AU Members with Frequent Flyer Affinity Status

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

WWW

Service Attendant
AU Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 18, 2018
Messages
173
Location
MSP
Member request from jiml:
Interesting sidebar to this conversation is how many AU'ers are also frequent flyers. Stories to be told elsewhere of course.

I'll start this off

WWW FF with Delta Airlines as a revenue customer and a 29 year retired employee.
Space Available employee travel is great like some of you railroaders getting passes -
But when you have to be somewhere as in not missing a cruise ship I buy a confirmed ticket.
This past few months haven't flown anywhere - grounded - no cruises - no rail excursions -
self restricted (not quarantined) just to be safe staying home away from potential virus threats.
Have a half a million revenue miles in the bank but until vaccinated not going anywhere.
 

Trogdor

Conductor
Joined
Aug 3, 2004
Messages
5,665
Location
Here
I was a frequent business traveler and UA Platinum until March of this year. Haven't been on a plane since (and, in fact, have only left the State of Illinois 2 or 3 times since then).

It's anyone's guess what the future will hold. Since many of our clients seem to have adapted to the virtual/remote assistance setup, travel may be significantly reduced (especially as they realize they can get more support hours remotely when they're not paying for travel and per diems).
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
27,867
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
I am a UA Lifetime Gold. Have not flown this year after Feb 18, when I returned from India.

Additionally I am a member with no status of the following:
  • Delta
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Air India
  • Vistara
Before I retired I was regularly doing 100K+ each year. After retirement that was down to 50K or so of which one annual trip to India accounted for close to half of it, if I included all the internal flying in India. This year is around 20K of which about 16K is on UA, the rest on Vistara and IndiGo in India.

2021 will most likely be zero, or if non-zero then something under 10K since there will be no trip to India or likely any other foreign destinations this year. 2022, we'll see how it goes.
 
Last edited:

jiml

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
3,380
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
American Airlines Lifetime Platinum - 2MM
Air Canada - lowest status, and they treat me accordingly
Delta - member, no status
United - Silver through hotel membership

Switched to AA following their attempted takeover of Canadian Airlines (CP), which was thwarted by the government and resulted in CP Air being absorbed into Air Canada. Been with AA ever since, although most business travel was on AC - for which no miles were accumulated at corporate rates. Now retired, so 90% of travel is leisure. I have mixed feelings about the direction AA is headed, but have to say they have always treated me very well. Last flights YYZ-BUR and SAN-YYZ with Surfliner bridge in between - Fall 2019.

The genesis of this discussion, as noted above, was airport hotels and airline strandings. Delta likes to leave me in MSP, AA has done MIA and ORD (for 3 days!) and AC in London.
 
Last edited:

IndyLions

OBS Chief
Joined
Nov 6, 2016
Messages
669
Location
Brownsburg IN
My flying has been hit or miss throughout my career. I’ve been primarily a Northwest Airlines and subsequently a Delta guy after the acquisition.

Prior to 2001, I racked up some decent miles through annual or biannual international business travel to Europe and Asia. That funded my honeymoon, 10 year anniversary trip, and a family trip to Hawaii.

In most of the past 20 years, most of my air travel has been on low cost carriers. It was primarily because that was best for the business, cost-wise - and I didn’t fly the routes that rack up the miles.

I decided late last year that life is too short for low cost carriers. I’m no Prima Donna to be sure - but in my 50’s I’m going to travel the way I want to travel. If it’s too expensive to justify, I won’t go.

So most of the (albeit limited) travel I’ve had this year has been on Delta - with one flight each on American and United. I’ve actually been upgraded on two different trips to first class - which I consider miraculous since my current status with Delta is pretty low.

I also picked a lousy year to opt in to a SkyClub membership thru American Express - although I’ve been able to sample the clubs in MSP, ATL, and the spectacular new one in SLC.

Of course, my preferred travel mode is Amtrak - but I’ve discovered that by changing my travel standards and attitude - air travel can be enjoyable again.
 
