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Here's What Happens When You Finally Achieve Top Frequent Flier Status

Motley Fool - Mon Dec 18, 2023

Smiling woman with suitcase typing on phone in airport

Image source: Getty Images

For many travelers, achieving top frequent flier status can feel like an impossible dream -- like winning a lottery jackpot. But it's an achievable goal for those who fly often, and some travelers remain top tier members year after year.

You'll score fantastic perks after reaching the highest level through your airline's frequent flier program. Find out what benefits you can expect and discover how these top frequent flier status perks can improve your entire travel experience.

Earn bonus miles when you fly

Most airlines provide bonus miles to all elite status members when they fly with the brand or a partner airline. But if you reach premier status, you can expect to earn bonus miles. This is excellent news if you're saving up your miles for an award flight. Earning more miles every time you fly means you'll be much closer to your redemption goals.

The exact bonus varies by airline, but to give you an idea, we'll compare benefits provided through the American Airlines AAdvantage program. AAdvantage Gold fliers, the lowest-tier elite status members, earn a 40% miles bonus on qualifying flights. But AAdvantage Executive Platinum® fliers earn a 120% miles bonus on qualifying flights. That's a big difference.

Extensive checked baggage allowance

When you reach top status through your airline's frequent flier program, you can expect to enjoy a more generous checked baggage allowance. If you find it difficult to pack light when you fly, this can be a helpful benefit because you can bring everything you need. And by not having to pay checked bag fees, you can keep more cash in your checking account.

Same-day travel change perks

There may come a day when you need to adjust your travel arrangements at the last moment. Elite status flier same-day travel perks can help. Your airline will likely extend complimentary same-day flight change benefits and complimentary same-day standby perks to you if you're a frequent flier who has achieved the highest elite status tier. Having the ability to change your flight or fly on standby without paying additional fees is a win for your personal finances.

Complimentary seat upgrades

A seat upgrade can brighten your day -- especially if it's free. You can expect to have access to complimentary upgrades, when available. Many airlines have an upgrade list for each flight, and if premium seats remain unsold, you can expect your name to be on the list.

This benefit won't be available if there are no empty premium seats. While other elite status tier members may also be on the upgrade list, top frequent fliers get priority. That means you'll have greater odds of getting a free upgrade. You may also qualify for a complimentary upgrade for a companion if they're flying on the same reservation. So this perk is a win for your best pal, too.

More extensive award flight availability

Many people who travel redeem their airline miles for award flights. Doing this can provide significant savings on travel expenses. However, award flight availability can be limited, meaning you may be unable to redeem your miles for a preferred flight if no award flight seats are left. But, once you achieve top frequent flier status, you can expect more award flight options, giving you more opportunities to redeem your miles for flights.

Exact perks vary by airline

This is not an exhaustive overview of the benefits you can expect as a top status flier. Frequent flier perks vary by airline -- so review your go-to airline's offerings. If you're loyal to one airline and fly frequently, check to see if earning top elite status may be worthwhile. For some fliers, it's doable, and these benefits can significantly improve their travel experience.

Earn rewards when you swipe your credit card

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