Value of Gold Status

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by prometheusg, Mar 2, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. prometheusg
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    prometheusg Silver Member

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    I have an opportunity to do a challenge for gold status later this year. I could delay a trip by about a week to the second half of June in order to do the challenge then and earn status for all of next year. I doubt I'll be flying anymore this year, but my wife and I plan to travel for several months next year on award tickets. The difference in cost is about $400 each from discount tickets to full fare tickets (necessary to complete the challenge) + cost of the challenge. Do you guys think that's worth it or should we just skip it and get discount tickets? I'm trying to figure out the real benefit to us.
     
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  2. tw116
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    tw116 Gold Member

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    i would say, absolutely, do the challenge. you would earn the benefit of upgrading before a flight, and no bag fees are my top 2. you said you may not fly again this year, but it is only march. once you start to get the taste of some of the privileges, you may make the choice to fly more and continue to align yourself american. once you get the taste of having the status, it is hard to give up. as an exp, i look forward every year to continue earning the benefits.
     
  3. Wurm
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    Wurm Silver Member

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    Ability to select exit row seating at time of booking is the top benefit on my list. Also, besides no bag fees, there's the 25% RDM bonus and you get minimum 500 on short segments.
     
  4. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    OP won't be upgrading those award flights they are planning on taking next year.
     
  5. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    This is one of those questions that is impossible for anybody else to answer but you. I can tell you if it would be worth it to me, but I can't tell you if it would be worth it to you. You can read about the benefits of being Gold on AA.com. What are those benefits worth to you?

    As an example, in many airports Gold status will allow you to use a special TSA security line for elites, first and business class. To me, that's not worth much, as I tend to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. For you, it could also be worth not much, or it could be worth a lot, I have no way of knowing what it is worth to you. But you know. So why ask me what that is worth to you?
     
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  6. Gemac is right, impossible to make up your mind for you, too many variables. Time for a little self-determination.
     
  7. ashill
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    ashill Active Member

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    For me, I'm nearly always able to book exit row seats on flights booked more than a few weeks in advance (nearly all of my flights). I'd guess that the Priority AAccess check-in and security lines can save 10-30 minutes of standing in line at large airports*. ORD is the large AA station I fly out of far more than any other, and there are rarely more than two or three parties in front of me at the elite check-in line (which typically has at least 2-4 agents working the line), whereas the non-elite check-in line can be very long. At smaller stations, it typically doesn't make much of a difference time-wise. Obviously, when you're flying is a huge factor here. If you're not checking bags and can use the check-in machines or on-line check in, that makes much less difference.

    I also normally get right through to a phone agent when calling as an elite; I recall a 45 minute wait when I was not an elite (but I only called once or twice as a non-elite).

    Other than that, I agree that the benefits are pretty well spelled out on AA's web site. Personally, I pay something of a premium on individual flights to fly with AA status (now Gold, Plat last year), but I probably wouldn't pay ≈$600 to get Gold status. It will be easier to answer specific questions about the benefits listed (eg how does XYZ work in practice?) than the general, open-ended question.

    *I haven't flown AA without status in a few years, so I can't speak from experience about the non-elite line other than observing it and experience on other airlines as a non-elite.
     
  8. Tenmoc
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    Tenmoc Gold Member

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    I always like to have some status with the airline I'm flying. It helps get seats together/ahead of time etc.

    But if all you'll be flying in the next 18-20 months is awards, I am not so sure about this.

    That said, I have found when I have some status on an airline I'm more likely to fly more often than I planned ahead of time. Only you can decide. But $400 each plus the cost of the challenge when you state you'll get almost no benefit out of it is not something I'd do unless I thought I might decide later to do more.

    One other point. Would it be cheaper to do a Mileage Run instead of upfaring the flights you are planning?
     
  9. dartboard
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    dartboard Active Member

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    Doesn't seem worth it to me, mostly for the reasons already given. As much as I'd miss status, it isn't worth $500+ for the level of flying you anticipate. In dollars there's the baggage fee, the late booking fee for award travel and the extra mileage. In comfort there's the security line and the exit row (and 500 mile upgrades if you've got them banked).

    The only thing I'll add is that American has become absolutely brutal with online seat choice for non-elites, way beyond the exit row. You can look at flights a month out and hardly see anything but middle seats, and then after you log-in the whole plane is wide open.
     
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  10. prometheusg
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    prometheusg Silver Member

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    Thanks for the input thus far. I realize I kind of worded my cost badly and at least a couple of you think it's $400+ challenge cost. It's actually about $400 total, including challenge cost.

    Tenmoc, I can't do a mileage run because I'd already be delaying my ticket by a week to do the challenge after June 15th. Once I get to my destination, I won't be travelling again until I have to leave (job in foreign country). Upfaring and a bit of extra routing is the only way I'll be able to get the miles needed to complete the challenge in one flight.

    Most of my flights next year will be foreign travel (mostly Europe, but possibly some Asia, too), so I don't expect to be dealing with TSA or domestic airports much. And my home airport is tiny, so there's no status shortcut line. What's the benefit of gold (or ruby) status internationally? I think the fee for 1st bag is waived for most international flights, isn't it? So we'd get one extra bag for free. Seat choice is something my wife does care about, though. The late booking fee for award travel might come in handy, but it's hard to tell this far out. Hoping we'll have most of our stuff planned out well in advance.

    I'm leaning towards skipping the challenge for now. Maybe do it next year on our return flight back to the US? I'd have a better idea of the amount of flying we'd be doing and paying for in the rest of the year. Thanks for all the input. Don't hesitate to keep the comments coming as I haven't completely made up my mind! ;-)
     
  11. dts
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    dts Silver Member

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    As someone who recently finished a Plat challenge and was given Gold status when I started it, these are the benefits of Gold status that I found relevant:

    * Reserve exit rows
    * 25% bonus miles
    * Free standbys
    * Earn 4 e-500s every 10,000 flown miles
    * Free checked bags
    * Priority boarding after FC/EXP/Plat
    * Priority security line where available
    * Priority checkin
    * 500 EQM/RDM minimum (not EQP)
    * No close-in fees for award tickets

    Of course I'll agree with anyone else that it's largely a personal decision, but keep in mind that if you do a challenge this year, then you won't be able to do it again next year.
     
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  12. travelfree
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    travelfree Silver Member

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    I usually travel with a companion and they get to share in many of the benefits listed above.[​IMG]
     
  13. swag
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    swag Silver Member

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    I love my GLD and find it only keeps getting better, or maybe not having status gets worse. For example, in the last few years, AA added bag fees (GLD exempt), eliminated free standby (GLD exempt), and exempted GLD's from award expedite fees.

    On the other hand, I used to be PLT, and the difference between tGLD and PLT for me was minimal really just the extra 75% bonus miles. In fact, mostly because of changed travel patterns, my upgrades clear way more often as GLD (on leisure routes) than they did as PLT (on business routes).
     
  14. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    lately, with 6 groups of boarding, having priority on your pass is a nice benefit!!
     
  15. MJonTravel
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    MJonTravel Silver Member

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    I'm sorry, but early boarding is worth money to me. Add the ability to book an exit row or other choice seat in advance, and I think the value is there.
     
  16. 7Continents
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    7Continents Silver Member

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    My 2 ¢...
    If you are doing very few domestic runs over the course of your Gold eligibility, then you won't make use of very many of the benefits other than preferred seating. But I've found that of all the lowest tiers in FF programs, AA's is by far the most generous for those of us who are only one step above the Kettle family. Now it's up to you.
     

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