I am very curious what you frequent travelers have to say about this. How valuable is an airline credit card? I am currently United Silver due to my Marriott Titanium status but, other than boarding in group 2, there really isn't much benefit to United Silver as far as I can tell. If I am on a shorter trip (3 or 4 nights) where I can pack light it actually is a benefit because I am guaranteed overhead bin space but, if I am on the road longer (5 or 6 nights) and check a bag, United Silver doesn't really matter because upgrades really don't happen at Silver status and I am not personally paying for the checked bag.
I consider Marriott status more important than having airline status because, as I see it, I spend a whole lot more time at the hotel than I do in the plane and I don't want my travel budget review to result in the accounting department reviewing hotel spend. I fly out of Hartford (BDL) which means that Southwest Airlines is generally the go-to airline for me because it keeps the accounting department off my back when looking at the expense report (they are viewed as a budget airline even though things have changed there) and I usually don't save any travel time by going with another airline. I have a rule that if I am travelling to the west coast I will book a flight on an airline that offers some sort of "Premium Economy" type seat. In order to not aggravate my accounting department and to stop them from looking into the amount of "adult beverages" on my dinner receipts, I would say that I fly about 70% Southwest, 20% United, and 10% Delta. Status with Southwest doesn't matter because I can easily get "Early-Bird Check In" for a few bucks and get the same seat as everyone else on Southwest. Delta and United are the only real options I should look into given my home airport and I have always been partial to United due to the Platinum/Titanium head-start of Silver status.
How valuable are the airline credit cards in terms of status? I would like the possibility of receiving an upgrade for business travel but my main goal is to accumulate points and status for a big family vacation that would require overseas travel and business-class seats (at a minimum) would be required. A funny side note of my United Silver status as a benefit of (at the time) Platinum status with Marriott; my Southwest flight home to CT from Chicago was cancelled due to weather and the only way to get home the next day was on a United flight in First Class. I called my boss to see if it would be alright as it would be about $1,500 for a 90 minute flight and I was given the go-ahead. Of course, my only First Class flight ever was a 90 minute flight! Guess what! I was upgraded at the gate... from a First Class seat in the center of the aisle to a First Class seat at the window! It was nice to be upgraded but, man, I wish I could get an upgrade when I book a last minute middle seat next to the rear lavatory but, instead, I get upgraded from one First Class seat to a better (?) First Class seat.