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If you are traveling in 2015, what you need to do this weekend is take a look at your current airline and hotel program use and make appropriate adjustments to your earning to be sure you are maximizing status opportunities. With eight months left, you still have plenty of time to make travel plans that maximize your options..
I am pushing for my 16th year as an American Executive Platinum. I have a strained relationship with the airline right now. I want to love my hometown carrier and at times, I do… (like when I’m seeing some of the great forward progress they are making with their planes like the new 787 Dreamliner). But I’m also diversifying this year by flying Delta and made Platinum with them on a challenge. I am overdue for a post comparing and contrasting the two, but the greatest benefit with Delta has been WiFi access on almost all of my flights, a huge benefit to me considering that I count on flight time to work.
So how am I doing?
American – I’m at 30 segments and 24,434 miles. For a pure 1/3rd mark check in, I’d be behind. But I managed to snag one of the Beijing business class mistake fares for Memorial Day weekend, so between that and other activity in May, I’ll be ahead of the curve by the halfway mark.
Delta – I’m at 27 segments and 19,793 miles. I made Platinum on a challenge (through February 2016 and I’ll be qualified for Silver through February 2017 by mid-May.
I’m feeling good about airlines, even with my splitter status. I’m still toying with strategies, but based on my personal needs, I am likely going to end up doing American for my easy nonstop or flights with colleagues and Delta for all my other travel. I haven’t decided if I can direct enough travel to Delta to gain Platinum back but Gold is definitely within my reach.
I’ve still got projected international trips for Memorial Day, late summer, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I ended up booking my late summer trip (outbound to Barcelona, return from Venice as a split first class award – outbound on BA First and return on AA first). I still have six American systemwides left to use so those will get allocated for July 4 and Thanksgiving and then I will likely use an other award at Christmas to leave systemwides for January or February international travel.
I currently hold Hyatt Diamond, Starwood Platinum (with Lifetime Gold), Hilton Diamond, and Marriott Gold.
I switched firms near the end of the first quarter and my new firm seems to be very Marriott loyal. While I don’t presently travel with many others for projects and can still pick my hotels, it make sense to continue to cultivate my Marriott relationship for when I am traveling with colleagues. I started the year 18 nights away from Lifetime Platinum with Starwood and I’m progressing towards knocking that out by summer and I also want to requalify for Hyatt Diamond.
Hilton – I have 3 stays (5 nights) so I’ll do one more stay to make Silver. Beyond that, I have no plans for Hilton.
Hyatt – I have 9 stays (9 nights) so I’m right where I need to be at this point in the year.
Marriott – I have 11 nights so it is a long crawl to Gold for this year but I earned a comp through the end of the year. Much of what happens next will depend on what my project work looks like for the rest of this year.
Starwood – I’m at 11 nights (10 stays) this year. I’m 7 nights away from lifetime Platinum status after which I never have to worry about counting stays/nights again.
I always struggle with hotels as most of my stays are 1-2 nights in duration. It would probably make the MOST sense for me to pick a program like Marriott and just stick with it but I like Hyatt so much that it’s hard to give it up.
Now that I’m commuting 45 miles to an office in Dallas and/or working from home, I spend a lot of time in my car. I am now Ubering to go out to dinner though and use it for airport transportation a lot.
I have yet to manage to rent a single Silvercar this year (thanks to the limited airports they serve) but I hope that changes.
I’m already at 11 rentals with National Car Rental so I will requalify for Executive status (12 rentals required). I won’t make the 25 rentals required for Executive Elite though as my new firm uses Hertz and Avis as preferred providers. I need to do some research and figure out if Hertz has a comparable level to National Executive Elite and, if so, if they will comp me.
In the cruise world, I knocked out two nights on Norwegian in January on a “cruise to nowhere” out of New York City and have another twelve nights booked for a “grand Mediterranean” cruise later this summer. Those will likely be my only cruises for 2015 unless I go somewhere at Christmas/New Years.
I’m currently evaluating my credit cards now that I’m back to working for someone else and thus have a regular reimbursement strategy. I have a weird thing about diversification – and so I like to accumulate my credit card miles into United Mileage Plus so that I keep my mileage balance there healthy so that I can use a first class award on Lufthansa or Singapore from time-to-time. Although I don’t personally promote credit cards, I’ll be digging into my card research to be sure that the Explorer card I presently have is the best for that goal.
You have to stay on top of elite status milestones to be sure you are maximizing your travel patterns for your status/points goals. A solid plan means having s strategy and a goal in mind for each program you frequent.
If you are working towards your own goals, then you know what you need to do this weekend… a checkup and some fine tuning!