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Considering a breakup with Delta? Here’s a guide to airline status matches and challenges

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

While most loyalty programs do not offer a way to extend elite status beyond the current year, a workaround is available: By matching your expiring elite status to a competing loyalty program, you can potentially maintain your benefits by selecting different carriers.

Numerous airline loyalty programs provide the opportunity to match elite benefits from other programs. For instance, if your Delta Air Lines Medallion elite status will expire on Jan. 31, 2024, you might be able to match it to United Airlines MileagePlus. This typically grants you temporary elite status with the competing program, which can be extended by meeting specific flight or revenue requirements.

With Delta significantly increasing elite status requirements for next year, many of the airline’s loyalists are up in arms. It’s worth exploring the various major elite status matches and challenge opportunities available if you’re looking to break up with Delta — though there are some caveats to consider.

Here’s what you need to know about current airline status matches and challenges.

Preparation and precautions

United Airlines Boeing 777-300ER departing HNL

For starters, there are some important strategies and principles to remember when initiating a status match or challenge.

Let’s start with a broad overview. A status match typically involves getting an equivalent or lower status tier with a new airline based on your existing status with a competitor’s program. You must typically provide a photo of your membership card and a mileage statement to prove your status. It is crucial to avoid altering or falsifying your credentials, as this can result in severe consequences, including account suspension.

On the other hand, a status challenge may or may not require you to have existing status. The airline will specify the number of elite qualifying miles or dollars you must earn within a specific time frame to achieve a particular elite tier. It is essential to thoroughly understand the requirements and which activities count toward the challenge, as some cobranded credit cards or partner airline tickets may be excluded.

Remember that status matches and challenges are often limited to once per lifetime per account, although some carriers have exceptions. Matching status within the same alliance is generally not allowed. It is advisable to complete a match or challenge after June to enjoy status for the rest of the year and potentially retain it for the following year. However, this may not be possible if your status expires at the end of January.

It’s worth mentioning that airlines may not always publicize their status match and challenge opportunities. This may require making phone calls or sending emails to the airline’s customer service and checking websites like StatusMatcher. Remember that your request’s outcome may vary depending on the agent processing it.

Now, with some basics out of the way, let’s explore the current status match and challenge programs across major airlines.

Related: Is airline elite status still worth it?

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines Airplane Landing at LAX

Alaska Airlines used to offer straightforward status matches without any conditions. However, the current status match process now includes a challenge component.

You will be granted the corresponding status level in the Alaska Mileage Plan program for 90 days when you request a status match. To retain this status beyond the initial period, you must fly a specific number of miles on flights marketed and operated by Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air or SkyWest Airlines, depending on the tier you match.

The required flight thresholds are as follows:

  • MVP: 5,000 miles
  • MVP Gold: 10,000 miles
  • MVP Gold 75K: 20,000 miles

Unfortunately, Alaska’s MVP Gold 100K tier has no status match opportunity.

To submit a request, visit the dedicated status match page and provide a screenshot of your current competing mileage statement displaying your name, status and miles earned this year or flown in the prior year to achieve elite status.

If you are matched to MVP Gold 75K, you won’t be eligible for the 50,000 bonus miles associated with qualifying for that status, even if you successfully reach the 20,000-mile threshold. However, if you match to Gold and fly enough to keep that status, you will receive four Gold guest upgrades. Meanwhile, those who successfully complete the MVP Gold 75K challenge will receive those upgrades plus four Alaska Lounge daypasses and the ability to nominate someone to MVP status.

If you request a status match by the end of June and fulfill the requirements, your new status will be valid until the end of the calendar year. On the other hand, if you initiate your status match on or after July 1 and fulfill the requirements, your status will be valid until the end of the following year — making now a great time to start.

Related: What is Alaska Airlines elite status worth?

American Airlines

American Airlines Airbus A321

American Airlines offers a status challenge program called Instant Status Pass to its AAdvantage members. To participate, you can register through American’s customer service. Once registered, you will receive a personalized offer, including a copay based on your current status and flying history with American. If you have status with another airline, American may waive the copay.

The program consists of three phases, each lasting four months. Upon registration, you will immediately enjoy the benefits of the chosen status tier. To maintain the temporary status for another four months, you need to earn a prorated number of Loyalty Points, which is around one-third of the full requirement for a year.

