The past few weeks have consisted heavily of talk on a switch from American to Delta, despite my misgivings about Delta. Elite perks seem to now slightly favor Delta, but there is an option that I have no yet discussed in regards to loyalty programs, and that is the free agent approach.
While I'm not exactly a sports fan, free agents are a big term most well known in the sports world. So how exactly does this apply to airline loyalty? Becoming a free agent is pretty much what it sounds like, that is to quickly switch loyalties back and forth, keeping open a relationship with two or more different airlines. In this case with the place I live allows me to play both American and Delta in a combined effort to keep both elite status levels up and running.
There are some advantages to that, mostly that I can choose which ever airline works best in each situation. I'm not favoring one over the other even in cases where the competitor would give me a better price. This is kind of a limited case since most prices these days are fairly competitive and rarely is there a huge price disparity, but sometimes sales happen and being able to take advantage of those on two different airlines would be great.
Their is a huge negative to running status this way and that is the fact that it would be virtually impossible for me to hit maximum status on either airline. This requires that on American I would lay down 100,000 miles and Delta, 125,000 miles. Give or take for paid first class, but that is a lot of miles to clear a year. Not that I can't clear them, but it leaves little chance to take advantage of the miles you're earning to fly something fun and more interesting like Emirates or Etihad.
Now I could always take a lesser status level for each airline, but really, max status is where the perks become their best. If you can then get a minimum status with another airline after that, the perks are worth it there too, but max status is really the place to be.