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!