I don’t always bash elite status, but when I do, I think there is a clear reason. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of users on reddit hoping to get their economy or premium economy award seat upgraded to the next class of service on international itineraries.
Let’s dispel the myth: there is virtually no way you are getting a complimentary upgrade to the next class of service on an award seat, especially on an international itinerary, regardless of elite status. First off, the airline makes a tremendous amount of money on these transcontinental and transpacific flights, and they certainly won’t be doling out freebies. These are some of the most profitable routes of well run airlines, and they have no incentive to comp you into a luxury spot that a paying customer would otherwise purchase.
Second of all, even if you are a true road warrior with Diamond, Executive Platinum or Premier 1K, you certainly shouldn’t expect to get your global upgrades cleared anymore. In the past, it was clear you could have some chance of clearing these for an upgrade, but with the amount of first class management and pricing strategies enacted by airlines, global upgrade certificates are getting harder and harder to redeem. In fact, they are getting so hard to redeem that top tier status isn’t worth chasing for this benefit. In the past, it was great, but in today’s new world I have two words for you: good luck.
Airlines are becoming some of the most profitable businesses after going through a period of turmoil, and they aren’t looking to decrease those profit margins any time soon! My best piece of advice is to accrue the miles you need to reach your goals. Goal based travel is the only option. If you want to redeem for a first class redemption, up your points balance and don’t rely on the strategy of “hope” for an upgrade. Hope is not a strategy.