Airline Status 2020: My update & strategy

Happy New Year, everyone. Shipra and myself just got back in town yesterday. We clocked our first flight of the year on the marvellous Emirates A380 on January 1, 2020, so if you are a believer in omens, that is a sign of how things should be for the rest of the year. The jury is still out on if 2020 is the turn of the decade, but we will not give you that marketing spin much.

Since this is the beginning of the year, I just thought I would put my strategy for 2020 out there about the status I have and how am I using it, plus intending to keep it together.

Club Vistara Platinum

Regular readers know that I prefer to fly full-service airlines over no-frills carriers for multiple reasons. One of the key reasons is that once you build up the status on an airline, you get preferential treatment as compared to when you don’t have status on an airline. For many years I was using Vistara as my backup airline, as the only place I could get with them was to Delhi. I used the Vistara Gold status that came to me with my Axis Bank Vistara Infinite credit card.

But with the withdrawal of Jet Airways and the ability of Vistara to get flights out of Mumbai, namely to Bengaluru, Goa, Hyderabad, Chennai and other cities, I used my JetPrivilege Platinum status to get a Club Vistara Status Match for three months and then completed the required 12 flights in 3 months to gain status as a Club Vistara Platinum in August 2019, valid through August 2020. I now have to fly at least 35 revenue flights on Vistara or earn 30,000 Club Vistara tier miles to retain Platinum.

I use the status for the following:

  • Preferred check-in
  • Excess Baggage Allowance (flew about 100kg in one flight in 2019, for instance, during my brother’s wedding, between Shipra and me)
  • No rescheduling fees (Last used in December 2019 to reschedule my flights when I had a friend visiting Mumbai while I was in Delhi. Just paid the fare difference!)
  • Fly Early (Last used in November 2019 when I was initially booked on an 8 pm flight but I was put on a plane three hours earlier, to go home at 5 pm. Got accommodated on the next flight out)
  • +1 Lounge Access abroad
  • Emergency Exit row Seat Selection

While I’m not using the international services of Vistara too much at the moment, I’ve got my eye on their international network as it expands in the coming years. For now, they are my go-to airline for domestic flights in India, and I’m looking forward to seeing what destinations their Boeing 787 network brings along, of which Vistara will start induction in the first quarter of 2020.

If you are interested in a status match of your existing Gold or above status with Club Vistara, check out this post.

Head up to www.airvistara.com to book your Vistara tickets.


British Airways Gold

My go-to international airline alliance has been oneworld for a long time. With the addition of one of my favourite airlines, Qatar Airways, to oneworld, it has been pretty simple to earn and retain oneworld status for me over the years. Earlier on, I used to fly a lot with American Airlines and bank my miles with American Airlines AAdvantage, but with the move to revenue linked status there, I’ve moved to British Airways over the years. BA has its troubles, including high fuel surcharges on some flights and the GST troubles on redemptions out of India, but overall they do well in my book.

British Airways needs me to achieve 1500 Tier Points this year to retain Gold, which will grant me First Class Lounge Access across oneworld member Lounges across the globe for me and a +1 travelling with me. The good thing is, I’ve already earned 360 of those flying Qatar Airways in December 2019, and I need just another 1140 Tier Points through the next ten months to get there.  Of course, that should include at least four flights on British Airways itself. I’m hoping to fly the British Airways A350-1000 that just started to operate out of Bangalore this year, and that might even mean a shot at the Club Suites.

I use the British Airways Gold Status for the following benefits:

  • 100% more Avios when flying British Airways, Iberia, American Airlines, and Japan Airlines
  • First Class Lounge Access for me and a +1 when flying British Airways or any other oneworld member airline across the globe
  • Free Seat Selection
  • Additional reward seats open up

Head up to www.BritishAirways.com to find out more about British Airways Executive Club and book your tickets on British Airways.


LifeMiles/United Mileage Plus Silver/Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold for Star Alliance

While I don’t hold any status on Star Alliance airlines at the moment, I will reclaim my United Mileage Plus Silver status now that I am a Marriott Titanium Elite for 2020 (More on that later). The benefit of crediting to United is that Miles no longer expire. Still, United also took away the award chart recently, so this is more about getting benefits while in the USA for me.

I usually end up putting my Star Alliance flights on my LifeMiles account at the moment, because it allows me to keep the miles I buy alive (you need one activity every 12 months at the minimum). As an American Express Platinum Charge Cardholder, I also have the opportunity to gain Star Alliance Gold status with three Singapore Airlines flights. If I manage to do that, I might start crediting my Star Alliance flights to KrisFlyer as well. We will see.


InterMiles Platinum/Etihad Guest Silver for Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways has had a long-time partnership providing perks for JetPrivilege Elites. JetPrivilege, now InterMiles, has carried forward my Platinum status at least through December 2020. That means I can still receive perks flying Etihad Airways when I do, using my InterMiles account. As a Platinum, I receive the following benefits:

  • Excess Baggage
  • Business Class Lounge Access
  • Preferred Check-in

I also have Etihad Guest Silver through August 2020, although I don’t expect to use the status anytime soon with them.

