We’ve all seen the inflight ads for airline loyalty program benefits, but is signing up for them really worth it? After all, most leisure travelers do not travel enough on one single airline to earn status (especially recently). Well, even if you’re not likely to reach an airline’s top-tier status, you may still be able to receive many benefits and helpful features that only loyalty program members can access! Here we will show you how to earn loyalty status and also the perks of being a loyalty member even without status!
Saving Time When Booking
Being a member of an airline loyalty program can save you a ton of time when you’re booking a flight, believe it or not. After all, do you really want to have to hunt down your credit card and/or passport every time you want to book a flight? Probably not. Hunting down the stuff, you need to book a flight can be a huge pain, especially if you’ve got a few different things to enter. No one likes trying to remember where they put their Global Entry card! Save the hassle and save all of that information on your account! Becoming an airline loyalty program member allows you to do that, making booking a snap when it comes time!
Although status may be out of reach for most people, loyalty program members will still earn points when they fly! It’s no secret anymore, but airline points can be incredibly valuable if you know how to use them correctly. If you know how to play the game, you can go virtually anywhere in the world using your points/miles. However, you can’t earn them without an account. If you’re booking flights as a guest, you’re losing out on some serious value! Additionally, when you couple your airline loyalty program account with a credit card that earns points/miles, you can really rack up some free flights quickly. For more details, check out our complete guide on How You Can Travel For Free Using Airline Rewards.
Earning status on an airline is more attainable than you may imagine. It may be worth it to remain loyal and fly enough with one airline in order to be rewarded handsomely! Most of the time, airlines offer bonus miles, seat upgrades, free baggage, and even special lounge access to their status members. This means that you could be sitting in a first-class seat when you paid an economy rate for your ticket. Once you get used to that happening enough, you will be committed to earning status year over year.
Before we dive into how to book award flights and get the most out of your points, let’s first take a look at the loyalty programs offered by some of the most prominent US airlines.
United Airlines MileagePlus program is the loyalty program that boasts the most award destinations in the US and has some of the best economy award availability in the world. As a member, you never have to worry about your miles expiring. Even if they did expire, you probably still wouldn’t have to worry, as there are countless ways to earn and spend them! From shopping portals that allow you to earn points to convert them to Marriott points, you can truly do anything with United miles! On top of their incredible loyalty program, they’ve also got a robust status program that can get you anything from free checked bags to United Club access for you and up to 8 of your friends!
Delta is one of the largest airlines in the US, and its loyalty program is unrivaled! Point earning on flights is incredibly generous, and they have a top-tier status program as well! With Delta Medallion status, you can unlock a suite of benefits that make your travels much easier. Delta offers its Medallion members priority boarding, countless fee waivers, complimentary CLEAR memberships, and access to their world-famous Sky Clubs!
American Airlines Advantage program is special in that there are no blackout dates. If a seat is available, then you can book it using your miles! Of course, this is just of many uses for your miles. AAdvantage miles can be used for almost anything, from hotels, rental cars, and flight upgrades to gift cards and other retail products! Aside from their generous point infrastructure, they’ve got an incredible elite status program as well! They offer their frequent flyers everything from upgrades to mileage bonuses to free checked bags!
- Complimentary upgrades (auto-requested) on flights up to 500 miles.
- 24-hour upgrade window
- 40% elite mileage bonus
- Complimentary Main Cabin Extra Seats at check-in*
- Complimentary Preferred Seats*
- 1 free checked bag
Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program is known for having easy-to-use points and no blackout dates. Their points don’t expire and are incredibly easy to earn through flying or by spending on a credit card. Although Southwest doesn’t have a first or business-class product they can upgrade frequent flyers to, they still find ways to reward them! Their entry-level status is known as their A-list status, which includes the following benefits:
- Priority Boarding
- 25 % earning bonus
- Same-day free standby (get on an earlier flight for no additional cost)
- Priority Check-in and security access
All levels of Southwest’s loyal program include the above benefits but their, A-list Preferred members include an added benefit of in-flight wifi. Their highest tier of status is actually something known as Companion Pass. The Companion Pass passengers receive all of the benefits of the A-list and A-list preferred, in addition to having the ability to bring a guest along with them on a flight, free of charge!
JetBlue’s TrueBlue program allows customers to earn points in countless ways, from using their credit cards to using their shopping and dining partners. The points that you earn are incredibly easy to use since you don’t necessarily have to book through JetBlue to use them! JetBlue has a network of partners such as Hawaiian Airlines that allow you to book flights using your TrueBlue points! For their most frequent flyers, Mosaic status opens up the door to several valuable perks, such as:
- Free 1st & 2nd checked bags
- Waived fees, no change fees for Mosaic members
- Priority check-in, security, and boarding
- Complimentary alcohol beverages
Now that we have an idea of the benefits of signing up for an airline rewards program dive into the requirements to earn elite status. Please read our guide on How to Earn Airline Status.