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Travel Tip: Elite Status Changes

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There are two kinds of frequent-flier miles: the ones you use to book awards tickets, and qualifying miles that get you better status on an airline.

To reach elite status, you usually have to fly real air miles, earn points based on your class of ticket, or fly a certain amount of segments. The airlines calculate what you earn in one calendar year, and then set the counter back to zero. So if you’re a few miles short of the level when the year ends, you’re out of luck.

That’s why mileage junkies jump on cheap, long-haul flights, also known as mileage runs.

But Delta has quietly implemented a new rule: starting next year, you’ll have to spend a minimum amount to earn status for 2015. For example, to reach silver status, you have to spend at least $2,500 and earn 25,000 miles or fly 30 segments. For business travelers buying expensive tickets, that’s not hard to do. But most other travelers aren’t very happy about this change.

If you’re struggling to earn elite miles, look for limited-time promotions from the airlines, branded credit cards, and hotels. But watch out—that kind of game can get addictive! Believe me, I know.

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