Ease of Achieving SuperElite Status?

Old Feb 14, 01, 12:58 pm
  #1  
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Ease of Achieving SuperElite Status?

On another thread, unrelated to the above topic, the above question was raised. I believe it should be posted as a separate discussion.

It is mentioned that SE is relatively easy to achieve, in terms of potentially 5 transPacific return flights, or potentially more difficult, in terms of 20 transcontinental North American flights (assuming upgraded domestic flights, if transborder flights were not used).

One can talk about the logistics of ease, or difficulty. I will not argue with those points.

However, the other side is the difficulty, or ease of the financial cost.

If one travels from one's own funds (ie tickets not covered by work), unless one is well off, the financial burden may be onerous. If one is well off to afford to fly all these flights - then the next question is whether the passenger is only well off to purchase economy class tickets (and get upgraded, depending upon status), or whether the passenger can buy business class tickets (in which case the the passenger does not really need to join a frequent flyer program, and get the perks of the top tier status, as he can afford all of these benefits without so joining).

If the flights are booked by large multinational or domestic firms, usually, the flights are full fare are full fare economy, or business (I realize with the economy the way it is, more and more companies are exploring the discounted economy fare option - I would guess that most SuperElites who fly on business do not work for such companies). In this scenario, depending upon the work requirements of travelling, it obviously is no burden to the passenger to making these number of flights, whether international, or North American intercontinental.

To become SuperElite, one must be fortunate to fly from a logistic basis taking account personal circumstances (ie you must have the time to make these flights, obviously more achievable if done for business, than for pleasure), and be able to afford the remaining flights that are not covered by the employer (unless one is very well-off - in that case, there is no need for that person to participate in this bulletin board).

My circumstances - I am an Elite that receives (with upgrades) 50-60,000 miles a year. Half of the flights personal - funded by me; half of the flights work related - funded by employers. The work is limited to other points in North America with very few exceptions. The pleasure trips are also limited to North America with very few exceptions. I (for both logistic and funding reasons) rarely make more than 1 intercontinental trip (ie transAtlantic) per year (some years zero).

For logistic reasons (if family and work reasons), I can not fly much more than I do, although potentially, I could fly much more for economic reasons (at least on discounted economy fares).

I am interested in becoming a SuperElite member, but I do not see any obvious way of becoming one, unless I fly a disproportionate amount (for me) in a given year. Even if I were to get it for that year, it is extremely unlikely (does AC have the legacy bonus that CP did?) I could maintain that status for the next year (I am wondering if that would be a terrrible feeling - one has experience in one year the exalted status of SE; how could one tolerated being E or lower in future years - I do not think my psyche could take it).

I would like the audience out there to explain both from a logistic and economic points of view, how you got SE status (although many of you have answered the typical annual number of trips in previous postings) - do any of you yourself from your own pocket pay for the vast majority of the annual total cost of your airfares to achieve this status?
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Old Feb 14, 01, 2:15 pm
  #2  
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You've identified the key factors. SE was designed to better serve AC's best customers, those who use it most and spend the highest amounts of money with the airline. It is not a perk that should be easily accessible, and because most who achieve it do so based on their business travel patterns, they work for companies with appropriate policies as afford a travelling executive, senior consultant or other employee who is one the road quite often.

Only a few can manage to achieve this status otherwise, enjoying as they do both the financial wherewithal and time to indulge in so much travel. We represent a range of such people on FT, but I would say the overwhelming majority of SE's do this travelling in the course of their work, and are senior in status at their companies as well.

While I sympathize, I suggest your sights are set too high and are just not realistic in light of your current circumstances. Yes, one can earn SE on 5 discounted round trips, YYZ- HKG, representing an investment of about $7,500 plus hotels and misc expenses. [Or 7 or 8 MHDs...] But I suspect the majority of SEs have spent $50K or more annually with AC.

BB and I reported from our meeting that Aeroplan elite status is confirred in part to add perks for high spenders with the airline. That it is possible to "play the game" and earn top tier for a lot less is something they accept. At the same time, they were examining ways of reflecting both spend and miles flown in offering elite status. (This might also make it easier for primarily domestic flyers who pay full fare to reach SE, since their average trip distance was between 1/3rd and 1/2 that of international flyers.)

