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Make Your Dream Trip a Reality

Lesson 23 of 32

Airline Status and Upgrades

Chris Guillebeau, Stephanie Zito

Make Your Dream Trip a Reality

Chris Guillebeau, Stephanie Zito

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Lesson Info

23. Airline Status and Upgrades

Lesson Info

Airline Status and Upgrades

Today is lesson twenty two and we're looking all at airline all about airlines status and upgrades in our last lesson we looked at how to get into the secret world of airline lounges and we had a great call with marvin and josephine who joined us from san francisco even though they're normally all over the world and after we had that call, they sent me a message and they said we forgot to say that we want to tell everyone if they follow everything in this course they're goingto have smiles as big as our so so think q marvin and josephine we loved hearing from you and we loved all the tips about getting into airline lounges and today we're gonna talk a little bit more about kind of that whole the whole idea of upgrading your airline experience through through status and an actual upgrades so are three goals for today are toe understand airline up the upgrades gain elite status in airlines we already talked a lot about how to gain v I p status in the hotel world, but how do you get statu...

s in the in the airline world? And we're going to talk about how to match your status or take a challenge we talked about those concepts in less than eighteen become a viper in hotels and now we're going to talk about kind of the same concepts for the airline world so upgrades everybody wants to be upgraded on their plane there's some good news and bad news. Um, the bad news is people don't get upgraded very much just by, uh, asking I think chris mentioned this in the hotel lesson that used to be a long time ago, and my dad was flying at my age that he probably could, you know, dress nice and go to the counter and ask for upgrade and, you know, the counter agent might be ableto bump him up to first class, but you don't get bumped up to first class very much anymore. Based on how nice your dress, pretty much a system determines a lot of that for you. There's really? Only one way you can one hundred percent guarantee that you're gonna be in the front of an airplane and when we say front of an airplane that's kind of points in miles lingo for being in the front of the plane in first or business class, and the way to get that hundred percent guarantee is to actually have a ticket for his seed in first or business class. And but lucky for us, we all know howto actually book one of those tickets now, right? And that includes your tickets, just just a stress that I mentioned briefly award tickets. Justus valid as as paid tickets a revenue tickets you don't have to worry if you have an order ticket that it's going to get downgraded if you have that confirms state that's your confirm seat so you're guaranteed in that case so one of the other things we want to talk about then is elite status and sometimes you might get an upgrade based on your elite status I think I'll let chris talk more about that later because he has actually a lot more experience with this than I do because I've actually in all my years of flying and travelling up until last year I never actually had airline elite status but I've flown all over the world and sat in the front of the plane many times so I just want to say that because I think a lot of people really get fixated on the idea of getting airline status and a lot of times you can get the best benefits by just really smartly planning planning your trips and booking the best tickets so but so some news about earning elite status some bad news there's only a couple ways to do it but there's only one way to do it the hard way and the medium hard way but some good news there's a shortcut to a lot of the benefits so you might not be able to earn the highest levels of elite status because airlines don't tend to go give away or comp status like a lot of the hotel programs, do you can't you can't really get many credit cards that would give you airline status? In fact, I don't think you can get any credit cards and sometimes get a fast track to the status or a head start. You know you could get some cars that might give you ten thousand qualifying miles, you have to get the rest of the way, but you're absolutely right. There's there's not an easy way to just get a single credit card then all of a sudden go to the front of the line because it's, just like you said in the beginning, this is what everyone wants. You know everyone wants to be upgraded. So that's, the bad news, there's a very limited number of seats, so you have to work for it. So how do you actually get airline status? Well, that's the hard way is to qualify for it. The hard way is to fly a lot thie, medium hard way or the easy way I think is coming up in just a moment, but I think first, maybe it's important to illustrate that concept of how how status is granted or how status is measured and you can fly all the time on award tickets, but that doesn't actually count toward your elite status that's what stephanie was doing she kind of you know worked the system to her benefit she didn't have elite status but she was able to take all these great trips so there's award tickets weren't actually earning her qualifying points which wasn't a problem in her case but if your goal is to earn elite status then there's this technical term used in the airline and it's called but in seat this is the actual term misused you have to have but in seat miles to earn elite status and maybe we should demonstrate this like this like my only miles you're not earning what do you think she's earning miles she is not earning miles is she earning miles and miles yes by deceit okay so the point no no I didn't talk a lot you know what my husband once your buckles that's right buckle up come see that's great s o the way you actually are in these statuses is by regularly flying payed tickets and those you know a crew over the time so we're going to talk about a couple of fast tracks or shortcuts there are some uh earning status most programs reset every year is an annual kind of thing if you are in the status you know anytime you're in the status it's ballot all the way through the next year though so that's good but eventually it does kind of shortcut or it does don't expire excuse me, and in terms of the benefits that you get, it varies by tear various by how many of those butt and seat miles how many of those flights that you have sometimes the lowest level status isn't always worth the times is something to consider based on your travel profile if you're an active traveler than that lower level status may not actually help you for very much. Most of the benefits really kick in at the mid tier or the higher tier, but a tte the same time stephanie reminded me earlier. If you're a family traveler, for example, it may actually be worth