I’m at the point of the year again where I’ve reached a fork in the road. I’ve re-qualified for 1K status on United, so my elite benefits are safe through at least January 2012, but now I must decide whether to continue to credit to UA (where I earn double RDMs on most flights) or pursue status on another Star Alliance carrier.
Lounge access is very important to me when I fly so I have appreciated holding Star Alliance Gold status with British Midland the last two years. That status has allowed me to access any Red Carpet Club, US Club, and Presidents Club whenever I travel on Star Alliance. While United, Continental, and US Airways have an agreement with each other that denies their own Star Gold members access to their clubs when only flying domestically, Star Gold members on airlines outside the U.S. have free and unlimited access to all Star Alliance Gold lounges whenever they fly.
It has made sense for me the last two years to credit a few trips to British Midland, who award 300% EQMs on paid first class fares, but the numbers do not add up so nicely this year. With the demise of the $550 ONT-TPA A Fare on United, it will be much harder (and more expensive) to rack up the 38K miles needed to re-qualify for BD Gold. Furthermore, with United’s recent tightening of routing rules, earning RDMs on United has become more difficult. Despite UA’s StarNet blocking, I still depend on UA miles for my first class international award trips.
Which leads me to the question I posed as the title of this post. Continental offers lifetime memberships to their Presidents Club. While purchasing such a membership would not be guaranteed to outlast the merger with United, I find it very unlikely that the "new" United would not honor the lifetime memberships. And if they did not, I would simply dispute the credit card bill.
With decades (God willing) of flying to go, if I can just get over the high initial price of the membership it might be a wise investment for me.
I’m a Platinum Elite on Continental so I am looking at a $4,600 price tag for lifetime membership. That would amount to about 12 years of paying the annual $375 fee. A lot can change in a decade, but it would be nice never to have to worry about Star Alliance lounge access again.
Too bad my father and I don’t share the same name. The senior lifetime membership price looks much more attractive!
Have you considered putting miles over to Aegean to get *Gold? IIRC, it would only take 20,000 EQMs but don’t quote me on that. That’s a steep price tag for me. I can do a lot of travel on $4600. But at the same time I DO know how much time we spend in the air.
I seriously think the better way to go is the Presidential Plus card.
While I’m sure they will honor the lifetime membership, it’s a good chunk of change. Plus, you don’t know what benefits will come post-merger. If the merger brings a Diamond-esque level, you’d have a full membership automatically.
The other big benefit to the Pplus card is the 25% bonus in RDMs.
@Halothane: I have considered Aegean and you are correct, it’s only 20K miles for Star Gold (and they give you 2K when you sign-up). What has held me back is the transition of British Midland from Diamond Club to Miles and More. The change will be happening sometime over the next 8 months and I would love have Senator status on LH (good for two years).
Plus, the best A-fares right now are on US Air from MCO-LAX ($720 r/t). Routed through PHL and PHX, you can rack up some serious miles with BD’s generous 300% EQMs on US Air. Aegean only offers 150% EQMs on US A fares (though 300% on UA A fares).
I can’t imagine taking 7 transcon r/ts to re-qualify for BD Gold between now and December 22 (the date my re-qualification period ends). I need to take A fares where I can get 300% EQMs.
@Fozz: Excellent points.
Does this come with any other benefits besides lounge access? The website seems to imply that the only benefit of this is lounge access. Either way, this seems to be a fascinating proposition for those of us who are time poor and aren’t sure if we can make *G every year. Thanks!
@PJ: The only benefit to this card is lounge access. Lifetime Star Gold status would be a great perk (and possibly something airlines could make some $$$ on selling), but such status is currently only available for surpassing the million mile threshold.
Lifetime membership in the Continental President’s Club will be honored in the merged airline. From Continental website: “your lifetime lounge access will continue to be valid in the new, combined program.”
Can be found under Continental’s merger FAQs -> At The Airport -> Lounges
I purchased the lifetime as I doubt seriously I will ever make it to 2 million on United. I’m about to make a million miler having flown ALL domestic flights over the years. It’s hard for me to travel overseas as I am a cancer patient. So when I price out my domestic trips and what they charged me as a 1k/Platinum for the benefit, it’s about 4 trips to Hawaii.
As it took me years to reach a million I am planning on traveling more for pleasure now and less as a medical research patient. In 2009 I traveled 237,000 domestic miles and was exhausted most of the time.
For those of you who rapidly can qualify for your million miler status or more it probably makes more sense for you to shoot for the 2 million mark on United, I just don’t know what my future holds, but I at least would like to utilize the lounges for my domestic flights without having to worry about paying for it every year.
I and my wife have been Lifetime members in the Continental for many years. Will we receive new cards honoring us as lifetime members in the new Continentsal/United merger as United lifetme club members. Thank You
I have a more interesting situation, I joined the Eastern Airlines Ionosphere Club about 1975.
It was a lifetime membership. No annual fees.
When Continental acquired Eastern, they continued that membership with their Presidents Club,
I had the President club for many years, up until the merger with United.
So all in all, about 44 years with the same member ship -and 44 years of loyalty to Eastern, Continental and United.
Now I am told that United is discontinuing lifetime memberships, under all circumstances.
am not sure, but I think the original Eastern Airline Ionosphere club membership should still be grandfathered in.
Anyone out there feel the same way?
I bought an EAL IONOSPHERE LM in 1980, hemoraged $675. or there about, what a bargain !
Still enjoying, I was 18 then, hahaha
Alex, what is a EAL IONOSPHERE LM?
Does anyone have their 2001 lifetime membership contract paperwork? I’d like to chat with you if you do.