I am curious as to how most people really feel about the buying elite status subject. I really started thinking about this after the new Marriott Platinum Elite guidelines, which is a criterion not based on purchasing but true loyalty. Yesterday, however, I received solicitation to literally purchase elite status.
One airline I fly a lot of is USAirways. Where I live in Pittsburgh, it used to be a hub. Well I just found out that for $ 2816, I can literally "buy" Chairman's Preferred Status until 2014. That would just about guarantee first class seating on every flight I take, and includes 2 round trip upgrades to Europe. Amazing what can be bought these days. I would be so offended if I was doing the 100,000 qualifying each year (or 120 segments), and found out I did not get an upgrade based on somebody like me who, for (excuse the phrase) a "song and a dance" can purchase their way to "royalty".
THIS INCLUDES STATUS FOR ALL AIRLINES IN THE STAR ALLIANCE by simply paying the USAirways portion. That is most of the big carriers.
I see the same can be done for the IHG Hotel group now, and for a really low cost.
Although it will be a blessing for me (I would save already as opposed to 2 first class ticket purchases and not ever have to fly coach to build status. Also get double miles for first-class seating from the start), I personally do not feel this trend is the best for the industry in fostering loyalty. Now you can just about be the most elite in everything, which essentially just now entails an all-out price war as the difference.
It just does not make sense to me. How loyalty can be bought these days. DO YOU THINK this method esentially waters down the best for the rest?
Thank You All!
Thank you Nuhusker. The whole thing is just driving me nuts. Back in 2006, I was Gold Preferred with 3 airlines, 3 hotels, most at top tier, etc. but I had to earn it the hard way, then when I could not requalify it went away. It was a real bummer going coach again. I was actually getting to know quite a few flight attendants by name, and some would already know my drink of choice but would just say as a formality "Oh, how are you again? Would you like your usual....." Amazing. The $2800 for year long tier may sound like a lot, but I do not think so in the scheme of things at all. Especially me who flys a lot, both business and leisure. The 2 (4 segments) of European travel is super worth it in my opinion.
I cannot help but wonder if this will become the practice for most travel providers. I am glad Marriott is not in the $$$$ scheme for status as of current.
THIS INCLUDES STATUS FOR ALL AIRLINES IN THE STAR ALLIANCE.
The "status" is that of Star Gold, which is no different than it has been before, and doesn't really push one to anything they didn't get already with mid-tier elite status. Gold Silver Status - Star Alliance
And the more people who opt for buying elite status, the less value it will have (and the less likely that upgrade seat will be, whatever they say -- imagine if it's you on a transatlantic flight with your 'free' upgrade or someone who's paying thousands). Consider also recent indications from InsideFlyer magazine that there could be some big changes in store for FF's in the coming years. We've already seen a few with mergers and outright disintegration, though most of the flagship carriers have not made changes.
For airlines, I prefer making status the old-fashioned way, though as GemPrincess knows, I use a Delta reserve card and shop only through Amex Skymiles shopping, so I get lots of bonuses. And I often get upgraded internationally because of my high level flying status as well as having the reserve card.
Remember the fairly recent story about the guy who for about $500,000 way back when purchased unlimited tickets (offered to the flying public) anywhere he wanted to go? I believe it was last year they took it away from him. That was on American.
I guess my point is you could probably do a lot more including a couple of upgrade tickets with that amount of money, especially as it only goes through 2014.
Hi Prof ... I just checked that link you gave ... quite funny! If only I had the $500K to spend! From the article, it seems that there are still 40 others who still have the unlimited tickets. Mr Vroom seems to have lost his as he was effectively selling the companion seat.
By the way, Ken Follett's World Without End has just hit the UK TV screens ... I much prefer the book though.
This would be like earning 25,000 miles to get gold. To do this, one could fly round trip across the country 5 times or for me, fly to Hawaii 5 times. If you find a good special you might be able to do so for $300 rd trip. This would cost $1500 and you would have the miles too. To buy it, It would cost an additional $1316 but you would not have to fly.
The airline is coming out but as said is not buying loyalty.
Hey Cali. Gold on UsAir is 50,000, not 25,000. Gold only gives you a 3 day upgrade window. But with Chairman preferred (above Platinum) I only have a 12 hour upgrade window. Big difference on some of the smaller first class aircraft like dc-10. Not as much of a deal on AirBus line, as there is much more first class. I really get used to those big seats on the long hauls! LOL! To me it is worth it. - Al.
