Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

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manlymatt83
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Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by manlymatt83 »

I am curious how most Bogleheads approach the issue of airline and hotel status these days. I feel like many of them have become “everyone has it, so no one has it”.

Prior to Covid, and even for a few years after Covid, traveling on one airline as long as the prices were similar was beneficial for me. Particularly, I enjoyed the free checked bags, better seat assignments at booking, and first class upgrades that indeed happened often.

Through pure luck, I achieved top-tier status at two major airlines last year — American and Alaska. For most of the flights that I’ve taken YTD, I have ended up paying for first class anyway, because they were only one or two seats left and I didn’t want to rely on the chance that an upgrade would occur even though I was high on the list. And the price was only like $100 more.

For longer haul flights, I tend to use points for first or business class anyway, which for now remains an excellent deal.

Therefore, I don’t really see myself getting status benefits like I used to, unless I am missing something. The certificates that come with the statuses are a nice benefit, such as the Alaska upgrade & lounge certs, but are easy to lose track of and can be annoying to use.

Hotel status is kind of the same way. I used to get upgraded more often at Hilton, but that has diminished. Even then, I really only value the upgrades when my wife is with me, and that only happens about 50% of the time. International hotel upgrades are more common, but the upgraded rooms are also cheaper to purchase there. For example, my wife and I recently went to Spain and a significantly better room was only €20 more per night.

Omni Hotels used to be a decent deal (30 nights/year got you top tier status even if you spent very little), but the program is now spend based as of 2024 — $8000/year required.

I sometimes wonder if booking the cheaper hotel, and setting that money aside for use when the suite really matters, and just paying for the suite, would be a better choice.

Would love to hear people’s thoughts. Even if I end up spending an extra thousand dollars or whatever for upgrades where I would’ve otherwise gotten them complementary, I’m wondering if the mental clarity of not having to worry about tracking anything throughout the year would be worth the cost.

I know many of you will reply and say that you’ve never played the status game because it wasn’t worth the mental energy. Also really interested to hear of people that used to, but have stopped, or maybe those who still do but find specific value in one program.
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AerialP
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by AerialP »

I've certainly shifted my strategies around more as 1) the affinity schemes constantly devalue and restructure, and 2) my own needs have changed as I've aged and my career has meandered.

After achieving Lifetime Diamond with Hilton Honors I'm not as compelled to stay there as often as I once did! I downgraded my associated credit card with them to the entry-level offering and have hoarded points with them for years in anticipation of a big month-long European trip eventually. Upgrades happen much more overseas than they do in North America. What has come in very handy has been to invoke the status with a property when I've booked on behalf of a couple of close family members whose medical needs had them needing to stay longer-term nearby to specialty treatment centers. I've been able to get them very good rates and very nice room upgrades.

With the airlines, since I've not lived nearby to any one hub I had a level of indifference for years but then did decide eventually to focus as I could on United. Several years ago some furloughed pilots I worked with spoke highest of Continental Airlines' operations...and they folded in to the United merger. So I have the co-branded card which allows me unlimited access to their lounges during layovers, and some other little amenities. With my airline flights per year I generally qualify for Gold tier and I do find it gives me upgrades to First Class more often than not for the leg from/to my local airport to the layover hub but not usually for the mainline routes. I did get a great FC upgrade to Honolulu once in recent memory, as well as a nice one across the continent on Air Canada as a reciprocal alliance upgrade. I don't count on them but do expect them to happen semi regularly.

But by and large yes it seems the airlines & hospitality chains have become as much credit card companies as doing what they are branded as providing. The entry level statuses are pretty lowly and then there's a big leap to the top tier or two and even those are watered down.
In the bigger picture I'm ok with it all, it just is what it is and after a career spent traveling I'm less and less inclined to imagine myself traveling when I start to throttle back.
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funyun
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by funyun »

We gave up on airline status a while ago, and we just book whatever flights we want with whichever airline is best for the route. For hotels, the only status we still worry about is Marriott - one of us travels a lot for work, and their perks like early check-in, and expedited check-ins at busy hotels, and all of that still really do seem to add up for us. Plus we often get upgraded which is nice. We were in Vegas a few months ago staying at the Cosmopolitan, and the check-in line was hundreds of people long, but there was a little stand there for Marriott plat members, so we just waltzed right up and got our room. Stuff like that is awesome.
stan1
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by stan1 »

Same as above, for airlines we pay for what we want. We will usually book point to point nonstops if we can.

