Airlines

Saying goodbye to my KrisFlyer Elite Gold status

After four years of living large as a KrisFlyer Elite Gold member, it's time to embrace the inevitable.

I remember the first time I qualified for KrisFlyer Elite Gold.

It was early 2014. I had just started my first job as a management consultant and the miles were starting to come in. But Elite Gold is a high threshold to meet (plus I’d credited my first long-haul journey to Aegean Miles and Bonus for easy Star Gold status, back when it was possible), and it had taken me almost eight months to reach the magic number of 50,000 elite miles.

I was thrilled beyond words to get my card and welcome pack. It was the most amazing feeling ever.

Yes, I knew that as a KrisFlyer Elite Gold I was still a second class citizen compared to PPS members. Yes, I knew that I’d be subject to lounge apartheid in Changi.

LHS: SilverKris Lounge Changi, RHS: KrisFlyer Gold Lounge Changi. Clip art may have been added for dramatic effect

Yes, I knew that I wouldn’t get much in the way of preferential treatment on board(I’m not proud to say that as a young KrisFlyer Elite Silver I once tried to pull a DYKWIA when my IFE system wasn’t working. It didn’t get me anywhere). Yes, I knew that I didn’t have any upgrades, requalification gifts, or invitations to special events coming my way.

But dammit, I had achieved something, and the feeling of waltzing up to the Elite Gold check-in counter almost offset the gloominess of having to fly economy class for work.

Photo credit: Miletitude

This Friday, I’ll say goodbye to my Elite Gold status, possibly forever.

What happened?

My ex-colleagues have difficulty believing this. “Didn’t you just do this crazy round the world trip in 2018?” they ask.

Yes, I did, but the problem lies with my membership year. As most frequent flyer members know, re-qualification is based on miles flown within a membership year, not a calendar year.

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My membership year happens to be 1 Feb 2018- 28 Feb 2019 (SQ actually gives you 12+1 months to earn the miles needed to re-qualify for status), and when you look at my flights within this period, the picture becomes less impressive:

After I came back from my RTW trip in late February 2018, the only additional revenue flight I made on SQ/*A airlines was a one-way HKG-SIN. This left me with a paltry Elite Miles balance of 18,571.

In 2017 I wrote a brief article on how Singapore Airlines unofficially “gives chance” to members who are just short of re-qualification by granting them some additional time to earn the shortfall (or in some cases just waiving the last few miles):

So what if you’re just short of that target? This was the case of my colleague who was 70 miles short of re-qualifying for Krisflyer Gold.

She asked me whether she could write in and ask for an exception. I laughed. Loudly. Tears streamed down my face as I chortled at her naivety. “Do we remember the man who almost climbed Mount Everest?” I said in my most condescending tone. “Or the guy who almost discovered America?” (I’m not an easy colleague to have). I patted her on the head and told her that there was no way on earth an airline that doesn’t upgrade its highest tier Solitaire PPS members unless it absolutely positively has to would make an exception.

She said something to the tune of “up yours” (we’re a flat organization) and went to write in to membership services. And  got an email a few days later congratulating her on re-qualifying.

I also know that KrisFlyer sends out targeted offers to Elite Gold members who are just shy of re-qualification, offering them the opportunity to earn their status back with a single flight. However, I’m so far away from the 50,000 elite mile mark that I’ve not triggered any such offer. The airline knows my days of revenue travel are over, and they’re right.

Is there any way to earn it back?

Even though I’m unlikely to earn 50,000 elite miles in 12 months ever again, there are two ways that I could potentially earn back my KrisFlyer Elite Gold status, at least for the short term…

Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade Fast Track- Three flights within four months

As an AMEX Platinum Charge cardholder, I get complimentary Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade status. This gives me access to a fast track offer under the Infinite Journeys partnership.

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By taking three SQ/MI revenue flights within a four month period, I can earn KrisFlyer Elite Gold status once more. This covers all revenue ticket types except G class Group Fares, which means Economy Lite tickets are fair game. Even better, a SIN-X-SIN journey would count as two flights, meaning it wouldn’t be too expensive to re-qualify via this route.

There are some decent offers on the SQ website right now, and if I really wanted to, I could re-qualify for a couple hundred dollars.

AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend- Spend $15K on singaporeair.com within 12 months

AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend cardholders who spend at least $15K on Singapore Airlines ticket purchases on singaporeair.com in the first 12 months of approval will get an automatic upgrade to KrisFlyer Elite Gold.

This avenue works well for those who often buy tickets for family members/lazy colleagues, because you can’t earn elite qualifying miles on a ticket with someone else’s name on it.

Unfortunately, unless The Milelion IPOs in double quick time, I don’t see myself buying revenue tickets for anyone in the near future.

Should I earn it back?

Perhaps a better question might be: do I even want to earn KrisFlyer Elite Gold? Apart from being in the same non-swimming club as Joseph Schooling, there really aren’t many incremental benefits for someone like me.

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Ok, but seriously, whenever I fly medium or long haul, I redeem miles for premium cabins which solves for priority baggage and lounge access. When I fly short haul, I tend to go with whatever airline is the cheapest, and don’t often check a bag. I don’t often exceed my luggage allowance, and between my Citi Prestige and AMEX Platinum Charge cards, I’m well covered for lounge access.

I’m aware that KrisFlyer Elite Gold status confers some sort of priority when waitlisting for awards, but I have no way of verifying whether this actually helped me. Also, KrisFlyer no longer offers reduced service fees for Elite members when cancelling award tickets (it used to be US$15 compared to US$30 for non-elites), so it’s very hard to see what Elite Gold membership actually gets me.

The crux of the matter is this: even if I do earn KrisFlyer Elite Gold status back through the Infinite Journey/AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend routes, doing so simply kicks the can down the road an additional year. Both offers only give me a short cut in the first year of membership- subsequently I’ll still need to re-qualify by hitting 50,000 elite miles in a 12 month period.

I’ll probably give it a pass.

Conclusion

When my friends left consulting, they told me that one of the most painful things was to see their airline and hotel elite status gradually dwindle away to nothing. I guess I’m starting to experience that now.

This time next year I won’t be a Marriott Platinum anymore (I am a lifetime Gold, but that’s a whole lot of useless in the combined program), and although having the AMEX Platinum Charge at least guarantees me baseline status with a few programs (Hilton Gold, Shangri-La Jade, Radisson Gold, Marriott Gold, Hertz Five Star, Avis Preferred, KrisFlyer Elite Silver via the Infinite Journeys status match), it’s nothing to shout about.

At the same time, I suppose this is part and parcel of starting a new, self-employed life. And maybe it’s healthy to break free of the annual re-qualification anxiety.

Goodbye KrisFlyer Elite Gold, we hardly knew ye!


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marquwee
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marquwee

the extra baggage allowance is the only useful thing for Kris Flyer Gold.

Everything else if you redeem a business class tickets you’re not worse off…right?

UK_Ship
Guest
UK_Ship

Im about to have the same issue – have 40k miles but year ends in March and nothing booked and little time to do anything about it. The priority bags are useful when travelling with kids and the only other benefit i might miss is the Virgin Clubhouse in LHR when flying to NY. Unless anyone has any cheap 10k mile runs they can think of?

D.
Guest
D.

I find the benefit of KFG comes through outside of SIN, when there’s typically a dedicated check-in counter, and the lounge is (often) the SilverKris one. Oh, and priority boarding so that you snag enough space for your cabin bags. Beyond that, meh.

Happy Camper
Guest
Happy Camper

I agree with you both… KF Gold.. is free extra checked baggage weight, which for me, is very useful.. hence I’m tapping my fingers and feet, waiting for my KF Gold (via Infinite Journeys)..

Aside from that, there is still one more ‘real’ benefit, which is Star Alliance Gold, which at places gives you Fast Track Secuirty/Customs clearance, and this benefit sometimes isn’t offered to Business Class travel..

UK_Ship
Guest
UK_Ship

I already linked my Golden Circle and KF accounts when the promo first came out – does that mean i am not eligible for the 4 month gold status match (as it is from registration?)

Happy Camper
Guest
Happy Camper

@UK_Ship.. I think you’ve misread or misunderstood what matching does here..?

UK_Ship
Guest
UK_Ship

How do you mean? I have Jade status in GC through Amex, but my accounts are already linked. So I will go down to KF Silver on April 1st. But even though I have a number of SQ flights over the next few months, (so in theory enough to go to Gold) wont the “date of registration” be when I linked my accounts and so I have missed the window?