Head to InterMiles.com to know more about how to earn and use InterMiles status.


Emirates Skywards

With the going away of Jet Airways, I’m still trying out various airlines as I’ve indicated above. Many times, places I’ve to go to are not served by an airline which has an alliance going for itself. For instance, in the last few months, I’ve had many instances when I’ve used Emirates to fly to Dubai, in Economy and Business Class. While Vistara has direct flights between Mumbai and Dubai, the timings don’t work for me at all, given one arrives very late in Dubai to be able to not get any work done, and you still pay for a hotel room night. So, from a full-service carrier perspective, the only one left is Emirates. Emirates lured me in with a couple of targetted offers a few months ago, such as the triple miles one.

I recently managed to qualify for the Skywards Silver status, this means, I now get the following benefits:

  • 25% bonus Skywards Miles on Emirates flights
  • Free Economy Class seat selection
  • Complimentary Emirates Business Class lounge access in Dubai
  • Priority check-in & boarding

Additionally, as a Marriott Titanium Elite member, I will earn 3 points for every USD or equivalent spent on top of Skywards Miles when flying with Emirates. This benefit was not accessible without being at least a Skywards Silver member.


Some of my other flights might just be credited to Alaska Airlines, another programme I used to credit all my flights which I don’t transfer to my core programmes.

What Airline statuses are you chasing in 2020, and why? Do share, and we could learn from each other. 

Comments

  1. How does travel on Qatar net you status towards BA Gold? Am flying Qatar in May and would like to have that since I will be flying BA in September.

  2. Question?
    Does trf of points from Citi prestige qualify for the upgrade to KF gold requirements of 50,000 elite miles….?

    If yes , it Practically it means, I require only 12,500 Citi prestige points…

    Does any other airlines have such matching gold status option with such points?

  3. My Travel generally includes Domestic travel . I plan to upgrade my status on Club Vistara Currently at Gold. (Thanks to Axis Vistara Card). Unfortunately, many of my sectors I fly is still not on Vistara list. However, I plan to upgrade the status to Platinum.

    I plan to bank all my star Alliance flights (including Air India) in Singapore Kris Air or Life mils program, for possibly Int. Holidays.

    I will try to effective use Citi prestige to covert 1 points to 4 miles in various airlines, and again bank them with Singapore Airlines or similar.

    Will use Amex to use the status and back up for some short points in vistara.

    Let’s hope for a wonderful and positive 2020 !!!

    • You get Shangri La Jade status with the card. Match that to Krisflyer, you get Silver status there. 3 flights on SiA will get you to Gold.

    • Do search for “Infinite Journeys” which gives you KF silver once you link your Shangri La & KF accts. Amex Plat gives u auto Jade which matches to KF Silver. If you take 3 SQ flights in 3 months post tht, you become SQ Gold.

  4. Happy New Year Ajay!

    It’s interesting that our strategies for airlines match quite closely! I currently have BA Gold (which I will renew easily), Vistara Gold (I should acheive Platinum by April), and maintain a KrisFlyer account to transfer all my HDFC Infinia Points to. I have InterMiles Platinum, but fail to see the value in maintaining.

    I would love to have your thoughts on hotel programs. I currently have Accor Platinum and Bonvoy Gold. With Bonvoy doing away with nights awarded to Meeting planners, and Accor’s tricky redemption policy (2000 Points = EUR 40), I am unsure on how to direct my stays.

    • I’d love to hear Ajays plans on hotel programs too. Not many plans from my end but maybe push Marriott Platinum, which I couldnt get last year.

  5. Got Vistara platinum with status match and challenge. Works well for me on all my preferred domestic routes from Mumbai, i.e Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad. So domestically, will do enough to retain platinum tier.

    Planning to chase Star Alliance gold through SQ. Got to Silver with the Infinite journey option through Amex platinum.

    Transferred a small bunch of Amex MR to Avios at the year end promotion. Have an upcoming family vacay to the US. Have to decide whether to do BA or SQ to score status on either alliance.

    Cheers!

  6. I am currently on
    Vistara gold (held via Axis infinite card)
    Emirates silver
    Intermiles platinum (not sure if we should count this as an airline status at all)

    After 9W shut, I am using emirates as my preferred airline out of Mumbai for trips to EU/US.
    Domestic travel goes to vistara.

  7. Most of my travel this year is going to be domestic this year too. I have Vistara Platinum valid till October 2020. But no way of realising its benefit, as it no longer flies on AMD-BOM-AMD route. Almost 25+ direct flights on this route, Vistara just flew on this route for a month during July 2019. Very difficult to gain status on Air India, so not left with much choice here. Intermiles platinum is going to be useful this year for 2 international travels planned this year on Etihad.
    Do post about your card strategy for 2020, will be an interesting to see what replaces citi prestige.

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