The Loyalty Points required for each tier are as follows:

  • AAdvantage Gold: 10,000 Loyalty Points
  • AAdvantage Platinum: 25,000 Loyalty Points
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro: 42,000 Loyalty Points
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum: 67,000 Loyalty Points

During each phase, you can earn Loyalty Points through qualifying activities with American, its partners and cobranded credit card spending. All these activities count toward your status challenge.

The status you achieve in the first phase determines your starting point in the subsequent phase. This means that regardless of the initial tier you registered for, you will begin the second phase with the benefits you unlocked in the previous phase.

Additionally, through Oct. 12, targeted mid- and upper-tier World of Hyatt elite members are eligible for AAdvantage elite status.

Related: Quick points: How Hyatt and American loyalists can earn more rewards by linking accounts

Delta Air Lines

Delta A330-900neo at the gate in JFK airport

For now, Delta’s public SkyMiles Medallion status challenge is unavailable, per the following message on the carrier’s landing page:

Notice: The SkyMiles Medallion Status Match Challenge is temporarily unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience and are working to bring it back soon.

However, the page still has full details, so you can see how it typically worked.

After submitting your information and proof of your current status, you’d be matched to the corresponding Medallion tier for three months.

Then, each status tier would require you to earn a set number of Medallion Qualification Miles or Medallion Qualification Segments and Medallion Qualification Dollars. For example, those matching to Platinum Medallion status would need to earn 18,750 MQMs or 25 MQSs and 3,000 MQDs during the 90-day status match period.

Delta 2023 status match requirements

If you met the requirements, your status validity depended on the date you registered for the status challenge. If you started a challenge from July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024, and completed (or will complete) the requirements, your Medallion Status will be extended through Jan. 31, 2025.

Again, this program isn’t currently available, and it’s unclear when (or if) it will return.

Related: What is Delta elite status worth?

Frontier Airlines

frontier plane

Frontier Airlines matches status from over 45 programs, including airline, hotel and cruise line programs.

Specific costs are involved to verify your match to a specific tier in Frontier’s elite program. The prices are as follows:

  • Frontier Elite 20k: $99
  • Frontier Elite 50k: $99
  • Frontier Elite 100k: $149

There’s also an additional $50 fee if you’ve had a Frontier status match since Nov. 1, 2020. Once your elite status with Frontier is approved, it will remain valid until Dec. 31, 2024. However, to maintain your elite status beyond this date, you must meet the program’s published requirements and qualify for the respective elite tiers.

To request a status match, fill out this registration form.

Related: I was offered top-tier airline elite status for $499 — here’s why

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines first class Airbus A330
Hawaiian Airlines first class on an Airbus A330. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

While not publicly advertised, HawaiianMiles has historically offered status matches up to top-tier Platinum status on a case-by-case basis via its online contact form.

Hawaiian Airlines requires two things:

  • Proof of current elite status
  • Documentation of flights completed that earned the elite status, including flight activity to at least one of Hawaiian’s destinations

Matches are good for one calendar year from the time of upgrade.

Related: How to upgrade your seat on Hawaiian Airlines

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Boeing 737-800 interior
Southwest Boeing 737-800 interior. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

Previously, it was challenging to discover Southwest’s status match and challenge programs as they were not widely advertised. However, the airline has now made these programs more accessible by providing all the terms and conditions on its website.

You must have status with another domestic airline to be eligible for a Southwest A-List status match. Any status level seems to be accepted. To initiate the process, email with your full name, Rapid Rewards account number and proof of elite status.

Once your request is processed, you will receive promotional A-List status for 90 days. Typically, Southwest grants this status within 12 business days of submission.

To extend your A-List status for an additional 12 months, you must book and complete three qualifying round-trip flights (or six one-ways) within 90 days. These flights must be paid fares, not award tickets. Existing A-List members with expiring status are not eligible for a status match.

It’s important to note that according to the terms and conditions, your flights must be booked and completed during the 90-day period. While existing bookings may not count, Southwest allows easy cancellation and rebooking without penalties. This means you can convert existing bookings into new ones if the fare has not increased significantly.

To qualify for the Southwest status match, you must not have received promotional A-List status from any program, including status matches and challenges, within the past 12 months.

Related: What is Southwest elite status worth?

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321

Similar to Delta’s offering, the Spirit status match is currently unavailable. You can register here to join the waitlist or apply once it becomes available again.

Historically, here’s how the program has worked.

Those with elite status on many North American carriers were eligible for a 90-day status match to Spirit’s Silver or Gold tiers, depending on their existing elite status.