I would like to be SE myself. The benefits look pretty good for someone who runs his own business and thus covers the cost of travel within the project budget. If I have a well-heeled client, I can be more flexible with my plans and thus make greater use of my Elite benefits, even to the point of using SystemWides from full fares. Much of the time, my work is with not-for-profits, so like BB and others, I resort to other means of saving them money, but maximizing my benefits when flying. (I am prepared to personally spend the extra few hundred dollars to buy an upgradeable fare, if that is required to make use of upgrading.)

But I don't expect to be made SE until I have flown the required miles in a single year. Based on my current client and project mix, personal and other travel forecast for this year, converting a YYZ-YVR trip or two into a YOW side trip, and a stop-over in YVR for my meetings rather than two spreading them over two days, will make it possible to do a MHD, and go from 5.5K to 15K, all confirmed in J.

The question is why AC should give the same benefits to someone who spends $7.5K with them over another who spends $75K in a single year?

I don't have relatives at the end of a long mileage run like HKG or SYD or other similar exotic locals, so this approach to SE is not really practical, future benefits not withstanding. Yet I will be pragmatic about taking opportunities when they are afforded me a weekend to MUC, LON or HNL to add to my mileage beyond normal business trips.

There are many things in this world that look more attractive and which we might desire, but they may never be accessible to most of us. That's life. We learn to value those things we have. Which is why I have been so hard on Fly Boy of late. Prestige, while not a very rewarding tier, is a stepping stone, and one many fly quite a lot to achieve. To them it becomes valuable. One day, Elite may be in their grips. But if they cannot afford, or do not have relatives there, to be able to visit the other side of the Pacific [or wherever one can go to collect 20K on a single set of flights], even Elite will not be achievable. And its benefits are pretty meagre compared with SE, but they are appropriate benefits none the less.

[And even EMPRESS's example is not quite correct, for as I demonstrated over the weekend in another post, an Elite will never earn enough upgrades -- 4 per round trip -- in a given year to be able to upgrade 100% of their transcons, even if they happen to be in reach of SE with a couple of international trips to bump up the miles. Only when they cross over that 100K mark, and start getting SE Systemwides, will this be possible.]

It is, as I have repeated too many time, those who travel within NAmerica, and Canada particularly, who have the hardest go at achieving any elite status. They spend many hours in the air and commuting to airports, and unless they can top their accounts off with an international flight or two, will still only make Prestige.

I may not have answered your post in the way you hoped for. But I am expressing one person's viewpoint.
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Old Feb 14, 01, 2:23 pm
  #3  
 
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I agree - I would love to be SE but don't see how it is (financially) possible. Since January 1st I have had 5 business trips, incl 2 to LHR, 2 to US (NYC and RDU) and one hop across the country (YYZ-YVR-YYC-YWG-YYZ). I travel often for work but my comapny, a publishing house, cannot afford to pay for J class - even to LHR - so I am flying discount economy. Is it possible to get to SE? Perhaps, but do I want it at the expense of routing myself through MEX everytime I head West, or paying for it myself to do a mileage run to SIN?

Obviously there is a reason why I am not SE and just Elite. I know that SE is for those who commute on AC or travel regularly to the far-flung corners of the world or travel in J all the time and at a moments notice. Is it possible to attain this level for those of us travelling on discount fares and not being able to upgrade?
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Old Feb 14, 01, 2:55 pm
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I only made CP's equivalent, Executive Platinum, once, and that was because I was comped up. The past few years, I have flown about 95 segments a year, which is halfway between Elite and SuperElite, and I don't expect I'll ever be flying the extra 6 or so round trips (4 segments/trip) to make it, since that would mean I'd be making at least 3 trips every month.
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Old Feb 14, 01, 3:05 pm
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I really appreciate, as an Elite, the access to the lounge, the priority check-in & boarding and the occasional chance to use an upgrade coupon, as well as the occasional gratis upgrade. It all adds up and, in the end, makes me a happy road-warrior.
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Old Feb 14, 01, 3:21 pm
  #6  
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My view is that if you don't do the SE lifestyle (ie lots of transcon and transoceanic flights) then it isn't worth trying to get the benefits of SE. For the effort to fly overseas, pay for hotels, food etc (unless you are truly enjoying these trips), it doesn't make sense to do a LOT of extra flying (economically or health wise).

