8 Secret, Invite-only Travel Elite Status Tiers That You've Never Heard Of

Airlines and hotels offer secret invitation-only elite statuses for their biggest spenders that come with some next-level perks.

A United Airlines airplane flying over the water during sunset

Courtesy of United Airlines

Airline elite status is everything to road warriors, who are dedicated members of loyalty programs across airlines, hotels, and even car rental companies. But aside from the standard tiers of those loyalty programs, some travel brands have secret tiers for their most elite customers that are by invitation only. Here are eight such elite statuses, some of which are poorly kept secrets — listen carefully during boarding and you'll hear flight attendants call their "secret" elites at the beginning of their process — and others that even the most experienced travelers have never heard of.

American Airlines ConciergeKey

An American Airlines airplane on a tarmac

Courtesy of American Airlines

American Airlines doesn't formally publish material about its ConciergeKey program, but anecdotal evidence suggests that this tier of the AAdvantage loyalty program is reserved for managers of corporate travel programs and employees recommended by those managers. It's also for individual big spenders — those who spend tens of thousands (or maybe hundreds of thousands) of dollars on American flights each year. Perks reportedly include everything that travelers with American's highest public elite status tier, Executive Platinum, get: day-of travel assistance via a dedicated phone line and email; private airport transfers; Admirals Club lounge membership and access to Flagship Lounges; and World of Hyatt Globalist status, among other benefits.

United Airlines Global Services

United publishes one official way to achieve its "secret" status tier, called Global Services: become a four-million miler. Once you do, you'll be treated to lifetime Global Service benefits, which include, according to reports, a dedicated phone line and email address for travel assistance, Mercedes-Benz airport transfers, access to special fare classes when using upgrade certificates (the certificates are a perk of United Premier 1K status, the highest published tier of United's MileagePlus program), United Club access, and more. Now, achieving four-million-miler status on United is no easy feat, but don't worry, United invites select MileagePlus members to enjoy Global Services status, though its qualifications for an invitation remain secret.

Delta 360° 

A DELTA Air Lines logo is seen on a passenger plane, in Washington D.C

Celal Gunes/Getty Images

Delta actually acknowledges its not-so-secret 360° elite status and even offers some guidance into what's considered for nominations: how much you fly, how often you purchase seats in premium cabins, and how much you spend on a Delta SkyMiles American Express credit card. But the thresholds are not published, and some speculate they may vary based on your home airport. All invitees must already hold Diamond Medallion status — Delta's top public tier — which means they already receive those benefits. Additional perks supposedly include Porsche transfers at airports, a dedicated phone line for travel assistance, and gifts like Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses and general Delta swag. 

Hyatt Courtesy Card

Hotel brands also have secret elite status, but it's far more selective than the airline programs. Hyatt, for instance, reportedly had a program called Courtesy Card, which is typically reserved for Hyatt hotel owners and specially nominated World of Hyatt members. According to the blog One Mile at a Time, members include those nominated by Hyatt general managers, high-spend members, and managers of corporate travel accounts. Because Courtesy Card is so exclusive, there's not much information on the perks associated with the status, but they potentially include a complimentary upgrade to the hotel's best suite.

Marriott Cobalt

Marriott Cobalt is a secret tier of the hotel brand's Bonvoy program, and it's only granted to those nominated by Marriott employees and approved by Marriott International's president and CEO, according to The Points Guy. Benefits vary based on the hotel, including upgrades at some lower-tier properties and club access at higher-tier properties, but the distinguishing feature is exceptional personalized service no matter where you stay. Cobalt elites are also granted all the benefits of Marriott's published top tier: Ambassador Elite. 

Air New Zealand Elite Priority One

With only a few hundred members, this is perhaps one of the most selective elite statuses. As its name suggests, members get priority when it comes to seating, boarding and in-flight meals. They also get guaranteed economy seats on any Air New Zealand flight, even if it's fully booked, plus valet parking in Auckland and Christchurch. Elite Priority One also operates a VIP lounge in Auckland and Sydney, where members and up to five travel companions can relax preflight.

Qantas Chairman’s Lounge

For travelers who frequent Australia, Qantas’ invite-only lounges only accept the crème de la crème. Membership miles and money spent are less of a qualifier for this two-year perk. Instead, power and fame help you make the coveted traveler list. Politicians, movie stars, and athletes get priority check-in, seat selection on flights, a complimentary spa treatment while waiting, and access to Qantas' first-class lounges around the world. In Australia, the Chairman’s Lounge, located in major airports across the country, is the place to be.

Emirates Invitation Only (iO)

It’s no surprise that one of the world’s best airlines wants to keep its invite-only status a secret. A spokesperson for Emirates says, "Invitation Only (iO) is a highly exclusive tier membership within the Emirates Skywards loyalty program that's limited to members who meet select criteria. To protect the privacy of our members and the integrity of the program, we are not able to disclose any further information about the selection process or membership criteria."

It’s rumored, however, that iO’s few select members receive a hand-delivered membership card from senior executives. So, while word of mouth says you may need to spend more than $1 million per year with Emirates, it earns members cabin upgrades, coveted luxury swag, and swanky airport transfers.

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