I am a legacy lifetime Marriott Titanium. Although upgrades to suites seem rare where we stay other perks like breakfast/lounge access are useful. We seem to end up at legacy Marriott properties that were not built with a lot of suites to begin with.
THY4373
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by THY4373 »

I don't bother for the most part with airline status I was AA Platinum last year due to spending a fair amount of money through their shopping portal but that was for the redeemable miles not status. For similar reasons (CC spend) I was VS Gold which was pretty much useless. In general most of my travel is overseas in J/F so status doesn't get me much. Domestically the few flights I have been taking of late are to see my son or positioning flights for long haul redemptions. These are on on the order 1-3 hours and I can suck up Y just fine for that or pay a nominal upgrade fee sometimes if I really care. So I don't chase airline status at all.

I do value hotel status for the moment. I get Bonvoy Platinum via the Amex Brilliant card. That is worth it to me for the free breakfast, executive lounge access and the guaranteed 4PM late check out (I use this one a lot). The room upgrades are nice when they happen but as a mostly a solo traveler not a huge deal for me. I am also Hilton Diamond via $40k in spend on one of their CCs. I am not sure I am going to continue to do this. They have killed the free breakfast stateside with the food and beverage credit so all else being equal I stay with Marriott now stateside. No guaranteed late checkout with Hilton and room upgrades are perhaps a little rarer with them than Bonvoy. The only real advantage I see with Diamond over Gold is guaranteed free executive lounge access (you only get this with Gold if you are upgraded to an executive lounge room).
cheesepep
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by cheesepep »

I travel a lot, particularly overseas.

Hotel status: I often get upgraded but honestly, I just prefer the base room or one up. I really do not care about suites at all, especially because I just stay in one room. Free breakfast? I don't care most of the time because, as I said, I mainly travel overseas and would prefer to eat the local cuisine as a local at their local breakfast restaurant. I'm IHG platinum, Marriott Gold, Hilton Gold, and Hyatt Explorist. My IHG platinum, I would say, gives me the most perks.

Airline status: I value this a lot. I'm a Gold card member at one (non-American based, Asia-based) airline that gives me a ton of perks like extra baggage, priority baggage, access to their excellent lounges (even beyond their local lounge), and better seats.

So to answer your question, yes, it is worth it, particularly if you travel overseas, are an IHG platinum (or higher) and have status with of an Asian based airline.
Random Poster
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by Random Poster »

AerialP wrote: Sun May 05, 2024 4:50 pm After achieving Lifetime Diamond with Hilton Honors I'm not as compelled to stay there as often as I once did! I downgraded my associated credit card with them to the entry-level offering and have hoarded points with them for years in anticipation of a big month-long European trip eventually. Upgrades happen much more overseas than they do in North America.
I was Hilton Diamond through March of this year (currently downgraded because I didn’t stay with them at all last year) and recently got back from a Europe/SE Asia trip.

As a Diamond, I was upgraded at every Hilton branded hotel, except for a Hampton in Amsterdam.

Having Diamond status was well worth it overseas, where I’d get room upgrades, virtually unlimited free snacks and treats, late checkout to 3 pm if I wanted, and so on. Even on a points stay in Singapore, I booked the most basic of rooms and got fully upgraded to a room on the highest floor with a fantastic view.

But in the US, yeah, Diamond is just a touch above meaningless these days.

So, to the OP, at least for Hilton status, earn it in the US, but you likely won’t get to fully enjoy it unless you stay international.
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poker27
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by poker27 »

I probably average 2-3 domestic flights a month for work on AA. Only benefit I enjoy are the MCE extras for free, and the occasional first class upgrade…. Which I do get semi excited about, but would never pay for (on a work trip).

I stay at Marriotts, but don’t understand the hotel status. I’ve never been upgraded so much that I ‘notice’, and the few lounges I’ve been to are worse than airport lounges. However I don’t typically stay at fancy brands

I try to use AA or Marriott just to keep all of my points ‘together’
kleiner
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by kleiner »

The main advantage of a really high status with an airline is that they will bend over backward to help you when things go wrong. I have a friend who has a "secret" status with United that's above even Global Services and he pretty much never gets stuck anywhere even when services are badly disrupted.

If you don't have such status, it does not matter at all. Your chance of an upgrade is quite small. I just buy first class for domestic and business class for international flights since I can comfortably afford it. So that removes one of the main attractions of status.

