Confessions of an Elite Status Junkie: Part One

I’ve experienced quite a few life events during the past year… well… the past 14 years to be completely honest, which have significantly changed who I am as a person. But the happenings of the past few months in particular have been instrumental for a major change in my identity composition.

And they’ve altered my seemingly hard-wired need for elite status with airlines, hotels or anything else really.

Flying and travel will always be a requirement in my DNA makeup for overall happiness. I’ve never felt more serene, enlightened and satisfied than I do when I fly, travel and explore the world. That will never change.

But what has happened lately is a realization that a portion of my “sickness,†if you will, has been an irrational attachment for needing to sit up front, needing to be first in line and needing to be recognized as important in the travel industry.

a man sitting in a chair holding a rose

Darren, the elite status junkie

I touched on this briefly in my post, Buh-Bye Upgrade Phobia: Rediscovering the Joy of Coach Travel, where I wrote, “Chasing the high of earning top-tier status and getting upgrades these past few years has really suppressed some of my natural joy.â€

I want to come clean even more than that with a full-scale confession of sorts. And so, I’ve decided to write a few posts (I don’t know exactly how many yet) explaining my history of elite-icism, its progression and some embarrassing, yet revealing DYKWIA (do you know who I am?!) moments. It’s a healthy exercise for me, and I thought it would be an interesting diversion from my normal blog topics.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m writing, though. There are enormous benefits to holding airline and hotel elite status. And I will certainly still be monitoring, blogging about and probably participating in (when they’re of true benefit) many of the status-inducing promotions and programs.

That said, there are some over-the-top and ridiculous articles out there reporting that airline loyalty and holding elite status is a sham (yes, I’m looking at you Christopher Elliott). But there are others more thoroughly thought out and meaningful rebutting such claims, such as always spot-on Gary Leff, aka View from the Wing.

What I want to do in this series is reveal my experience with travel loyalty programs, their addictiveness, and why and how I’ve “woken up†to a different reality – beginning with where it all started.

Stay tuned next week for the next installment, “The Quest, the Challenge, the Addiction Begins.â€

– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.


Buh-Bye Upgrade Phobia: Rediscovering the Joy of Coach Travel

Using Premier Accelerator as a Fast Track to United Elite Status

Pondering United Premier Platinum Over Gold for 2014

Rumor: Did American Airlines Leak Its New Elite Status Requirements



  1. “elite-icism, its progression and some embarrassing, yet revealing DYKWIA (do you know who I am?!) moments”

    I don’t know what your talking about 🙂

    Look forward to the series.

  2. I’ve also gotten to the point where I’ve really started to think about if it’s all worth it. I look forward to hearing your perspective.

  3. Yeah, really looking forward to it. I was cured of Elite Slut Syndrome (ESS) last Christmas when I had a close call with God. So, effective 1/1/13 I am a free agent. I am still a slut but whore out myself for the cheapest ticket:-)
    Well, I still hold Silver Medallion in Delta but I hated them jackarses with a passion I have not given them a dime. And I prefer spending miles on tickets. Flying domestic at the back is just NOT going to kill us. Of course prefer flying up front internationally. This is my story and I am sticking to it. Hope you make it more entertaining;-)

  4. It will be interesting to read….

    Having said that, I continue to think the benefits of top elite status are totally worthwhile, if you have to travel a lot:

    Superior treatment and recovery in IRROPs

    Not having to think about checked bag fees

    Same day change

    Better economy seats – exit rows, extra leg room

    And sitting in a first class seat makes every flight more productive and healthier – by which I mean that I am better rested and less cramped feeling – of course I am tall with very long legs. Yet I couldn’t and/or wouldn’t have spent for the F or C fare – because it’s too expensive and/or I can’t afford it and it won’t be reimbursed. So when the airline has inventory, top elite can get me that seat

    So…. I am prepared to be unconvinced!

  5. @Gene: Ha! I’ll have more for you later this week. 😉
    @TravelBloggerBuzz: Close calls and other major events are definitely at the core of turning around my “ESS,” as you name it. And you’re right… flying in economy isn’t going to kill us. Well, most of us.
    @Carl: I can’t disagree that the perks of holding top elite status are usually great (when they “work” properly). But it’s just not worth achieving in the manner I’ve been doing it for years… just for the sake of doing it. More in the next post!

  6. Really appreciate that you are coming “clean” like this. I’ve flip-flooped so many times over the years in regards to airline status so I know exactly where you are coming from…sometimes all that chasing top status really DOES take the fun out of traveling and flying. It’ll be interesting to hear your story.

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