Just to make a point clear: (I am trying to get my numbers straight here!)
Initially, to purchase the Chairman's Elite status is $3999, that is from a cold start. If you have even one flight, that figure drops to $2999. Also, Double accrued miles are based not on the fare class of being upgraded to first class, but from being Chairman's Preferred. The status is as follows:
|Preferred-qualifying miles needed||25,000||50,000||75,000||100,000|
|Preferred-qualifying segments needed||30||60||90||120|
Preferred miles needed
Preferred segments needed
Buy up to Preferred fee*
|1 - 1,999||1 - 2||$249|
|2,000 - 4,999||3 - 6||$399|
|5,000 - 9,999||7 - 11||$579|
|10,000 - 14,999||12 - 18||$789|
|15,000 - 24,999||19 - 29||$989|
|25,000 - 49,999||30 - 59||$1,499|
|50,000 - 74,999||60 - 89||$2,499|
|75,000 - 99,999||90 - 119||$2,999|
*Price includes federal excise tax of 7.5%. Between January and May, pricing is determined by your current or previous year’s Preferred-qualifying activity, whichever is greater. Between June and December, pricing is determined by your current year’s Preferred qualifying activity, which may result in a pricing increase. Preferred status purchased through the ‘buy up to Preferred’ program is non-refundable, and purchase does not earn you Preferred-qualifying miles or Preferred-qualifying segments. Program is subject to all Dividend Miles terms and conditions
My intention in this entire discussion is primarily focused to the fact that you can buy status, and to me what would be a decent price for what you get without ever flying coach potentially.
I see IHG Hotel group offers status at a super reasonable price. I just hope Marriott and Hilton do not go this direction!!!
I'm a bit confused. Are not all Loyalty Programs "buy-in" opportunities? One receives 'status' after 'buying in' with a specified # of nights. Also, by lowering the levels needed in overall nights, Marriott has effectively lowered the 'price' to achieve Lifetime status. I realize this thinking is somewhat cynical, but not as much as you would initially think. Also, many, if not all of the airlines, allow you to 'buy in' for what they call 'instant upgrades'. No status necessary, just a bit more cash..... Everything is a 'buy in'. While I am against these programs when I have earned that status the hard way, I would most certainly support them when the opportunity works in my favor.
Al- based on your description of your travel profile, this would seem to be a no-brainer. In regards to what I might feel about a tag-along-er up in First Class, who cares what I think?? Right now, no one on the plane seems to pay the same price anyway. The ticket prices are all over the place and no one seems to care. It's the way of the industry. In closing, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do". If you have no hope of reaching Chairmans Preferred the hard way, buy in and enjoy the ride.
I agree there is a very wide variation in pricing, and have learned the hard way not to discuss with seat mates on planes. On Virgin Airline flite, I was next to a British woman in business class. She asked me how much I paid, and foolishly I told her. She then launched into a tirade for the better part of the flite about how unfair it is that the we colonists get better pricing that is not available to those originating from the otherside of the pond.
Luckily I had my wits about me and reminded her that her ticket came with privileges that I did not get for my better pricing, like limo service. However, the difference in pricing, meant it was one of the most expensive limo rides ever.
Have learned to give no definitive answers when sitting next to someone, especially for a long time on an international flite cause you could get an earful, and there is no where to escape on a fully booked flite.
I have come across this differential pricing issue a number of times. When I was doing the London to Cape Town route a few years ago, the company in South Africa had to cover my expenses. They told me to buy an 'open' Upper Class ticket despite it being more expensive than other options ... seemed odd to me. But when I arrived, they took the return ticket for 'safe keeping' and then bought me Upper Class returns from Cape Town ... the price difference between a UK bought return and a SA bought one was amazing.
On our big trip this year, we are flying back with Virgin from Chicago ... the price of the ticket that I bought in USD is way below a London to Chicago ticket. I am guessing that it must be to do with UK taxes? Just the tax element of our tickets from London to Singapore is £860!
Taxes flying into (and especially out of) the UK are definitely on the high side. Flights on UA (I queried lowest-cost coach and business) to:
• LHR $230-$340
• MAN $199-333
• GLA $196-$303
Arriving and departing at other than a UK airport might make some sense depending on where you need to go. Shannon or Dublin are relative bargains, but you still have the additional cost for continuing transport into the UK, particularly if it's by air.
