Elite Status Matching

Elite Status Matching

Editor’s Note: The following is an extremely valuable bit of news and opinion compiled by Gary Leff, a long-time friend of and contributor to Inside Flyer.

As we approach the end of a benefits year, airlines are beginning to reveal changes to their frequent flyer programs for 2004. They want more revenue at a lower cost. Their static models probably predict that their changes will accomplish this. Some may, some may not.

But I believe it’s important for us to remember that while they’re doing their job, we don’t have to be sympathetic. After all, we’re customers, and we have every right to seek out the product that best fits our needs. If an airline program offers a better deal for our flying and buying patterns, by all means we should take advantage of that offer!

And many airlines make it easier for us to do so — by matching our current status with elite privileges in their program.

One of the most frequently asked questions on FlyerTalk, throughout the various forums, is “Will airline X match my titanium status in the Infinite Airways program?” or something to that effect. And since fellow flyers are beginning to think about their plans for 2004, I thought I’d take a stab at summarizing the “who will match what? and how do I do it?” conventional wisdom.

Let me also note that getting comped from one airline in an alliance to another airline in an alliance is usually much harder. Airlines often have “no poaching” rules, so that United is usually unwilling to match Lufthansa status, and Continental and Northwest are generally unwilling to match each others’ status. There are documented exceptions, of course, and the closeness of the alliance is often a factor here. But showing elite status outside of an alliance often produces better results.

Of course, this is general advice. It doesn’t work in every case. And my knowledge may be superceded by better and more recent information. But this is what I’ve collected over time.

So here goes:

Alaska
Will match status, generally to equivalent level — with mid-tier on most carriers being equivalent to Alaska’s MVP Gold (top-tier). Fax a copy of your current elite statement or membership card to:
Mileage Plan Customer Service
(206) 433-3477.

America West
Will match status, generally to equivalent level up to Platinum (top-tier).

Send a copy of your current elite statement or elite card along with a note explaining you’d like to shift your business to them if they’ll match your current status to:
Attn: Nancy Richards
Elite Match Program
America West Airlines
PO Box 20050
Phoenix, AZ 85036
Or via fax: (480) 693-8023

American
American will consistently match United status to equivalent level up to mid-tier (Platinum). They are quirkier about matching status from other carriers. Sometimes they’ll offer Gold status. Sometimes they’ll just ask you to complete a challenge (miles flown in 90 days). Sometimes they’ll offer Gold status and a challenge for Platinum.
P.O. Box 619688
DFW Int’l Airport, TX
75261-9688

Continental
Will match status, generally to equivalent level up to Platinum (top tier).

They seem concerned about fraud, so require a bunch of information:

  • A copy of your current elite status card.
  • A copy of your latest elite statement.
  • A copy of your current OnePass Membership Card.
  • A copy of your current OnePass statement.

    Along with a note explaining you’d like to shift your business to them if they’ll match your current status.

    Mail To:
    Continental Airlines
    OnePass Service Center
    Attn: OnePass Match Program
    P O Box 4365
    Houston, TX 77210-4365

    Or overnight it to:
    Continental Airlines
    OnePass Service Center
    9999 Richmond Avenue, Suite 112
    Houston, TX 77042

    Delta
    Will match status, generally to equivalent level up to Gold (mid-tier).

    Send a copy of your current elite statement or elite card along with a note explaining you’d like to shift your business to them if they’ll match your current status to:

    Delta SkyMiles Service Center
    Attn: Elite Status Match
    Via fax: (404) 715-9220

    (There are recent reports of Delta offering “challenges” in response to status match requests — that is, fly x segments in y days for status.)

    Mexicana
    Will match status, generally to equivalent level up to Gold (top-tier).

    You can make your request by emailing customerservice@mexicana.com.mx and saying that you’d like to move your business to Mexicana if they’ll match your status.

    You will be requested to provide proof of your current elite status by forwarding a copy of your current airline elite card or elite statement. A scan attached to an email reply will suffice.

    If you don’t hear back in a few days, email again. Mexicana is just like that.

    Northwest
    Northwest will match status, but they’re quirky.

    Sometimes they’ll match to equivalent level up to Gold (mid-tier). Other times they reject status match requests outright. I’m not an expert as to why.

    Send:
    Your WorldPerks account number, copies of your most recent (2) elite mileage statements.

    They will not accept:
    Travel agency reports, letters of elite status, membership cards indicating elite status with another airline, travel itineraries.

    Mail information to:
    Manager WorldPerks Operations
    601 Oak St,
    Chisholm MN 55719-1995
    Or by fax to (218) 254-7567

    United
    Will match status, generally to equivalent level up to Premier Executive (mid-tier).

    Send a copy of your current elite statement or elite card along with a note explaining you’d like to shift your business to them if they’ll match your current status to:
    Mileage Plus Service Center
    Attention: Premier Status Match
    P.O. Box 28870
    Tucson, AZ 85726
    Or via Fax: (520) 881-4458

    US Airways
    Will match status, generally to equivalent level up to Chairman’s Preferred (top-tier).

    Send a copy of your current elite statement or elite card along with a note explaining you’d like to shift your business to them if they’ll match your current status to:
    Carol Blazer, Manager
    US Airways Dividend Miles Service Center
    Post Office Box 5
    Winston-Salem, NC 27105-0005
    Or fax to (336) 661-8216

    Airlines that will not generally match status:

  • Air Canada
  • Lufthansa
  • British Airways — with some exceptions for very significant revenue
  • Air France

    There are exceptions to every rule, as I’ve heard reports that Lufthansa is easy to get a comp from if you’re in Turkey or China.

    Bear in mind that status matches are generally one-time only affairs — so only request the match if you plan to use the status and re-qualify. Otherwise it’s a future opportunity wasted.

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