Status matches in the news

Airtran’s advertised status match offer has made it into Keith Alexander’s Washington Post column for December 8th.

    The little fax machine inside the frequent-flier office at AirTran Airways has been whirring for more than a week as once-loyal customers from US Airways, Continental and Delta Air Lines send in their account statements.

    More than 600 have come in so far, said AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson, and executives are considering adding a second machine to reduce the constant busy signals.

    Last week, AirTran began offering automatic elite status in its frequent-flier program to any traveler who holds a similar status with another airline. A passenger would normally have to fly either 20 trips within 90 days or 100 trips a year with AirTran to qualify for its elite status.

The column contains a few minor inaccuracies. To wit:

    Now all a frequent flier has to do is fax AirTran a statement showing a balance of at least 100,000 frequent-flier miles.

The offer, however, is tied solely to holding elite status on a competing carrier and does not have anything to do with the number of mile in that account.

In addition, the following quoted claim is blatantly false:

    But one airline said it has no plans of making such offers. American Airlines, the world’s largest carrier, said offering such incentives to attract rivals’ customers was unfair to its existing frequent fliers.

    “We feel the people who earn their miles and status would be left out in the cold,” said American spokesman Tim Wagner.

American absolutely does offer status matches. They’re a bit tighter than most major carriers, often offering a ‘challenge’ (fly x miles in y days for expedited status) in place of an outright match. But they can and do match status, especially from United Airlines elites but also from others.

For more on status matches, see my comprehensive discussion at which was reprinted in the November 2003 Inside Flyer.

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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