Join an alliance.
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Having elite status with an airline means you can access a cushy airport lounge, board early, and, sometimes, zip through the VIP security line. And if that airline belongs to an alliance? You can take advantage of the same perks with any of its sister airlines. Become a member of Star Alliance airline Aegean, whose threshold for "gold" status is only 20,000 miles, versus 50,000 or more for some of the group's other fliers. Then you can reach gold by flying another Star Alliance airline, like United, and start reaping the benefits.