Is anything still worth it in my life?

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As it pertains to airline and hotel status, anyway? This is the question I am asking myself, since my JetBlue Mosaic status just evaporated, and my United Premier Gold and Marriott Platinum Premier status will evaporate at the end of the month? I’m going to be a nobody.

But, really, who gives a fuck? You know what you get for it? Not that much, but enough. You might get an odd domestic upgrade to biz class here and there (but not LA/SF<->NY). You get shorter lines at the airport, free checked bags, early boarding, more award ticket options, increased award mile earnings, reduced last-minute award ticket fees, shit like that. Some of those you can get with an airline branded credit card. I wrote a whole post about it, at least as it pertains to United, a couple of years ago.

But probably the number one thing you get, in my opinion, is the phone number. That’s it. No “we’ll call you back in two hours and if you miss the call tough tit” bullshit. If you fly regularly, and you’re trying to change things because you missed a connection at the airport, or book a partner airline ticket that doesn’t show on the web site, or split an itinerary, etc, you gotta call, and if you don’t have status, calling blows, both in terms of wait time, and in terms of being one of the masses who don’t have kiss-worthy asses. (For Delta, where I will probably never have status, I just DM on them on Twitter instead, and it works remarkably well. I like to hate on Delta but their Twitter people have really gotten it done for me, I have to say, way more than UA or AA.)

The other thing that kill me are close-in booking fees and same day flight change fees. I hate them. Both American and United will charge you $75 for the privilege of booking an award ticket within 21 days of flying, and for me, sometimes I book that shit the same day. But any level of status on American waives it, and United reduces it by $25 for each level you attain (which makes me really want to try to get to Platinum this year, since that would make it $0).

As for same day changes, those cost $75 too, but United will waive them if you’re Premier Gold, and JetBlue will waive them if you’re Mosaic (their only level). American you gotta be top tier, and that ain’t happening, so we have yet another reason why I fly UA. (I don’t know what Delta does. I Do Not Care About Delta. They do not fly to Santa Barbara, and their award ticket prices are ass and a half.)

So, I’ve decided it’s worth it to get status. Your mileage (get it?) may vary. My strategy is to worry about it every other year. The way it works is when you make it to a status level, you keep it for the rest of the year, and the following year. I usually do a bunch of cross country flying in the first few months of the year, and this year is no different, so I make a point of it being on United, which is what they want, of course. That’s the whole idea! That’s why they call it loyalty. If what you mean my loyalty is “What can you do for me?” And then, once I make it, I’ll just lie back and enjoy having status for the rest of the year, and the next, which ironically mean I’ll feel less compelled to fly United.

So, yeah, earning status. Delta lets you spend for status qualifying miles on their cards, but: I Do Not Care About Delta. American also lets you spend for status on certain cards, but a stupid amount. However, that’s still better than United, who does not let you spend for status at all. Cocks. (Unless you have the Presidential Plus card, which you can no longer apply for or change to. My mom-in-law has this and I am so jelly.)

Well, I just gotta fly, fly, fly, and the goal is to get to at least Premier Silver, and ideally Gold (which gives me free Economy Plus and lowers close-in award fees to $25), as fast as possible, so I can enjoy my lofty position of superiority for as long as possible before the end of next year. Like I said, I have a pile of Chase points, so I used them to buy well-in-advance relatively inexpensive biz class fares for my cross-country jaunts, so that my delightful lady and I can stretch out in quasi-luxury while earning double status qualifying miles. Swell.

But, starting this year, United is screwing me on this, because in 2019, all P (cheapest biz/first) fares earn 150% compared to economy, rather than 200%, as they did previously. Cocks! Fortunately, I bought most of the fares two weeks before they announced this asstastic rule, and after spending a long time with them on the phone (see above about having The Phone Number), they made notes on my account and assured me that if I called in after flying, they’d give me the correct number of qualifying miles. They better, or it’s on.

Anyway, for one of these flights, I was gonna be stuck with P earning 150%, so I instead used United’s advanced search to search for Z, which is the next fare bucket up for biz/first. It earns 200% PQM, as God intended, and it cost $80 more, which I considered to be well worth it. That fare wouldn’t normally be shown, but one of the things I like bestest about United is that their web site, even after all of their nauseating, great-if-you’re-blind changes, is still quite powerful. (Though the powerful parts are the obvious legacy Continental parts, so I’ll brace for those to eventualy get fucked up like the home page.)

I’ll be Silver by the end of March. Then I gotta figure out what comes after that, because while Silver gets me The Phone Number and some other nice things, it still leaves me with $50 close-in award ticket fees, non-guaranteed Economy Plus, and, mon dieu, $75 same day change fees. So I really wanna be Gold, at minimum. Do I drop a $25K bomb on the United Explorer card for the spending waiver and find cheap long flights in economy that will make me want to kill myself? Do I fly a lot more on purpose, in business, burning up cash, or my Chase points? Do I suck it up and pay $900 for an Economy Plus subscription for two, plus $450 for a United Club card, which, when added to Silver, will get me some of the benefit of being Platinum?

For JetBlue, whose Mosaic status I like having for its near-free Even More Space seats, free drinks, and penalty-free changes and cancellations, I gotta just hope that FoundersCard offers its members another Mosaic status match, which is how I got it last year. (In theory, I could also get it by spending a pile on a JetBlue card, but Barclays has literally banned me from acquiring those cards until two years after I closed them, which will be 9 months from now.)

For American, I had Gold (entry level) status via through their own status challenge, and they offered to let me pay to keep it another year. I took them up on it, probably stupidly, given how little I care about American. But, I hate being one of the crowd, and I hate paying close-in booking fees, and I like having The Phone Number. And they do fly to Santa Barbara.

For Marriott/SPG: Who gives a fuck? I got practically nothing out of my status with them. I mean, I got a little extra attention at the Ritz, but so what. There are so many more jillions of hotels than there are airlines, why do I want to be tied in for nominal benefits? I just like to spin the Hotel Tonight app and see where I land. More fun that way.

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