There’s a recent article from the New York Times titled “Have Elite Fliers Been Downgraded?” Even before reading the article, just seeing the title had me nodding my head. Yes, absolutely yes, in my experience, the elite experience is being diluted regularly. The article states because there are more Elites, perks previously available only to actual frequent fliers are now credit card bonuses, andsome perks you can simply pay for (better seating, etc), that it’s frankly just not that special to be Elite anymore.
Sure, we still get to board first, and there are certainly the occasional upgrades. And I would definitely rather be one than not! But I’ve been feeling for a while that the bonuses of being Elite now are not nearly as good as when I started traveling all the time six years ago. Flights are so full that I rarely get upgraded or am able to get on an earlier flight. Even when I call in for assistance, the agents aren’t that helpful. I guess I get where the airlines are coming from—if they can make more money by selling perks, then why not? But it still feels like the 80,000-100,000 miles I fly per year don’t mean anything. Also, I’ve noticed that, for American anyway, elite qualifying miles are harder to come by. For example, in 2010 I flew to Manila once. I ended up with about 85,000 EQMs, which got me to Platinum. I figured that in 2011 I would go to Manila twice, which would get me over the Executive Platinum hurdle. No such luck. In fact, even though I flew more actual miles in 2011, and went to Manila TWICE, I had fewer EQMs than the year before. Bummer. And of course this year, I’ll be taking several months out of my traveling schedule while having a baby, and will be lucky to hit Gold.
All that being said, I am still grateful for the perks I do still get—early boarding, better seat selection, speedier security line, free checked bags. I enjoy the occasional upgrade, although I don’t take them for granted anymore. Still, it would be great if we felt valued for our business…..
Readers, what have your experiences been? Do you feel your Elite experience has been diluted? Anyone disagree with me and think it’s as great as ever?