If you are just a bit short (say 75-80K range), then it might be worth your while to top up with a nice vacation somewhere, provided that you think you will be flying a fair amount the next year. I don't think I would miss SE if I was not flying much (well Ok there would always be the nostalgic twinge).

It would be nice if they offered an "honorary" or "emeritus" SE for doing it 5 years in a row or more, maybe with reduced benefits (say at the Elite level or with no upgrade stickers) but with still lounge access, no blackouts and priority numbers etc.

My flying is a mix of business, non-profit and leisure. Most of my leisure I do as reward tickets but I do the occasional paid fare a couple of times a year. Non-profits do not pay full fare and I do not expect them to. Business is my nickle so I am always looking for the best value (notice value, not cheapest fare--to me that is a V fare on transcons and transoceanic flights so I can upgrade). And for maximizing what I get out of the rules in Canada, J (and sometimes discount econo upgraded) class on Mexican Hat Dances is workable for me.
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Old Feb 14, 01, 3:54 pm
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I would appreciate and agree with most of the comments.

I do like being an Elite member, with its perks. I am happy that I get these perks. I would be extremely unhappy, if my status ever went down - I have had this status for 5 years.

Of course, one does wish for a status that is higher than what one has. That is human nature. I would like to have it, but I realize I may not (at least in the near future) be able to achieve that status (at least with current threshold qualifications, and without special promotions such as increased qualifying miles for trips - perhaps this may change in the future, if AC does really get true domestic competition - although this may take several years).

Notwithstand some comments on this bulletin board, Elite status perks are an order of magnitude above Prestige (which I do appreciate, and which I could not do without), and SuperElite status is an order of magnitude above Elite (Randy P. was willing to rate AC SuperElite status as the best top tier status in the world, except for the drawback that one can not buy upgrade certificates with qualifying miles or with money).

I wonder if SuperElite preferred status will ever be implemented; I am sure that the current SuperElites who could not fly enough to get this status, might be envious of the perks of that status, and human nature being what it is, obviously wonder why they could not attain that status, with its associated additional perks.

As a point - who is a current SuperElite - who could fly enough to reach the proposed threshold miles to attain SuperElite Preferred? How many of you would spend the extra funds (out of your own pocket), or the extra time to take the extra flights, to achieve this status, from what you currently do?
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Old Feb 14, 01, 3:54 pm
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I would appreciate and agree with most of the comments.

I do like being an Elite member, with its perks. I am happy that I get these perks. I would be extremely unhappy, if my status ever went down - I have had this status for 5 years.

Of course, one does wish for a status that is higher than what one has. That is human nature. I would like to have it, but I realize I may not (at least in the near future) be able to achieve that status (at least with current threshold qualifications, and without special promotions such as increased qualifying miles for trips - perhaps this may change in the future, if AC does really get true domestic competition - although this may take several years).

Notwithstand some comments on this bulletin board, Elite status perks are an order of magnitude above Prestige (which I do appreciate, and which I could not do without), and SuperElite status is an order of magnitude above Elite (Randy P. was willing to rate AC SuperElite status as the best top tier status in the world, except for the drawback that one can not buy upgrade certificates with qualifying miles or with money).

I wonder if SuperElite preferred status will ever be implemented; I am sure that the current SuperElites who could not fly enough to get this status, might be envious of the perks of that status, and human nature being what it is, obviously wonder why they could not attain that status, with its associated additional perks.

As a point - who is a current SuperElite - who could fly enough to reach the proposed threshold miles to attain SuperElite Preferred? How many of you would spend the extra funds (out of your own pocket), or the extra time to take the extra flights, to achieve this status, from what you currently do?
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Old Feb 14, 01, 3:55 pm
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I would appreciate and agree with most of the comments.

I do like being an Elite member, with its perks. I am happy that I get these perks. I would be extremely unhappy, if my status ever went down - I have had this status for 5 years.

Of course, one does wish for a status that is higher than what one has. That is human nature. I would like to have it, but I realize I may not (at least in the near future) be able to achieve that status (at least with current threshold qualifications, and without special promotions such as increased qualifying miles for trips - perhaps this may change in the future, if AC does really get true domestic competition - although this may take several years).

