My Mid-Year Elite Status Update: Am I Walking the Talk?

I share my thoughts and advice on loyalty programs all of the time, I thought it would be useful to also share what I do and let you evaluate whether I practice my own advice.

At the same time, where I focus my own stays (and how much I’m traveling) may be illuminating and sharing this gives me an opportunity to articulate some of my own thinking.

Of course, in revealing what status I currently have and where I am mid-year in requalifying, it doesn’t actually include all of my travels. I’ve done two major Asia trips on points this year already, and have more award travel coming up. There will be 60,000 or 80,000 flown butt in seat miles that don’t get included in my flight totals.

I’ve also been flying a bunch of British Airways-issued short haul award tickets on American and US Airways. Roughly speaking, as a result, I’m at about 100,000 miles flown though my qualifying mileage number is far lower.

Here’s how they break down and why:


I’m a bit behind the curve with American but not by much and should have no difficulty requalifying as an American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum (100,000 mile flyer).

This is the airline status I value the most — my upgrade track record on domestic flights is fantastic, and they let me upgrade internationally (8 times a year) from any fare.

American’s is not my only oneworld status, but it’s the only one that I earned. I am also currently a British Airways Silver.

When British Airways acquired british midland, I was a bmi Diamond Club Gold. BA gave me Gold in their Executive Club program, and that lasted for ~ 21 months. Then, since I didn’t credit a single flight to the BA program (I’ve earned my BA miles by getting a British Airways credit card from Chase, and by transferring in points from Chase and American Express), I received a soft landing to Silver.

I carry this card in my wallet. As a Gold member it got me access to American’s Flagship (first class) lounges even when flying domestically. Now my Silver status gets me access to American’s Admirals Club lounges. Sure, I have the Citi Executive card which also gives me access, but as a BA Silver I get drink chits — which I usually exchange for free bottles of water before my flight.

When bmi was acquired by BA, Aegean Miles & Bonus also offered a status match opportunity to bmi’s members. That’s unusual for the program, and it’s especially lucrative.

I received my Aegean Gold status, which is Star Alliance Gold status. Under present rules, status – once achieved – is lifetime as long as you keep your account active with a qualifying flight every three years.

I sure miss bmi’s Diamond Club. I often said I wasn’t actually aware that bmi was an airline, I thought it was just a frequent flyer program. It was one of the great ones, may she rest in peace.

  • Cash and points award chart.
  • One-way awards at half the price of coach.
  • Business class awards were just 1.5 times the price of coach
  • It only took 38,000 status miles to requalify for Gold status
  • Once you had requalified, mileage-earning was even faster. For instance, a requalified Gold on a first class fare (including US domestic first) earned 625% flown miles.
  • They actually used to credit award flights as mileage-earning. Redeem a United first class award to Asia, submit boarding passes, you could re-qualify for Gold status and earn enough miles for a cash and points business class roundtrip to Europe

The only downsides were fuel surcharges and perhaps the worst airline call center I’ve ever experienced (outsourced Indian call centers with terrible phone connections plus limited hours).

Hotel Programs

My favorite hotel program is Hyatt Gold Passport. I will definitely re-up my Diamond status this year, despite booking a dozen or so nights as awards (full points, not cash and points) which won’t count towards status. (With the introduction of a new redemption category 7 I got in under the wire at places like the Park Hyatt Sydney and Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris.)

I’m going for Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum status this year, and I’m halfway there.

Two top tiers is a little bit of a stretch for me, since I wind up staying too many nights outside of my top two chains Hyatt and Starwood. But with enough nights overall, I’ve decided it’s worthwhile. I’ll do Platinum with 50 nights since – despite so many reports of problems actually using them – I want Suite Night Awards (expressing a preference for when you want an upgrade 10 times a year and getting confirmed up to 5 days in advance if available) not just free breakfast.

So this sure wasn’t intentional. I have 10 qualifying nights with Marriott and am currently Silver.

I haven’t gotten around to upping my Hilton HHonors status back to Gold (I need to apply for the Citi Hilton Reserve Card). I’ve only had three stays with them this year.

I’m still a Le Club Accorhotels Platinum member.

This is just from a free Platinum status signup offer and I have only a single Accor stay over the past year. Fortunately, the program’s benefits have gotten better..

I’m no longer an Intercontinental Royal Ambassador. It was a good run dating back to 2006 and sadly it’s no longer as simple as getting a friend to refer you, and then referring them back.

Outside of major chains I’ve stayed at properties like the Charleston Place hotel and also the Breakers for work. Those helped my status quest not at all.

Rental Cars

Here’s my current rental car status:

I rent mostly from National. I like the ‘Executive Aisle’ choose your own car concept. And I do well with National’s free rental days and especially when paired with their annual 1-2-Free promotion. Avis gives out far more miles, though.

I don’t worry about requalifying for their top tier ‘Executive Elite’ status as Executive status is nearly as good, the key benefit to me is picking from the Executive aisle of better cars when renting a midsize (instead of the standard ‘Emerald aisle’).

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. My pet peeve with Hilton is that revenue stays at some corporate rates do not accrue night/stay credits. I have >40 nights this year already at Hiltons, but 0 nights and 0 stays to show for it. Thank goodness for the HH Gold status via Milepoint.

  2. @Sean M – this sounds like the “bulk rate” issue that many seem to be having with airlines and status dollar earnings (namely with DL and UA). Not sure what the workaround is, but good that you have status via another source.

  3. do you have amex platinum? if so, you’re entitled to instant spg and hhonors gold

  4. @pavel – i have amex platinum. my spg goal is platinum, not gold. And that’s not true for hilton — hilton’s hhonors gold offer was a limited-time deal end of 2013, and is not currently available

  5. When I saw your points and miles totals with American, I was confused as to how you could possibly have fewer points than miles. I never have fewer points, always more. So, off to for a little research.

    I have not seen a deep discount fare that earns 0.5 points per mile in a long, long time. Those of us in Hootervilles with Am Eagle service always get to see the next tier up. Seriously, I cannot recall a single N fair in 3-4 years. I often do K-Ups as a result as the cost difference is usually $100-$150, and I like knowing I have an upgrade in the bag (I’m only Platinum, don’t you know!). Thanks for the report Gary!

  6. I decided to go the US route as I live in DC and I was finding it easier with 3 legacy cards to get 30k in Jan

    Now I am almost there and I question myself if
    AA will give 8 VIPs in Feb to us US folk
    If there wull be a 75k or 100k level for free award changes
    Both DL and UA offer this and the lucky ones among us with the Chase Pres Plus card can hit that by spend
    (yes I could hit DM by manufactured spend but who wants DL miles)
    As far as I can tell 2014 was the last year for EQMs from Barclays cards
    I do not think the BofA cards will survive this one with the EQMs either
    Wonder if I am wrong and they will be resurrected as a perk

  7. will any credit cards be offering elite or preferred mileage with purchases next year?Barclay will be discontinuing it at the end of the year and the US Airways buy up to preferred new rates are outrageous.

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