Ever wondered how points hackers gain Gold status on multiple airlines in a year? Sometimes they legitimately get it by flying, but getting top-tier status on one airline is hard, multiple means A LOT of travel. What most people do is status match.
This is the process of going to an airline that you don’t have frequent flyer status with, and asking them to match the frequent flyer status you have with your regular airline. This is also possible with hotel status. For example, I was a British Airways Gold member, which gave me the equivalent of One World Emerald status. I went to Turkish Airlines, which is a member of Star Alliance, and asked them to match my status with them.
When can you do it?
Airlines do not always do status matching. It is usually something they open for short periods of time to encourage people to switch from their regular airline.
Basically, it’s a way of gaining new customers. So, you have to know when the offers are on and also what conditions the airlines might put in place for you to gain the status match with them. Many airlines will ask you to meet certain requirements before they give you the full status.
For example, they might offer you a short period of time with them which can be exchanged for a full year if you take at least one flight with them in that time period.
How does it work?
As I said there must be an offer for it to work at all. So you need to check that the airline is accepting status match applications.
Next, you’ll need to find out how to apply for the application and what the requirements are for the application. Then you’ll need to send in proof of your existing status along with any other requirements they may have. For example, they might ask to see your flying history for the past year to prove that you are a regular flyer.
Once you’ve applied, they’ll consider your application and then either reward you with status for one year or set you a challenge which you must complete within a certain time period to get your flight status for a year.
I’ve done this process twice, once with Turkish Airlines and then again with Virgin Atlantic. I’ll take you through the process with both. As a reminder, I had One World Emerald status. This is the highest status on One World. I had that thanks to my British Airways Executive Club Gold membership.
So immediately there was no real point in applying to any One World airline unless I was looking to switch to using a different airline within One World as my regular airline in the future.
Example – Turkish Airlines, Star Alliance
The process here was quite simple, there was a dedicated e-mail address to apply for status matching. I wrote them an email and they asked me to send them a copy of my British Airways Executive Club membership card and a record of the flights I had taken in the past year. All of which was easily downloadable from the British Airways website.
A few weeks later I had a reply where they said they were awarding me Elite status, which is the equivalent to Star Alliance Gold membership. The only catch was this was limited to three months, but they would extend it to a full year if I took at least one flight with Turkish Airlines within that first three months.
Unfortunately, at this particular time of year my work was slowing down and there was not much travel for me to do, so I didn’t have an opportunity for a work trip. However, I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity, so I did a day trip from London to Istanbul. I used my BA Avios to buy myself a flight from London to Istanbul, and then I bought the cheapest economy ticket from Istanbul back to London again, all on the same day.
The reason I didn’t do a return ticket with Turkish Airlines was it might have raised a few eyebrows for me to do a return trip on the same day, and I had lots of Avios to use, so it saved me money in the end.
Meeting their requirements
I went to the British Airways lounge early in the morning, had breakfast and enjoyed a few glasses of champagne. Then I flew over to Istanbul.
Upon arrival, I already had my boarding pass for my trip with Turkish Airlines on my phone. So, I headed straight to the transfer area, passing through a security check. Then I was back airside in Istanbul airport. Turkey do a visa-on-arrival scheme which I managed to skip as I didn’t even enter the country.
The second reason why I wanted to make sure I came back on Turkish Airlines was their lounge. I’d allowed about a four-hour gap between flights, just in case of delays, so I had plenty of time to sample their lounge. This trip was many years ago in the old Istanbul airport. I understand the new airport is amazing and has a fantastic lounge. But this lounge was stunning, probably one of the biggest lounges I’ve seen and it had amazing facilities. There was a cinema, a golf simulator, a Scalextric track, plenty of different styles of seating areas. As is the norm with lounges, there were drinks everywhere, and lots of food choices.
I thoroughly enjoyed my lounge visit. After eating and drinking so much throughout the day I slept all the way home on the Turkish Airlines flight. The end result was I was awarded my status and I held it for her for one year.
Example – Virgin Atlantic
In 2019 I changed jobs and I ended up working at the same company as a certain Mr Joe Bleasdale. He is quite the fan of Virgin Atlantic and very keen for me to fly them with him.
I noticed at the time that Virgin Atlantic were offering status matching, so I applied using my Gold status with British Airways. I was given a challenge to fly with them within three months to get a year’s worth of gold membership.
Joe and I conveniently needed to visit New York almost immediately upon me starting the job. So we booked a return trip to New York, on Virgin Atlantic in Premium Economy.
One of the requirements of the Virgin Atlantic requirements was to fly in Premium Economy or above. This was not an issue as the company policy allowed for us to book in Premium for long-haul trips. This was my first taste of Virgin Atlantic, and I was massively impressed. To get a taste of what Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is like, check out Joe’s Austin trip report.
The lounge at Heathrow airport, called The Clubhouse, was wonderful. My new status allowed me access, so I went in enjoyed a gin & tonic. I had a head massage in the spa, and then met up with Joe for drinks and nibbles. Much to Joe’s annoyance, not only had I been given Gold status straight away, but I was also upgraded on my very first flight to Upper Class. I got a notification on my app whilst we were in the lounge that my seat had changed. Joe was seething until he realised he was also upgraded. We both managed to enjoy dinner together sitting at the bar on the flight to New York.
Needless to say, my gold status was confirmed for the next year, but it didn’t end there. One year later COVID came along, and Virgin decided to extend everyone status’s. I managed to hold my Gold status without significant flying right up to March 2022. In that time, I took three different trips with Virgin. Those trips were all made easier by having access to the Gold benefits.
What about hotels?
As mentioned before this system also works with hotel chains and their loyalty programmes too. However it is very rare to get status matching between hotels and airlines. But airlines to airlines is common and hotels to hotels does work quite often.
How do I find out which airlines are offering status matching?
This one is quite simple, there is a website entirely dedicated status matching. It will tell you which airlines are offering it and gives you a record of people have successfully managed to achieve it. You’ll see there’s more failures than successes. But if you follow the successes you will see who managed to achieve a status match. It will also provide information about things like which email address to apply to.
Why bother status matching?
If you want to switch to a different airline alliance without losing your hard earned status that you’ve got in your current alliance. Status matching will give you the opportunity to have both without doing all the work again. If you’re flying enough to maintain status in two different alliances then it’s a great way to get into the second alliance.
Or it might be that you need to move within alliance to another airline. For example, if you were a Cathay Pacific frequent flyer and you are moving to London, you might want to switch to British Airways so that you can book and pay for flights with points directly with British Airways.
Also, it’s fun! If you have a decent frequent flyer status and you’ve earned all your points you need for your coming year and you don’t need to earn any more points, why not switch and try a different airline or try some different lounges?