So, let’s start off with the reason I’m posing this question:
I’m moving to Minneapolis in September.
Okay, got that one off my chest. Now, onto more important things.
Leaving Chicago as a Star Alliance elite, I am having a lot of second thoughts about the value of my MileagePlus elite membership since I will be relocating to a SkyTeam hub.
My current stats are as such: I am a Star Gold member with United credit card, and lounge access as a United Club member (although that will expire on September 30, since I chose to forgo annual renewal). Still, as a *G, I will have lounge access when traveling internationally through the end of the year.
I plan on making it to Silver at least this year, but with hopes that I’ll hit gold again. To be determined.
That said, even as a Star Gold, I’m semi-concerned about whether or not it’s worth it and if I should just switch over to the dark side (I know).
Not that I think that SkyMiles and SkyTeam are bad, but my #1 glaring problem with SkyPesos is that is really has the worst award redemption availability of any of the major programs (see related post: United MileagePlus trumps Delta SkyMiles, once again).
Up until last week, I had firmly decided that even if I moved to Minneapolis, I would stick with Star since Delta initiated the Minimal Spend Requirements for 2014 in order to maintain elite status. Once I found out that United has followed suit, I’m back to straddling the fence again.
Now, I don’t think that United’s minimum spend requirements are that obscene. However, the honest truth is that I don’t exclusively fly on United metal in hitting Star Alliance elite status each year, so I don’t think that 5,000 spend requirements will be fulfilled. To be completely honest, I definitely could fall into the category of elites United is seeking to discharge from the program. Maybe it’s meant to be a mutual separation?
That being said, I have several big-ticket trips I want to take this year to have me hit elite status. Before I make those commitments, I should probably have a firm idea of which alliance to stick with.
My options are as follows:
1. I could stick with United/Star, hit status again this year, enjoy all the Star benefits, use my $500 voucher on United, and basically stay a Star elite in Minneapolis, or
2. I could do all of the above and then do a Delta status match early next year, and switch to Delta then, or.
3. I could switch to Delta now in a status match and fly SkyTeam for the rest of the year, get SkyTeam elite status and sever ties with Star
Honestly, my primary concern is that even though having Star status in Minneapolis works favorably when it comes to upgrades and other perks, there are still sacrifices involved. For example, I’ll be limited when it comes to choices and convenience of schedules. I will have to connect through a United hub, such as Denver, Houston or Chicago, when traveling home to DFW, for instance, which is not worth it for a 1,000 mi journey.
Additionally, United, Air Canada and US Airways are the ONLY Star Alliance carriers serving Minneapolis, compared to the 10+ serving Chicago (well, then again, Delta and seasonal AirFrance are the only SkyTeam carriers serving Minneapolis, but the network reaches of Star vs. SkyTeam out of Minneapolis are incomparable).
Put simply, I’m at a loss as to what to do, so I’m in need of expert advice. It would be helpful to get weigh-ins from both sides and help me make a decision. I really do love Star Alliance carriers and the United MP program, as well as its branded credit cards. I do have a Delta Amex card already, which I keep handy.
Alternatively, the minimum $25,000 annual spend on the United-branded credit card may also play a huge role in the decision.
So, readers, help me out here. What are your thoughts?