The Washington Times - October 23, 2008, 05:03PM

Many of you must already hate me — not me personally, but people like me, known as “elite” passengers.

Remember that time you were on standby for hours, then suddenly a guy walked over to the gate, asked the agent if he could get on what you hoped would be your flight, because he didn´t want to wait another hour for his original flight?

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A minute later, he walked away with a boarding pass in hand, and there was no seat for you on the plane.

It wasn´t me, but it could have been. Elite passengers can be added to a waiting list minutes before a flight and go right to the top. The highest-level elites — and their travel companions — are exempt from all sorts of fees. Per person, that´s up to $30 for ticketing, up to $100 for award travel and up to $40 for checking luggage.

With the sorry state of their industry, airlines value and reward their loyal customers more than ever.

Read my column on the subject:

KRALEV: Being elite can be simple

How much is elite status worth to you? Do you do “mileage runs”? How many loyalty programs do you belong to?

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