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Airlines are Quietly Changing Standards for Elite Status. Does that Affect You?

Airlines are Quietly Changing Standards for Elite Status.For those frequently traveling for work, ‘elite’ business class status is a welcomed perk. This perk, however, may be short-lived. Earlier this fall, airline programs began to quietly change the way customer loyalty programs awarded elite status, leaving some flyers by the wayside, and travel planners scrambling for business travel solutions to keep frequent travelers within the top tier requirements.

The High Life Now Requires Higher Expenditures

Does your corporate travel policy now make elite business class status more difficult to achieve? For United Airlines passengers, elite status qualification required travelers to fly 100,000 miles and spend $12,000 in 2018. In the coming year, expenditure requirements will soar 25% further to $15,000. Other airlines have quickly followed United’s suit, with American Airlines requiring the same of its top-tier Executive Platinum Diamond-tier members. Driving the changes: The hope of leveling the playing field with Delta, who requires top-tier travelers spend $15,000 and fly 125,000 miles for Diamond status.

The Good

Some don’t mind the new changes, viewing the $12,000 to $15,000 bump as minimal, especially when traveling on the company dime. For event travel services, international business flights, and tickets booked on relatively short notices, meeting the ramped up elite status obstacles won’t be tough to surmount – even for those utilizing multiple carriers. Still more welcome the changes, believing there are too many elites gumming up the works. With fewer elites in the pool, it is hoped that the lounge and boarding zone congestion will clear, granting the best customers easier access to high-end perks and upgrades.

The Bad

Some aren’t so thrilled with the changes, however. For those on a budget, who must book flights ahead to ensure the cheapest possible ticket price, top-tier status will be difficult to achieve – even for those flying over 100,000 miles. Due to the increased difficulty of earning elite status on the two carriers, some corporate flyers are attempting to book their own travel arrangements, in search of travel policy loopholes that can help them stay in the top tier of travelers by keeping their sky miles and dollars under the same carrier umbrella.

The Ugly

Such under the radar changes have also left a bad taste in the mouths of many budget-minded consumers, leaving them to feel airlines don’t care about those who don’t shell out for business class tickets anymore. As maintaining status is near impossible for tight-fisted travelers, this has led to rapidly waning carrier loyalty. As budget-minded travelers give up the ghost, only time will tell how these changes could affect overall ticket sales.

No one likes the cheap seats. Is your travel management company making decisions in the best interest of your employees? Ensure enjoyable, comfortable travel arrangements that fit within your budget with the help of GTI Travel today.

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