Go for the Gold (Status) on US Airways or Just Buy It?

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Lately I’ve been thinking of switching carriers. Last year I stretched myself to requalify for United 1K status, including a weekend trip to Singapore in the fall. This year I’ve been unimpressed with what my status has gotten me.

My precentage of complimentary upgrades is disappointing, as is my ability to confirm upgrades in advance with Regional Premier or Global Premier Upgrade certs. Their prices on economy fares to the places I want to go are much higher than they were a year or two ago. And 100,000 flown miles means hours and hours on a plane going places primarily for the EQMs since I don’t travel for work.

I’ve spent the last couple of months watching Jeanne (and myself) get consistently upgraded in advance on our US Airways flights thanks to her Platinum status, and even when she was just a silver doing mileage runs to Jamaica. I have a pile of US Airway miles from the TrackIt Back sticker promo a few years back and most of my East Coast travel lands me on US Airways’ more affordable flights anyway. Not to mention I’m already using miles and cash trying to upgrade most of those flights anyway. Hmmmm.

So I decided to make the break with United, planning to credit just enough future flights with them to top off my current EQM balance to silver status. That way I could get free economy plus day-of on any flights with them next year.

So then the question was whether to jump to American Airlines via their Executive Platinum Status match or go for a trial preferred challenge on US Airways like Jeanne did. Or both.

Since we had the crazy DCA-CLT-EWR-HNL-PHX-IAD mileage run booked, and much of it was on US Airways metal, I decided to go with US Airways and put off the question of American for later consideration. And Jeanne had a giftable Silver Trial Preferred just burning a hole in her account, which she very generously gave me.

She activated the trial a couple of days before our first flight just in case there was a delay, but it showed up immediately. And with 4,000 eqms for the mileage run, I’m already halfway to the required 7,500 to keep silver status. Which is great, except I want Platinum or Chairman for next year. US Airways Trial Preferred Status Challenge

So the question I’m currently tossing back and forth in my mind is whether I do a lot more mileage runs in the next 3 months, flying at least 18,500 more miles. Or whether I fly what I was already planning to fly and just buy the status I want outright.

One of the lesser known features on US Airways is that you can simply buy up to whatever status you want. Haven’t flown a single mile on US Airways? You can be a Platinum for $2,999 or a Chairman for $3,999. Flown one mile? The price immediately drops to $2,499 and $2,999.

Buying to to Preferred Status on US Airways

So I now need to work out how much I would spend on flights that are just mileage runs, not to mention the time investment it will take, and weigh that against the cost of just buying up.

And to further complicate my decision, fate generously intervened on Saturday night when I won United 1K status for next year from $25 in raffle tickets. So should I even try for a higher status on US Airways this year, or take whatever status I earn from my currently booked US Airways flights and continue to use miles to upgrade the flights in advance where my status won’t?


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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