Last month I wrote a post questioning if I should aim for United MileagePlus Premier Platinum elite status over simply holding Gold for 2014. And I’ve come to a decision.
As I mentioned:
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.
I’ll be about 11,000 Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs) away from Platinum after my booked flying for the remainder of this year, and I’ve crunched a few numbers that resulted in the following.
If I can’t obtain Premier Platinum for less than $500 by the end of this year, Premier Gold will be more economical and the most valuable status for my travel needs in 2014.
And let me reiterate – my travel needs in 2014 are key in this decision. Many of you told me to go for Platinum without hesitation. But I’ve calculated that I won’t spend more than $500 in Gold-related fees next year that would make gunning for Platinum worth it. And the 25% loss in bonus redeemable miles (and other perks) by being Gold over Platinum also doesn’t calculate to my benefit given my planned flying.
Next year, my United and Star Alliance travel will (likely) consist mainly of mileage redemption awards. And since I’m about to hit lifetime Gold status, I’ll be content with the benefits its status provides on those reservations. My planned trips will be in premium cabins, so comfort and priority services will be included with the ticket, not to mention Star Gold benefits to begin with.
My availability to travel is often extremely flexible, so the main costs I’m factoring into my $500 figure as a Gold are the close in booking fees for awards. The $25 price isn’t so bad to book them, but if I were to change my mind and cancel, it would cost $100 to redeposit the miles.
Also, since I’m flexible, I could see myself needing to pay the $25 change fee on an award as a Gold at the last minute to get a better flight/airline/cabin. But I still don’t think that my total fees in 2014 would exceed $500.
If I were still living in the Los Angeles area, $500 in total spend for the rest of the year in mileage runs (airfare, hotels, parking, etc.) would be feasible for attaining Platinum, but as I’m now living in a less competitive airfare market (Reno), I’m not likely to find the same deals. My latest mileage run is a case in point.
And quite honestly, I don’t think I’ll even spend $500 next year as Premier Gold in fees. But that’s the dollar value I’m placing on my current perceived value of Platinum over Gold.
I’m continually monitoring fares out of Reno, but as of now, I’ll be happy as Premier Gold in 2014. I’m no longer an elite status junkie, nor do I suffer from upgrade phobia, so I think I’m making the right decision.
Would you do the same in my position?
– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.