Websites Selling Airline Elite Status: Legit?

Websites Selling Airline Elite Status: Legit?

In late January I wrote about a shady website selling airline elite status, with the URL Shortly after my story was published, a new website was created with the URL, selling exactly the same elite status at exactly the same prices. It seems pretty clear what’s going on here, so let me update this post to reflect that.

The website (and, but let me focus the examples on claims to be selling airline elite status. The website is selling elite status with American AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles, Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles, JetBlue TrueBlue, Southwest Rapid Rewards, and United MileagePlus.

The website operates with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, promising that “if you don’t receive a status upgrade within the specified time you’ll receive a full refund.”

There are a variety of status tiers being sold, and there’s generally a “one time set-up fee,” and then a fee every three to four months to maintain the status.

For example, you can score Delta Platinum status for a one-time fee of $300, plus a $99 fee every three months.

Meanwhile you can score United Premier 1K status for a one-time fee of $500, plus a $299 fee every four months.

You can also score American Executive Platinum status for a one-time fee of $600, plus a $299 fee every four months.

So, how is this all possible? According to, the company is selling corporate travel benefits for situations where companies have excess status nominations:

“Due to inaccurate demand forecasting, many companies overestimate the corporate travel benefits they need. Rather than letting them expire, these companies allow us to acquire their benefits packages and make them available on our platform. This approach results in massive savings which we are able to pass on to you. We only collect a small fee for facilitating this service to frequent fliers all over the world.”

We don’t know a whole lot about who is behind the company, and conveniently the company’s “About Us” page is blank. There are some other things that are pretty shady. For example, the website shows five star reviews from Trustpilot…

…yet when you go to Trustpilot, there are no reviews listed for the website.

Caution: this violates airline rules

Let’s take what claims at face value. Yes, some companies do get elite status to gift as part of a corporate travel agreement. However, without exception, selling this elite status to a third party violates the terms of airline frequent flyer programs. Period. So even if we take what’s being claimed at face value, that already violates the rules.

For example, here are the relevant terms & conditions of Delta SkyMiles:

The sale or barter of mileage credit, vouchers, Award Tickets, Medallion Status, Pay with Miles tickets or any other benefit by SkyMiles Members, or the attempt of any of the foregoing, is prohibited. Delta will terminate or deduct mileage from the account of any Member who violates this rule. Award Certificates, Award Tickets, or Pay with Miles tickets obtained through prohibited sale or barter transactions are VOID, invalid for travel, and will be confiscated. Persons trying to use such tickets will not be permitted to travel unless they purchase a ticket from Delta at the applicable fare.

I see some people on Reddit discussing, and claiming that airlines wouldn’t punish people acting in “good faith” by buying airline status from a company that claims to be legitimate. I absolutely wouldn’t follow that line of thinking. Is it possible you get away with it? Sure. Is it possible you end up with your frequent flyer account suspended, with no recourse? Absolutely.

Now, the other question is whether we should take what is claiming at face value. As much as I’d love to test this out and see how they operate, I don’t want to jeopardize any of my own accounts, so I won’t do that.

I will point out a few things, though:

  • Interestingly the amount of time for which you receive status coincides with the publicly available status challenge lengths that programs offer; Delta’s status challenges last for 90 days, while American’s status challenges last for 120 days, just as is the case here
  • While I’m not suggesting that necessarily does this, some people do try to start status challenges with doctored credentials, which isn’t too hard to do nowadays with how easy it is to change the text on websites
  • Someone on Reddit claims that after purchasing the status through, they received an email from Delta stating that the carrier is looking into the status match request, and will get back to them soon

Now, what I can’t wrap my head around is how can extend status beyond the initial three to four month trial period, without some sort of travel requirement. Just about all status challenges (whether directly through an airline or through a corporate agreement) require some amount of activity to maintain the status after that period.

It seems has only gotten attention within the past few weeks, so I’m not sure anyone has actually faced what happens after that initial trial period. I’d be very curious to see what happens when someone tries to renew their status for a second period of three or four months.

Personally I’d be shocked if is up in its current form a month from now.

Bottom line

A spiffy-looking website named is selling airline status, claiming that it’s acting as the middle man between consumers and companies with too many corporate status nominations.

While I can’t say with certainty how is attaining these status matches, what I can say is that buying airline elite status (even through a third party) violates the terms & conditions of virtually all airline loyalty programs.

The amount of time status is valid is also suspiciously similar to how long public status challenges are valid for, which makes you wonder. If you do decide to purchase status from this website, you’ve been warned…

There’s now a new website with the URL, which is doing exactly the same thing, at exactly the same cost, with exact the same graphics. The website was set up shortly after my previous story on this shady practice, so I think it’s obvious what’s going on.