Ironically, thanks to these higher-priced tickets, I usually wind up with Silver status on United even though I am not trying for any status. Also, I live relatively close to a United hub so I wind up flying a lot on United in any case since they tend to have the most nonstops to many destinations.
mw1739
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by mw1739 »

The biggest hotel benefit for me is typically free breakfast. Upgrades are meaningless for my work travel and for personal travel I tend to book the room I want instead of hoping for an upgrade. I’m lifetime Titanium at Marriott and currently Hilton Diamond. In my opinion Marriott treats their elites better.

I have the lowest status on 2 airlines. Aside from earlier boarding groups and picking seats with slightly more legroom at check in, I get no other benefits. Maybe get 1 FC upgrade each year.
eric321
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by eric321 »

It's still worth it but expectations need to be reset on what you get.

Hotels - free breakfast is a good perk. Hyatt does this the best. Suite upgrades vary, I've received a few from Hyatt and Marriott. It depends on how many suites and how many elites, Marriott has a large number of elites given their footprint.

Airlines - with Alaska and American in one alliance you can likely focus on one or another. America's switch to loyalty points makes it easier to earn status with credit card spend. I find a lot of good use for American miles, I flew my family of 4 across the country for a school vacation week in first class for a saver rate of 25k/miles per person each way. Well worth it for me. When I travel for work, upgrades are common for short flights, and extra legroom seats if they don't clear.

Utilizing credit cards well to maximize elite status makes personal and vacation travel much better.
MindBogler
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by MindBogler »

I don't think there's ever been much magic to hotel status. Marriott is kind of nice with the elite floors and private breakfast, but if that isn't something that interests you, the infrequent upgrades are about it. Airline status is different. The big 3 of American, Delta and United you don't really have status unless you have the highest tiers, particularly if you're flying out of the big hubs (Dallas, Atlanta, Denver). I work in a firm where everyone travels frequently and we share experiences with upgrades. I think it's fair to say that status on the big 3 is next to useless except for the ancillary perks of free checked bags, same day changes, etc. I fly on Alaska and even when at the lowest level, MVP, I would get upgrades all the time. At MVP Gold or higher it's almost every flight and the flight attendants make a point to thank you for being a customer. I think Alaska status is what it used to be on the other airlines.
bendix
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by bendix »

The whole game of loyalty works with other people´s money. If you need to pay your own flights, heck no, certainly not worth it at all. If your flights and hotel stays get paid for... Maybe there´s a case here to do loyalty albeit it´s less of a slam dunk than it used to be.
hunoraut
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by hunoraut »

I've never found Hotel statuses useful with any chains. The upgrades were extremely infrequent - and as a solo business traveler the difference between a King room and a Jr Suite (or whatever) was utterly meaningless - and the hotel lounge benefits were trivial.

In the US Airline status was meaningful due to the complimentary upgrade scheme. In Europe where I now fly those schemes don't exist, and I've gotten a handful of operational-upgrades (eg economy was overbooked), but the seats are the same dimensions and flights are generally shorter anyway.

Personally I've stopped concentrating my air flying to a program. Havent had opportunities to redeem the accumulated miles for many reasons, and for longhaul traveling I pay premium anyway. Its all transactional to me now.
mecht3ach
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by mecht3ach »

I travel a fair bit, but most of this is funded either by grants that can also be used to support grad student and post-doc salaries or by universities/conferences/etc. so I try to find the most cost-effective option. Having airline/hotel status is very useful in that context for making that travel more comfortable. I pretty much concentrate on United and Marriott. For the former, plus points have helped upgrade my family on leisure trips over the years (including RTs to NZ, South Africa, Japan, etc.), and when I'm flying in economy, I like the extra space in E+ and free wine+snack/meal. I also VERY VERY much appreciate the 1k phone agents and help they give when something goes wrong!

For the latter (Marriott), I agree with others that complementary upgrades are more common outside the US, but the 5 upgrade awards you get at 50 nights as a bonus have been useful to me in the states as well. I also like the free breakfast, late checkout, etc.
kleiner wrote: Sun May 05, 2024 6:29 pm The main advantage of a really high status with an airline is that they will bend over backward to help you when things go wrong. I have a friend who has a "secret" status with United that's above even Global Services and he pretty much never gets stuck anywhere even when services are badly disrupted.
Chairman's Circle, I'm guessing? Last I heard, that was from $5m+ in spend for the member's company each year, or could be granted by the CEO. (I think Randy Petersen was CC for a long time, for example - not sure if that is still the case.) I bet they take good care of you for that!
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snackdog
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by snackdog »

A lot depends on 1) where you travel and 2) how often you travel. If you are traveling domestically once per year, no program makes any difference. If you are in the Middle East or Asia two weeks per month you are going to have some huge airline and hotel status on airlines and at hotels with amazing service and upgrades and it will make a big difference.

