The Depression of Losing Airline Status

For frequent fliers who did not reach elite status by the end of 2009, your privileges will soon be expiring … typically by the end of February. That’s about the time the depression sets in. I’ve felt that pain before. Not only was it a miserable feeling to know that I would always be going to the back of the plane and walking by the ‘new elite,’ but it also shook up my entire travel methodology.

I was Delta Platinum for several years. When my kids were in high school, I worked locally and flew very little. I had my Platinum status with nowhere to go. After a year of my Platinum card collecting dust, Delta must have felt pity on me because they did not eliminate my status altogether. Instead they gave me Gold status. I was ecstatic! I thought I would have lost it all. The next year, however, I again had few flights and thus became part of the non-elite. No second year pity from Delta.  It was so humbling to walk through First Class knowing that those used to be my seats!

What was most mystifying to me, however, was who to book flights through now that I had no elite status. Automatically I used to book Delta. It was all about status, status, status. But now that status didn’t matter and price did (since I was paying for my own flights), I was looking for the lower fares no matter what airline.

I began to fly a lot of different carriers for my domestic flights (United, Airtran, Spirit, etc…). Loyalty didn’t matter since status was no longer my main rationale, but on every flight I reminisced about Biscoff cookies, first class seats and 100% bonus miles. It was a very sad time.

Once my youngest child graduated high school, I was back on the road within weeks. Goodbye local job – hello weekly travel! I had to start my climb back up the elite ladder all over again. I had my first flight on Delta on August 4th and was able to reach Gold Medallion by the end of the year. I was back in the big seats!

I stayed at Delta Platinum for several years now, but will be soon getting my Gold Medallion for 2010. I dropped down a rung on the ladder again. Even though I have Platinum status on Continental now, I’m depressed that I will not also have it on Delta. I dread the day when my 2010 Gold Medallion card reaches my mailbox. At least I will never lose my Delta Elite status ever again. Achieving Million-Miler status assures me Silver Medallion for life.

If your status is about to drop, there may still be hope. Know that it is always worth a letter or call to your airline to request a matching elite status. I have received matching elite status in the past (Northwest and Continental have both given me Gold status based on my Delta Platinum status). Or request an exception if you just missed a certain level by a small number of miles. It never hurts to ask. (The same goes for hotels also always ask if a hotel will honor or match your elite status.)

For those of you going down in status this year, I understand your pain.


  1. This happened to me last year. American dropped some flights, so I flew Southwest more. Got a bunch of free tickets on Southwest, but missed my AA Platinum by 5 segments. It was very depressing. Luckily I managed to get Platinum back by September, but still. I hope never to have that happen again! So,I can completely relate.

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