2019 May Be My Last Year Of Top-Tier Airline Status….And I Really Don’t Mind


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It’s a statement that seems almost sacrilegious for a miles and points blogger to type but nevertheless it’s true – next year may well be the last year I hold top-tier airline status for some time.

I’ve had American Airlines Executive Platinum status for what feels like forever and next year I’ll be swapping that for British Airways Gold status (which I’ve already earned).

I’ve enjoyed the perks and privileges that come with top-tier oneworld status and I’ve made very good use of it on my travels over the recent years…but my priorities have now changed. I’m tired of chasing top-tier status and I’m tired of missing out on experiences on other airlines because the chase dictates that I do just that.

American Airlines Business Class 777-300ER

I’ve flown on a wide variety of airlines over the years but my quest to re-qualify for “the holy grail” every year has seen me push most of my flights to airlines in the oneworld alliance. I haven’t spent nearly enough time flying airlines like Delta, JetBlue and Southwest (domestically) and I’d love more time with the likes of Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, Norwegian, Thai, United and Air New Zealand internationally.

Sure, that’s not exactly a glamorous list I’ve just typed but for most of us flying isn’t about glamour, it’s about getting from A to B in comfort (and at a low cost) and I’d like to know more about what those airlines have to offer.

If nothing else my quest to branch out should give me a much greater variety of reviews write and it will probably give me an even better perspective of what’s on offer to everyone who chooses to fly.

Another big part of what led me to this position is that I’m finally fed up of flying with airlines that I don’t actually like – I’ve been doing a lot of that over the past few years. The nature of my travels and the cities I live in dictate that I’ll still have to do some flying with American and BA but I’m especially looking forward to breaking away from those two.

I’m tired of the flight attendant lottery you have to play when flying AA (I’m a paying customer not an inconvenience) and tired of the bad cabins that both airlines offer on a lot of their aircraft (I exclude American’s long-haul Business Class from that group) so I’m not going to miss any of that – it will be interesting to see how other airlines compare after I’ve spent more time with them.

Plans For Next Year

I already have over 83,000 miles of flights booked (or very firmly planned) for next year but, because those trips include a number of award bookings (like my Rio trip courtesy of the crazy Iberia Plus promotion) and because they’re not all in Business/First Class, I’m still going to be significantly short of top-tier status in any airline program you choose to mention….and that’s ok by me.

I have lifetime American Airlines Platinum status to fall back on and, although that’s a significantly devalued status, it still comes with all the oneworld Sapphire privileges I really use (priority check-in, priority boarding, international Business Class lounge access etc…). I also have Priority Pass membership so I’ll have access to lounges even when I’m not flying with oneworld airlines.

All of that will do me just fine.

Next year I’m hoping to finally try out United’s Polaris Business Class cabin (possibly on its new 787-10 Dreamliner) and possibly even the SWISS 777-300ER Business Class cabin….but I’m also hoping to branch out a bit further.

SWISS 777-300ER
SWISS 777-300ER Business Class – Image SWISS

It doesn’t have to be all about First/Business Class so, ideally, I’d like to use 2019 to start reviewing all the Premium Economy Cabins that are on offer (initially focusing on the transatlantic cabins) just to see what they’re really like.

Premium Economy doesn’t seem to get nearly as much spotlight time as Business Class so, with a lot more people having access to Premium Economy than Business Class, it seems only right that I start finding out just exactly how good or bad the options are.

I’ve already got American Airlines Premium Economy booked and I’ve got plans to try the new Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy cabin which we should see rolled out in Q3 when the airline takes delivery of its new Airbus A350 aircraft. I’m hoping to be able to add Norwegian Premium and Delta Premium select to the list of cabins I try next year and I may even see what United’s new Premium Economy cabin on the 787-10 Dreamliner is like (although trying the Business Class cabin on that aircraft is a priority).

Bottom Line

Looking at my spreadsheet of flights for next year and realising that there’s no real path to top-tier status is a little strange but it’s also quite liberating. I’m genuinely looking forward to having the chance to fly with a few more airlines and to picking flights/cabins I want to fly rather than those that inch me closer to top-tier status.

It has been a lot of fun having access to some of the nicer First Class lounges around the world and I’ll make sure that I make the most of that access for the final year I’ll have it (giving up the Qantas Lounge at LAX will be hardest)….but that access isn’t as important to me as it once was.

Business Class lounges are mostly good enough for my needs and the pay-offs I’ll get from no longer feeling tied to a small group of airlines will far outweigh any loss I feel as I walk past the first lounge I no longer have access to.

In 2019 I’ll be visiting Rio and Venice for the first time, exploring Sydney with Joanna (her first visit), reacquainting myself with Hong Kong, New York, Miami, Singapore and Stockholm and probably visiting a lot of other places on trips I have yet to book…so I’m incredibly lucky.

I was starting to feel a little jaded from all the traveling I’ve done over the past 10+ years but, now that I’m looking upon my travels in a new light and with new freedom, I’m feeling a little re-energized and looking forward to getting back out there flying around the world again.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Same for me. Leaving UA 1k status end of next year. Will be choosing flights based on schedule and cost rather than prioritizing UA. Feeling liberated. Some of the routes will be UA still, but there is a lot of competition out of SFO for international routes, which is most of my travel.

    • It’s funny how many options/alternatives one can find when status is no longer the primary aim – that was one of the biggest things I realised when I started looking around

  2. @Ziggy —> It’s one thing to “give up” top-tier status cold turkey, but that means far less once you admit, “I have lifetime American Airlines Platinum status to fall back on and, although that’s a significantly devalued status, it still comes with all the oneworld Sapphire privileges I really use…” So, in other words, you will STILL have high status on AA and all Oneworld carriers. Not quite the same as not having top-tier status, period.

    As for Priority Pass, you can now join the rest of us who get turned away from various lounges because — due to overcrowding — the lounge is no longer permitting access to PP members.

  3. The title of the post is “2019 may be the last year I have top-tier status” which, in itself, should suggest that I’ll still have some sort of status otherwise I would have called the post “2019 may be the last year I have airline status”.

    The two things are very different and distinct and you appear to be confusing the two.

    This post wasn’t anything to do with giving up airline status altogether – it was a discussion about giving up the chase for top-tier status (specifically) in order to get more flying done on other airlines and to get away (as much as possible) from two airlines I don’t particularly like.

    Had I been discussing giving up the chase for status altogether and then pointed out that I had lifetime status to fall back ou you would have had a valid point – as it is, however, I don’t believe you do.

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