Mergers are generally not viewed as favorable for consumers. By concentrating power in fewer, rather than more, suppliers, the merged companies are often able to increase pricing, since there are fewer competitors.
Sometimes, though, combining benefits can work in your favor. Such is the case when it comes from earning airline elite status* through your hotel status.
Earning Airline Elite Status through your Hotel (Or Vice Versa)
Both Marriott (Marriott Rewards, or “MR”) and Starwood (SPG) offer you airline perks if you achieve their highest level of elite status.
- Earn Marriott Platinum status and they will grant you United Airline Premier Silver. It’s not much, but it does get you a free bag, upgrades and priority airport services (check-in, security, boarding, etc.). Note that Increased Airline Elite Status Through The Starwood/Marriott Merger (Or Vice Versa)you’ll need to dig a bit on Marriott’s site to find reference to this benefit. You’ll also get a 10% bonus on one of the best unknown uses of MR points: Travel packages, which allow you to get airline miles at a highly advantageous rate when redeeming points for a hotel.
- On the other hand, SPG Platinum status gets you some important Delta benefits. You won’t get Delta’s Silver status, but you’ll get one SPG point per dollar spent, as well as other airport services, including check-in, priority boarding and a free first checked bag.**
- It also works in reverse. SkyMiles Silver and Gold members earn one mile for every dollar spent at Starwood, and Platinum & Diamond members get the benefits that a Starwood Gold member would at SPG hotels. Meanwhile, United Gold, Platinum and 1K members get matched to Marriott’s mid-tier Gold status. Hey, it’s enough to get you lounge access.
And Now What?
The merger between Marriott and Starwood means that earning status at one gets you the equivalent status at the other. For example, if you have Marriott Platinum status, it will automatically give you Starwood Platinum status as well, as long as you have linked your accounts. That also means that you’ll have twice the opportunity to earn airline elite status (or the benefits from it, in the case of SPG).
Does it even matter? It may not. Most people who stay enough at hotels to earn status also have status on at least one airline. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll always fly that particular carrier. You may be loyal to American but, if you need a non-stop from Fort Lauderdale to Denver, you’ll probably find yourself on United. Trust me, the free bag and improved seats make a difference!
*Beginner’s Hint: *If you are new at miles or need a brief refresher, read this post on elite status.
**Starwood also has benefit agreements with Emirates and China Eastern.
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