Flying Thousands of Miles a Year? Get American Airlines Platinum Status

| 19.08.2013

Last week, there was a very brief period of time when you could sign up for an apparently untargeted promotion that offered American Airlines Gold status after flying 6,000 miles, Platinum status after flying 12,000 miles, and Executive Platinum status after flying 30,000 miles between September 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013, as long as you didn’t already have elite status on AA. And these requirements are for elite qualifying miles, not even elite qualifying points (which are harder to earn if you fly discounted coach since most coach fares only offer 0.5 points per mile), which makes the promotion that much better.

Upon seeing the promo, I immediately started looking at ways to fly 30,000 miles in the last 4 months of the year. I think I can do it for roughly $2500 in total (including visa and other travel costs) over the span of two trips, and I’d only miss a single day of work while getting the opportunity to spend a day each in two new cities/countries. The $2500 also doesn’t account for the miles that I’d earn for flying, which I think would be roughly 45,000, given the bonuses that I’d earn after hitting the Gold and Platinum thresholds.

But does this actually make sense for me to do? I currently fly about 75k miles a year, but I don’t fly at all for work (well, except for 181 miles last year; can you guess the route?), so pretty much all of my flying is for leisure based on the cheapest available fares with minimal regard to alliances or status. Since I’m based out of SFO, this does mean that I’ve hit silver status for the past two years on United, without necessarily trying to do so.

Normally, this would make me think that I should just aim for Executive Platinum, as I imagine that I can just switch most of my flying to oneworld next year (see? the promotion is working! they’ll get incremental flying/revenue out of me), and I’ll surely see more upgrades flying AA as an Executive Platinum than the zero I see as a United Silver flying out of SFO. And the Amex Platinum card offers free AA lounge access when flying American, so that’s an added perk.

I feel like the biggest benefits, though, to getting Executive Platinum are the 8 system-wide upgrades and the oneworld Emerald status, which gets you into all first class lounges internationally. Except for the fact that I wasn’t planning on paying cash for any of my international tickets next year, so I don’t think I’d be able to take advantage of these benefits easily.

I already have two lengthy international trips planned on award tickets, and I was planning a third with my US Airways miles before they leave Star Alliance (although I guess that last part might not be happening now). And since I have a full time job and limited vacation, I’m not sure how many more international trips I’d realistically take, which makes the upgrades and the oneworld status less valuable.

Unless, of course, I just started flying a bunch more just to take advantage of the benefits. But this doesn’t seem very rational on my part, but I imagine this is the intent behind the promotion. Doesn’t it seem brilliant if they can get someone like me who doesn’t fly at all on AA to end up flying 90,000+ miles on them in the next year because of this promotion?

I’m personally still waiting to get written confirmation from AA that I’m eligible for the promotion before booking anything. And I imagine that if they say that I am eligible, I’ll act irrationally, book my two mileage runs, and then end up flying AA next year much more than I would have otherwise.

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