When American Airlines started counting credit card spending and other non-flight activity towards earning elite status, it was a huge sea change. But they weren’t the first to do it.
Frontier Airlines re-launched their credit card and their elite program four years ago and did something that at the time was revolutionary: a dollar spent on the card earned an elite qualifying mile. Last year Spirit Airlines did this as well.
But Frontier did something bigger in 2021 and somehow I missed it. All spend over 20,00 per calendar year counts double towards elite status now. Therefore earning status purely on card spend works as follows:
- 20k status $20,000 spend
- 50k status: $35,000 spend
- 100k status: $60,000 spend
The first tier of elite status, available for $20,000 card spend in a year, or a combination of flying and card spend to earn 20,000 total qualifying miles, gets you:
- Priority check-in, zone 1 boarding and priority security
- Free carry on bag
- Advance seat assignment, including extra legroom seats at check-in if available
- Call center fees, close-in award booking fees, unaccompanied minor fees, same day confirmed change fees, standby fees all waived
- Spend extra miles for last seat award availability
At the 50,000 mile level — achievable through flights or spend or a combination also now provides “family seating and seat assignment for the cardmember and eight travelling companions on the same reservation.”
Spend $60,000 on the card or fly 100,000 (or a combination) and receive ‘the WORKS’ bundle including up to 8 travel companions on the same reservation.
- Free carry on bag
- Free checked bag
- Free seat selection including extra legroom seats
- Free refunds and flight changes
Free refunds. No one matches that. You’re not going to get first class upgrades. Frontier doesn’t have a first class. They don’t have inflight internet either. They’re an ultra-low cost carrier. But they’re cheap to fly, and doubly so for elites who get many of those extra fees waived. So this is a strategically useful play for a certain type of customer.