“To Plat or not to Plat, that is the question.” I started pondering this last night after updating my mileage spreadsheet to see that after flying what I have booked for the rest of the year, I’ll be about 11,000 miles short of Premier Platinum next year.
I had long resigned myself not to go for Premier 1K anymore, much prior to United’s new Premier Qualifying Dollar requirement that was announced. Lifetime Gold was going to be perfectly sufficient for my future travels after hitting million-miler this year, but then I starting thinking about my flying plans in 2014.
Whether or not to strive for a higher (or any) elite status really comes down to two considerations:
- Your planned flying in the following calendar year; and
- Would the value of benefits earned with higher status exceed the cost to get them.
And that second part is enormously relative to the individual considering this question, so a hard answer of yes or no ends up being a very personal decision.
While I determine what to do, I thought I’d at least post about it now while I’m in my thinking phase, as you might be in a similar position. And with a little more than four months of status-chasing time left in the year, it’s a perfect time to do so.
First, here’s a breakdown of Premier Gold versus Platinum MileagePlus benefits:
- Phone service fee: While you can (and I do 95% of the time) accomplish most everything online yourself, Premier Plats have no fee whereas Golds are dinged $25. I doubt this particular benefit will factor in much, but it’s something I need to consider.
- Premium cabin award availability: Platinums and above receive enhanced award availability by means of dedicated fare buckets in premium cabins. Having this perk this year saved me 25,000 miles on an award when the normal fare bucket didn’t offer availability. It was the exception, though, as I normally see both buckets at the same inventory level.
- Close-in award booking fee: As I typically redeem miles for international premium cabins, many Star Alliance partners don’t open up space until days before departure, so it would cost me $25 for each ticket as a Gold, but free as a Plat.
- Award redeposit fee: I tend to use this benefit a lot, and the $100 fee for Golds is pretty steep. The no-fee perk for Plats is huge here.
- Award change fee: Similar to the close-in booking fee, I’d save $25 for each change to an award ticket as a Plat, another benefit I’ve used extensively in the past.
Other notable benefits at the Platinum level that are strong cases to go for it include earning Regional Premier Upgrades, 25% more redeemable miles on paid tickets and higher upgrade priority. But again, the decision to obtain a certain status depends on the two considerations I mentioned above. So for my planned flying next year, they’re not motivating factors at this point.
I’ll be crunching the numbers during the coming days and will follow-up with a new post outlining my decision in the future.
Are you in a similar “should I or shouldn’t I” situation? What is your 2014 elite status goal?
– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.