Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Status Addiction

The NYT has a piece on trends on frequent flyer elite status.  I did not care about such stuff because, well, I didn't travel enough to qualify or even care that much about perks.  But then I engaged in this most recent project, which involved a couple of trans-oceanic flights a year, leading to Silver status at United.  I almost hit gold, but didn't feel it was right to fly someplace at the end of 2011 just to get some more mileage to put me over the top.  If I had known that United (and the others) were going to devalue Silver a bit, as the article discusses, I might have taken just one more flight. 

What have I gotten with my Silver status for the past couple of years (pro-tip: going to Australia once a year makes hitting Silver much easier)?
  • I got free access to Economy Plus seats--which do have more space--discernibly more room.  Last year, I could choose my EP seats earlier--new change to silver means it is a check thing which means less of them.
  • I have been bumped to first class a couple of times, including once with my daughter on the way back from Orlando (wife was on separate flight to sneak across the border with expired permanent residency card).
  • Getting on the plane earlier than other folks.  I don't have a lot to cram in the bins (just my computer bag), but with more fees for baggage, other folks fill them up quickly, so getting on early is desirable.  
  • I get to put one bag into the cargo hold for free when on United but not on its partners (Air Canada). Sometimes, my bags come out first since they are supposed to be priority.
What else?  Well, with these perks, I am  now hooked.  I have been planning this year's travel with a heavy eye on what it takes to hit Silver again.  I could travel without these benefits, but since flying is such a hassle, I have come to value and become addicted to these various perks even they are not as super-special as they used to be. 

No, I am not the George Clooney character in Up in the Air, but I am thinking a bit more about how to max my points.

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