Last edited:

Palmland

OBS Chief
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
953
Location
Carolinas
Before retiring I collected a large number of miles on Eastern that was transferred to Continental / UA. A chunk of that I used for first class tickets to Europe for my son's honeymoon. I think i still have a few United miles that I should probably just cash in. I also collected Piedmont miles that became USAir/ US Airways/ Amereican. We only fly on them if we have to, usually international but still have a bunch of miles for post Covid with a Bermuda trip planned and close to enough FF points for Europe business class.

For domestic travel we prefer and have FF miles for Delta and Southwest - our favorite for its flexible policies, consistently good staff, and nice airport terminals (glad they pulled out of EWR). We have figured out how to game the system to always be in the A or early B boarding group and have always had our pick of seats. We like not having some of the seats blocked for different price categories as do the legacy airlines. Since time is not an issue we almost enjoy the plane change if no direct ones. It helps break up a long flight and a opportunity for a good meal (we especially like Houston-Hobby). Of course this all assumes COVID goes away.

I can't recall a trip where a rail segment is not a portion of it, usually one way plane, the other via train. While we thoroughly enjoy first class air it's just not worth it for us for a two or three hour domestic flight with our nose buried in a book. I'd rather spend that money at destination (or on Amtrak- if they get back to decent service).
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
2,790
I am a member of Delta's program, but no status. I do have enough miles for a free flight domestically and, I think, internationally. I would have more if I had not used some for upgrades.

I have lived a fairly "charmed" life as far as getting stranded at an airport. The one time I did was at DFW by AA. Plane landed on time; plenty of time to make my connection to CMH. Rather than proceeding to the terminal, we sat on the tarmac. And, we sat.....and sat while the clock was ticking. Why? No gates were available! When we did get to a gate, it was almost flight time for my connection. By the time I got to the proper gate, the door was closed (but the plane was still there and I got to see it pull away while speaking with the Agent). AA provided an overnight with dinner and breakfast meal vouchers at the airport Hyatt. The agent was able to route me the next morning to DCA, which was my ultimate destination for that trip. All went well the next morning until I discovered that my luggage had not gotten re-routed and went to CMH. The luggage for sent to where I was near Washington, arriving just after Midnight on New Year's Eve.

The other time was a "close call" at ORD on UA after an Amtrak trip. Poor Spring weather on flight day. Arrived at ORD and got to the gate. The plane to DAY was at the gate. Boarding time came--and went. I sat. The Gate Agent did a good job of keeping us informed. There was no crew for the plane. The crew was trapped at Milwaukee because their flight could not leave due to the weather. We waited; it kept getting later and later. At some point, snacks and bottles of water were offered. Finally, an announcement was made that the crew's plane had taken off. The crew finally arrived and received a round of applause from those of us waiting for them. Boarding promptly started and the rest of the trip was OK.
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
12,353
Location
Texas
It took over thirty seasons of The Amazing Race television show to reach one million miles, so hats off to members who managed lifetime status with a North American carrier. I've never been loyal to a single carrier or hotel chain but I have been loyal to products like MRTC and MCE. Unfortunately those services seem to change or vanish without any rhyme or reason. I've had status with Southwest, American (still active), United, Hyatt, and Hertz but free flights and hotel nights were my primary focus. The status I've earned through travel and spending was mostly incidental to other goals. I live in a spoke city with limited status benefits and several factors (schedule, routing, location) benefit from flexibility more than status. Oddly enough the "status" that probably helped me the most was in the form of unpublished benefits for routine users of opaque booking services. Being able to cancel an accepted bid or purchase that didn't go the way you expected was incredibly helpful and a real lifesaver. The best benefits in the business are F&F discounts although modern versions are not nearly as easy to use as before.
 
Last edited:

NS VIA Fan

Conductor
Joined
Sep 24, 2011
Messages
1,812
Location
Nova Scotia
My Frequent Flyer Status goes back to 1985 and CP Air's “Travel Bonus Program” . When Canadian Pacific Airlines was taken over by Pacific Western......it became Canadi>n Airlines “Plus” (note how they handled the “a” or “e” in Canadian) Then Canadi>n was absorbed by Air Canada and my miles went to their Aeroplan Program.

I've had a lot of free flights over the years going way back to when a “free” flight meant just that! No surcharges!

