It’s the end of the year, you’ve finished flying for the year, your frequent flyer miles have posted and you’re short miles to retain status! “Oh no! How did I let this happen?”, you think.
That was me last week. My last flights of the year posted to my account and I was 59 miles short of retaining MVP status with Alaska Airlines. I was baffled as to how this happened as I have been thinking about what I need to do to retain status since June.
I am pretty sure I went through the first several stages of grief. Denial: I checked and rechecked that my flights had been credited correctly. They had. Anger: I did actually get mad at myself for not planning better. Bargaining: If only I had planned better… If only I had routed a trip differently. Skipping Depression, I went straight to Acceptance: I am indeed short of retaining status for 2015.
Instead of settling on the lack of status, I circled back to a different form of Denial. Instead of denying that I hadn’t planned everything to a T, I didn’t accept the fact I would not have status in 2015.
I called the MVP customer care line. Just after I said “I have done all my flying this year and I’m 59 miles short of 20,000 EQMs”, the phone rep said “No problem! Give me a second while I fill out the manual upgrade paperwork”. Wait what?!?
I asked the deal was. How was it so easy? Alaska Airlines will manually upgrade you if you’re within 500 miles, when retaining status. If you’re within several thousand, you can buy up. I didn’t ask for specifics as I didn’t want to make it seem like I was going to game it later. I’m also not sure if this is the same threshold for higher elite tiers. A few days later I got an email confirming my status.
While most people would say that low level elite status doesn’t matter much, I beg to differ. First of all, I don’t go out of my way to attain status. Every mile I flew was for a trip I took. I have said earlier this year that it is money & time I would have spent otherwise. Also, Alaska Airlines is the only airline that gives complimentary upgrades to low level elite members. I got upgraded on at least 75% of my flights this year, which I think is pretty impressive.
Alaska Airlines is the only US-based airline to have a policy in place for their MileagePlan members who fall just short of their elite status level. Air Canada will upgrade a certain number of people above a certain threshold. From my understanding, they figure out how many people are short then figure out where to draw the line. I think this is good as it maintains integrity of the elite status tiers. It’s bad if you fall short of a status level because you won’t know if you’re close enough. The threshold changes every year. I’m waiting for confirmation about this, and hopefully where the threshold was this year.
What has been your experience with this? Are you aware of other airlines policies when a frequent flyer doesn’t reach a status level? If you know of other airlines that do this, let me know in the comments below and I will be happy to update this post.
Happy New Year! Safe travels and tailwinds in 2015!