Free Marriott Platinum Status and the Trip of a Lifetime

November’s Star MegaDO was the charter of United’s first 787. Frequent flyers got to experience it in a fantastic party atmosphere, and it was covered by the Economist, by the New York Times, by the Wall Street Journal and by… the Wall Street Journal.

This year’s Star MegaDO, scheduled for October 22-25, was supposed to go on sale in May. It did. Kind of. The booking engine didn’t work properly, folks that tried to get tickets were eventually processed (many manually), and the sales were suspended.

Most seats for the event were sold, but the process was broken. It’s ready to re-open for sales, though, on July 10 at Noon Mountain time.

The six weeks that have passed gave the organizers time for vacation (hah) but also to put together more details surrounding the trip than were previously available. And also to negotiate lower pricing for the charter flight.

Prices are:

  • Coach: $999
  • Economy Plus: $1299
  • Tommy Class (middle seat blocked): $1799 (was sold out, but equipment change opens up 4 seats)
  • Tommy Class Emergency Exit (middle seat blocked): $1999 (was sold out, but equipment change opens two seats)
  • First Class: $2799 (already sold out)

The cost includes charter flights, inflight catering, bus transportation between events (you get yourself to the start of the trip and back home from the end). This also includes three evening dinner receptions.

The aircraft is a United 737-900ER. Miles will be awarded on your choice of Air Canada and United.

Everyone participating will get Marriott Platinum status awarded valid until February 2015. Rimowa will be making a one-of-a-kind bag available for purchase (to be delivered prior to the event).

Here’s the current itinerary, in short:

    Wednesday October 23rd: Toronto, Rimowa factory tours (make a suitcase!) and barbecue, welcome reception at the Ritz Carlton Toronto hosted by Marriott

    Thursday October 24th: A Day with Air Canada

    Friday October 25th: Charter flight to Tucson for Air Force base stop. Charter flight to San Francisco. Hangar party hosted by United Airlines.

If you’re interested in participating, mark July 10 at Noon Mountain time on your calendar and hop online.

Here’s a TV bit from the last trip:

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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, 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. Gary,

    What’s your evaluation of Platinum status with Marriott compared to SPG and HYATT?

  2. I value Hyatt and Starwood’s top status more. Marriott has more properties. My view is best strategy is to pick Hyatt or SPG (my pick is Hyatt) for best treatment, Hyatt’s points-earning is better. But the properties aren’t everywhere. So you need a backup chain.

    My backup chain was Hilton until their devaluation in March. Now I would say that Marriott is a better choice. Hilton sells Gold for $95 through their credit card, and Marriott’s status has the highest threshold to earn. But I do think Marriott is probably the better program than Hilton now.

  3. What kind of Ritz Carlton bonuses come with the Marriott Platinum status?

  4. I think Hilton Diamond is worth more than Marriott Platinum status. As I found out its possible to spend over 120 nights a year with Marriott and not get a single suite upgrade. So I would take it but I wouldn’t shift any stays.

  5. You shouldn’t advertise this as free Marriott Platinum status if it requires a minimum $999 purchase.

  6. 999 dollars is still a rip off to spend a full day in a suitcase factory. Another deceptive title and article that’s hardly objective.

  7. I agree that Hyatt is the best program, but that they have too many holes with no hotels. THey are my first choice. I like Hilton as my back up chain due to the more frequent upgrades and much higher earning. With Diamond status, the Amex Surpass card and bonus points, I get 45 to 60 points per dollar spent. That’s 2 times the Marriott max earn. Even with the devaluation that means more free stays. And in a year of Platinum status at Marriott with over 50 stays, I didn’t get one upgrade.

  8. @Mark – base earning is actually stronger in the Marriott program that in Hilton’s program, I did the math and posted the spreadsheets on this back in February

  9. @Thomas Wilson you must have some sort of gripe unrelated to the trip if you think the price of the trip is a rip off, since you get the miles and status from the flights, as well as the flights itself, receptions and meals and ground transportation and a United Airlines program as well as an Air Force program plus Marriott Platinum status. As for objectivity, let me be clear that I have no financial interest in this event whatsoever.

  10. I would love to get excited about Platinum status from Marriott but the Ritz Carlton Premium credit card burned me for its’ smoke and mirror offers on club rooms……….the only advantage over just a normal internet reservation of a Ritz Carlton would be that this program offered something meaningful……..I see the Hilton plus up for premium members superior after having Hyatt as the main program I am loyal to……….

  11. Gary, 999 dollars is not worth it for this trip at all. It’s pretty obvious- spending a day at a suitcase factory? You can also do these tours on your own and I’m guessing experience 80% of the same thing.

    For someone who analyzes travel, it’s hilariously funny and hints at your true interests that you think this is worth the money.

  12. Hey Thomas, there’s this awesome thing in the world: it’s called choice. You can choose:
    – whether the trip is worth $999 to you or not
    – whether this blog is worth reading or not
    – heck, even whether making disrespectful comments is appropriate or not (hint: usually not)

    Gary noted that he has no financial interest in this MegaDo. For that matter, neither do I (actually, I have zero interest in it at all, and it’s not worth $999 to me).

    But I’m tired of people crapping on bloggers’ posts. Unless you feel someone’s being deceptive (e.g., if Gary had promised a benefit as part of the tour that’s actually not included), then IMHO it makes you look like a petty ass to repeatedly whine in the thread.

  13. Hah, the first time I read that title, I thought it said, “Mariott lifetime platinum status”.
    I don’t think I’ll be able to make it, but it sounds like a fun trip.

  14. ADAM – I find your comment below interesting

    “But I’m tired of people crapping on bloggers’ posts. Unless you feel someone’s being deceptive”

    You were deceptive and were called out for posting pics from hotel websites in your trip report as your own. You chose to delete those fair comments of copyright violation without any credit and not the pic.

  15. Funny how some people are complaining how “it’s too much money” and yet all the higher class seats are getting sold out 😉

  16. Jason, I think you might have the wrong Adam. I’m not even remotely a travel blogger, can’t recall the last time I wrote a trip report, and when I was posting anything in my blog (years ago), I always used photos I had personally taken.

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