I also had a few Pan Am World Pass miles that eventually became Delta Sky Miles.. Don't know if they're still out there in cyberspace or not!
 

trainman74

Conductor
Joined
Apr 7, 2011
Messages
1,764
Location
Sherman Oaks, CA
I used to work for a large Silicon Valley company that, in 2008, signed a big business travel contract with United, and allowed any employee who wanted it to get their lowest level of Premier status (Premier Associate -- I don't think they have the equivalent anymore). I went to Australia in 2009 while they were offering double Premier qualifying miles, and wound up going up two levels to Gold. I managed to keep it for a couple years, and I think I went down to Silver for another year past that... but then I got laid off in early 2012, and have had various long periods of unemployment throughout the decade, so I've never really had a chance to travel extensively enough to regain status. (United also made Premier status levels harder to get by adding a "qualifying dollars" component to "qualifying miles.")

I've still been mostly loyal to United since then because I know the way things work, but I've also taken Southwest a couple of times (including the one time I got to fly for business), and it was perfectly adequate. I actually haven't flown since Christmas/New Year's 2017-18 -- over three years between plane trips is definitely a record for me.
 

gswager

Conductor
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
2,889
Location
southern Idaho
I'm a loyal with Delta for years with no status. Second one would be Alaska airline despite going the "wrong way" trip to Seattle or Portland before reaching the destination.
 

flitcraft

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
837
I'm currently MVP75 with Alaska, my primary carrier, and I have miles banked with American, British Air, and United, but no status these days. I used to be Premier Executive with United, but they reduced service to Seattle, so now I just fly United to burn my miles--still about 400,000 to go. American I never had status with, but I did formerly with USAir, so now they are American miles. British Air I joined because, with a British husband and my not infrequent business trips to the UK, that seemed sensible at the time. Still burning those Avios... Alaska will be joining One World this upcoming year, so assuming that travel starts becoming plausible in the near-term future, I'll be concentrating my international flying on their partners. I do hope that they can keep their current non-OW partners like Emirates, Singapore, Hainan, Icelandair, etc.
 

jiml

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
3,380
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
I'm currently MVP75 with Alaska, my primary carrier, and I have miles banked with American, British Air, and United, but no status these days. I used to be Premier Executive with United, but they reduced service to Seattle, so now I just fly United to burn my miles--still about 400,000 to go. American I never had status with, but I did formerly with USAir, so now they are American miles. British Air I joined because, with a British husband and my not infrequent business trips to the UK, that seemed sensible at the time. Still burning those Avios... Alaska will be joining One World this upcoming year, so assuming that travel starts becoming plausible in the near-term future, I'll be concentrating my international flying on their partners. I do hope that they can keep their current non-OW partners like Emirates, Singapore, Hainan, Icelandair, etc.
Alaska is the best airline in North America by quite a bit. Although they no longer fly to my area, I will be looking for ways to exploit the new partnership for connections to them.
 
Last edited:

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
22,522
Location
Austin Texas
Back in the day when I was a Frequent Flyer I flew often the Old Eastern Shuttle in the NEC and received lots " Flight Coupons" that could be Sold or used on other Airlines.

Everytime we landed in New York or Boston, hustlers would buy the Coupons ( for a Discount), I probably got about $1,000 by selling them, and also had numerous Free Flights all over the US and even to the Bahamas.

Eventually I convinced my boss to get the OK to ride Amtrak on the NEC( the Metroliners were great !!🥰)

I also became one of the early members of AA Advantage and chose American for most business flights which led to me being able to use the Admirals Club and upgrade to FC often, plus get Free Flights.

I haven't flown since Oct of 2018 when I flew United to Newark for the AU Gathering in NYC!( and took the Pennsylvanian,Cap Ltd and Texas Eagle home on AGR Points!)
 

saxman

Conductor
AU Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
May 17, 2004
Messages
2,478
Location
Dallas, Texas
I spent 12 years bouncing around the world by non-revving and jumpseating. While domestic standby was never that stressful for me, nothing prepares you for the nerves and rush you get when coming home from overseas. Will I get that last business class seat or am I stuck in a middle for the next 12 hours? Or not at all.