• SNN $108-$108
• DUB $104-$104
Jker ... is this the actual flight cost or just the tax? I have looked at flight costs from LHR to New York (EWR in this case) and the cheapest return flight that I could get would be $650 with Virgin Atlantic! ... and that's in their sale! Of the $650, only $100 is shown as the actual fare ... the other $550 is taxes and surcharges ... madness or what!!
That is way too much! I did some looking around, and it was recommended that AAdvantage members NEVER fly BA to LHR, even on award flights... Your experience just proves that point to be VERY true... In looking up my HNL - CDG award, one route was HNL-LAX-LHR-CDG, with LAX-LHR-CDG being operated on BA with BA flight numbers... for a business class award ticket, the total taxes & surcharges came out to over $1,000! Compared to my HNL-LAX-DFW-CDG routing's taxes & surcharges of about $10... Would probably make more sense to fly into Gatwick if possible, or just land in CDG and jump on a Eurostar to London...
That's some lateral thinking, K. I may have to look at other options, as you suggest. I was speaking with one of my local buddies earlier and he suggested going via Schipol in the Netherlands ... apparently doing a short stopover and using Stanstead airport (about 45 mins from us) as the UK departure point can dramatically reduce the cost. Unfortunately a discount return on Eurostar to Paris is about $200.
I just checked on some historic flights and some in our upcoming trip ...
1. Business class one-way flight with BA - LHR to Singapore - booked in the UK and using points ... £431.35 in taxes etc. (approx $680 USD)
2. Economy one-way flight with AA - New Orleans to Chicago - booked via AA website and using points ... $1.60 tax
3. Premium Economy one-way flight with Virgin - Chicago to LHR - booked via Virgin's USA website and using points ... $219 USD
A bit of an anomaly there!!
You know, I forgot about that! It is true that if you fly on AA, you can avoid those fees/taxes! But that's only on flights that have an AA flight number, and I think the flight has to be operated by AA? I was going to try to fly to CDG via LHR and get into AA's new 777-300ER business class, but since BA was the carrier that would transport us from LHR to CDG, I'd get slapped with the taxes & surcharges once again anyway. That and it would have added an additional stop + an additional 9-11 hours of extra total travel time, so I said forget it. Angled lie flat Business First from DFW to CDG it is!
The travel will only be a small part of your trip. Even if you can't get what you want, it will go by fast. Yes those taxes are to be avoided.
When I was looking for AA flights, BA were there often. This is what I found that AA seems to be showing partner flights as opposed to their own.
The UK's APD (Air Passenger Duty) went up 8% and more last year, it's now the highest in the world.
A few items of interest (Google for UK air passenger tax or UK air passenger duty, you'll get a solid ton of good info and lots of griping). Here's a few:
thanks for the interesting articles JK, but they clearly don't give the full picture. The fares on Virgin's website show a huge proportion of the cost as tax and 'surcharges'. The tax in the article can only be a small part of this set of 'extras' ... I need to do some more research.
Bottomline: Status is purchased, whether you sit in that seat to gain it, or buy it outright. Its a cash expenditure for the customer, and revenue to the vendor.
I have been using the United/Continental features for the last year to buy both miles and status. When I purchase the ticket, it shows me how much it costs to buy miles and/or status. If the price is lower than what I am paying for the flite mileage, I usually buy it.
For me, its a comparison, just like our Marriott Rewards points, or Amtrak points of what the cost of the point is if bought versus what I am spending to earn it (excluding the cost of my time, and ground xport costs), and what my travel plans are. If you have one transatlantic or transpacific flite, and get upgraded, it more than pays for iteself.
Since I think the original discussion (or the one I replied to) had to do with an airline offer, that was what I responded to. But no, I won't buy up except by flying or doing other things people require me to do to maintain status. If they think I'm worth it sometimes they do so anyway. With Delta, I've hit highest levels. My complaint is more like yours, Shoeman, though you've earned far more than me in hotel stays and I can't quibble at all about what I've gotten. Airlines are tougher because of MQMs (Delta's name for them) which are far different from what is spent on a credit card or bought through a shopping mall online. I can buy more miles (I think Delta calls it accelerator), but why would I do so when I have half a million unused? The thing is they are not MQMs.
