Fed up with your usual airline or its frequent flyer benefits? Just landed a new contract taking you outside the reach of your existing airline's flights and partners? Or has a key airline partner broken up with your preferred carrier?
It might be time for you to investigate a new airline and at the same time look into a "status match" against your existing frequent flyer card to deliver all the perks you're used to: business lounge access, the choice seats when you book, priority queues and extra frequent flyer points.
Since status matching is something of an insider secret, the Australian Business Traveller team has put heads together to bring you some tips on how to go about it.
Keep an eye out for offers, but don't be afraid to approach an airline directly
Airlines will sometimes run specific status match offers, and we'll usually let you know about them on Australian Business Traveller if they're open to Australians.
But you can generally approach airlines on a case-by-case basis for a status match -- especially if you make a persuasive case that you're a really good catch as a frequent flyer.
How to get status matched: the basics
You're best off starting off by explaining how valuable a customer you are. Consider answering some questions the airline will have about you:
- how frequently do you travel -- and how many high-tier loyalty cards do you have?
- have you heard good things about the airline from colleagues?
- has your company just won a contract taking you to the new airline's hub airport?
- what are your travel plans for the next year (and can you point them to an emerging pattern of travel on their own flights?)
- do you make the travel -- and especially airline -- decisions for your company or clients?
As a rule, you'll need to provide a scan of your card and a copy of your most recent account statement. Reiterate your usefulness and value to them as a customer when you send this in -- it certainly can't hurt.
Tips and tricks of the status matchers
1) Start off with a bit of online sleuthing. Search for "(the airline you want) status match", tossing in terms like "gold", "platinum", the name of your existing airline, and so on. You might find some hints and tips buried like gems among the noise of the Internet.
2) Ring up the airline's frequent flyer call centre and try to get a specific person or status match email address to send your request. It's better to know where to follow up than just sending it in to the generic airline email address.
3) If you get a "sorry, we don't do that" answer first time round, hang up and call again to see if you get a different answer. We call this the "call centre bingo" approach, and it doesn't just work for status matching!
4) Status matches generally work to an equivalent tier: so if you're a gold member in your old airline's program, you'll be matched to the gold tier (or whatever they call the business lounge access, medium-level card). So know what the airline calls its equivalent tier. "As I understand it, my Elite Diamond Ultra membership is the equivalent of your Super Business Plus tier" is a useful phrase to throw in there.
5) You won't be able to bring over your points or miles as part of a status match -- so best to spend those for a reward flight or upgrade as you're leaving your old airline.
6) You'll have less luck getting a status match from airlines who are already partners with your existing airline -- so Qantas to American Airlines, for example, is less likely to be approved than from United to American Airlines. Rival airlines, by contrast, are usually up for a bit of frequent flyer poaching: Qantas to Air New Zealand, for example.
7) If you're planning a fair amount of flying in the States, US-based airlines often have status match challenges where you get a period of matched status and have to fly a certain amount during that period. They're arguably less useful than status-matching to a oneworld, Star Alliance or SkyTeam partner airline that gives you equivalent benefits without requiring you to do any further flying.
Reader hints and tricks
We know that AusBT's readers are among the savviest out there on how frequent flyer programs (and status matches) work. So share your tips with your fellow readers below -- and for more, check back here and on Twitter: we're @AusBT.
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.