EQM (or Status Miles) can only be earned from flying. They count for a traveler’s status with the airline and the recognition he gets for his loyalty. These miles are not redeemable but the user instead receives various benefits when he or she is travelling. The most common ones are: Priority check-in, Priority boarding, Airport lounge access, Baggage allowance, Complimentary travel class upgrades, amongst others.
There are several status levels that grant different types of benefits. After earning a sufficient amount of status miles, the traveler earns a higher status tier or level. EQM come in a variety of forms but the most typical allows for a factor to be applied to the actual flown distance (in nautical miles). As an example, the various status tiers may look like this:
Basic member 0 miles
Silver 25,000 miles
Gold 50,000 miles
Platinum 100,000 miles
Once a threshold is reached, the traveler gains the new status level and the benefits that are associated with it. For instance, if a traveler flies a B-fare that earns him 100% EQM, and takes a trip that spans 10,000 miles three times in a year, he has earned 30,000 EQM and has passed the Silver threshold.
Status levels oftentimes also earn a traveler an RDM bonus. For instance, a “Premier Silver” status member with United Airlines’ MileagePlus program earns a 25% RDM bonus for qualifying booking.
(Note that the earning factors for RDM and EQM may differ, for instance, a K-fare may earn 50% RDM but 100% EQM, or vice versa, etc.)
Some frequent flyer programs have systems based on other criteria. Examples include a fixed amount of “points” or similar for each flight, and a traveler needs to reach a specific threshold of points in order to earn tier status.
A traveler will hold a status level with an airline for a limited amount of time. This varies across airlines but the most common limit is until the end of the following calendar year. Thereafter a traveler needs to requalify for the status by again fulfilling the requirements for status. A brief example is a flyer that earns 50,000 EQM in July, Year 0. He receives Gold status instantly and enjoys it throughout Year 0, but also throughout Year 1. During Year 1, however, he is required to earn at least 50,000 EQM again if he wants to keep the Gold status in Year 2. The same applies to the traveler that earned 50,000 EQM already in January, Year 0, or the traveler that earned 50,000 EQM in December, Year 0. The requirement to requalify for status for Year 2, is that at the beginning of each new year, the EQM is reset to 0 and the traveler needs to start from scratch again. In other words, the perks are time specific and loyalty needs to be continuous.