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