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Best airline/network to seek status with

Best airline/network to seek status with

Old Jan 24, 23, 10:05 am
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 15
Lightbulb Best airline/network to seek status with

Hi All -

I'm looking for suggestions from the hive mind of the community. I recently started a new position which involves a lot more travel (from basically none before). About 1-2 RT per week is expected.

I'm starting from basically scratch. I have no status at any airline. I don't currently have any airline credit cards - CSR and AmEx Plat for lounge access, but nothing else.

I'm at a non-hub airport - I have to connect for for most flights. My destinations are almost 100% domestic.

I have the ability to book my own (coach) travel. I'm looking for recommendations which airline you would recommend concentrating flights with in this situation to get to a "useful" level of status as quickly as possible.

My goals are basically comfort - such as:
  • Ability to select a premium economy seat at booking
  • Maybe the occasional upgrade to first on less popular routes
  • Points that are (at least somewhat) useful going forward (I'm looking at you, Delta...)

So if you were me and had a chance to start basically from scratch, where would you suggest starting?
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Old Jan 24, 23, 10:56 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2022
Location: LAX
Programs: UA
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Some thoughts:
1. Investigate the transfer partners for Chase and AMEX points
2. Where are you located? Are certain alliances better for you than others? In my mind, Star Alliance > oneworld > Skyteam, but your preferences may vary.
3. Premium economy is sold on international flights as a separate cabin from economy; you won't be able to select premium economy seats if booked in economy without upgrading. Economy Plus is a subsection of the economy with added legroom.
4. What do you want to use points for?
5. Is lifetime status a consideration for you? For the US3, I view lifetime status benefits as UA > DL > AA.
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Old Jan 24, 23, 11:08 am
  #3  
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Originally Posted by angetenar View Post
Some thoughts:
1. Investigate the transfer partners for Chase and AMEX points
2. Where are you located? Are certain alliances better for you than others? In my mind, Star Alliance > oneworld > Skyteam, but your preferences may vary.
3. Premium economy is sold on international flights as a separate cabin from economy; you won't be able to select premium economy seats if booked in economy without upgrading. Economy Plus is a subsection of the economy with added legroom.
4. What do you want to use points for?
5. Is lifetime status a consideration for you? For the US3, I view lifetime status benefits as UA > DL > AA.
Thanks for the thoughts. Here are my resposnes:
1- Have done so and will do more. CSR is pretty limited (Southwest and United directly). Amex is better.
2- I'm out of PIT. Options are poor for direct flights, but we have connecting flights for United, AA, Alaska (Seattle only), Delta, Southwest. Jetblue (limited).
3 - I meant economy+.
4- Points mostly for leisure/international travel. This is not a huge deal for me though as I earn a good number of points via credit card. But for instance I am somewhat hesitant to focus on Delta given the pricing of awards ("skypesos") etc.
5 - Not a huge consideration on Lifetime. I expect this to be a few year position at most, then my travel (for work) will decrease a good bit.

I think my focus out be on which of the airlines can I earn the most rewarding status the quickest? Opening a CC is an option as well, if that would help. For me, "rewarding" would mean upgrades to Economy plus and perhaps a chance at the occasional upgrade to first, etc.
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Old Jan 24, 23, 12:10 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2022
Location: LAX
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Ok some more thoughts:
1. Are you familiar with how status qualification works with United/American/Delta? American and Delta reward credit card spend to a much greater degree than United does.
2. Jetblue and Alaska have partnered with American so that's another consideration
3. I know that for United, you can select economy plus seats at booking starting with gold, not sure for the others. Southwest doesn't have economy plus.
4. Do you want to leisure travel in economy or business?
5. Does lounge access matter to you?
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Old Jan 24, 23, 1:17 pm
  #5  
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Join Date: May 2013
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Originally Posted by angetenar View Post
Ok some more thoughts:
1. Are you familiar with how status qualification works with United/American/Delta? American and Delta reward credit card spend to a much greater degree than United does.
2. Jetblue and Alaska have partnered with American so that's another consideration
3. I know that for United, you can select economy plus seats at booking starting with gold, not sure for the others. Southwest doesn't have economy plus.
4. Do you want to leisure travel in economy or business?
5. Does lounge access matter to you?
Thanks again for the reply. I spent some time looking into all 3 of these ....

