airlines.

The narrator proclaims, “If you don’t fly a lot you’ll always be stuck in the back”

    Not quite true, there are companion upgrades (you know someone who flies a lot), there are mileage upgrades (just spend money on your credit card, plus a cash co-pay). There are ways up front that don’t involve being a 100,000 mile flyer.

“Status is earned by one metric and one metric only, elite qualifying miles”

    Umm… no.. American has both elite qualifying miles and elite qualifing points, the latter is a separate metric that adjusts how much you fly by the types of fares you purchase. Either one can earn you status.

Finally, there’s the claim that you can’t earn qualifying miles any other way than flying, and specifically that you can’t earn them with a credit card.

Cute, and at least more substantively correct than much of what you reach about upgrades I suppose.

(HT: chanp on Milepoint)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. You would think that someone that would make such as video would know a lot more about the AA program. I reached gold on Delta by taking one international flight and getting the Amex Plat. It does help to fly a lot for sure, but clearly that are a lot of gaps in that video. Basically he is proposing the most expensive way possible to achieve elite status…unless you are already taking all of those flights paid for by your employer anyway.

  2. It was available during 2011 when you could get silver status by opening an American Express Platinum and tranferring 50k points to Delta miles (and 25k EQMs came with it), and then I took a challenge to silver elites to gold by either taking two domestic flights or one international. Unfortunately, I do not think the EQM’s have been offered since then.

  3. This has probably been shared already, but Casey Neistat’s older video “make it count” is pretty darn awesome and makes me want to travel even more than I do.

  4. @Andrew

    that’s a pretty cool video.. personally i would prefer to spend more time at each place, but this is still kinda cool too.

  5. @mike I think the OP is a tool. He should come back with another video, instead of “reviewing other people’s review”.

  6. Gleff-

    You’re accurate about his inaccuracies. 🙂

    Also, he claims that AA has lie flat seats; that’s a pretty broad claim considering that the only true lie-flat seats are on AA’s 777’s. To the travel novice he makes it sound that lie-flat seats are standard in every J/F cabin AA has.

  7. @Max M – and not even in AA’s 777s as such — just so far on their (2) 777-300ERs as far as *business class* goes.

  8. This video is pretty fun, and is accurate from the basic point of view. It seems to be angled toward those who didn’t even know, and I bet there are a lot of them in America. It also answers a basic question for infrequent fliers: how to get into the first class cabin.

    Otherwise, there are a lot of additional things a more advanced traveler would learn as they go along, like reading a View from the Wing blog 🙂

    Now as for AA being the best elite program, we shall see once Parker gets a hold of it. Buy into EXP is quite possible on the horizon 😛

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