What do you make of and

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Air Transat is relaunching its “Train + Air” offer from Brussels and 18 French cities

Air Transat is relaunching its “Train + Air” offer from Brussels and 18 French cities



Air Transat announces the return of its “Train + Air” offer, a service combining plane and train in partnership with SNCF French railways.

Remember that this service allows combining a TGV trip departing from 18 French cities and Brussels with a flight departing from Paris to Canada.

The “Train + Air” offer is available now for reservations made via GDS and will be available in the coming days on the Air Transat website for travel starting March 27, 2023.

New! The travel experience is now fully digital. Indeed, travellers can now board their train directly by presenting their electronic ticket, which they can download via the AccesRail website.

Paris, March 22, 2023

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JetBlue finally gets slots at Amsterdam

JetBlue finally gets slots at Amsterdam

American airline JetBlue has temporarily been given slots at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for flights on the routes New York JFK – Amsterdam and Boston – Amsterdam. The slots are granted for the summer season.

The airline has accepted the offer from Dutch slot coordinator ACNL. JetBlue has long claimed discrimination and the US Department of Transportation officially introduced a claim against the Government of The Netherlands for anti-competitive and discriminatory behaviour.

It is not yet sure whether the slots will actually be extended beyond the summer 2023 season. JetBlue is therefore unhappy with this arrangement: it would face harm to its reputation if it was forced to cancel the routes shortly after launching them.

JetBlue will operate the flights from Boston and New York JFK to Amsterdam with Airbus A321LR aircraft.

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Airline Pilot Retirement Age Could Be Raised To 67

Airline Pilot Retirement Age Could Be Raised To 67

We’re dealing with a pilot shortage in the United States. While regional airlines are most impacted by this, the reality is that the implications go way beyond that.

There are different solutions being proposed to help with the pilot shortage. For example, a major regional airline asked the FAA to lower the minimum number of hours for airline pilots from 1,500 to 750 in conjunction with more rigorous training, though that proposal was rejected.

We could soon see another solution to this issue, in the form of the pilot retirement age being increased. This was first discussed back in May 2022, but this week a group of senators has proposed legislation that would raise the mandatory retirement age among pilots.

Legislation could increase pilot retirement age

In July 2022, Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Republican Texas Congressman Chip Roy introduced the “Let Experienced Pilots Fly Act.” With this bill, we’d see the retirement age for commercial airline pilots raised by two years, from 65 to 67.

This concept has now gained support from seven senators, including Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, and Democratic Arizona Senator Mark Kelly, who is also a former Navy pilot and astronaut.

Under this proposal, the pilot retirement age would be raised to 67, and pilots over 65 would have to undergo a rigorous medical screening every six months. 5,000 pilots in the United States are expected to be forced to retire in the next two years, and if this legislation passes, this would allow them to continue flying.

This would be the second time in recent years that the pilot retirement age is raised. Back in 2007, the commercial airline pilot retirement age in the United States was raised from 60 to 65.

That not only reflected that people are generally living longer, but it was also at a time when airlines were on the brink of liquidation, and many pilots lost some of their pensions and took huge pay cuts during bankruptcy proceedings. The extra five years was almost intended as a way for them to earn back some of the money they lost.

The airline pilot retirement age could be raised by two years

Does raising the pilot retirement age make sense?

On the surface, raising the pilot retirement age to 67 makes sense to me:

  • Pilots have to undergo recurrent training and medical exams, and they’ll only continue to be able to fly if they’re deemed to be fit to do so
  • Many people don’t actually want to retire at 65, so after they’re forced to retire from the airlines, they go fly for private jet operators (where the same retirement age doesn’t apply)
  • Forcing “fit” people to retire at an arbitrary age just seems silly to me

Even so, I suspect this won’t go very far, when push comes to shove. How will this play out with pilots, unions, airline management, and government officials?

  • Pilots are split on this, which I find a bit strange, assuming that flying for an extra two years is optional, and nothing is taken away if pilots still want to retire at 65; the only downside might be for more junior pilots, as their seniority may be partially “stalled” for two years (then again, that won’t be a huge issue with the current shortage, given how fast pilots are being promoted)
  • Most unions have come out against this, but then again, they were also opposed to the retirement age being raised from 60 to 65; keep in mind that the pilot shortage works to the advantage of unions, as it allows them to secure ridiculously lucrative contracts, where some pilots are making $500K+ per year
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has suggested that this won’t do much in the long run to help with the pilot shortage, and he isn’t generally supportive of this concept
  • If anything, airlines might be most opposed to this in the long run, because it will mean that more pilots are at the top of the pay scale, since pilot pay accounts for how many years you’ve been at the airline; airlines largely prefer more junior employees, who aren’t topping out the pay scale
  • The Regional Airline Association (RAA) has strongly come out in favor of this, as 400 regional jets are parked due to lack of pilots, and 324 airports have lost an average of one-third of their service; the president of the organization argues that this is “the one solution that will immediately mitigate the pilot shortage, particularly the captain shortage, which is an even more acute constraint within a constraint,” and that this would reduce “wrongheaded age discrimination against healthy pilots”

Based on the surveys sent out by unions to members, a majority of pilots seem to oppose this. Then again, those who oppose it can still retire at 65. I don’t know why those who want to keep flying should be prevented from doing so, though. With the incredibly lucrative contracts being secured at some airlines right now, I can’t help but wonder if some pilots on the cusp of retirement might now want to keep flying for ~$500K per year.

