At the turn of the year (and in this case, the turn of the decade) reflection is important before forging ahead. My loyalty experience in 2019 was interesting, 2020 feels more intentional already.
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Looking Back at the Decade
Despite living abroad for two years prior and flying back and forth often, I only began my elite status journey in 2010. I began as American Airlines Gold, and by the end of the same year, I would begin my first mileage run driving from Omaha to St. Louis to fly to Fort Myers, Florida.
Since those early beginnings, I have held top tier status six years straight on at least one airline. My work does not take me abroad so I often status run to this day to make up the shortfall for qualification. During the decade I also held top tier status with two carriers simultaneously four times, last year dropping to just United 1K and American Gold.
I also learned the hotel programs focusing on Hyatt, SPG, IHG and Hilton. I have had status the longest with Hyatt, SPG is dead, IHG hates their elites and Hilton has been very good to me.
This was the same decade in which I began writing my blog. The most successful post was 72 views in one day way back in 2012 prior to joining Upgrd.com and then Boarding Area with Matthew the last couple of years. Now, I write for hundreds of thousands of readers every month on one of the top Boarding Area sites with millions of views annually. I am humbled to be here and how far I have come in the last decade – thank you for your readership and comments.
Retrospective: 2019 Loyalty
I started the year with some residual American Airlines flights despite leaving them simply because of the convenience of direct routing. I accrued $660 in EQDs, 4,400 EQMs and had already qualified for Gold which I utilized just twice during the year.
I also flew to Bali on a great deal in business class with a precarious start on Korean. I credited my flights to Alaska Airlines which earned me MVP Gold and flew twice more with the carrier in 2019 though I was not upgraded due to booking the cheapest available fare class.
I primarily flew United and took two runs to maintain my status, once in Polaris and the other in lowly coach on a one-day turn to Hawaii. My upgrades did not clear to and from Hawaii and I was miserable, I shan’t repeat that run. I ended with 101,260 PQMs and $17,735 PQDs on 75 segments. For what it’s worth, I cleared upgrades 72% of the time, using just one PlusPoint upgrade (more on that in a future post.)
With Hyatt, I requalified for Globalist and thought I would leave them halfway through the year but didn’t. I ended the year with 67 qualifying nights. Hyatt upgraded me 85% of the time where a suite upgrade was a possibility (excluding select service properties like Hyatt Place.) Their upgrades were exceptional and drive my loyalty. With Hilton, I logged 117 nights though 6o were rollover.
I also added 10 nights in Airbnbs but they do not have a loyalty program, and four nights with IHG because the Principal Manchester is a fantastic property. I was Spire with IHG but didn’t log any additional nights. I was also a Marriott Bonvoyed Titanium due to the previous year with SPG properties and didn’t log a single night with that awful program during the year and I wasn’t alone.
I also held National Executive Elite status with 93 Rental days and 8 redemption days, earned Gold status with Uber despite their bad tech, and for what it’s worth… Starbucks Gold.
Loyalty in 2020
I began last year with four top tier hotel loyalties and relinquished two, solely due to bad programs and lack of interest. I remain resolute with Hyatt as my primary focus in 2020 and I am in a bi-level suite due to my excellent concierge and a confirmed Globalist suite upgrade in one of their properties as I type this (more on this in a future post.) Hilton will get my business after I re-qualify with Hyatt, due to rollover nights I need just three to hold Diamond for next year, but I anticipate hitting another 60 new nights in 2020 with Hilton as well.
I will continue to utilize United as my primary carrier and I welcome the 2020 changes as I have long stated that if dollars are the primary driver, distance shouldn’t matter. United agrees and I am pleased to move forward with them this year.
Even though I hold American Airlines Executive Platinum status for 2020, don’t worry about me taking your upgrades. Even if I chose to fly them half the time, American prioritizes upgrade status by spend in a rolling 12-month cycle and my spend will put me at the bottom of the upgrade list.
I will likely utilize the status only to give me more availability for mileage redemptions and on those redemptions to access first-class lounges. I’d love to snag an eVIP systemwide upgrade but I’d also love to ride a unicorn and I am more likely to saddle one of those than clear an upgrade in advance on an American long-haul flight.
I will keep my National Executive Elite status as they are my go-to for car rentals and achieve Uber Platinum though not Diamond.
It’s hard to believe that in the last decade I have gone from a stand-alone blog and no elite status to holding two top tier airlines for half a decade and two top tier hotel statuses for about the same. The game has changed a little but despite a prevailing trend to go “free agent” I will remain steadfast in 2020. Here’s to the next year and the nine after, may they hold great travel experiences for all of us.
What do you think? Where does your loyalty lie? How have you grown over the last year, the last decade? Have you made any changes to your loyalty as a result of changing programs?
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