Even MORE of Your Pressing Frequent-Flyer Questions Answered!
Admit it. You wish you knew the answers to all those burning mileage-award questions that didn't get answered by Randy Petersen in our FlyerTalk Challenge. So do I. But there were more than 100 of them. Who could possibly have the time, the patience, the sheer mileage obsession, to step up and volunteer to answer them?
The Global Traveller, that's who. If you're a FlyerTalker, you know him by his FT handle, Kiwi Flyer, and by his FT blog, The Gate. If you're a loyal Perrin Post reader, you know him because of his frequent insightful comments here. He's been one of my favorite air warriors ever since he flew halfway around the world to meet me for lunch 2 1/2 years ago (see "I Was a Stop on His Mileage Run"). And, as if writing three blogs -- in addition to The Gate, he writes Musings of the Global Traveller and Real Cheap Air Fares -- didn't eat up enough of his time, he is now digging into your remaining miles-and-points quandaries! Incredibly nice guy or masochist? I don't know. All I know is Conde Nast Traveler readers are lucky to have him as their friend.
The first batch of questions he's answered involve elite frequent-flier status: how to work it, how never to lose it, when it's worth killing yourself to attain it and when it's not....
Below are your questions about elite status, and you can click here to read The Global Traveller's answers.
"I have Premier Exec status on United, but basically never get any perks out of it except lounge access on international travel. Since most of my travel is international, I feel like I should be switching allegiances to a non-US carrier (I hate flying US airlines overseas anyway--they're so bad). I just don't know which one... I'm NYC-based and fly to Europe and the Mid East a lot."--Zora
"You invest years into a frequent flyer program only to find the grass appearing greener on another carrier for what ever reasons float your boat in a particular program. So... when does it make sense to abandon your progress to million miler and annual top tier status on one carrier to move to another carrier only to start from scratch and claw your way back to the front of the plane?"--Brian White
"As a 16-year old Gold Elite member, it is very difficult to be taken seriously. I have been laughed off by quite a few gate agents when I approached them about an upgrade, even when I wanted to use miles to do so. There was one instance where the gate agent gave my upgrade to a Silver Elite member, just because he was wearing a coat and tie and I was walking around with my Chemistry book. What can I do to be taken more seriously? Flashing my card doesn't seem to be working..."--Chad
"Hi, I am Premier Exec with United, but I now spend 1/2 of the year overseas. I am not sure if I should stick with UA or switch to LH. I normally fly business/first when flying back to the States, so I don't really benefit from UA in terms of Economy Plus, upgrades, priority boarding, etc, due to status. But if I move from UA to LH, I wouldn't earn enough miles to make star gold with them, but I will at least be redeeming more miles with them for future trips for every flight I do take. I have been thinking about this for a couple of years, and I basically have another month before I decide if i'm going to switch from UA. The main benefit I get from being star gold is the extra baggage allowance, and using the senator lounges instead of the biz lounge."--Ii7654
"I've become accustomed to the perks that elite membership offers. And, as I near retirement (okay in about 10 + years) I am increasingly worried about achieving lifetime benefits in the programs that I have been loyal to--Marriott, American, and Delta. I need Mr. Petersen to guide me and others as we "senior" travelers face the dilemma of losing status when we need it the most!"--Kevin Leibel
"As a 1K on United, I enjoy some of the best perks that top status has to offer, including upgrades, waitlist priority, dedicated reservations and customer service, and in generall excellent treatment. There's no question to me that for someone who flies 100,000 miles a year, sticking to one airline is absolutely worth it. My question concerns those at the other end of the spectrum, namely people who fly just enough to attain the lowest status level (e.g., "Silver") but not more: Are the benefits that come at the lowest status levels really worth the extra costs and potential inconvenience of sticking with one airline? I used to think so, but I'm not so sure anymore, particularly with the airlines' significantly diminished capacity, making upgrades harder to obtain; the the increasing difficulty of using frequent flyer miles to get where you want to go, when you want to go there; and proliferation of "Low-Cost Carriers," which often can get you from A to B at a much cheaper price. In short, is the lowest-tier elite game still worth the candle."--Aaron
AND THE FINAL QUESTION:
"I was going to say that my problem is I need a new job that allows me to travel, but (though true) that's a little boring. So I wrote this instead. Enjoy! :-)
Roger was having a bad day. Worse than that, he was having a Bad Day. The. Ultimate. Bad. Day.
Roger had it all. A nice place with some nice toys, nice suits, a decent amount in the bank account and most importantly, he had a lot of frequent flyer points. A lot. Like more than what most normal people would even dream possible. A veritable Mountain of Points. Most of the points had come via the credit card spend one dollar get one point. And Roger was smart he knew to stay at certain hotels in order to get bonus points. He knew to rent his cars from the one company that also gave bonus points. But by far, the most valuable, the most cherished of those miles were the status miles.
Status Miles. Just the words alone had a special glow that surrounded them. Status Miles. Words that slid off the tongue leaving a warm, special feeling behind in the mouth as they came out. Status Miles. Like silk fluttering gently over the skin. Status Miles. Those special rewards that came from flying.
Flying where? Well that didn't really matter, now, did it? Flying generated Status Miles. Oh how wonderful that was! Just that feeling of sitting on the airplane flying above the clouds knowing that Status Miles were his. And better still to see those precious, those truly precious Status Miles in black and white in his account. Mmmm Status Miles.
Status Miles. Status Miles. Status Miles.
And it was all over on this Ultimate Bad Day, because Roger had just been fired by some jerk named Ryan Bingham. Ryan “the smooth talking stuffed suit who was there only because Roger's boss didn't have the guts to face him himself. Ryan “the well-coiffed, sharp dresser who smiled and said, "Roger, I'm here to talk about your future."
Future?! What future? There never was any future. There was only Now. And now only mattered if Status Miles were accumulating.
And now, there would be no miles. Not anymore. That was over.
The Ultimate Bad Day indeed.
Roger had fumed, had sworn, had heatedly told Mister Jerk Ryan Bingham that he was taking everything away. Who was he to do this to Roger? But The Jerk had just nodded as though he knew. But what could he possibly know? How could someone like him possibly even begin to understand what was at stake? What it was that was being unceremoniously yanked from Roger?
It wasn't the job. It wasn't the prestige of working for the company. Heck, it wasn't even for the money (though that was pretty good). It was the opportunity to accumulate Status Miles.
Roger knew well enough he could fly anywhere in style and comfort for a long time if he just used his miles. He knew how to work within the system to get himself around the world in First Class for only 120,000 points. Spending that wouldn't even begin to make a dent in his account.
But that wasn't the point. Spending miles might be OK for some, but for Roger the goal, the whole point of everything was to accumulate Status Miles. It wasn't a competition, it wasn't even necessarily a challenge. Nobody even knew Roger did this and nobody really needed to know. It was just The Way Things Were. Accumulation of Status Miles was the only thing that mattered.
And so, on The Ultimate Bad Day, Roger had a problem. How could he find a new role that would allow him to continue his mission? Where would he begin his search for the job that would enable him to get back to accumulating Status Miles?"--Richard