it if you have, you know, some business travel to try to earn that lower level status, because then when you travel with your family, you can get free checked bags, you get free priority boarding, so there may be some things that help help toward it, but generally I think if you're going to really work toward it, if it's something that matters to you and it's part of your whole travel style, you really want to go for the mid tier or the highest here, which is usually called platinum executive platinum, and can I jump in and say, if you're at the level where you want some of those, the lower lower level benefits are valuable to you, but you might not you might have a hard time reaching that goal ah lot of those lowest double benefits are the same benefits that you can get through a lot of those airline credit cards so like priority boarding, checked baggage, etcetera. Some of those if you're traveling and checking bags quite a lot and not meeting that minimum for the lowest level status, it might be worth it too. Pay the annual fee for one of those cars because if you're traveling with family a four it's gonna cost you two hundred bucks to check your four suitcases these days. So we talked briefly about status matches when we talked all about hotels about the one status to rule them all s o there actually is a status match program for a lot of airlines as well. It is kind of technical and all the rules berry so you can go once again to status match dot com I think it does much as well or as well, in the travel hacking cartel. We try to keep people informed other forums, but I actually did my first status national not my first one. I did a specific one last year. How do we want to do this? We want to talk about one of the audience neighbors hear actually got this god is going to surprise you for a second. I know you're not gonna find us so come on up, scott mind's wonderful scott was you joined me here knowing what I'm sitting way this time is no way I'm sitting one eh? I think he deserves a city one day because he's been very loyal to alaska airlines. How long have you been following alaska airlines? I've been a mile it's planned member since nineteen eighty eight nineteen, eighteen flown them before but it didn't matter do you know how many miles you few phone with alaska four hundred seventy three thousand flown approximately conceit. Okay, but you can put your money. I checked that because there's a little graph at the bottom of my that's. Amazing. Wait, I think we have kind of a really important point there going right here. So four hundred and seventy three and you have status with alaska, right? I do have what status do you have with alaska? I have status which of course started the beginning of the year. And what kind of status is that? What's it called m v p gold. Okay, so in his particular program alaska airlines he has a status called m v p gold. Now I believe until recently correct me if I'm wrong that was the highest status until recently until recently yes alright so he was a top tier elite until recently and then maybe it was last year some point in the last couple years they three years must be I don't know anything they introduced a new status which is called m v p gold seventy five k okay and how many miles a year do you have to fly to keep your status it's seventy five crazy how that works no but figured the gold seven gold forty thousand twenty thousand qualifying way do throw this term around a lot of qualifying miles and maybe we should just explain this briefly right so elite qualifying miles where all the miles that you are each year account for its status all right so it's all of those paid miles sometimes you could earn bonuses like a twenty five percent or fifty percent bonus on your elite qualifying miles so if you took a one thousand mile flight you might actually get credit for twelve fifty or fifty a hundred something like that each airline determines that a bit and I think a common thing that common mistake people make is they think that all the miles you earn in a program like the miles you earn in a programme from your credit card ah lot of people think those counting towards their status when they're just starting out and those miles don't actually count towards earning your status you have to have your but in the seat so those air with those are redeemable miles you can use them for all your words but they don't count toward elite status okay, so the reason we brought scott up here is because until until recently I was actually a very infrequent alaska airlines fire and I would fly them once in a while for a connection or something on the west coast actually went to alaska a couple times and saw you in the middle seat. Actually, I got some hell of a story. We tried to put that out of my my memories, so I was very infrequent. Alaska fire. I think my total alaska mileage was something like seventeen thousand or something. So you had four hundred something thousand and I had seventeen thousand and then last year interesting thing happened. Be familiar with the alaska airlines status match opportunity. I am that's, right? Good. Should I have a seat here? I think you could have been seen as well. Great. Why don't you take it away? So last year chris has executive platinum status in american airlines program, and so what he did was he sent an email to alaska airlines and said I would I'm wondering if you would match my status in your new program and so he was comped alaska airlines m v p seventy m v p gold seventy five case status was given three ways one of the benefits of m v p seventy five kg gold status. You can comp status to someone else not at that level, but as an m v p level. And I never fly alaska airlines. But chris, come to me and vp status, so I can't sit up here in the front with them. But, you know, I would at least get to say the balk at an economy class, but so the interesting point about this is, you know, hopefully, scott, you know, if we were traveling, if we were traveling on the same route, hopefully both our upgrades would clear, right? And we would actually be seated like this, right? But according tio, how the priority queue is listed? If only one of our upgrades were to clear, I'm afraid you would be downgraded despite despite your longtime loyalty to alaska airlines in your four hundred thousand plus miles of fight. So I'm sorry about that. I do apologise, you know, if you need another minute to sit there, it's okay, can I have another way? Tell this example good great job was good e really hope scott, that we're both upgrade s o I tell this example, just say there's the hard way and there's the easy way, you know, I had actually worked pretty hard with american to earn that status, but until recently, alaska wasn't matching at the highest level, but then they're trying to be more competitive in different ways. And so I I read online that I could send an e mail, and I was like, I was in an email, so now I have that set us because of that so that's kind of the easier way