1- I've begun to familiarize myself with this - hence this post. I am generally aware of the perks/benefits, but I have never been in a position that I fly enough to really pay deep attention. If possible I'd like to not open more credit cards right now - would like to make the decision on which airline to concentrate on based mostly on the flying. That said, I am open to a card if it really makes sense (seems to me that most of the airline cards require a LOT of spend to make it truly worthwhile).
2- I was aware that AA and AS were partnered. Not aware of JetBlue.
3- Delta @ silver level allows Comfort+ upgrades at 24 hours prior to departure ("preferred seats" are available at booking)
American @ gold tier allows MCE seats at check-in.
United allows "preferred" seating at booking (just closer to the front of the plane) - E+ not until check-in.
4- Doesn't matter, honestly. I have Chase & Amex points for aspirational things (FC, int'l business) so I think I'd rather focus on the easiest status to obtain that will give me in-flight benefits.
5- I have lounge access through Amex Platinum (Centurion, Escape, Delta when flying Delta) and Priority Pass (various others) so this is not as big of a deal for me.

I think my questions boil down to:
-Which status is the best option/easiest for getting in-flight benefits?
-Which of these statuses is actually realistic for getting those benefits (i.e. as a Delta silver, would I ever even clear for an upgrade to first or biz?)

Thanks!
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Old Jan 24, 23, 1:32 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2022
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United silver gets preferred seating at booking and economy plus at check in, but gold and above get economy plus at booking.

For upgrades, you should set your expectations low. Airlines have been successful with first class monetization (FCM), as they would prefer to sell the seats rather than upgrade people. As a low level elite on any airline, you should not expect upgrades to clear.

What in flight benefits do you care about? Seating has already been mentioned. You would need to qualify all the way up to 1K on United to a free snack and beverage when seated in economy. You've probably seen the United benefits chart already?

Also, for your aspirational things, it may be beneficial to be able to combine your Chase/AMEX points with whatever airline you choose. For example, in my case, I have United miles and Chase points and if there is an award that I'm looking at and my United miles balance is insufficient I can top it off. I suppose this is where Delta suffers from having horrendous award pricing, but United and American can both have pretty high award prices as well. However, United and American have pretty good partner award pricing, which Delta is stopping I believe.
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Old Jan 24, 23, 1:38 pm
  #7  
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I would go with AAdvantage:

1. Just like with DL Silver, with AAdvantage Gold (lowest elite tier), you can select extra-leg-room seats for free at 24 hours before departure. (Check-in opens at 24 hours before departure.)

2. The ability to earn AAdvantage Loyalty Points from flying on AS and B6 will be helpful.

3. You can spend your way to status with AAdvantage: Loyalty Points earned through hotel stays, car rentals, credit-card charges, AAdvantage Dining, AAdvantage e-shopping portal, Simply Miles, etc., all provide opportunities to earn Loyalty Points.
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Old Jan 25, 23, 7:25 am
  #8  
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This may be a case of not practicing what I would preach generally, but I would say go for AA's program or UA's program. DL is operationally better for me, but I am no fan of the DL loyalty program despite it being the program in which I earned my first airline elite status. The AA program has the Alaska and Jetblue tie-ins as noted above, and I can still get very good value redeeming AA miles -- something I can't as easily do with DL miles.
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Old Yesterday, 12:09 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Programs: Alaska Mileage Plan - MVP Gold
Posts: 126
Also matters a lot where you want to fly, not just your home airport (if that's consistent). If you're frequently flying to the same set of airports, then even though PIT isn't a hub for any of the major airlines your destinations could influence it.
​​​​​​
For example if all of your travel is to the west coast then even AS could make sense, as even though the only direct flight from PIT is to SEA you could book a connection with PIT-ORD operated on AA metal as a codeshare, and AS is pretty easy to earn status on having no minimum spending requirement.

​​​​Really just depends on where you want to go.
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