I realize that much of what I am about to say has probably been said in some ways by others. But that’s neither here nor there because I haven’t said it until now. What is that you might wonder? With few exceptions, there is no longer any point in trying to obtain entry level airline elite status. Why? As most of you know, you can obtain the majority of entry-level elite benefits simply by carrying the credit card of your favorite airline. There is no better example than my flight from Atlanta to Washington, DC this week. I was 30 something of 40 something on the upgrade list, so that’s not even worth worrying about. Just based on a visual review of boarding, over 50 of approximately 150 passengers were either seated in First Class or eligible for priority boarding.
Finally, the call came for “Zone 1.” At least 70 percent of the remaining passengers headed for boarding. Fortunately, I was positioned for boarding and made it on the aircraft in a reasonable amount of time. That said, the overhead bins around my seating area were already full except for one small space. Good thing I switched to my “international carry on” for this trip because that’s all the space that was available in the overhead in the vicinity of my seat. Am I complaining? No! Zone 1 beats Zone 6 any day. That said, I earned Zone 1 through flying in excess of the minimum amount of miles to obtain Silver status on my airline. On the other hand, had I not flown those miles, I would still receive Zone 1 boarding because I carry the Amex SkyMiles Platinum card which includes early boarding as a benefit.
Am I giving up on Medallion status? Heck no! I am flying enough now to obtain a higher level of status and will do so in short order. However, if I knew that I wasn’t flying at a rate that’s going to get me at least Gold status, I think I would just relax and capitalize on the benefits offered to me by the credit card I carry. The exceptions to this? If you are someone who can fly on Saturday afternoon at 3PM, or Tuesday night at 9PM, then you are probably still able to collect a few upgrades in return for holding entry-level airline elite status. And in fairness, most airlines offer exit row seats to their entry-level elites, which carrying a particular credit card won’t get you. Outside of that, if you aren’t going to earn enough miles for at least mid-tier status, then I have to wonder if bothering with status is worth the hassle? Actually, I wonder no more. It’s not worth it. Just my opinion. I’d love to hear yours.