Notwithstand some comments on this bulletin board, Elite status perks are an order of magnitude above Prestige (which I do appreciate, and which I could not do without), and SuperElite status is an order of magnitude above Elite (Randy P. was willing to rate AC SuperElite status as the best top tier status in the world, except for the drawback that one can not buy upgrade certificates with qualifying miles or with money).

I wonder if SuperElite preferred status will ever be implemented; I am sure that the current SuperElites who could not fly enough to get this status, might be envious of the perks of that status, and human nature being what it is, obviously wonder why they could not attain that status, with its associated additional perks.

As a point - who is a current SuperElite - who could fly enough to reach the proposed threshold miles to attain SuperElite Preferred? How many of you would spend the extra funds (out of your own pocket), or the extra time to take the extra flights, to achieve this status, from what you currently do?
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Old Feb 14, 01, 3:57 pm
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If there had been SEp this year I would have made it...simply would have changed some Swissair travel to *A to push me the little extra.

Dorian
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Old Feb 14, 01, 4:10 pm
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I made SE entirely on personal travel in 98 and 99. I was with the Federal Government then, and we were prohibited by Treasury Board from collecting miles for official travel.

However, I would fly NYC HKG about 3 times a year, and pop over to LHR a couple of times. Between seat sales on UA, and reasonably priced H fares with no minimum stays on AC (ex-USA) it was not that hard.

I figure it cost me no more than USD5000 to rack up 100,000 miles.

Since I've gone into the private sector, it's all academic. A fair bit of J-class transpac now. Adds up real fast. I am figuring I will be requalified for 2002 before June.
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Old Feb 14, 01, 4:16 pm
  #12  
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There are some very good points made in this thread. I do not foresee ever being SE as my flying is mostly domestic. Elite satisfies my travel needs with upgrades, MLL access, priority boarding and Business Class check-in etc. I don't need much more than that to travel in comfort. SE is not a club one joins by travelling a lot; it is recognition for being aloft lots of hours, travelling to and from airports and encountering occasional delays and other frustrations. SE members earn their card the hard way: mile after mile after mile.... I admire them, but I won't join them unless my job changes or I win the 6/49 today.
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Old Feb 14, 01, 5:36 pm
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I think it's quite natural to want to move up in status with all the associated perks. When I was Club with CP, I wondered how it was possible to make Gold, given my flying pattern at the time. Although I spent time trying to get upgrades, sometimes successfully, I found that the ability to buy an Empress Lounge membership made my travel in Economy much more acceptable. With the switch to AC, one of the most significant losses for a non-Elite was the lack of access to a lounge and priority check-in.

So, I think there are significant advantages to being Elite over Prestige, and I am willing to take an extra TransAt or TransPac trip each a year, in addition to my business travel, to reach that status. However, to achieve SE you have to consider whether the costs are worth the benefits. It seems that the major tangible benefits of SE are the ability to upgrade from discounted economy on internationals flights and the various higher priorities for upgrades and reward flights. That means that the decision to try for SE (assuming that it won't come from routine business travel) should be based on whether the benefits are worth it to you. For myself, I like to spend time in Australia, so
it might be worth it for me to do some extra trips so that I can do my TransPac runs in more comfort. For someone like GoldFlyer, who does most of his flying domestically, that perk may be less important.

I do appreciate that the various status levels are a recognition by AC of the amount we fly and it's clear that most of the SEs on this board earned their status the hard way, by flying a lot on paid J and Y. However, it is ironic that these same SEs also spend a tremndous amount of time and effort in devising ways to gain both extra Q and non-Q miles . I think we're all in the same boat (plane) addicted to flying in the way that we most enjoy. The decision to try to go for SE status, assuming that you can afford to do so, should be based on what it might be worth to you.

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Old Feb 14, 01, 5:51 pm
  #14  
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Academic, you are echoing my sentiments, exactly.

I just wonder (in addition to the responses to this point already made) how many SuperElites right now would take the extra effort and/or incur the extra costs, to achieve SuperElite preferred (if that status was ever implemented)- I realize that even in business class seating, it is an effort; it is tiring, and at least to some passengers, it is a sacrifice.
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Old Feb 14, 01, 6:03 pm
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Once again, I have another point of view.

I can't express to you how much I'm looking forward to a year when I can exclaim "I didn't make Super Elite or Elite!!!". Because that will mean my quality of life has improved as a result of not spending 100's of hours sitting on planes and hanging around airports.
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