Lifetime Elite Level Status in SkyTeam Alliance for as Low as $38,509.00?

“You can donate USD40,000 to Inha University run by the same group as Korean Air, you will get the Morning Calm Premium status, equivalent to Skyteam Elite Plus”, posted FlyerTalk member Geese Howard. “Considering that it’s a lifetime status, it’s a viable option if you are still young enough and have that kind of money.”

I am not so sure about that. These are the times where airlines seem to be paring benefits and attempting to discourage you from not only earning elite level status in a frequent flier loyalty program — unless you pay for it, of course — but also from using miles and points for free travel at all.

Lifetime Elite Level Status in SkyTeam for as Low as $38,509.00?

If access to lounges at airports for the remainder of your life — assuming that that benefit is not rescinded or cut before then for whatever reason — with few other benefits is worth $40,000.00 to you and you have that money either burning a hole in your pocket or lying around on the floor, perhaps you should consider going for it…

…but assuming that you access lounges at airports for the next 20 years, that comes to $2,000.00 per year — or $1,333.33 per year for 30 years. You can purchase lounge access outright from an airline for less money — even when by my using a currency converter, the total cost of your donation could be as low as $38,509.00; and even then, that is only approximately $75.00 less per year.

Those few other benefits include an extra allowance of 20 kilograms for your checked luggage; and the use of an exclusive counter at the airport to check in for your flight. You also supposedly get “some nice privileges at the hospital” operated by Inha University; free parking on the campus of the university; and a possible tax credit or exemption for the amount of money you donated. Whoopee.


To pay that much money to have mid-range lifetime elite level status in an airline alliance is ludicrous to me — especially when certain benefits cannot be enjoyed. For example, if you are traveling on a domestic itinerary on an airplane operated by Delta Air Lines within the United States, you will not be able to access a lounge at an airport for free. Sky Clubs can be a nice experience — don’t get me wrong — but it is not worth $38,509.00.

You also do not get any redeemable frequent flier loyalty program miles in return for your donation — only elite level status.

Thanks; but no thanks. I will pass on this one…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

6 thoughts on “Lifetime Elite Level Status in SkyTeam Alliance for as Low as $38,509.00?”

  1. Kalboz says:

    It’s worth it if you are 18 years old!

  2. Jeremy says:

    No, it’s not. You could easily get an Amex Platinum or Citi Prestige for much less.

  3. Susan says:

    What about the tax benefits of the charitable donation? Are they factored into your equation?

    What about the “feel good” from donating to a worth cause.

    (Not that I would pay that amount of money for lounge access, but just playing devil’s advocate).

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Devil’s advocates are always welcome to comment here, Susan.

  4. Mike says:

    This could appeal to a Korean producer with sales and service staff dispatched globally, depending on the rules, but otherwise I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I think this qualifies as Comment of the Day.

      Thank you, Mike.

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