to do it. This particular example may not apply to everyone. It probably doesn't. The general principle is, you know, one status to rule them all. If you have something somewhere, you can probably use it for somewhere else, and that may help you with a lot. And also maybe lastly, you know, it's not so much about taking advantage of that carrier since I've had that studies have actually been flying that airline a lot more because I have the benefit. So I'm actually like driving a lot more business to them and this year now I'm thinking, okay, I got matched for a year. They're not going to catch me again next year, right? Eso maybe I actually have to earn it the hard way. So it's, actually good for them and it's. Good for travelers. Just not good for scott. I'm sorry about that, okay, uh, status matching one o one match status when you think you'll need it not before. There's a good reason for that? If it's an airline you actually actually plan to use or you want to use it some point in the future, you don't actually just want to have it for no random reason unless it's a random airline on dh that's because we'll talk about it more in a second, but that matt status matches air usually only once for lifetime or once for five years or there's various restrictions on it. So you wont kind of want to make it count. Last year I thought, okay, I could actually use this, so I went ahead and did it. But having said that status on airlines you don't always fly can still benefit you sometimes there's actually an offer for free status somewhere it's usually in an airline that you've never heard of. For the most part, somewhere in europe, somewhere in asia and the middle east. If you had to see that offer come up like we talked about it in trouble hacking cartel, or you can read it on a block or something, you might as well go through the hoops and just kind of fill out your information or something, because as we talked about one status could be matched to another one, but you never know it's totally free can I just jump in there? One of the interesting things from our last lesson on airline lounges, we talked about how you can't get into a domestic lounge in the us even if you have a first class ticket with elite status on that airline, but if you have a lead status in unturned national program, you can actually access that, and so, so if I had my alaska and vp status, I couldn't access most of the lounges in the states, but if I match that, say to you turkish airlines, which does a lot of status matches, I could have that gold level in turkish airlines, and that would get me into any start that would allow me to get into star alliance lounges in the u s because it's not on a u s based carrier airline, does that make sense important point? Eso also may be related to that you can't usually match between airlines in the same alliance they usually have kind of a non compete claws in that way, so british airways is supposed to try to steal members from qantas. They're supposed to all cooperate, so generally a status matches is offered when you're actually going outside that family of airlines or you're actually it's a competitive situation, and you, the travel are essentially offering teo bring more business to a competitive competing carrier. We do have a couple status mass secrets, I forgot to get my black hat I'm wondering if I could get a black hat because this isn't black at information that are gonna throw it to me that's awesome yeah thank you created life so awesome cool remember when I put on the black hat I'm talking about things that you kind of use at your own risk just want you to be informed you do with it what you want um so I mentioned that most status matches our once for lifetime just in the for the sake of ah confidential conversation not being broadcast tens of thousands of people on the internet can anyone think of a way that we might overcome this obstacle pretty close actually name change you could also just opened a new account right? Because the status matches always tied to an account number so that would be an opportunity if you had one set us match in a couple of years go by and you're like oh I need it again that might work for you and then we actually talked about this a little bit already sometimes a status match offer just like various promotional offers requires a local address from a different country. Stephanie actually told us the story of moving to india last year so maybe that's actually the answer you can move to you also live in abu dhabi two definitely lives all over the world for all sorts of different offers I think this is maybe one of the examples that he had guessed. They did a gold tear match. They had this status match offer. That was very easy. But you had to live in abu dhabi. So that's, what you do with that, you can do with it as you will. And, uh, everyone here in the studio audience has a workbook lot of people following along at home also have a workbook if you don't it's. Okay, but we have a quick activity, which is to compare any current airlines that issue have to any available matching opportunities. Uh, does anyone remember how you could do that? There's a website. Okay, so two things, very good status, nature dot com on then this reminds me that we have been talking about so many links, you know, throughout this whole course. So one of the things that we wanted to do is try to make it easy to organize all the different information there's so much that's available. So if you're watching this and you're like, I just can't keep up, you can go to travel. Hacking dot org's slash dream trip. And we're putting a ton of information there there's a free email siri's you can sign up there's a special offer you can sign up for but if you don't even want to offer all this information is going to be free and there's also a facebook group we're going to be discussing this stuff so if you get the concept you have some questions come on in there I'll be there except me I'll be there lots of other folks some of the in studio audience will be with us as well anything else from you know that's wonderful okay would love to hear if anybody have any questions about what we discussed so far yeah sorry again for downgrading u scott yeah I can see that you're sorry about that yeah not a sorry is me can you talk to us about the idea because in flyer talk and mileage points and stuff like that they always talk about the mileage run and it's kind of a quick trip to status although you start to have your butt in the seats right but I have made on more than one occasion on occasional trip across the country just to get up to that next level great does everyone else know what a mileage run is last night you need to get to mileage run is essentially a trip that's book solely for the purpose of learning elite qualifying miles so you wouldn't mileage running an award ticket you probably wouldn't mileage one run for no other find a reason but yes don't you think I mean the benefit for me and my family for me to be m v p