A comparison of Mileage Programs from Erik Skoog:
In many cases - I see people immediately assuming their hometown carrier is whom they should align themselves with - they'll join and work hard to attain elite status.
Oh, how very far from the truth this is. Today's example involves Sytemwide Upgrades. Systemwide upgrades are the "holy grail" for elite travelers - reserved exclusively for the top tiers of all airline programs. I have clients that will take a weekend trip to London for the sole sake of keeping their top tier status for the next year and with that earning their "systemwide upgrades" as well.
But not all "upgrades" are created equal. All three "majors" (Delta, United and American) give their top tired flyers 6 one-way systemwide upgrades per year…but take a look at the fare required to upgrade below. I did a test search of weekday July flights departing from a Midwest city.
Delta’s Upgradeable fare to China: $3710.00
United’s Upgradeable fare to China: $1931.90
Delta’s Upgradeable fare to London: $2666.80
American’s Upgradeable fare to London: $1426.80
Delta’s Upgradeable fare to Buenos Aires: $2322.20
American’s Upgradeable fare to Buenos Aires: $1313.20
Delta’s Upgradeable fare to Sydney: $3771.30
United’s Upgradeable fare to Sydney: $1888.30
Notice a trend? In every case Delta’s “systemwide upgrades” require over $1000 – in some cases almost $2000 more than American or United. Amazing is it not? Now with Continental and United merging - it might be the time to reconsider your loyalty alligence.