After a Year of Having Delta Status, I’m Convinced It’s Overrated – Even With the Upgrades

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Many frequent travelers value their airline elite status as it comes with all sorts of perks and upgrades.  In 2017, I was flying very frequently for work with Delta as I am based in Salt Lake City, and earned Delta status as Delta Silver Medallion member.

It isn’t a huge deal as many readers of ours earn much higher statuses, but I still did a happy dance when I earned it.  The flight attendants on my flight to Austin, Texas when I earned my status even made me a care package and gave me a bottle of wine!

Throughout all of 2018, I flew Delta primarily for leisure, and did enjoy a decent amount of upgrades.  However, it was pretty overrated in my opinion. And I don’t think airline status is worth going out of your way to earn.  And some of the perks, like free checked bags, you can get just by having a certain Delta credit cards, like the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express, or Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express.

My Delta Elite Status Got Me Upgraded on Half of My Delta Flights

I flew on Delta 16 times in 2018.  Of the 16 times, I was upgraded 8 times.  Of those 8 upgrades, 4 were to First Class.  But I was mostly upgraded on shorter flights.  For example, I was upgraded to First Class on a Salt Lake City to Burbank most recently.  First Class upgrades sound great except when you are in the air for less than 2 hours.  And with Delta now selling upgrades for points, these complimentary upgrades are likely to be available to elite members less frequently.

For flyers looking to become loyal to one airline and gain status, I would argue airline status is only worth it if you fly multiple times a month consistently.  I estimate if I would have traveled for work in all of 2017 instead of just a few months, I would have reached Gold if not higher.  At that point, it may have been something worth having.  But I wouldn’t recommend it as something worth chasing.

Bottom Line

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate any upgrade possible.  My wife and I were upgraded to First Class from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and back, and even a quick 45 minutes in the air sitting up front is enjoyable.  However, as more efforts to devalue frequent flyers are occurring, it makes elite status benefits less valuable to the semi-frequent traveler.  And if upgrades only occur on occasion, or only on short distance flights, it just seems really overrated to me.

Unless you are traveling very often, these low level statuses with airlines really aren’t that great.

Do you have low-level status with an airline?  Have you found it to be overrated?  Or extremely lucrative?

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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