After a couple of trips to Doha last year, I was Platinum on Qatar Airways and on Marriott Bonvoy. First class lounge access. Hotel lounge access. Upgrades. Free laundry. Etc.

Domestically, we only deal with United. Gold status means e-plus confirmed seat on e tickets.
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Normchad
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by Normchad »

I get buy-one get-one-free tickets on southwest with a companion promo. So that’s nice.

I’ve never gotten anything from hotels really.
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Harry Livermore
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by Harry Livermore »

Wise words in this thread. I agree that it seems very difficult to achieve and maintain airline and hotel status in a way that gets you "free" extras.
When flying, we usually just pay for the best seats we can afford, and stick with a major airline.
When lodging, we either just pick a decent "traveling for business" tier of hotel, or if there is an interesting one-of-a-kind type hotel, we'll sometimes try that.
Airport lounges have become a joke. They are now packed since "everyone" has access. Kids running around, people under-dressed, day-drinking. The staff always seems to have a hard time keeping up and keeping the lounge clean. I actually sometimes find it's quieter at the gate, and opt to sit there instead!
Cheers
THY4373
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by THY4373 »

Harry Livermore wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 8:04 am Airport lounges have become a joke. They are now packed since "everyone" has access. Kids running around, people under-dressed, day-drinking. The staff always seems to have a hard time keeping up and keeping the lounge clean. I actually sometimes find it's quieter at the gate, and opt to sit there instead!
Cheers
I agree 100% when talking domestic lounges, internationally I have not seen this problem especially the airline specific lounges. The problem and I admit I am part of the problem is the CC lounge access paths that are much more popular in the US than internationally. Where premium CC fees tend to be higher and the awards earning lower.

I still find the Priority Pass restaurants useful. They were already better because many of the popular CC providers had removed this benefit. With Chase dropping them in July I expect the restaurants to be even more sane. I get access via my legacy Citi Prestige card (no longer available to new customers). After July on the C1 Venture Business and some second tier banks will have this access on cards that are available for new apps.
kleiner
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by kleiner »

mecht3ach wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 7:15 am
Chairman's Circle, I'm guessing? Last I heard, that was from $5m+ in spend for the member's company each year, or could be granted by the CEO. (I think Randy Petersen was CC for a long time, for example - not sure if that is still the case.) I bet they take good care of you for that!
Thats right - my friend mentioned that it's called the Chairman's Circle. He gets invited for lunch with Scott Kirby once a year and they are given an insider presentation about the state of the company :happy
02nz
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by 02nz »

It depends a lot.

Take United, for example. IMO the lowest elite tier, Silver, isn't worth much, as you can get a lot of the same benefits with the Explorer credit card. Gold gets you a lot of valuable perks, e.g., selecting Economy Plus seats at booking, free baggage allowance, access to lounges when traveling internationally (even in coach). It rarely makes sense to make the effort to reach the next higher level, Platinum. Whether the next level from that (1K) is worth it depends a lot on travel patterns: if you only fly paid business class and don't have much personal travel to upgrade, then there's not much value in the main perk, the PlusPoints upgrades.
alfaspider
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by alfaspider »

I think it depends on what you are giving up (or whether you are giving anything up) to get the status. It also depends on what status you are talking about. I currently have Global Services status at United, which does offer some unique perks that you can only get through status. Most notably, I get to skip to the front security lines at United hubs. That perk has saved some serious time and frustration on busy travel days. But even GS status is pretty hit or miss on upgrades. They typically monetize the entire forward cabin on any route that has a significant number of business travelers. That said, I do get them from time to time and it is nice given that company policy is coach for domestic travel.

However, that status was just a byproduct of a busy work travel schedule where I didn't do anything I wouldn't have already done. Since I live in a United hub, they are almost always the logical choice when I have to travel. Since I travel internationally, I'm more or less stuck with the Big3 and Delta and American would all involve an extra domestic connection. Occasionally a foreign airline will make sense, but it's usually more expensive than United (and therefore against policy to book). If I were a total free agent with leisure travel only, I'd probably just get an airline credit card or two and not try and chase status.