gold I get the double miles I wave the change fees check bags or free they're really nice to me on the phone I cut to the front of the line everywhere I'm living the lifestyle love to become accustomed to so it is very difficult even though I don't always get first class because I'm bumped by tear match people like you but but I still feel you know cause a human in the exit for a while but I get those other benefits so it's worth it it's worth it that's where it should be gold that's right it's worth it for you yeah yeah and so I think there are a lot of business travelers it is really worth it if you're a business traveler especially in the us and you're on a plane all the time having that status is really helpful it is really nice to get to go to the front of the line and not wait and not have to worry about not being able to put your bag and I have to check your bag because there's no more room so there are some really great benefits for elite status and a lot of people who really make the most of it and so that's another thing part of its wing, if you need that status or not and, you know, for the mileage when we didn't really talk about that in the course, we can talk about it more in the facebook group of people have questions, but the whole concept of the mileage run is too, you know, boost if you're if you're missing some of those miles, you need to reach that elite status you you know, you take some, you try to find some really cheap long distance flights. I actually did a mileage run this year on christmas night because it's, the cheapest day you can fly to hawaii. Who knew? And I was exactly like I was exactly the number of miles I calculated it all out because I'm gonna take this trip and I think I wound up thirteen miles over what I needed for my american platinum status, but I flew to hawaii, and then I routed myself back from hawaii to phoenix to see san diego to phoenix to portland, and it was exactly what I needed, and I got my status for the year and it was worth it. Plus, I had a great, you know, a couple days in hawaii, right? And a good top in phoenix and san diego and phoenix, so you do it when it works for you? Yeah, basically it's what's your question quick, so pretty much when you know, you see those posts are advertisements for the cheap flight, you know, you want to kind of capitalized on those to accrue miles to gain the status is if you're looking, if you're running and if not that's her. So yeah, actually, if you are interested in this flyertalk actually does have a really good sub forum devoted to this fire talk dot com and search for mileage run for him. People will kind of post up all these deals like what's the best possible deal to get the lowest possible price and five the most particular miles from any given destination. My question is in regards to what stephanie was saying earlier about getting a new another address elsewhere, so I just wanted to know if people outside the states can get an address in the states and take advantage off all this airline deals in the states, all of the deals, yes, the credit cards no, because the credit card application is totally a separate things, but for any any deal that we would need a u s address for, certainly we actually have an address in the back of the workbook and says you can send us postcards, they're from your dream trip, but you can also feel free to use that address. You know, this is something that we teach actually offered this for members of the tribal hacking cartel for international folks if you need to have anything set, you can have it sent to a mailbox in in portland, but anybody here can do that as well. I often use a friend's a friend's address in a different place. I worked for a global organization for a long time that has offices all over the world. There's you know, a lot of different ways you confined addresses there's hotels that have long term resident sees they're used to having a lot of people come and go actually send the card to that address that you don't need anybody else that I really need a physical car for us ok, follow up question for the status match for for flight so you went to alaska and you said, hey, like I want I want to get matched on this because I'm here what's their incentive to match you like what's there and send it to be like, okay, sure, like we'll give you these. You want me to become a loyal customer of alaska and I've demonstrated that I have a lot of paid travel on a competing carrier, so they're not so in their eyes they're trying to match a targeted a group of people they're trying to match targeted group of usually business travelers but anyone who travels frequently who are you know, flying on similar routes or would otherwise be advantageous but they don't really do a lot of filtering like that's the intent the intent is we want we want more loyal customers for our airline but once they kind of set it up it's kind of hard to enforce it so they a lot of people end up coming over and getting the status and not using it that much but that doesn't really harm anyone either because if they're not flying that much you know it's it's not really adding anything so their hope is that more more people will be loyal to them what's the most important thing you learned today anyone feel free to share madigan I think the state the matching thing is like a very interesting to me like they know that they respect your business and your status nothing at school yeah, I just was you said I think stephenie towards the beginning that airline status isn't everything and just to be aware of what you're sort of working ford and if that is something that is of value to you, you have a family and baggage and whatever exactly instead of just going for status on lee, it all goes back to your profile and your style and why you need to travel and what works for you and making those choices wisely I think it's really wise that scott has that status on alaska, but if I was spending all my time chasing alaska status, it probably wouldn't benefit me a whole lot. You know, I want my people to go through this course and and really get something out of it. I don't want them to spend like they're limited time and energy pursuing something that's gonna have, like, a low level reward that's why we want to provide all the information and so for some people, it's gonna be great. Others like like stephanie said, she didn't have to have that status to have all these experiences we've been talking about all all this time. So that's, why it's like let's, figure out what works best for you? Emphasize that over and over. Maybe one more thing I learned something. I learned that whenever I'm flying with scott, you know, hopefully we're both gonna be upgraded. But whether it's fair or not, for some reason in the queue, the m v p gold seventy five k goes ahead of him, but maybe next year I'll five maybe he'll let you, uh, I'll switch with you since you're taller. That's, right? Maybe I'll maybe I'll go with them on the horizon flight anyway.

