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Airline elite status offers many valuable benefits, like complimentary upgrades, lounge visits and more. However, airlines regularly make changes to their loyalty programs that make travelers question if elite status is worth it. So, which airline status should you pursue in 2022? Here’s how to decide.
Elite status requirements for 2022, broken down by airline
Alaska has currently extended elite status through April 30, 2022, for all members who held elite status as of January 1, 2021, even if they didn't requalify by year end. This provides more time for members to enjoy benefits and potentially requalify.
MVP Gold 75K
MVP Gold 100K
Eligible miles earned on Alaska Airlines, Oneworld alliance and global partners
Eligible segments flown on Alaska Airlines, Oneworld alliance and global partners
Qualification via eligible miles or segments must include this minimum number of flights marketed and operated by Alaska Airlines
Starting March 1, 2022, American revised its previous AAdvantage qualification metrics to a more simplified Loyalty Points program. Members earn miles on flights, co-branded credit card purchases and eligible partner transactions. Each mile earned is equal to one Loyalty Point.
Loyalty Points needed for status:
Elite status level
Delta Medallion status is based on your annual spending on flights with Delta and its partners (Medallion Qualification Dollars) and either the number of miles or segments flown (Medallion Qualification Miles or Medallion Qualification Segments). You may be able to waive the spending requirement based on your total purchases on an eligible Delta co-branded credit card.
Elite status level
Medallion Qualification Miles requirement
Medallion Qualifying Dollar requirement
$3,000 or MQD Waiver.
$6,000 or MQD Waiver.
$9,000 or MQD Waiver.
$15,000 or MQD Waiver.
Hawaiian Airlines Pualani elite status is earned based on the number of miles or segments flown on a revenue fare by Hawaiian Airlines.
30 segments or 20,000 miles.
60 segments or 40,000 miles.
JetBlue traditionally has only one level of elite status: Mosaic. However for 2022, JetBlue introduced Mosaic+ with even more perks, like free Mint premium seat upgrades and a complimentary FoundersCard elite membership. This additional elite status level is only available through the end of 2022.
Southwest offers two different types of elite status — A-List and Companion Pass. A-List status has two tiers based on qualifying flights or tier qualifying points (points earned from revenue flights or spending on eligible Southwest credit cards). Additionally, with these cards, you can earn an unlimited number of tier qualifying points.
Qualifying points earned toward the Companion Pass are measured differently from those earned toward A-List. And different types of transactions qualify for each elite status. For example, partner hotel stays and car rentals count toward the Companion Pass but do not count for A-List status.
Elite status level and Companion Pass
25 one-way flights or 35,000 tier qualifying points.
50 one-way flights or 70,000 tier qualifying points.
100 one-way flights or 125,000 Companion Pass qualifying points.
United has lowered its elite status qualifications for members to earn status through 2023. The number of Premier qualifying points and Premier qualifying flights required have been lowered across all levels of elite status to make it easier to qualify. PQPs were added to member accounts based on the elite status achieved at the end of 2021, which should accelerate reaching 2023 elite status goals. Additionally, PQPs earned from eligible United co-branded credit cards now count toward Premier 1K status.
PQF and PQP
or higher PQP goal
8 PQF and 3,000 PQP.
or 3,500 PQP.
16 PQF and 6,000 PQP.
or 7,000 PQP.
24 PQF and 9,000 PQP.
or 10,000 PQP.
36 PQF and 13,500 PQP.
or 15,000 PQP.
» Learn more: Airlines making it easy to maintain elite status
Why it could be a good year to earn elite status
With many airlines reducing elite status requirements or carrying over 2021 activity, achieving elite status should be easier to attain in 2022. For all airlines mentioned above (with the exception of Mosaic+), if you earn elite status this year, you'll enjoy those benefits through at least the end of 2023. In some cases, the elite status year extends beyond the calendar year, so you'll have extra time to use your elite benefits.
If you're ready to travel again, there's a chance you'll receive upgrades and other perks that previously may have been reserved only for top-tier elites. With many consumers and business travelers still wary of traveling, there should be fewer elites ahead of you on the upgrade list.
While some countries still maintain strict coronavirus measures, more and more countries are opening up their borders to international travelers. And many are reducing or eliminating their testing and quarantine requirements, making it easier to travel for short visits.
For travelers who have elite status or are able to earn it based on the qualifications listed above, now is a good time to match your status to other airlines. Many airlines offer status match opportunities to elite travelers to try to convince them to switch their travel preferences. This could be a good way to try another airline or to move your business if you're not happy with the benefits you've been receiving or with the changes in the loyalty program.
» Learn more: The best airline and hotel loyalty programs this year
Credit cards that help travelers earn elite status
Some airline credit cards enable travelers to earn or accelerate elite status based on their spending. You may want to consider a credit card from one of these airlines if earning elite status is a travel goal this year.
American Airlines. Every dollar you spend with an AAdvantage credit card counts as one Loyalty Point toward elite status.
Delta Air Lines. At times, Platinum and Reserve cards offer MQMs as part of their welcome bonus offer. You can also earn additional MQMs based on your annual spending. Plus, you'll receive an MQD waiver based on your spending on an eligible card.
JetBlue Airlines. Achieve Mosaic elite status when you spend $50,000 or more on eligible purchases with the JetBlue Plus Card or the JetBlue Business Card.
Southwest Airlines. Welcome bonuses and all points earned from purchases on co-branded credit cards count toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass. Additionally, select cards earn 1,500 tier qualifying points toward A-List status for every $10,000 you spend each year. Some limitations apply.
United Airlines. Earn PQPs toward elite status based on your spending each year on eligible cards.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
The bottom line
When thinking about which airline elite status you should pursue in 2022, keep in mind the above requirements and your travel plans. While many of these loyalty programs offer appealing benefits, if your expected flights won't qualify, it may not be worth the effort. Depending on which elite status you're aiming for, one of the airline's credit cards may make it easier to achieve status based on your spending. If you charge enough to your credit card, you may even be able to earn elite status before taking your first flight.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card