Elite Upgrade

Elite Upgrade 2016-01-31T19:41:44-08:00

Hi Joel,

I just started reading your Penny Pincher’s book and decided I’d give
some of the techniques a try since they sounded so great.

I have 17,666 FF miles on NWA (accumulated over the last 2 years). I
don’t fly any other airline because I pretty much only fly between
Orlando (where I live) and Detroit (where my family lives).

I first of all thought I should try to get upgraded to their first
tier Elite FF program just like you said. So I called them, explained
that I was a loyal customer and planned to be for some time and asked
if they’d upgrade me. I was told you need 25,000 miles in one year to
get upgraded to the first Elite status and no they couldn’t do
anything for me.

So I thought OK, let’s try the next best thing. I’m flying back to
Detroit in October (already booked on NWA) and in December (yet to
book). So I asked if I could book a flight to Detroit in December and
get an upgrade to first class. The agent told me I only have enough
for a one-way upgrade. I asked him if he could take all my miles and
upgrade me both ways even though it wasn’t quite enough. He said no.

So either I’m doing something wrong or I need to switch airlines. I
think maybe I need to switch airlines, NWA didn’t seem to be very

I know your time is valuable so I won’t expect a response. But if you
have a few minutes and an idea I’d be quite excited about that.

Thanks for your time!

Karol Gajda


Answered by The Penny Pincher

Hi Karol,

I am never too busy for a reader of my book. A few suggestions: try working more directly with the people at the airport, such as gate agents and ticket agents. They tend to have more power to upgrade. Sometimes the phone reps are limited in what they can do. I would also use NW’s current bankruptcy status in your favor. Say “Hey, I want to stick by you guys because I think you’re a great airline, I always choose you even if I fly a limited number of times…do you think you can upgrade me?”

I would also call NW’s corporate office and ask for their minimum elite status. Ask them what they have to lose; the upside to them is that they gain a loyal customer.

If all else fails maybe they are not the airline for you. Please let me know how it works out.

My best,

Joel Widzer