Class Description

Who wouldn’t love to know how to earn enough miles and points for two airline tickets and three hotel nights? In Make Your Dream Trip a Reality, Chris Guillebeau and Stephanie Zito can show you how it's done. 

Travel feeds our creative spirits, allows us to discover new viewpoints, and fuels our work. In this class, you’ll find out how you can make your dream of journeying to the world’s most far-flung places a practical and affordable reality.

Chris and Stephanie have made it their life's mission to help others experience all the thrill and adventure that world travel can offer. In Make Your Dream Trip a Reality. 

Chris and Stephanie will help you: 

  • Master the system of Frequent Flier miles and hotel points
  • Set up a personal points-earning strategy – even if you don’t fly
  • Upgrade your dream vacation experience at no cost to you

In short, daily lessons, Chris and Stephanie will cover all aspects of how to plan your vacation including financing your trip. You’ll learn how to set your savings and point-earning strategy so you are armed with everything you need to relax and enjoy your vacation once you depart. They’ll teach you how to book flights and hotels so you get the very best experience at the absolute best rate. You’ll also get insider tips from professional globetrotters on traveling solo and as a family.

By the end of this course you’ll learn everything you need to know to save money, minimize hassle, and make the most of your travel experience.

Your dream destination, and a life of regular traveling, is now available to you – no matter your budget. 



Highly recommended! This is one of the best CreativeLive courses I've ever taken and a great value. There's a lot of excellent information here, presented in a fun and accessible way. The CL "boot camp" approach was perfect for this topic because it dispenses the material in bite size pieces with very doable action steps along the way. The corresponding Facebook group adds even more value and camaraderie. It's a great place to clear up any questions or confusion that may come up. What an amazing resource! By the end of the course, not only will you have learned a tremendous amount, you will actually have something tangible to show for it!

a Creativelive Student

This is a fabulous course. Stephanie and Chris are both so knowledgeable, helpful, and easy going. They clearly love and practice what they're teaching. And they're open to learning from the students too. The course is packed with information, delivered in an immediately useful way. In fact, they emphasize again and again that the point is to USE the information to REALLY take your "Dream Trip" soon! The Facebook group is the best I've ever experienced with an online course. Stephanie and Chris are remarkably present, responsive, understanding, and generous with their knowledge and experience. I highly recommend this course.