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What Airline and Hotel Alliances Mean for Loyal Customers

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This story appears in the June 2013 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Five hundred nights. That's how long it took me to attain lifetime Platinum status at Starwood Hotels, parent company of Sheraton, Westin, W and others. That's nearly a year and a half of key cards and bills slipped under the door--time (and some $100,000 in room charges) invested in the goal of locking in the amenities that top-tier loyalty earns.

More than anything, it means the suite upgrades that are all that's standing between a successful business trip and the stateroom scene from the Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera. So when I heard that Delta Airlines customers who haven't ever stayed in a Starwood property might walk in and claim benefits similar to mine because of a new alliance between the two brands, I was miffed.

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