Here’s a look at elite statuses that have been eligible for Spirit’s status match:

Airline Silver status match — $49 application fee Gold status match — $99 application fee
Alaska Airlines MVP MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K
American Airlines Gold Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum
Delta Air Lines Silver Medallion Platinum, Gold and Diamond Medallion
Frontier Airlines 20k 50k and 100k
Hawaiian Airlines Gold Platinum
JetBlue N/A Mosaic
Southwest Airlines A-List A-List Preferred and Companion Pass
United Airlines Premier Silver Premier Gold, Platinum and 1K

In the past, you could extend your status by fulfilling the following requirements in the 90-day window:

  • Free Spirit Silver: Earn 500 status qualifying points by flying Spirit or spending on a cobranded credit card.
  • Free Spirit Gold: Earn 1,250 SQPs by flying Spirit or spending on a cobranded credit card.

Silver and Gold elite members receive waived fees, such as free seat selection, priority boarding and same-day standby. You’re even eligible for a free checked and carry-on bag at the Gold level.

We’ll be sure to update this story when (or if) the Spirit Airlines status match returns.

Related: Everything you should know before flying Spirit Airlines

United Airlines

United Boeing 737 MAX 9

United launched its MileagePlus Premier Status Match Challenge promotion in early 2023. Members can register and receive temporary status during the challenge period. Here’s a look at how several popular airlines’ respective statuses would translate to United MileagePlus status:

United status match

According to United’s website, this is only a partial list. A full list is available on the Premier Status Match Challenge form.

After enrollment, members have 120 days to earn a set number of Premier qualifying flights and Premier qualifying points to extend their elite status. Once these thresholds are met, the member’s elite status is valid through January 2025.

United status match requirements

However, the flights must be operated by United or United Express — partner flights (including those on Star Alliance carriers) aren’t eligible.

Challenges are limited to once every five years per MileagePlus account.

Related: What is United Airlines elite status worth?

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic A350 seat
Virgin Atlantic’s A350 premium economy seat. ANDREW KUNESH/THE POINTS GUY

Virgin Atlantic offers a publicly available status match to members of select competing programs.

You’re eligible for an instant match to either Silver or Gold status, depending on your existing status tier. However, those who match to Gold must have a future paid flight booked in Upper Class or premium economy to be eligible. Meanwhile, those matching to Silver must have a flight booked in any cabin to be approved for a match. Once approved, your status match will be valid for 12 months.

Here’s a look at what programs and status tiers are eligible:

Loyalty program Silver match Gold match
American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Pro Executive Platinum
British Airways Executive Club Silver Gold
Cathay Pacific Gold Diamond
El Al Matmid Gold Platinum
Hong Kong Airlines Fortune Wings Club Silver Platinum or Gold
Iberia Plus Oro Platino
Lufthansa Miles & More Senator Hon Circle
Pakistan International Airlines Awards +Plus Sapphire Diamond
Scandinavian Airlines SAS EuroBonus Gold Diamond
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Silver Gold
South African Airways Voyager Silver Gold or Platinum
United Airlines MileagePlus Premier Platinum Premier 1K

Once your status is upgraded, you’ll enjoy your status for 12 months. Here’s what you have to earn in the 12 months to retain your status:

  • Silver: 400 tier points
  • Gold: 1,000 tier points

Those with Virgin Atlantic status receive various benefits when flying with the airline and its partners. On Delta flights, Gold members receive priority seating, lounge access on select flights, priority baggage and other benefits. Plus, they receive benefits on Air France, KLM, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia.

Unfortunately, since Virgin Atlantic is now a member of Sky Team, you can’t use your Delta status for this match.

Related: The ultimate guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Bottom line

Airlines often offer status matches and challenges to attract elite customers from their competitors. However, as customers, we can also benefit from these opportunities. Status matches and challenges provide a shortcut to enjoying perks, cost-saving measures and waived fees, especially if you are moving to a hub where your preferred airline doesn’t operate (or has a smaller presence). They can also be advantageous for specific trips, particularly international ones. Or, you can use them if you’re ready to break up with your existing airline over unwelcome changes to its program.

Related: Delta’s SkyMiles changes have convinced me to stop chasing airline status, and that’s liberating

Before applying for a status match or challenge, it’s crucial to thoroughly understand the terms and conditions and ensure you can meet the requirements. Don’t overlook opportunities with foreign carriers that could grant alliance elite status, offering benefits like lounge access and increased baggage capacity on domestic airlines.

If your current elite status is about to expire, remember to submit your status match request before it does to avoid missing out on the opportunity.