I used to fly a LOT, so don't think that I am elitist by what I say in this post. If you fly a lot, you have to develop ways to cope with the delays and frustration of air travel today.
I have a love/hate relationship with the airlines that I use. I've been a Platinum, Silver, Gold, etc member of American Airlines and United Airlines for 30 years. Those are levels of elite status that one attains by flying 25,000 and 50,000 miles. This year, I am a United Silver member, which is their lowest tier. As a United Silver member, you don't get a whole lot of benefits. With Gold status (which you get by flying 50,000 miles in a calendar year), you get a lot more benefits -- three free checked bags at 70 pounds each, the ability to reserve United's Premium Economy seats at no charge, when you buy your ticket.
I flew to Australia and Bali twice last year, but I still didn't hit the 50,000 mile mark. So I decided to buy a United Airlines-associated credit card that gave me access to United Clubs, as well as priority boarding and two free bags when I fly. The credit card costs $395 per year, and I have had to think long and hard this year when the card came up for renewal. The card's official name is "United MileagePlus Club Card" and it is marketed by Chase Bank.
access has proven to be important when my flights get canceled or
connections are missed. The agents in the Clubs are very good at rebooking flights and
are very helpful, far more helpful than the poor beleaguered agents outside in the terminal.
I recently took a trip to Maui, my flight arrived into LAX late due to fog, and I missed my connecting flight to Maui. The United Club agent
upgraded me to first class on the next flight, something that has not happened to me in perhaps 20 years of flying. I do routinely use miles and elite status upgrades/coupons to fly business or first class, but being upgraded at absolutely no cost, for my inconvenience, was a pleasant surprise.
I had to wait 9 hours
for the next flight but I can now do that easily, with my laptop and wifi access, especially if I am able to hang out in a United Club. Now, when a similar thing happened to my wife and me a few years ago, my wife acted like waiting 8 hours for another flight was terrible. There's a difference between folks who travel a lot and those who don't.
Hey, and United very nicely put me in a first class seat on the way back from Hawaii too. Thanks, United!