Now, I've joined a charter airline where my company has to position me all the time for my flights, so now I get to join the frequent flyer game. Due to COVID, most airlines reduced the required flying to reach status so I got lucky in that regard. This year I made 1K on United without much trouble. Since moving back to DFW though, I recently got to Platinum on American. This is good, because I have a feeling I'll be taking them a lot more now.

In 2017, I started churning credit card points and took a really nice round the world trip to Australia and Singapore using all points. The highlight, of course, was taking Singapore Air around the long way, Singapore to Houston with a stopover in Manchester, all in business class. Hopefully we can take another trip like it soon.
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
12,353
Location
Texas
United - Silver through hotel membership
I was thanked for reaching Silver status on UA and honestly thought they were confused or messing with me. Guess it must be tied to something else I have. 😅

I decided late last year that life is too short for low cost carriers. I’m no Prima Donna to be sure - but in my 50’s I’m going to travel the way I want to travel. If it’s too expensive to justify, I won’t go.
I had the same reaction to shrinking pitch and increasing age. 👍

I've had a lot of free flights over the years going way back to when a “free” flight meant just that! No surcharges!
According to an article I read many airport fees originally ignored non-revenue passengers in the days of paper tickets. Then around the time the TSA was created the rules changed and every second party passenger had to pay airport related fees regardless of the circumstances. Airlines that had covered a few fees here and there had no interest in paying every fee every time and changed their own redemption rules to collect those fees from the traveler.

Alaska is the best airline in North America by quite a bit.
What do you like about them? I haven't flown Alaska much but to me it seemed Premium Class wasn't that different from Comfort Plus or Main Cabin Extra while their version of First Class had the worst legroom among domestic airlines (before the AA revamp). I've heard good things about checked luggage times but I rarely check anything.
 
Last edited:

flitcraft

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
837
Alaska's frequent flyer program still has mileage based accrual, with no spend requirements. Redemption rates are also better. The cobranded Alaska credit card has an annual 99 dollars plus taxes companion fare anywhere they fly, no blackout dates. While this last item is impressionistic, I find their gate staff and flight attendants more customer friendly than United and American staff.
 

jiml

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
3,380
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
Alaska's frequent flyer program still has mileage based accrual, with no spend requirements. Redemption rates are also better. The cobranded Alaska credit card has an annual 99 dollars plus taxes companion fare anywhere they fly, no blackout dates. While this last item is impressionistic, I find their gate staff and flight attendants more customer friendly than United and American staff.
They also include lounge access with any front-cabin ticket regardless of how obtained (upgrade, etc.), unlike most other domestics which require an annual fee.
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
12,353
Location
Texas
Alaska's frequent flyer program still has mileage based accrual, with no spend requirements. Redemption rates are also better. The cobranded Alaska credit card has an annual 99 dollars plus taxes companion fare anywhere they fly, no blackout dates. While this last item is impressionistic, I find their gate staff and flight attendants more customer friendly than United and American staff.
They also include lounge access with any front-cabin ticket regardless of how obtained (upgrade, etc.), unlike most other domestics which require an annual fee.
These are all good points but they may not be enough for someone in Texas to connect through Seattle for most domestic trips. I have the same issue with Delta in Atlanta. It does sound like I should put more effort into crediting Mileage Plan though. I previously considered connecting from AS to JL at SEA but those routes were priced at a premium despite offering limited options (compared to SFO/LAX) and regional (angle-flat) seating. You could book a better experience through SAN for much less so that became my gateway of choice. Now I'm wondering which of the long+thin routes will remain after C19.
 
Last edited:

flitcraft

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
837
These are all good points but they may not be enough for someone in Texas to connect through Seattle for most domestic trips.... Now I'm wondering which of the long+thin routes will remain after C19.
You are quite right that Alaska wouldn't work for anyone off the West Coast. Just like United stopped working for me when they decided to downgrade the number of flights to and from Seattle. Well, that and Jeff Smisek's reign of terror as CEO of United, with his smarmy "We're going to make some changes, and I think you're going to like them." Every single one of them was a downgrade--only a serious masochist would have liked them. I happened to be onboard a United flight when the pilot came on to announce that Smisek has resigned as CEO of United, and the whole front end of the plane erupted into cheers, including one of the flight attendants, who called out "The drinks are on me!" (I didn't take her up on it!)