Hotels, I've found far less valuable. I tend to do a lot of short trips, so I don't book enough nights to get much status and because I'm traveling to different parts of the world with vastly different hotel availability I can't realistically stick with a brand. Plus, perks like free breakfast and suite upgrades are pretty much meaningless to a business traveler. I prefer AirBnbs to hotels when traveling with family.
Last edited by alfaspider on Mon May 06, 2024 11:05 am, edited 2 times in total.
barnaclebob
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by barnaclebob »

Yeah if you are paying for first class then airline status doesnt matter much. My wife and I are going to be trying to maintain MVP Gold on Alaska for free premium econ which we normally purchase anyway due to my height. That's about $450 round trip for our family of 3 saved every flight.
beardsicles
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by beardsicles »

Hotels, definitely not.

Airlines, maybe, depends on how you travel. My work pays for business class so the status doesn't get me much, except when I travel personally. But ticket prices are so all over the place that I have very little airline loyalty, even on the airline I have status with as a result of work travel. On the other hand, got upgraded the entire way home on an international personal trip the other day, which was nice. So, shrug. I can't imagine spending my personal dollars to maintain airline status but it's nice I guess.
CascadiaSoonish
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by CascadiaSoonish »

I'm currently maintaining status on Alaska + Hyatt since that's sustained by my routine west coast work travel. At a high level, the programs aren't as rewarding as they used to be, but points are still points. We needed hotel rooms for a few nights after a travel mixup last year and I was able to book two rooms in midtown Manhattan at the last minute using a mix of Chase and Hyatt points. So for the relatively low overhead of participating in the programs and planning accordingly, it's still worth it to us to have the points.
rogue_economist
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by rogue_economist »

I abhor air travel so I neither fly enough to get airline status, nor want to fly enough to get such status. I also consider airline status meaningless as its trying to improve upon a fundamentally unpleasant way of traveling, no complementary cookie or moving up one group in boarding can fix the disaster that is contemporary air travel.

Hotel status can be worth it but not really for the upgrades. I have Wyndham status, it fluctuates between Gold and Platinum depending on how much I travel. The upside with those is the accelerated earning to get free/discounted rooms faster. I used to get a beverage and snack but they moved that to diamond tier. The other perks, like late checkout and early check-in I have not tried, but I feel like they are always granted with an asterisk to some statement about the fact that the franchise owner can disregard it anyway so I don't usually bother.
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PNWpilot
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by PNWpilot »

The "status" for airlines and hotels are not worth the hassle. I've been an Ambassador Elite with Marriott for a few years now. It takes $20k+ annual spending to reach this status. The last room upgrade I received was a $20 price difference from the one I paid for. Late check-outs have only been approved about 75% of the time. But hey, I can get a nice water bottle or bag of M&M's at each check-in! My job pays the hotel bills, so I don't mind.

The hotel points are nice. I have used points a number of different times with good success. I don't mind staying in the 2-3 star Marriotts, so the points do go further.

Airlines are especially bad. We gave up any company loyalty years ago and just book the most convenient flight for our itinerary.
vinhodoporto
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by vinhodoporto »

It depends a lot on your travel patterns. If you only travel a couple times a year or less it’s probably not.

It definitely is worth it if you travel a lot for work (like me - typically ~100 flight segments and 60+ hotel nights per year).

My United Airlines status (currently 1K) has been useful in several ways:
1. Can book better seats (Econ plus) for our family for free
2. Priority boarding so our carry ons always get on.
3. We rarely check bags but that’s free and there’s a separate line with little/ no wait.
4. Much better service in the case of delays and cancellations, dedicated phone line with little/ no wait.
5. Occasionally if there’s a very tight connection due to a delay I get picked up and driven to the other flight or they hold the flight for a few minutes.
6. Ok chance of upgrades on domestic flights that are not business heavy / hubs. Much less than pre 2020 though. My sense is a lot more people are paying to upgrade out of pocket. Buying business or first gives you nearly all the benefits of status so this makes sense.
7. Free snack box and alcoholic drink on domestic flights.
8. Plus points have been great for upgrading international leisure flights or long haul domestic (transcon/ Hawaii) to business.
9. More a benefit of spending a lot on one airline - miles have been very useful for booking international leisure travel.

