As 2022 draws to a close, it’s time to start planning how you’ll requalify for elite status next year.
Many major airlines and hotel groups have already announced changes to their loyalty programs for 2023, and they’re not necessarily pretty. Overall, we are seeing increased status thresholds and a return to pre-pandemic expectations for earning status.
As such, it’s more important than ever to start mapping out your elite goals from 2023, especially if you’re fighting for more top tier statuses.
To help you start thinking about earning status for next year, here’s a look at my retraining plans.
American AAdvantage: Requalifying for Executive Platinum
This year, I was quite pleased with my experience as an American Airlines top flight. Many of my free upgrades were removed and I even got some hard-to-get long-haul business class bumps on routes to Tel Aviv and Doha, Qatar using system-level upgrades.
I’ve also been impressed with American’s improved in-flight catering, and I’m happy with the direction the airline’s Admirals Clubs are going (aside from catering).
Of course, flying American isn’t always the most comfortable, especially when you’re seated in economy in an Oasis configuration that doesn’t have seatback entertainment.
That said, I got tremendous value from my Executive Platinum membership this year and plan to re-qualify for next year.
American’s revamped AAdvantage program requires 200,000 loyalty points to reach top status. (Note that the qualifying period is now March 1, 2023 through February 29, 2024.)
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So, in the second quarter of next year, I’ll start laying out the best ways to earn loyalty points, whether it’s from credit card spending or booking hotel stays through Rocketmiles. I will also credit all my Oneworld flights to my AAdvantage account, which should help me close the gap to 200,000 loyalty points.
Delta SkyMiles: No requalification plan
I didn’t expect to earn Delta Medallion status this year, but I couldn’t pass up the limited-time opportunity to participate in a Diamond status match this summer.
Although I didn’t fly enough Delta flights to maintain Diamond status, I did get an easy landing at Gold Medallion. I’ve enjoyed my travel experiences on Delta, but I don’t primarily fly the airline. I find its fares are often higher than the competition and I’d rather not accumulate SkyMiles, which continue to be devalued.
So, I will continue to fly Delta in the new year because it makes sense for my travel plans, but I will not transfer any additional business to the carrier to requalify for Gold Medallion. Plus, with Delta’s increased status thresholds, I’d probably have to move most of my flights to the airline, which I’m not ready to do.
United MileagePlus: The requalification attempt
In case you missed it, United are bringing back their pre-pandemic requirements for Premier status. In order to requalify for Premier 1K status next year, I will need to either take 54 flight segments and spend about $18,000 on United flights, or “only” spend $24,000 with the carrier. (Note that this does not take into account the upfront bonus that United will deposit next year.)
United has historically been my airline of choice, but as I mentioned, I have enjoyed my experience as an American Airlines Executive Platinum member. I haven’t gotten more than a few United upgrades this year and I have a four-figure PlusPoints balance that I’m struggling to redeem.
With elite ranks inflated, I’m tempted to give United where it makes the most sense, and then reevaluate my plans in the third quarter of next year, depending on where I’m at.
Fortunately, United will grant Premier qualification progress next year for MileagePlus redemptions, so at least that will help soften the blow of the increased requirements.
At this point, I’d say Premier 1K is possibly within reach, but it’s too early to tell.
JetBlue Mosaic: Too early to tell
Speaking of too early to tell, that brings me to JetBlue.
I grew up in South Florida and have been a TrueBlue Mosaic member for many years. JetBlue has always been the primary airline I’ve flown to visit my family, and I’ve historically been a big fan of Mint’s business class offering on transcontinental flights.
Earning Mosaic status requires either spending $5,000 on JetBlue flights or spending $4,000 on flights plus 30 eligible segments. Alternatively, you can spend $50,000 on your JetBlue Plus Card or JetBlue Business Card and earn Mosaic status with no other spending or flight requirements.
While those have been Mosaic’s demands in the past, the airline has yet to announce its adjustments for 2023. JetBlue promised in mid-October that it would make major changes to the schedule, but details have yet to be revealed.
I’ll wait for more details before making plans, but I’m tempted to ditch JetBlue this year. The airline’s operational performance continues to suffer, and Mosaic’s benefits package is nowhere near as valuable as it once was.
Information for the JetBlue Plus Card and JetBlue Business Card was independently collected by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
World of Hyatt: Globalist Retraining
Hyatt has long been my favorite hotel chain and I will continue to stay at the brand’s hotels throughout 2023.
With reasonable redemption rates, fantastic elite recognition and valuable perks, the World of Hyatt program continues to shine. Plus, with instant 1:1 point transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards, I can easily top up my Hyatt balance.
Of course, Hyatt’s biggest downside is that it doesn’t have the footprint of a major global chain like Hilton or Marriott, but I think the elite benefits and loyalty program more than make up for that. In my case, I am willing to go out of my way to stay at Hyatt hotels and will continue to do so next year to earn the 60 elite nights required for Globalist status.
If I need help closing the gap, I’ll spend on myself World of Hyatt credit cardwhich earns five qualifying nights for holding the card and two qualifying nights for each time you spend $5,000 on the card.
Marriott Bonvoy: Platinum is easier than ever
My “backup” hotel chain is Marriott. I can almost always find a property no matter where I travel, and I’ve enjoyed some of the brand’s most ambitious hotels over the years.
To enhance my stay at Marriott, I’ve always tried to earn Platinum status, as it probably offers the most valuable mid-tier benefits. This includes guaranteed late check-out at 4pm, lounge access and free breakfast at most Marriott brands.
One level above Platinum is Titanium Elite, but I don’t think it’s worth it to spend another 25 nights with Marriott to unlock additional benefits like increased earnings on paid stays, United Silver status, and a 75-night annual Choice benefit.
Plus, I’ve had terrible luck using Suite Night Awards from my annual Choice Benefits package, so hitting Titanium seems like wasted effort.
Over the past few years, I’ve been able to achieve Platinum status fairly easily thanks to the double discount on elite nights earned on Marriott personal and business credit cards.
This year, however, the highest level Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card received a major refresh and now includes platinum status for as long as you own the card. Note that you won’t get a Choice Benefits package without earning 50 eligible nights, but given my bad luck with Suite Night Awards, I’ll take Platinum status included and reevaluate further.
Like many frequent flyers, I’m already setting my elite status goals for next year. With the increased status requirements on many airlines, I will be extra vigilant about monitoring my progress throughout the year.
If I’m not tracking where I need to be, then I’ll consider adjusting my plans. For me, that would probably mean spending more time flying American and staying with Hyatt.
I will earn other statuses next year simply by holding the right credit card. This includes:
That said, elite status in general isn’t as valuable as it used to be. With more flyers purchasing premium seats, upgrades are not as common.
Plus, with more people than ever in each tier, competition for perks like coach seats with extra legroom seems to be at an all-time high. In some cases, unless I book flights well in advance, I may only have a choice of middle seats in the legroom section.
While I’m not yet ready to get off the elite status hamster wheel, I’m starting to consider only purchasing the perks I value most — whether that’s a first-class seat or an upgrade to a hotel suite for a special stay – and then seeing where I land in the ranks of the elite.