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This is a critical week to check your frequent travel accounts. With less than 13 weeks to go before the end of the year, it is important to check on how you are pacing towards your 2016 status goals.
At this point in the year, you should be at the 75% mark or ahead – and your travel plans for the last three months should get you to your status goals if you are not already there.
I originally had three goals for 2016, so let’s check those first:
Goal 1 – American Airlines Executive Platinum – 100,000 elite qualifying miles was a piece of cake. I will requalify next week, crossing over on miles. I had anticipated requalifying in September after a relatively slow travel summer, but I have divert a lot of my traffic to Delta this quarter so I’m a couple of weeks behind. This will mark 17 consecutive years in the program. My strategies for next year may change a bit with the second wave of changes to the AAdvantage program that have left many wondering if they will still qualify in 2017. Goal Accomplished
Goal 2 – Marriott Platinum – well, this one was surprisingly easy. I was pacing to hit the 75 nights I needed to elevate my Gold status to Platinum when the merger was completed. As anticipated, my status as a Starwood Lifetime Platinum gained me reciprocal top-tier status with Marriott with no effort. Goal Accomplished
Goal 3 – Hyatt Diamond – I’m at 19 stays with 2 more next week. I’ll hit this one easily based on my upcoming travel patterns.
One of the things I set out to do this year was focus on more balance in my travel and personal life. As a result, I wanted to take more nonstop flights and switch hotels less.
I also have been less worried about hotel status (staying with friends in Emirates housing or at a wine chateau, for example, rather than having a hotel stay). I’ve done more cruising too (19 nights already this year, 10 more to start later this month, and another cruise in late December). I’ve had no problem booking awards – BA First returns from Europe on two trips, a Lufthansa business class flight to Europe, and staff travel in Emirates business class have been a few non-mileage earning experiences this year.
I added a goal of retaining status on Delta after my little experiment with flying them in 2015. I’m currently struggling with the choice to keep flying Delta in the hopes of chasing a higher status or putting travel on American to raise my rolling revenue with the hopes of elevating my upgrade chances in 2017. I’ve not had great luck with upgrades lately on many of my routes and have had a rash of delays and cancellations that have left a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m not certain the benefits of Executive Platinum will make domestic travel attractive on American anymore, but that’s a longer story for another day.
With the changes in programs – and my current hotel statuses, I’m rapidly leading towards becoming a travel “agnostic” with less worries about which hotel I stay in and which airline I fly, as long as I have at least basic benefits at each (priority boarding and preferred seating on the airlines, free wifi and easy access to breakfast/snacks in hotels).
I’m curious how other travelers are tracking this year with all the program changes. Are others taking the same less frenzied approach or pushing for one last year of status before deciding on a long-term strategy?