Years ago you actually had to, you know, fly to earn elite status on an airline.
But as frequent flyer programs have grown, and have become independently profitable, there’s a recognition that the most profitable customers of the programs aren’t just the frequent flyers. And in fact credit card companies are real drivers of a program’s (and thus airline’s) profitability.
And it’s not just limited to credit card companies.
At the end of last year I wrote about the different options airlines were offering to top off your status without flying.
Back at the end of 2006, US Airways an an “Everything Counts” promotion where miles earned with several hotel and rental car partners and some shopping partners (such as flowers) counted towards elite status.
These sorts of things not only recognize the revenue contributions from partner activity, and also that the most profitable members are the most engaged members who both fly and engage the mileage program in other ways, but also keep the front cabins from getting crowded by mileage runners on cheap fares at the end of the year. You can stay home instead of flying, they can upgrade folks paying more who need to travel. (While, of course, giving up your fare — tradeoffs.)
Clearly US Airways has been the leader in monetizing elite status. But Delta isn’t far behind.
MJ on Travel points to a new offer of 250 bonus elite qualifying miles with a 2-night Hilton stay by December 15. (They’ve made similar offers in the past as ewll.)
To be eligible for this offer, you must (1) select Delta Air Lines as your preferred Double Dip® Points & Miles Partner in your Hilton HHonors account profile, (2) complete a minimum 2-night stay at a hotel or resort within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio from October 2, 2012 through December 15, 2012, and (3) register online at HHonors.com/deltamqm prior to check-out.
…Bonus Delta Mileage (Variable Miles Members): For qualifying stays at HOME2 Suites by Hilton hotels, earn up to 100 bonus miles per qualifying stay + 250 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs). For all other Hilton Worldwide brands, earn 1 bonus mile for every U. S. dollar spent on a qualifying stay + 250 MQMs. Bonus Delta Mileage (Fixed Miles Members):
…Earn 500 bonus miles per qualifying stay + 250 MQMs at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn and Hilton Grand Vacations. Earn 100 bonus miles per qualifying stay + 250 MQMs at Hampton Inn, Hampton by Hilton and Homewood Suites by Hilton. Earn up to 100 bonus miles per qualifying stay + 250 MQMs at Home2 Suites by Hilton.
Crediting Hilton stays to Delta will also offer double miles with this offer.
As I say, elite status isn’t just about flying anymore.