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The Perks of Elite Traveler Status

[June 20th, 2015]

If you’re a frequent flyer, you know how the little things can make a difference when you’re on a trip. Priority boarding, free bag check, a VIP lounge, express check-in: these things can make or break your day when you’re weary from a long day of traveling, or setting out at the crack of dawn.

One way to have the best possible travel experience is to be an elite member of a frequent flyer loyalty program. Most frequent traveler memberships have levels, such as silver, gold, platinum, or elite. Here’s a look at the perks these premium membership levels offer, and why you want them:

Priority boarding. Getting on the plane earlier is an attractive benefit. Elite flyers get called to board sooner than other passengers, making air travel easier before you even start your trip. No more anxiety about whether you are allowed to board the plane yet, and no more wondering whether there will still be room in the overhead bin by the time you get on board. With priority boarding, you are able to board early, late, or whenever you wish. It’s worth noting that sometimes you can get priority boarding without even being an elite status member; there are co-branded airline credit cards that will give you priority boarding just for being a cardholder.

Free bag check. Checking a bag can easily add another $50 to $100 to your total trip cost – and that’s just for one person. If you’re an elite flyer, you may be able to check a bag, or multiple bags, at no extra charge. Saving that money, and saving yourself from hoisting your bag into the overhead bin, makes elite membership that much better. Again, some credit cards offer this perk without being an elite member, so there are more ways to check a bag for free than simply achieving that elite status.

One word and an acronym: VIP lounge. If you’ve never been in one of these, you probably don’t know what you’re missing. Free drinks, free meals, spa treatments like massages and manicures, special charging stations for your electronics, meeting rooms in case you need to do a little business between flights, comfy couches where you can stretch out and relax, free newspapers and magazines, and staff on hand to answer questions and help you plan your trip itinerary – those are just some of the wonders of the VIP lounge. Being an elite level traveler usually gets you entry into these luxurious places, so if those amenities sound tempting, check into what it takes to get that gold or platinum status and get flying.

Express check-in. You’ve stood in a long line and seen them: the people who can skip to the front and check in right away, no waiting. Those people are elite members of their traveler loyalty programs. You, too, can cut the line and get right to your gate if you are a gold or platinum member – or whatever your chosen program calls their elite tier of membership.

Usually, you’ll need to spend a certain amount of money and fly a certain number of miles to become one of the elite. But doing so is certainly worth it, if the above perks sound good to you. Or if you don’t fly that often, get a co-branded airline card that offers some of the perks of elite status.

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