Last year I wrote How to Get – and Use – Airline Status Matches.
Travel providers are interested in acquiring their competitors’ best customers, but elite status has a lock-in effect.
Sure, you might want to defect from United to American or from Delta to Alaska, but it’s pretty tough to do that and start from scratch with a new airline. You’re well treated as an elite, and it’s rough out there flying without any status (although now the bottom tier of status can be approximated in many cases with the airline’s co-branded credit card).
So airlines came up first with status matches (you have elite status with a competitor, we will give you that status on our airline to make it easier to move your business over) and then status challenges (we’ll let you earn the status in an expedited way but do want you to prove you’re moving some business over, and get in the habit of flying our airline).
I love status from non-US airlines. If you get Gold-level status in a foreign Star Alliance airline frequent flyer program you can use United’s club when flying United domestically. If you get that status in a foreign oneworld frequent flyer program you can use American’s club when flying American domestically. (And of course you can use each alliance’s lounges when flying a an airline in that alliance same day all over the world.) Note that Skyteam is more restrictive, with lounge access limited to international travel.
If you have status in a non-oneworld frequent flyer program such as United’s or Delta’s, oneworld member airberlin offers status matches. (It’s a troubled airline, but your status is still good.)
They used to offer temporary matches with expedited requalification. Then they offered full matches. Then they started restricting those matches to residents of certain European countries. But Americans are included.
They even have a published status match page.
This offer is only available in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and USA.
Here’s how it works:
The terms also say that “Customers with residence in the US must prove a booking confirmation incl. booking number of an airberlin long haul flight between US and Europe (return ticket). This flight must be operated by airberlin and take place in 2016.”
If they do enforce it, perhaps they do so only sporadically, and a refundable ticket would qualify here. The terms are silent on whether an award ticket would count as well.
Entrance to American Airlines Club, Austin