My Marriott hotel status has been useful for personal travel because we save a lot of money with the breakfast / lounge benefits. We were at a high end property for our anniversary last year and saved ~$150/day because of the breakfast benefit. Other places it’s just a free coffee and bagel. But even that can save $50 or more per day if kids are with us.

If you travel enough to get a lot of points that can be a big plus. We’ve gotten some amazing hotel / resort deals with points, especially at high end places or overseas although it’s not as good as it used to be.
trustquestioner
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by trustquestioner »

I have delta status but it’s useless as I usually just pay cash to sit up front. Have literally never gotten upgraded. I can imagine it being useful at the Delta 360 level as they’ll monitor a tight connection and drive you across the tarmac in a Porsche to make it. The lounges basically all stink these days, overrun with credit card holders trying to drink their annual fee and mediocre food.
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rob
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by rob »

The top tier hotel ones are worth it IMO - When I had uber status I always got upgrades, free breakfast, bookings at hotels that otherwise show as full, hotel lounges, a corporate person to call for issues etc. Once COVID hit and I started dropping down the levels it's become useless.

Airlines have always been marginal - club membership is far more useful but spendy & crowded.
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alfaspider
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by alfaspider »

02nz wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 8:53 am It depends a lot.

Take United, for example. IMO the lowest elite tier, Silver, isn't worth much, as you can get a lot of the same benefits with the Explorer credit card. Gold gets you a lot of valuable perks, e.g., selecting Economy Plus seats at booking, free baggage allowance, access to lounges when traveling internationally (even in coach). It rarely makes sense to make the effort to reach the next higher level, Platinum. Whether the next level from that (1K) is worth it depends a lot on travel patterns: if you only fly paid business class and don't have much personal travel to upgrade, then there's not much value in the main perk, the PlusPoints upgrades.
I've been through all the United tiers. My thoughts on each:

1) Silver: agreed it's not worth much. It at least gets you out of boarding last and losing out on overhead space.
2) Gold: the E+ seat is a nice perk as is the international lounge access. Gold are *G flyers which means you get certain status perks an partner airlines like priority boarding.
3) Platinum: Primary benefit is you can get your entire family (up to 8 people total) E+ seats for no upcharge. That's a nice little perk. I wouldn't normally pay for E+, but it can save hundreds of dollars on a single flight over paying for those seats.
4) 1K: You get out of having to wait in the boarding lines "preboarding" plus some realistic chance of upgrades clearing on less full flights. Also get a free alcoholic drink and snackbox and a dedicated phoneline that typically has no wait times.
5) Global Services: "global reception" that skips security lines at United hubs, access to lounge for all travel (not just international), reasonably decent upgrade chance when booking economy and can get on the upgrade list even when booking with miles. Supposedly gets you special treatment for things like tight connections or flight delays but I've not experienced that yet.

United offers a pretty lousy experience for the most part if you have no status. But the experience with status is better than the other airlines without. I tend to recommend Southwest to domestic travelers without status because they don't segregate the customer experience by status quite so much but don't nickle and dime you like Spirit/Frontier.
WanderDad
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by WanderDad »

I'd agree the statuses don't matter as much as they used to. Some aspects of status you can now get with a credit card (eg, free checked bags with United Explorer card).

We don't bother much with airline status. We do favor a global hotel brand and carry a paid tier of their card. We can get free room upgrades pretty easy (which can especially be nice as we travel a lot with our 2 kids), and often we can arrange a late checkout for free as well.
bogswenbern
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by bogswenbern »

Marriott status is actually detrimental. Hotels don't want you if you will checkout late and cost them more in other ways. I called them to ask if I can voluntarily downgrade haha.
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nps
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by nps »

Harry Livermore wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 8:04 am Airport lounges have become a joke. They are now packed since "everyone" has access. Kids running around, people under-dressed, day-drinking. The staff always seems to have a hard time keeping up and keeping the lounge clean. I actually sometimes find it's quieter at the gate, and opt to sit there instead!
Cheers
Isn't that why they exist in the first place?
02nz
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by 02nz »

I'll also add that with hotels it varies a lot by property and region. Overseas, I've gotten some upgrades that were ridiculous (in a good way) - e.g., full suite as a mid-tier elite, whereas in the U.S. your "upgrade" might be a room further away from the ice machine.
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Harry Livermore
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by Harry Livermore »

nps wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 5:27 pm
Harry Livermore wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 8:04 am Airport lounges have become a joke. They are now packed since "everyone" has access. Kids running around, people under-dressed, day-drinking. The staff always seems to have a hard time keeping up and keeping the lounge clean. I actually sometimes find it's quieter at the gate, and opt to sit there instead!
Cheers
Isn't that why they exist in the first place?
Haha. OK, well, ya got me there ;)
:sharebeer
Cheers
edge
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by edge »

Executive platinum on AA in a second tier city is well worth it. Regularly get upgraded for myself and a family member even when booking with miles. Other companions get economy plus at no charge. Large mile multiplier when paying for travel.

