Chasing miles: Travellers go the extra mile for elite status
Ross McLaughlin and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Tuesday, May 16, 2017 6:00AM PDT
From first-class upgrades to champagne and lounge passes – some travellers are obsessed with obtaining elite status on airlines and will go to great lengths to get it.
Shane Buksh has travelled to 79 countries around the world and when he’s not travelling for work, he’s doing it for pleasure or just chasing miles. He’s made quick trips to Singapore, Equador, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong and Hawaii all to gain elite status.
"I've done some of those destinations where I flew there and back within six hours," he said, “I’m collecting the points to get my tier status, it’s all about status.”
Buksh has Premier 1K status, which means extra pampering on his flights, with first-class upgrades, lots of leg room and higher-end meals.
"To get the status that I want to achieve I have to 100,000 miles a year," Buksh explained
His airline of choice is United because he says you get more bang for your mileage buck.
Buksh keeps a spreadsheet, and most of the travel is for work. But every year he falls short anywhere from five to 20 thousand miles and buys mileage run tickets to top up. A recent weekend trip to Singapore cost him $850 in economy, but United bumped him up to first class, and he says it happens often.
He gets other perks too, like complimentary baggage, seat selection, drinks, lounge access and priority boarding. He’s even received a personal letter from a pilot thanking him for all of his miles. Buksh estimates that he spends about $2,000 a year on mileage runs but believes the upgrades and perks more than outweighs the extra cost to maintain status.
"My friends laugh at me. They say you're all about your status all the time but when they're traveling with me and they get upgraded, they're not complaining. They say yeah this is great keep up the good work." he joked.
Buksh says his next goal is to get United Global Service. That’s kind of a mysterious top-tier status where it’s said they shuttle you between gates in a private limo to catch your next flight.