In fairness, I think it’s important to acknowledge that being a pilot can take a major toll on your health in the long run. It’s often the most senior pilots flying the biggest planes and longest flights (since it’s all seniority based, and those are most lucrative). Working a 15 hour flight at the age of 65+ can’t be easy.

Pilots have to go through recurrent training

Bottom line

We’re seeing more support among senators for a proposal that would raise the airline pilot retirement age from 65 to 67. While this wouldn’t entirely solve the pilot shortage, letting pilots have longer careers seems like it would help somewhat.

That being said, I suspect we might not actually see this work out. There will likely be too much opposition from all sides, including pilots, unions, and even airlines. Airlines don’t want to be paying pilots the top of the pay scales, and unions have an incentive to keep the pilot shortage going, so that they can negotiate big contracts.

What do you make of the prospect of the pilot retirement age being increased?

(Tip of the hat to @istrakhov)

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JetBlue Secures Amsterdam Airport Slots, But…

JetBlue Secures Amsterdam Airport Slots, But…

In August 2021, JetBlue launched transatlantic flights using Airbus A321LRs. Up until now, the airline has exclusively flown to London (out of Boston and New York), and then in June 2023, the airline will launch flights to Paris (initially out of New York).

We’ve known that JetBlue wants to add flights to Amsterdam as its third European destination, but the airline hasn’t been able to secure slots to do so. That has finally changed, with several major catches.

JetBlue’s challenges securing Amsterdam slots

For several months now, JetBlue has been pursuing launching nonstop flights from both Boston and New York to Amsterdam. The airline wants to serve each route daily using Airbus A321LRs. Unfortunately up until recently, JetBlue has been unable to secure slots for Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, so in mid-February JetBlue sought the help of the Department of Transportation (DOT):

  • In September 2022, JetBlue requested Aeroflot’s slots for the airport, given that the airline can no longer fly to the European Union; however, the airport removed those slots altogether, rather than allocating them to another airline
  • More recently, JetBlue requested Flybe’s slots (as the airline ceased operations), but was initially also denied for that
  • As part of a green initiative, the Dutch government is reducing landing slots at the airport in the long run, as the country is hoping to shrink its biggest hub airport

Several weeks back, JetBlue requested that the DOT force KLM to give up some slots in order to make JetBlue’s service possible. The argument was that the Delta and KLM joint venture currently offers the only service from Boston and New York to Amsterdam, so more competition is needed to lower fares. JetBlue essentially wanted the DOT to challenge the antitrust authority that the two airlines have as part of their joint venture, arguing it’s bad for consumers.

JetBlue’s Airbus A321LR Mint cabin

Amsterdam grants JetBlue slots, with a catch

There’s some good news for JetBlue — per regulatory filings with the Department of Transportation, JetBlue has been granted slots for Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Specifically, the airline has been granted slots from Flybe, which went out of business. Unfortunately that’s the extent of the good news for JetBlue:

  • The airline has only been granted these slots for the summer 2023 airline schedule, which runs from late March until late October 2023; in other words, the airline could launch these flights within weeks
  • There are no assurances that JetBlue would be able to maintain these slots for the winter schedule, or for the next summer schedule, and obviously the economics are challenging of only being able to launch a route for several months
  • The slot times that JetBlue has been given are undesirable and variable, which makes it impossible to maintain a consistent and attractive schedule for consumers
  • While JetBlue was of course hoping to be granted slots, the airline likely doesn’t have the aircraft required to actually operate this service starting in the very near future, given JetBlue’s Airbus A321LR delivery timeline

We’ll see if JetBlue somehow ends up launching flights to Amsterdam in the coming weeks, or if it chooses not to use these slots. In the meantime, the airline is continuing to pursue its complaint with the DOT, in hopes of being able to secure permanent slots from Delta and KLM.

JetBlue’s Airbus A321LR economy cabin

JetBlue’s challenging road to growth in Europe

JetBlue has ordered 14 Airbus A321LRs, specifically to be able to operate flights from Boston and New York to Europe. This was a bold move, as it’s always hard for a new challenger to come into a market with established players and be successful.

