As February draws to a close, today is the last day to buy elite status from US Airways at a preferential rate–the rate and even ability to do so changes substantially tomorrow. Meanwhile, American Airlines is enticing current elites who face status expiration or reduction tomorrow to buy back their status with a specially-tailored offer.
US Airways has had far and away the best program available to buy up to preferred status. With it, you could buy up to 100,000 miles (top-tier status) having never set foot on a US Airways or Star Alliance flight. Through midnight tonight, you can still take advantage of this deal, but starting tomorrow the program changes for the worse.
As of March 01, 2014, prices roughly double and you will only be able to purchase up to 24,999 miles, the equivalence of one level of elite status. Purchased status is good through February 28, 2015.
Here a chart comparing the old rate and the new rate:
Is it worth it?
It depends on your travel patterns. Chairman Preferred status on US Airways does come with four systemwide upgrades, complimentary space-available upgrades on domestic flights, and a number of other perks. At least for now, reciprocal elite recognition between US Airways and American will be limited and with US Airways departing Star Alliance on March 30, 2014, your elite card will no longer afford you access to all Star Alliance Gold lounges after that date. US Airways has indicated that it will keep a number of Star Alliance members as partners at least for the rest of the year, but we do not know if there will be lounge reciprocity for Dividend Miles elites traveling in economy class.
Elite status is always nice: preferred seats, possible upgrades, shorter hold times, and no baggage fees are nothing to dismiss, but think very carefully whether you will be using these benefits sufficiently to make your purchase worthwhile.
I flew less than 5,000 miles on American Airlines last year as a Platinum member and my status is due to expire tomorrow. Today, American Airlines sent me an e-mail encouraging me to buy back my elite status with a specially-tailored offer. Check out this link for your own offer. Elite status can be purchased for program year 2014 through May 31, 2014 and is good through February 28, 2015.
My offer is not bad. If I intended to truly leave United and fly on American, I actually would be inclined to buy back Platinum status because of the redeemable mileage bonus and waitlist priority for upgrades. Still, if I intended to fly more on American I would never have let my status lapse in the first place.
American used to do a soft-landing for those who lost status, such that customers would only drop one-status tier each year, no matter how much flying they did. Last summer, though, AA announced an end to this policy and thus I will not drop from a Platnium to Gold tomororw, but from a Platnium to a genreal member. I will miss oneworld lounge access…
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Elite status does matter and I cannot imagine flying without it, but buying status only makes sense if you are going to be flying. I have a friend who pays $450 each year for the United Club Card from Chase even though he makes at most two trips each year. When I pointed out that he could just buy passes when he visited the club and come out way ahead, he shrugged and said he just likes having membership.
Don’t make that mistake–buy up only if you will use the benefits!