Elite status with airline loyalty programs comes with a myriad of benefits that amounts to significant savings. Better yet, many of these elite status benefits extend to travel companions. In this post I want to highlight the standard benefits that do extend to non-elite travel companions.
Elite status benefits extend to travel companions
Priority Seat Selection: As long as all travelers are under the same reservation, elite members can pre-select seats for companions at the time of booking.
Complimentary Preferred Seats: Airlines that offer complimentary preferred seats as an elite benefit also extend that to travel companions under the same reservation.
Priority Airport Check-In: This benefit is a bit more generous and extends to non-elite travel companions outside the reservation as well. Elite members can ‘treat their non-elite companions’ by letting them tag along the priority check-in lane. I have never come across an airline agent that objects to this practice.
Complimentary Checked Baggage Allowance: This benefit does not directly extend to non-elite travel companions, but can be “pseudo-extended”. Example: As a Star Alliance Gold member, I am allowed to check-in up to 3 pieces of luggage. If I have one bag and my companion has two, all three bags can be checked in under my elite benefit – saving my companion a checked baggage fee.
Priority Baggage Handling: As long as there is one elite member at check-in, airlines agents will tag all pieces of luggage with a priority tag, thus extending it to non-elite travelers in your group.
Priority Security Clearance: Several airports have dedicated express lanes for airline elite members. Elite members can bring family members or a guest that is part of their ‘travel group’.
Priority Boarding: Companions that are part of the same reservation are assigned priority boarding access/zones as the elite member, at the time of check-in.
Lounge Access: Specific lounge policies aside, most Elite members (Gold equivalent and above) can bring a guest or family along under their benefit. Some lounges/airlines restrict the number of guests that an elite member can bring along.
Gifting Status: Some loyalty programs (Delta and Alaska come to mind) offer “gifting status” as an elite benefit to highest level of their membership tier. This is an extremely generous perk which can directly benefit family or friends when traveling without an elite member.
Complimentary Upgrades: Again, several loyalty programs allow complimentary upgrade benefit to companions that are part of the same reservation as the primary elite member.
I am thankful for elite status benefits that extend to companions, it has saved me hundreds of dollars when traveling with family or especially when my family travels without me. The benefits listed above are by no means exhaustive and can differ from one loyalty program to another.
What are some of your favourite shared benefits or ones you have taken advantage of? If I missed a key benefit, please share with a comment below.