So I'm not sure if we're all talking about the same thing because hotels and airlines measure things differently. For example, at Marriott, if we have the premier VISA card and spend $3000 we get 1 night. If I spend $30,000 at Delta, I get 15,000 MQMs or $60,000 = 30,000 MQMs. With using my Amex reserve card a lot -- and in itself it has all kinds of privileges, I can easily make Diamond status most years.
But flying is different from staying. I can fly Delta almost anywhere, even if it means flying from Portland, ME to DTW to LAX to ATL to LHR to CDG and so forth (I'm joking, though I did make that one awful mileage run to Honolulu last July). I can't stay at Marriotts everywhere. If I were exclusively a North American or British stayer, it would be easy.
Marriott has sometimes comped me, and I fully appreciate that. Once quite a while ago, I did re-buy status. But I can't do that anymore, because I can't guarantee there will be Marriotts where I go.
And thanks GemPrincess for the recognition! You all know the story, but I figured out the FF and hotel points game long ago as a poor grad student. My much wealthier friends fly all kinds of airlines and stay at all kinds of hotels, and they don't pay attention to how many free business or economy class free tickets I've gotten to Europe or free stays.
And (MAYBE? like you) I hate in store shopping. I know for clothing what looks good on me (and for my husbands -- you have to read the New Orleans JW thread to get the humor), and so why drive to Portland or Bangor.
Anyway, I'm not paying more than I have to but I am going to earn it every way I can.
The Unite/Continental separates out purchases of just miles, versus purchases of just status, so you could buy status, without buying mileage. Or if you want the extra leg room in an exit aisle, you can buy just that. In the end, if you want it all, it probably will cost more to buy it individually, and outright buying status for a flat fee as this thread discussed inially, might just be the best option.
I think there is no one right option, as we need to look at our travel patterns, budgets and preferences and see which option gives us the most bang for the buck!
Just watched Mr. Weissenberg on CNBC discuss Deloitte's annual survey of hotel/airline loyalty (it's declining as more and more go for the deals, helped by online info) Travelers get stingier with their loyalty - News from USA TODAY
Some interesting info. Note how numbers of 'preferred' customers occupy properties - we're all special
Enjoy. PS - next time you go to the Cosmopolitan, call me, I want to hang in your room, you big whale, you!
I'm at the Aruba Marriott 4/17 - 4/22. Let me know if you're on the island (bring your brand new platinum card and I'll buy you a beer, it will probably be the only time you'll ever use it).
HaHA! Erc I will buzz you to hang in the Cosmo. Lots of room there. Couple bathrooms too. I am glad to see your Aruba dates as I am still open on the whole event, and the dates you have would be perfect as during my birthday. I will give you a heads up. Are you definately doing the Marriott proper then?
Good link also. I appreciate it!
I look at this question (regarding airline status) and answer it in this manner:
It's worth it for me to 'buy up' my status if I'm going to get a return on my cost that will reward me.
For example: I fly USAirways now. I have for the last three years. It's them and Delta from where I live or Southwest (forget them). Delta, who I flew before, had me at Gold status (by earning it, not buying it), and they never once gave me an upgrade. Was never going to happen flying through Atlanta on every connection from my home. So, I switched my allegiance to USAir and it has paid off big time. I 'bought up' my status last year, but only to Platinum. It cost me about $750. It gave me upgrade availability 4 days before the flight I was taking. I flew 3 trips to the west coast, 3 trips to the Caribbean (including the Aruba fiasco) and I can't remember how many other flights to Boston, NYC and other places. I was upgraded every single flight where first class was available except for ONE segment from Charlotte to Boston.
Now, I do play with my flight times for when I fly (but NEVER fly a red eye unless to Europe) to get the best chance at an upgrade. I can do that because I have no strings or appointments waiting that I must meet when I travel. In addition, every time my wife flew with me we were both upgraded, including the Caribbean and Aruba.
I think I got my money's worth and then some! It is a no-brainer for me. Just to imagine what those first class tix would have cost to buy them makes it a great deal!
When it comes to Marriott, I make my Plat status every year. I had 93 nights last year and rolled 18. This year I'll hit the 75 easily. Over 30 nights already in the bank this year after my trip north. So, no need to consider buying anything with the hotel folks.
Tef6178, this has been my experiemce with UsAir to a "T".
Always an upgrade, even when just gold with a 3 day lead. I love it!
Have done Aruba and others first class everytime also. To be honest, I have never flown coach with UsAir on any European trip (which there have been more then a few). Always Envoy class on the Airbus 330A's. A beautiful thing. Do not want to get off!