Happy Camper
Guest
Happy Camper

Ah.. I think I understand what you’re saying.. So here it is.. It’s not “a Gold Match”.. GC Jade “matches to KF Silver”, and when GC Jade and KF Silver accounts are linked via IJ, then from the date of linking, you’re given a ‘Challenge’ to fly 3 revenue flights on either SQ or MI within 4 months, for a ‘Fast Track’ to KF Gold.. I cannot tell you either way (someone else may have experienced this before, else maybe call KF to find out) if, during the 4 month time frame on linking the two accounts, you flew the… Read more »

Sammy
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Sammy

I took part in that Shangri-La three flights to gold program when I was jade and finished my third flight by 1-Feb. now I already become diamond member while the SQ status not changed yet.. so slow!

Happy Camper
Guest
Happy Camper

@Sammy, Hahaha… I flew my 3rd flight a week before you and have been chasing KF.. cos I’m flying out again this week and having the additional baggage allowance would be useful..

“…processing will take six to eight weeks after you have completed your third flight..”

D.
Guest
D.

Ditto. I’ve flown 6 revenue flights since status matching, 2 of which were J. Called up KF, received the same stock response.

Chris cook
Guest
Chris cook

I came to exactly the conclusion that it doesn’t offer much. I fly premium econ anyway so have all the benefits on regular travel.

Ive switch to cathay… Got to start again but when you reach their platinum (which you don’t have to fly all business to do) you get first class lounge access.

You don’t get that even with pps and that really pees me off.

Ronald
Guest
Ronald

Agreed, Cathay Pacific is the way to go

Martin
Guest
Martin

I lost my Solitaire, when I retired.

Lifshitz
Guest
Lifshitz

Completely agree on KFG, but losing Platinum would hurt. I need 3 years / 200 more nights to make LTP, and if I can’t make this by work I probably just do more weekend trips to fill up the quota. Enough cheap places in the region to have this not bust the bank, and giving up lounge access and the occasional suite would hurt too much

MJ
Guest
MJ

So I’m in the same boat as you as mine expires at the end of March. Looking at how Singapore Airlines rewards; I decided to move back to United.

Rodney
Guest

You do know that UA has stopped booking awards on SQ, TG and NH? “Technical issues”. Real reason: cheap bastards with an inferior product and service.

Alvin
Guest
Alvin

I’ve never thought of trying to attain Elite Gold or PPS status..I have been the lowest KF status for the longest time..the only reason why I am a KF member is purely so I can change my CC points into miles..for medium to long haul I always redeem J class anyway so none of the Elite Gold perks is useful to me..I too have the Citi Prestige so for lounge visits I’m covered as well..heck sometimes even SIN-BKK-SIN I redeem J class tickets if they are on offer ala Spontaneous Escapes..

Ben
Guest
Ben

My personal experience is that the inflight attention and treatment of PPS members is usually distinctly up a level from that of KFEGs, whom as we all know are not really bothered about much by SQ. Closed waitlists are also not an issue sometimes for PPS. Ultimately, it is only fair to expect that even between business class passengers, those who have chosen to put their cash (or their employers’) in the SQ bank will get preferential treatment over pure miles chasers.

Edmund
Guest

I was a PPS card holder. I lost this status in 2008 when I retired in 2008. Please do not believe so-called “loyality” program toward SIA. I was a gold as well PPS card holders since 1994. Now, I am still running a small business, need to flight frequently I am still flight on business class on other airlines. The business class prices are much cheaper as compared with SIA. But, their services were acceptable. Lately, I was on a business class to Manila through Philippines Airline. I felt that they are catching up with SIA. I also noticed that… Read more »

JW
Guest
JW

I gave up on KF elite status due to the very same reason, elites are not valued at all. Did myself the MH triple everything challenge instead and got the ow emerald valid till 2021, which is generous of MH. I will fully concentrate my flying on ow instead, with the lounges such as The Wing first to look forward to.

Claude
Guest
Claude

Made the journey from Solitaire to Blue … after Gold it became depressing. I would pay for some of the privileges (e.g. Priority Pass departing from Bangkok Airport) but that is beyond.

Rodney
Guest

KFG gives you Star Gold, doesn’t it ? That means lounge access. Even in United Clubs stateside. Beats buying a membership and since UA has blacked out SQ, TG and NH for awards, guess where I’m crediting my flights?