United's new elite qualification requirements now include a minimum spend component. Delta started this trend and I suspect American / US Airways will add a similar requirement after their merger completes. This takes away most of the fun of the frequent flyer game for me. I had always been able to fly a cheap flight to top off miles and reach the next status tier. I booked six trips to Puerto Rico (each trip was 8500 miles and $340) last year on US Airways and credited my United account. This got me easily to 1K because I was buy cheap flights on another carrier. The new spending requirements only apply dollars spent with United, so the value of Star Alliance partner flights is reduced. Buying flights for miles that average 10c per mile isn't a good value or fun idea. These changes got me thinking about ways to keep frequent flying fun.
United 737 Collection In Houston
Status is still critical to enjoying time in the air and lifetime status qualifications are unchanged. 1,000,000 miles is all I need to have lifetime Gold status and I'm well over half way there. Once Gold status is guaranteed, I can relax about status while enjoying traveling. My new goal is to fly as much as I can with United to reach the 1,000,000 mark. If I'm flying just for miles, I'm willing to pay a small premium to fly on United planes (I also get upgrades, so that helps justify the cost difference). It will take a few more years to reach this goal, but I hope to concentrate my efforts in the near term because I have 1K status now and hopefully at least Platinum next year. This will maximize my upgrade chances and the redeemable miles I earn for flights.
JetBlue A320 Landing at LGB
Starwood also has a lifetime status program and I'm already lifetime Gold. Their program requires 10 years as Platinum and 500 nights for lifetime Platinum status. I need 4 years of Platinum status and many more nights, so this tier will stay out of reach and I'm not going to change my behavior to get there faster. Besides, 25 stays in a year (Platinum annual qualification threshold) isn't difficult.