But JetBlue’s even bigger challenge has proven to be securing slots for European airports, given how many of them are slot restricted. There are only so many European destinations that JetBlue can fly to profitably year-round out of the Northeast, and many of those airports are slot restricted.

So JetBlue’s strategy in being able to offer this service has largely been to beg for slots — in some cases JetBlue is requesting that competitors be forced to give up slots, while in other cases the airline is claiming it should receive available slots over competitors.

JetBlue has had fairly good luck with this strategy so far, slowly but surely securing both Heathrow and Gatwick slots. Now we’re seeing the airline have limited luck with this in Amsterdam. The airline really is having to take a “foot in the door” approach in each case, taking temporary slots, and hoping to make them something more permanent.

I can appreciate JetBlue’s argument about how competition is good for consumers. That being said, I’d say a strong argument could be made that it would be in the better interest of consumers to grant additional slots to airlines operating larger aircraft, since that would add more capacity to markets. Is a JetBlue flight really better for competition than another airline operating a flight with twice as many seats?

Available landing slots in Amsterdam are being reduced

Bottom line

After trying for months, JetBlue has finally secured slots for Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Up until now the airline hasn’t been able to secure slots, given the strict flight cap in place at Schiphol Airport, which will be further reduced over time.

JetBlue’s luck has finally changed, as the airline has secured some slots from now defunct Flybe. The catch is that these are temporary slots for the summer 2023 season, and there are no assurances that slots will be granted beyond then. Furthermore, the slot timings aren’t great, and I can’t imagine JetBlue has the aircraft available to immediately start operating this service.

In the meantime, JetBlue is continuing to ask the DOT to force competitors to give up some slots in Amsterdam so that it can add service there permanently, in the name of competition. I’m curious if JetBlue has any luck.

What do you make of JetBlue’s Amsterdam struggles?

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MATARAT Holding signs a contract with Egis to serve 26 airports in Saudi Arabia

MATARAT Holding signs a contract with Egis to serve 26 airports in Saudi Arabia

MATARAT Holding Company, represented by its CEO, Mohammed Almaghlouth, has signed a three-year contract to provide consulting services with the Egis company, represented by its CEO in the Middle East and South Asia, Mr Alaa AbuSiam. This contract comes is a step towards establishing phased project management portals, updating airport project management policies and procedures, and providing technical support for planning, designing, and following up the implementation of capital projects with MATARAT subsidiaries (Riyadh Airports Company, Jeddah Airports, Dammam Airports, and Cluster2).

Turki Almubadal, Executive Vice President of Projects and Technical Affairs at MATARAT Holding Company, said: “We are working at MATARAT to provide an attractive environment in Saudi airports for air carriers and passengers, by developing airport infrastructure through best practices to provide the best services at the highest international standards. All these efforts are about improving the experience of every traveller. This contract focuses on providing support in several major areas and activities, which include strategic planning for projects, building an asset management guide, preparing a unified guide for engineering specifications for designing and implementing projects, and following up on continuous improvement of their performance. This step will contribute to achieving the objectives of the National Aviation Strategy deriving from the National Strategy for Transport and Logistics Services, one of the outputs of Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to increase international destinations to 250, and passenger capacity to 330 million.”

The Aviation industry has always been one of our key strengths at Egis, both regionally and globally, and as such, we are extremely delighted to be partnering with MATARAT to be part of one of the most transformative projects in the Middle East region. The Kingdom’s strong commitment to the aviation sector as part of its 2030 Vision, will surely transform the country into a global hub connecting Asia, Europe and Africa,” said Alaa AbuSiam, CEO of Egis in the Middle East and South Asia.

The project is designed to provide support for strategic planning in order to define and plan a portfolio of five-year projects, work on the comprehensive programme plan for the Kingdom’s airports. It will monitor the alignment of future projects and program outputs with the strategic and governance objectives of MATARAT.

Developing a guide for project management governance by analysing the existing practices of subsidiaries, developing a system of procedures and processes for project programming and comparing to fit in with international best practices, and creating a road map to improve management and monitoring of the implementation of outputs.

Moreover, the contract includes designing a practical guide for project implementation, quality control and safety procedures, and the work of a matrix to improve design specifications and standards in alignment with international best practices and environmental and sustainability requirements. It also includes monitoring and following up performance by preparing and submitting reports, periodic presentations, project brochures, and assistance with determining budgets for capital projects. The project team will support in creating a plan for continuous development by evaluating the performance of projects and lessons learned and transferring knowledge and expertise in a sustainable and gradual manner to MATARAT and its subsidiaries’ staff.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 22 March 2023


As a reminder, Egis is also the operator of Antwerp and Ostend-Bruges airports in Belgium.

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