2018 Is Here: Go For Airline Status, or Nah?

Welcome to 2018! A new year used to have a lot more significance for me than it does now. January 1st is the day all flyers start at zero for elite status qualification. If you want status for 2019, you’ve got to earn it in 2018. I’ll be in the air next week for a work trip to Hawaii. In theory, this should be a great way to kickoff my quest for status. Instead, I’m rather ambivalent about the whole thing.

Go For Airline Status, or Nah?

My business travel is rather sporadic, but I’m estimating that I’ll travel about 25,000 miles for work this year. Additionally, I’ll fly another 15,000 or so for pleasure. We’ve got a 7 month old at home, so trips around the world are on hold for the moment. We live in Phoenix which is a hub for both American Airlines and Southwest. In theory, picking one of those airlines would be a logical choice for earning status. Instead, I’m going with the free agent route.

American Airlines - Should I go for airline status?
American Airlines – Should I go for airline status?

Here’s why I’m not that interested earning status:

  1. I like to pick the schedule that best suits me. In the past, I’ve often given up a better schedule with a competitor to earn status on another. Not anymore. Time is precious, so making that extra connection or settling on a very early flight isn’t something I want to do.
  2. Lets say I focused on status with American Airlines, for example. I’d likely earn Gold status which doesn’t give me much at all. Upgrade chances are almost non-existent, main cabin extra seats are only available at 24 hours, and I don’t often check bags which would be free. None of these perks are really worth changing my schedule around for.
  3. My leisure travel will likely be award travel on various airlines. When traveling for pleasure it means (3) tickets now which can get pricey. In the past I hoarded my miles for international travel. Now I’m using them for domestic travel to save money. That means even if I had status, I wouldn’t necessarily use it all the time.

Bottom Line

There’s still a chance I might stumble into status this year. A round-trip to Hawaii in January is a great start of course. That being said, it’s not something I’m really worried about. I don’t mind just paying for the occasional extra legroom seat, or just dealing with standard economy. If I had a set schedule for work travel, then perhaps I’d change my tune. For example, if I had a bi-weekly flight to the same destination then sure, airline and hotel status might be of interest. My work travel isn’t like that though, so I’m perfectly find just picking the best flight with the best price. How about you? Are you shooting for status this year?

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