I probably get $15000-25000/yr in value from it depending on travel.
Snapper
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by Snapper »

Airlines for me no. I don’t travel enough anymore. I find that paying for a first class ticket gets you as much status as you need. Hotels not so much anymore. I am a longtime Hyatt loyalist. Before the pandemic I always got an upgrade. Since the pandemic no upgrades. I get several free rooms offered per year, but usually let them expire. Staff are honest with me, free rooms nowadays are the worst in the house. I find just shopping for what I want works best.
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Charles Joseph
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by Charles Joseph »

nps wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 5:27 pm
Harry Livermore wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 8:04 am Airport lounges have become a joke. They are now packed since "everyone" has access. Kids running around, people under-dressed, day-drinking. The staff always seems to have a hard time keeping up and keeping the lounge clean. I actually sometimes find it's quieter at the gate, and opt to sit there instead!
Cheers
Isn't that why they exist in the first place?
Wait. You think airport lounges exist so understaffed personnel can't keep up with drunk patrons, and sober customers have to sit in a filthy atmosphere with unsupervised children running around under their feet?

No, that's not why airport lounges exist in the first place.
Retired June 2023
THY4373
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by THY4373 »

Charles Joseph wrote: Tue May 14, 2024 7:35 pm
nps wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 5:27 pm
Harry Livermore wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 8:04 am Airport lounges have become a joke. They are now packed since "everyone" has access. Kids running around, people under-dressed, day-drinking. The staff always seems to have a hard time keeping up and keeping the lounge clean. I actually sometimes find it's quieter at the gate, and opt to sit there instead!
Cheers
Isn't that why they exist in the first place?
Wait. You think airport lounges exist so understaffed personnel can't keep up with drunk patrons, and sober customers have to sit in a filthy atmosphere with unsupervised children running around under their feet?

No, that's not why airport lounges exist in the first place.
I think he/she was referring to the underlined day-drinking bit not the rest. And it was obviously tongue in cheek with a grain of truth in it.
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TheRoundHeadedKid
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by TheRoundHeadedKid »

Airline & hotel status are only worth it if someone else is paying for the trips, in my case, my company on business trips. I would not spend my own money to get status or higher status. It is a losing game for those who play. Airlines and hotels keep moving the goal posts so that it get harder to earn status. And they keep devaluing the points so that it earns less and less perks. It is losing value faster than the overall inflation rate. I've gone on so many business trips so that I had earned AA Platinum and my ideal vacation changed to staying at home and relax. But if had to go on a personal trip with no status, I would just go to Google Flights and pick the airline with the cheapest fare.
All 86 Vanguard ETFs equally invested.
UpperNwGuy
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by UpperNwGuy »

Before retiring I had both airline and hotel status. Once I retired I stopped worrying about hotel status because most of my post-retirement hotel stays have been at non-chain hotels in foreign countries. I still traveled enough to maintain airline status — until the pandemic hit. I didn't travel at all in 2020 or 2021 and have made few trips in 2022, 2023, and 2024, so I've lost all my airline status. Surprisingly I don't miss it. I enjoy being free to book whatever flights I want on whatever airline I want without worrying about the status thing. I now fly economy and never qualify for upgrades, and that's fine with me. I occasionally read the points and miles blogs and have concluded that none of these status programs are as good as they used to be.

Edit: I just read the post immediately above mine, and I agree completely!
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whodidntante
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by whodidntante »

I have United Platinum, Marriott Platinum, and Hilton Gold. All are pretty nice to have, and I've certainly gotten my share of free food and free upgrades that have made loyalty worth it most of the time. But that's only if you are going to travel anyway, which I would have. High level Hyatt is nice, too.

For those who have high level status but never get an upgrade, I have a tip. Take the road less traveled if you can. If you fly hub to hub, or basically anything in and out of SFO, I don't like your odds. You want the janky, beater flight where they slapped a United sticker on the plane that leaves once or twice a day, on a Wednesday, or the 4th of July, or something like that. That almost never fails to move you up front. You're welcome.