You are right to be concerned about flight reductions post-COVID, though. Until the load factors creep back up to where they were pre-COVID, I suspect most of us are going to have to change planes more often to get where we're going.
 
Last edited:

jiml

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
3,380
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
These are all good points but they may not be enough for someone in Texas to connect through Seattle for most domestic trips. I have the same issue with Delta in Atlanta. It does sound like I should put more effort into crediting Mileage Plan though.
You're not one of us crazy people that ever did a "mileage run" - going from Point A to Point B by the most circuitous route to accumulate airline miles?🤣 It was quite the fad several years ago, but I'm too old to do it anymore.

On the subject of Alaska's "usefulness", they do have some interesting routes (including transcontinental) that are competitively priced vs. the majors. Even before their network and plan were fully integrated with American's, AA would sell you a ticket partially on Alaska that made sense on further thought. We were able to return from a trip to San Diego with SAN-BOS on AS, then the short hop from BOS-YYZ on AA for around $500 in Business Class. The AA-only routing was over $1K. Of course that may not be something you'd need and I'm not sure they serve Texas at all, for example. Recent reviews by respected reviewers like Jeb Brooks and Paul Lucas have given AS high marks for their service, so a small detour might be worth looking at. YMMV.
 
Last edited:

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
12,353
Location
Texas
You're not one of us crazy people that ever did a "mileage run" - going from Point A to Point B by the most circuitous route to accumulate airline miles?🤣 It was quite the fad several years ago, but I'm too old to do it anymore.
Mileage running was mainly about earning and maintaining status (IIRC) but most tiers aren't that helpful. If AA was honest about the benefits of the Gold status they would have a single bullet point that says "Helps you earn Platinum." The vast majority of my travel is leisure and I never had enough vacation time to spend it bouncing off places I didn't otherwise intend to visit. My points collecting was mainly about earning free flights and the mileage running craze was probably Exhibit A for diluting adjusted earn rates and establishing minimum spend. Looking back if I had credited my last several flights to AS instead of AA I'd have forfeited status but banked an extra 30,000 miles. D'oh!
 

flitcraft

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
837
Airline status isn't worth much, frankly. Upgrades to first are nice, but unfortunately rare on Alaska from their Seattle hub under you're the highest tier, ever since they remodeled their first class cabin for extra legroom and recline, which reduced seating. Extra miles as elite bonuses and the free lounge passes are a better perk, but the best used to be the no-change-fee even for same day route changes, though now that change fees are going away, you don't need status for that. More free checked bags would perhaps be nice if I checked bags, but I seldom do. I can't imagine ever doing a mileage run just to get or maintain status--when I am done with business flying, which will be soon, I'll be done with status, and I doubt I'll really miss it.
 

jiml

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
3,380
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
Back when I flew frequently upgrades were plentiful and lounge access was complimentary for AA Platinums on overseas flights, including some really nice partner lounges. Like most things I think a lot of that has gone away. (I'm not near as current as I used to be.) That being said, I have not had a domestic upgrade request fail to clear into at least MCE (extra legroom) or Business/First in the last 5 years. I won't give them all the credit, since with the time flexibility of retirement I tend to pick the specific flights where the most potential exists. As I said in my initial post in this thread, I'm less of an AA fan than I used to be, but have nothing to complain about in my specific experience. Other domestic carriers are a mixed bag - even on premium tickets.
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
12,353
Location
Texas
Pitting American versus Alaska is an interesting dilemma. Alaska looks like a better experience with partner airlines I'm likely to use, but they barely serve my hometown and I'm already on the positive side of AA's earning curve. I could potentially status match after a vaccine becomes available but passing through DFW/PHX/ORD/LAX is much faster and more convenient than SEA. If anything goes wrong AA has many more options to get me back on track again. I think there's a good chance I stay with AA and only move to AS/DL if they do something really stupid or leave me stranded. Speaking of which, AA is the only airline (out of 38) that has ever left me stranded over something within their control.

I rarely fly US airlines internationally (other than NA) and here is our good friend Paul to remind me why that is.


Other than United and American do any other mainstream airlines do the clumsy backward facing seats?
 
Last edited:
Top