New Year 2021
Illustration and photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Will 2021 Be a Happy New Year For You?

This is typically the bittersweet time of year in which members of frequent travel loyalty programs have mixed feelings: those who have achieved elite level status are thrilled or pleased that they have at least another year to enjoy that status; while others dread checking their membership accounts on January 1 to see that big “goose egg” which indicates that it is yet time again to start over in working to earn and achieve elite level status for yet another year…

Will 2021 Be a Happy New Year For You?

…but due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, things are quite different this year, as travel was either reduced or eliminated altogether in 2020 — but because the expiration of miles and points and elite level status in many frequent travel loyalty programs have been postponed or extended, many members of those programs are not facing that dreaded zero in their membership accounts in 2021 and likely will not need to concoct ways of earning elite qualification miles or flight segments.

Additionally, the requirements of achieving elite status have been reduced in many frequent travel loyalty programs — which means that earning elite status will be easier if you travel in 2021.

Why Bother Striving For Elite Level Status?

Why would anyone go through the trouble of achieving elite level status? Some people point out that it can be silly to do so, especially when one does not take the opportunity to question the intrinsic and quantitative values of elite status. After all, if you only travel a few times and are lucky enough to secure that upgrade to the first class cabin in an airplane or that suite in a hotel, was the cost of time and money spent really worth it?

The answer is that it depends on such criteria as your travel habits, how much time you spent, how much money you spent, as well as the frequent travel loyalty programs of which you are a member and attempting to attain elite status. Loyalty programs with “rollover” options can help by taking excess elite qualification miles and points earned the previous year and applying them towards your total for the coming year. After all, think about it — how often do you precisely reach the next elite tier without earning excess miles or points, which would otherwise be worthless?

The benefits of elite level status help as well. For example, if an airline offers checked luggage free of charge for you and your family primarily because of your elite status, and you can secure an upgrade and eat a meal for each person — and this is done only a few times per year — the time and money cost could potentially be worth it.

Ahh, but if the equation was only that simple. With the proliferation of ways to procure elite status — some without even traveling at all — the answer is not always clear. Credit cards are but one way to procure elite status — if you are willing to spend the money and pay an annual fee, as well as adhere to the terms and conditions of the credit card. However, the annual percentage rate of interest on unpaid balances can also throw this option totally off kilter as well.

Then again, many frequent travel loyalty programs offer bonus miles or points, amenities, discounts and special offers of which only elite members are eligible to take advantage, which could further justify the effort to attain or retain elite status…

…but also remember that due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, some benefits with the earning of elite status may be temporarily reduced — or eliminated altogether. Ensure that the benefits which still exist are worthy of your quest for elite status in 2021.

So what is one to do? Fortunately, help in resolving this quandary about whether or not to earn elite status is available in many places — and the good news is that there is no one expert with a single point of view. InsideFlyer and FlyerTalk are certainly two places where one can do the necessary research and ask the pertinent questions. BoardingArea has a plethora of knowledgeable people — many of whom I know personally and respect — who will relate their opinions based on personal experience, as well as their points of view.

The bottom line is that only you can decide what is best for you regarding striking that perfect balance between convenience, comfort, cost and time regarding travel during the new year. If elite level status happens to fit into your equation, then definitely go for it.

No Retrospective Again This Year. Especially for 2020.

I never did like the massive wave of retrospectives that many other weblogs, news sources, television programs and Internet web sites like to run. In that vein, no “best of 2020” — or worst of 2020, for that matter — will be posted by me here at The Gate; although I do refer back to pertinent articles throughout the rest of the year. Who really wants to look back at the year 2020, anyway?!?

I never really understood the purpose of such retrospectives, as to me they are similar to those television programs which usually have at least one episode per year where an episode is introduced and treated like it is “new”; but instead contains mostly clippings of previously-viewed episodes in an attempt — usually a poor one at that — to loosely tie together a story. They are called clip shows.

Unless there is a good reason for it, I do not ever want to see The Gate emulate a “clip show.”

Although I am not averse to looking back — after all, we do learn from the past — moving forward into the future is of primary importance. Two things which are important to Randy Petersen pertaining to staying positive is now and the future. I plan to travel in 2021 — and when I do, of course, I will share my experiences with you.


Bucking what would seem to be the obvious choice of a frequent flier, I spent the transition from 2020 into 2021 as I have during many past transitions into the new year: quietly at home.

I look forward to seeing you more in 2021 — and if I have not expressed my gratitude to you enough, thank you for reading and supporting The Gate for the past 14.5 years.

In the meantime — as I have posted in similar greetings I have used in previous years, my wishes and hopes for you in 2021 are as follows:

  • May you safely travel to every desired destination on your list — as well as to ones to which you did not even know you wanted to travel
  • May you spend quality time trying new things, openly engaging new experiences, and doing everything you have always wanted to do at each destination
  • May your travels result in lifetime memories and stories to leave the listener engaged and envious enough to compel them to create their own travel adventures
  • May your frequent travel loyalty program miles and points never expire
  • May you continuously be awarded elite status every year
  • May you always have lounge access at every airport — as well as every hotel and resort property
  • May your upgrade requests always be granted
  • May you dine well on your favorite food and drink as well as sample new flavors and tastes from all around the world
  • May your travels always be safe, interesting and fun — yet filled with adventure and spirit
  • May all of your dreams and wishes come true — especially those related to travel, miles and points
  • May the year 2021 be the best and most successful year yet — filled with love, happiness and joy; and experienced with the best of health and the most of wealth

Illustration and photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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