There was a worthless status crisis as airlines made it really easy to earn or keep status during and immediately after COVID. I boarded a United hub to hub flight after a conference and I was laughing uncontrollably because the entire plane was group 1, and a bunch of people got on before that, presumably global services, traveling with kids, or whatever. Group 1 gate checking their bags. :P

I'm not suggesting you do this, but it's possible to avoid paying for food or alcohol entirely on a trip if you have airport and hotel lounge access. There are people on YouTube bragging about just that. I personally prefer to venture out, but I might enjoy a drink or a snack from a hotel lounge. The food offerings for dinner are usually decent, but not enough protein for my liking. There is usually a killer view and a nice environment and if you invite a guest, they feel fancy.
Laundry_Service
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by Laundry_Service »

I'm 10 nights away from Marriott lifetime platinum but unfortunately a little over 500 nights away from Hilton lifetime diamond. Work has paid for virtually all of my stays and I accelerated some of them with credit card benefits like 30 night credits per year with Marriott. Some of the benefits are nice like a 4pm checkout at Marriotts, which doesn't always happen. Overall this has probably been a net negative to my travel and does influence my decision depending where I "need" to get stays before the end of the year.

I don't fly enough to get status so I guess that in some ways makes that part of traveling easier.
ee_guy
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Amrerican Airline Gold

Post by ee_guy »

The lowest elite status on AA is really a good one. With gold, you can book the cheapest flights with restrictions and select seats, get one free checked bag and board early. This typically results in some big dollar savings.
kd2008
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by kd2008 »

Airline and hotel "loyalty" status is at its heart mere price segmentation. Flights take you from A to B no matter what your status is. Hotel gets you a bed to sleep no matter what your status is.

A good book, better if it is audio book, noise cancelling headphones and some garden variety lounge access through a credit card plus some naproxen to lessen any niggles in economy makes my twice annual 30 hr flights each way to my birth country much more pleasant. I can't sleep much on planes, but lie flat seats are nice to feel relaxed, tried them on an upgrade - but not worth one month's expenses for 15 hrs for me. So many things are out of your control when taking these flights that paying 4K to 10K for these flights feels like a waste because airlines don't even do the bare minimum anymore.

For those whom work travel enables status earning it is a different game altogether. Keep Maximizing.
barnaby444
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by barnaby444 »

kleiner wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 8:46 am
mecht3ach wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 7:15 am
Chairman's Circle, I'm guessing? Last I heard, that was from $5m+ in spend for the member's company each year, or could be granted by the CEO. (I think Randy Petersen was CC for a long time, for example - not sure if that is still the case.) I bet they take good care of you for that!
Thats right - my friend mentioned that it's called the Chairman's Circle. He gets invited for lunch with Scott Kirby once a year and they are given an insider presentation about the state of the company :happy
Curious whether this is dependent on company size? $5m doesn't sound like that much for say a big 4 consultancy? And I'm presuming the status only goes to some high leadership level within that company (obviously wouldn't go to every employee of a huge firm)?
investor997
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by investor997 »

Having Gold status with Hilton (by way of an American Express Platinum card) came in handy during a recent trip to Paris. Hilton Gold status gets free breakfast for two. That was worth 50 euros a day.
investor4life
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by investor4life »

nps wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 5:27 pm
Harry Livermore wrote: Mon May 06, 2024 8:04 am Airport lounges have become a joke. They are now packed since "everyone" has access. Kids running around, people under-dressed, day-drinking. The staff always seems to have a hard time keeping up and keeping the lounge clean. I actually sometimes find it's quieter at the gate, and opt to sit there instead!
Cheers
Isn't that why they exist in the first place?
lol, I am sitting in an airline lounge (in Europe) at the moment, it is 9 am, and the liquor is flowing freely.
kleiner
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Re: Airline & Hotel Status: is it worth it anymore?

Post by kleiner »

barnaby444 wrote: Thu May 16, 2024 8:09 am Curious whether this is dependent on company size? $5m doesn't sound like that much for say a big 4 consultancy? And I'm presuming the status only goes to some high leadership level within that company (obviously wouldn't go to every employee of a huge firm)?
It's definitely dependent on company size and the annual spend. My friend is the VP of marketing for a large multi-national and has racked up several million miles with United so he gets the invitation on behalf of the company.
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