TPG Reader 2018 Travel Goals: Getting Airline Elite Status for the First Time

Jan 21, 2018

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Since a new year is a great opportunity to get serious about meeting travel goals, we’re following TPG readers as they set and work toward travel resolutions in 2018.

So far, we’ve highlighted Heather P., who’s weighing options for her first travel rewards card; Bryan O., who’s in the early stages of planning an around-the-world award trip; Kim C., who wants to use points and miles for her honeymoon in Thailand; and Tiff H., who’s hoping to book her first award flight.

Now, let’s meet Steven L., who has a “first” goal of his own:

I want to get airline elite status for the first time. I would have gotten it this year but I switched airlines halfway through and didn’t qualify for either airline.

Depending on how often you travel and what tier you’re able to earn, securing status for the first time can be hugely rewarding. We naturally wanted to know which carrier Steven switched loyalties from, and he provided the following information via email:

I flew with AA for the first half of last year and then switched to Delta. Looking to get Delta status this year but will likely only qualify for Silver.

Spreading your flights among multiple carriers will certainly throw a wrench in anyone’s plans to obtain airline elite status, so it’s great that Steven’s now focusing on just Delta. By booking all his paid flights with this one airline rather than among various carriers, he’ll be on track to earn elite membership in the Medallion program as quickly as possible.

It sounds like he’s expecting to earn Silver Medallion status, which requires amassing 25,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or 30 Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs), plus spending $3,000 in Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) or spending $25,000 in a calendar year on one of the Delta Amex cards. We haven’t released our latest valuation analysis of Delta status yet, but last year we pegged Silver Medallion status at $815.

As a Silver Medallion member, Steven will enjoy waived baggage fees, complimentary preferred seats, priority check-in and more. It’s nowhere near as rewarding as top-tier Diamond Medallion status and some Silver perks can also be found on credit cards such as the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, though not the best one of potentially getting free upgrades. So it’s certainly better than nothing.

Next time, we’ll be taking a look at Steven’s plans for earning Delta elite status this year. He has until the end of the calendar year to meet the various requirements, so depending on how much travel he has planned, he might not even need to strategize much. Stay tuned, as we’ll be posting an update on his progress a few months down the line!

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