2018 has indeed started and for this year (as a frequent traveler), I'm starting it right. Not with one big bang but with two 😍 That's because I have re-qualified for the Hilton Diamond status for 2018 and have reached the needed status miles to extend my Turkish Airlines Elite Plus status for another two years, from 2019-2021. So how did I do it?
Hilton Diamond Status
The Hilton Diamond status is Hilton's highest tier and would require either 30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 base points in a calendar year. I am almost always a solo traveler and I also never have long stays so the 30 stays requirement in a calendar year was perfect for me.
My strategy is simple: I try to change hotels almost everyday which means that every stay is counted. Mike and I did just that when we visited Barcelona and stayed at the Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona on our first night and then transferred to the Hilton Barcelona for our second night. The same strategy was applied in Munich where we stayed at the Hilton Munich City for the first night and at the Hilton Munich Park for our second. But the most interesting thing happens when I travel alone. Hilton has a lot of Category 1 hotels where you would only need 5,000 Hilton points for a stay. For me, 5,000 points is worth 225 SEK which is very cheap. I almost always use my points and redeem them but if you are out of points, you can also buy them whenever Hilton has a promo, and which sells for almost the same price. Being based in Europe, the nearest city for me to do a mattress run is Istanbul since they have at least 3 hotels in Category 1 which means a rate of 225 SEK per night. Furthermore, the hotels in Turkey right now are really cheap (the Hilton Bomonti is an example) so I was able to take advantage of this as well. I know most people are a bit hesitant when it comes to traveling to Turkey but based on my experience, I've traveled to Izmir once and to Istanbul a lot of times and I've never felt unsafe. Another hotel where you can redeem 5,000 Hilton points is the Hampton by Hilton Krakow and since it's connected to the Double Tree by Hilton Krakow, I would say Krakow is also a great city to make a mattress run. Lastly, the hotels in Warsaw tend to be cheap like the Hilton Warsaw so it could also be an alternative for cash stays.
Update: Hotels in Kuala Lumpur are also very cheap especially when they have promotions.
I know that changing hotels everyday is not for everyone but if it is not a problem for you and you happen to live in Istanbul, Izmir, Krakow or Kuala Lumpur, achieving Hilton Diamond status would definitely be easy 😍
Turkish Airlines Elite Plus Status
In order to retain Elite Plus Status (which is the highest tier in the Miles&Smiles Program), one has to earn 40,000 status miles in the year after becoming an Elite Plus member or 60,000 status miles in the two years after becoming an Elite Plus member.
Turkish Airlines occasionally publishes a few cheap fares from cities like Budapest, Vilnius and Tallinn to Panama and South America and I have taken advantage of it a couple of times. Being based in Stockholm, we flew to Budapest to save about 5,000 SEK on the Budapest-Panama cheap fare in 2016. Just last month, Mike and I started from Tallinn and flew to Panama and saved a lot of money 👍 Another trick I use is flying SAS Plus from Stockholm to cities like Mallorca and Malaga since crediting these flight to Turkish Airlines would earn 150% status miles. Moreover, the fares are really cheap if you book early, like our trip to Mallorca where the ticket was about 2000 SEK and to Malaga for just about the same price.
I'm not an expert and I continue learning from the real experts, (mostly from the Flyertalk people) but I am glad that I was able to retain my Hilton and Turkish Airlines elite status without spending a lot of money. After all, that's what most of us (points and miles enthusiasts) want 😍