One of the classic data challenges with frequent flyer programs is: what happens when your elite status changes?
Historically you would make a reservation, and your status would attach to it. When I dropped from Starwood Platinum status down to Gold at the beginning of 2010, my Platinum status still stayed in my reservations I had already booked.
When I first went from United Premier to Premier Executive about 13 years ago, United didn’t see that I had a higher status with those initial reservations that I had made prior to my status increasing.
But as IT systems have become better, this has begun to catch up. Still, not all programs have improved here, and it’s worth knowing about yours specifically.
- If your status is going up, do you need to proactively have something done to existing reservations in order to get all of your benefits?
- If your status is going down, can you make reservations now to still enjoy top tier benefits even after you no longer qualify for that status?
Starwood used to just attach status to a reservation when it was booked. A hotel had to refresh the reservation to update the status usually at check-in, but as my own experience about five years ago suggests not always even then.
When I spoke with Starwood’s Chris Holdren recently, I asked about how things work currently. He explains that their system now automates the refresh frequently. So Starwood status should update automatically in future reservations, whether your status goes up or down.
Each program is different though so I always advise having your program remove your loyalty program account from a booking, and then entering is back in. While processes vary, with most that will force an update of your status so that you get benefits you’re entitled to when your status goes up.
And of course if your status drops, try to avoid making any changes or having anyone touch your booking prior to travel — you may just come out ahead.
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