Travel Hacking: Airlines And Hotel Status Matching?

We love travel hacking, and one of the best travel hacks we know is airline and hotel status matching. Do you have an existing elite status with an airline or hotel? If so, you might be able to get it matched with their competitors.

Travel Hacking: Airlines And Hotel Status Matching?
For us Vagabonds the allure of free vacations, and airline, hotel and car rental upgrades is something of an obsession for us. Yet, very few are aware of one of the greatest and easiest travel hacking tricks that exist, and that is airline and hotel status matching.

We are not going to discuss loyalty programs and all the different ways to earn more points or miles, nor the best ways to use points or miles. One would need an entire encyclopedia dedicated to the topic to cover all the things you can do with points and miles, so in this article we are only going to focus on explaining elite status matching and challenges.

As a loyal patron of a travel company, you're not merely a passenger or a guest, but an esteemed member of an exclusive club. With each mile traveled, each night spent in a cozy hotel room, and each adventure embarked upon, you inch closer to unlocking a realm of privileges that transcend the ordinary, and allows you to attain better seats and accommodations without burden of having to pay for those upgrades yourself.

Sure, the allure of upgrades and waived fees is enough to entice any wanderer, but there's a secret oasis within the world of elite status that few have uncovered—the power to extend your benefits beyond the confines of a single company. This, my fellow adventurers, is the essence of an elite status match or challenge.

So, whether you're contemplating a change in allegiance or seeking to prolong the joy of elite status, fear not, for the path forward is illuminated by the promise of new adventures and unforeseen opportunities.

Let's unravel the differences in elite status matches vs challenge matches. Elite status matching is your passport for upgraded travel experiences that you didn't have to pay for and the benefits can be massive, or simply allow you to retain something you were going to lose due to lack of travel.

Airline and hotel status matching
Airlines Who Offer Status Match vs Challenge

What Is Elite Status Matching?

In essence, an elite status match embodies the spirit of reciprocity, where a travel company, typically an airline, hotel brand or car rental company graciously extends its hand to mirror your esteemed elite status within its own distinguished program due to your existing elite status with one of their competitors.

What Is An Elite Status Challenges?

As with any noble quest, there may be trials along the path to glory. Enter the world of elite status challenges. The difference in match vs a challenge is that some companies will match it temporarily, typically 90 days and within that trial period you need to hit certain miles/points quotas in order to extend the match for a full year.

Requesting A Status Match With Hilton

I wanted to match my Marriott Elite Status and this is the challenge Hilton offered me to gain status with them.

In other words, some companies will give you the opportunity to prove your mettle and uphold your newfound status beyond the initial grace period.

Reasons To Seek An Elite Status Match

  • Upcoming trip you want to take has flights at a much lower cost than the carrier you typically fly with, and you purchase a few fares and then want to have said carrier match your current status with their competitor so that you can get free luggage for the trip, and have a chance at getting a free class upgrade.
  • One too many bad experiences with the company you were loyal to and have decided to try a different carrier who will appreciate your business more than the current carrier who has lost your faith and trust.
  • Pretend someone had elite status with a company, but due to changes in their life or business, they didn't travel much at all for a year which is going to result in them losing elite status when the current year ends. However, right before their status was going to end with the company they were loyal to, they requested an elite status match with one of their competitors, giving them the opportunity to retain status with a competitor for the travel they would like to in the near future.
  • You moved cities and your new home airport has a different airline carrier that uses it has one of their hubs, which means they offer way more flights and routes than the current airline you are loyal to.

Do All Companies Offer Elite Status Matching?

Unfortunately, not all travel companies offer elite status matching. However, that doesn't mean they will not still do it. For example, Marriott does not offer it in writings but with a few searches online you will see many success stories of getting a match after completing a challenge.

Elite Status Matching Process

For most matching, their rules and guidelines are posted on their website. Hotel & Airlines will typically verify the authenticity of requests, so attempting to mislead them is futile. Moreover, status obtained via hotel credit cards or unconventional means some times will not meet the criteria for a status match or challenge, although in some cases as mentioned above, it can. So just know what is needed prior to requesting it for those who have the details in their status match published publicly.

Fabricating hotel status credentials is both unethical and unlikely to succeed, and could lead to your loyalty opportunity with that company being permanently banned.

When Should I Request Status Match

Acquiring the highest status across numerous programs isn't necessarily advantageous, despite initial impressions. This is because all programs impose limitations on how frequently you can utilize a match or challenge. Some allow it every five years, while others permit it only once per account's lifetime.

If the airline offers a challenge instead of a match, one would obviously want to request a match right before a trip they know they have upcoming and then once approved for a challenge they can book flights with that carrier allowing them to possibly retain the status by hitting the challenge terms within the 90 day window required by most.

"How many statuses do you need in a given year?"

Each of us are different, and the correct number of elite statuses we hold should be dependent on the number we can retain, especially when it comes to status matching due to their limit on request.

If you can easily retain these new elite status levels with your existing travel lifestyle, then it doesn't really matter when you request them or how many matches you request. So if you have a business that requires you to fly every week and stay in hotels, or you travel all year around and can maintain the minimum milestones to retain the status; then it doesn't matter.

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