A company is outright selling airline status matches and challenges through shady practices and it’s not good for elite loyalty members.
Airline Status Can Be Yours If The Price Is Right
For Delta, United, American, and even Southwest Airlines travelers can buy status for a three or four-month period. For just $199, you, yes you, can buy Delta Air Lines Gold for $229 for Platinum Medallion status.
United Airlines is available at three status levels, Gold, Platinum, and 1K priced at $199, $229, and $399 respectively. Presumably, these statuses don’t come with any milestone rewards such as PlusPoints in the case of United.
If you fancy American Airlines Executive Platinum Status (just don’t), it will set you back a staggering $599 while Southwest’s A-List status (though not A-List Preferred) in its Rapid Rewards loyalty program runs $249 for a three-month stint.
BasisTravel boasts that purchasing one of its airline elite status tiers comes with a guarantee that customers will not be charged until the status is earned in their account. Given the length of time of each status, purchasers can likely stay an elite member if they fulfill truncated status requirements earning enough tier-qualifying points and spend.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, and JetBlue TrueBlue apparently don’t offer these to clients or Basis hasn’t located the right source to make these available to customers.
How Does BasisTravel Sell Status/Challenges?
Airlines often give out status and status challenges to large corporations to lure more business travel. BasisTravel dances around the question of its sourcing, but in my opinion, this is how I believe they are able to offer this perk. It could be that Basis is buying excess status challenges or assignments from these large companies or those with access to sell them. Some individuals have sold similar items on eBay.
On the site’s FAQ section, it sidesteps the question of whether it’s a scam:
“Do Airlines Approve Of This? Is This Legit? Is This A Scam?
We are not officially partnered with or affiliated with any of the airlines that we sell status for. We acquire corporate airline benefits through various means [emphasis mine] depending on the airline and status tier. These are offers that most consumers would not otherwise have access to on the open market.
As far as our legitimacy is concerned – our commitment to exceptional service is evident through the thousands of satisfied travelers who choose to use BasisTravel. To make this a seamless and comfortable experience, we choose not to take payment upfront and only bill you once we successfully deliver your new status. We believe this speaks volumes to who we are as a brand and what we stand for.” – BasisTravel
Is the offer legit? No, but we have great customer service.
First, it’s not a scam in the sense that if one pays for the status and it is awarded, the customer will get what they pay for. However, it’s a scam in the sense that these challenges are not intended for general consumers, and if carriers were to find out that the status was procured outside of the terms assigned, the flyer could lose all of their miles and status, and even face expulsion from the brand. The company who was granted the sold challenge could also lose their current challenges or gifted status levels, and the person who sold it could face their own penalties.
Second, only billing when a status level is successfully delivered does not speak volumes to their brand, it’s getting what is paid for plain and simple.
Why Is BasisTravel Problematic?
The airlines will have a hard time enforcing their rules on companies that either, 1) already spend a large amount of money with them, or 2) they’d like to earn as customers. Enforcing those status challenge rules on purchasers of them would be far easier. This leaves BasisTravel as potentially scot-free. They are (undoubtedly) able to legitimately buy the certificates from uninterested but entrusted employees of large firms for far less than they sell them for but the airlines can’t really come back on BasisTravel and sue for selling their inventory.
For those that earn elite status the hard way, by flying 25,000-125,000 miles in a calendar year, find themselves behind those willing to buy status for upgrades, boarding, rebooking, and on elite lines. As Delta once said, when everyone’s an elite flyer, no one is. Perhaps preserving its Diamond status (by not offering it to companies for free) is why it’s not available for sale on the BasisTravel website.
Basis is willing to jeopardize their suppliers’ relationships with the carriers, and depending on the rules of those companies, perhaps their jobs. Basis is willing to sell these goods which are more or less illegal (at least in accordance with the terms and conditions though perhaps not in a court of law) to customers who have no idea the risk they are taking. Nowhere on the website does it state the penalties and risks for customers if they are found out.
BasisTravel likely acquires status challenges from vendors that don’t have the right to sell them. They don’t make it clear to customers that buying the status could put them in jeopardy with the airlines, and it hurts elite travelers as they compete with infrequent flyers that paid as little as $199. Members earn status slogging it out in Dubuque, San Antonio, and spend hours awaiting delayed flights in Dallas, Newark, and Atlanta only to be sidestepped by nefarious characters. That’s bad for the airlines on all accounts, and potentially bad for vendors and their company. The only one that comes out ahead in this shady business is “legit” BasisTravel.
What do you think? Would you ever buy a status from BasisTravel? Would you sell excess status access to Basis if you could?