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Sunday Reader Question: Worth Doing a Mileage Run?

by on November 4, 2012 · 13 comments

in American, Elite Status, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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TPG reader Chris asks:

“I am currently sitting at roughly 42,000 American Airlines miles for the year and am trying to figure out if it is worth it to make a mileage run to hit Platinum status. I did sign up earlier this year for the promo with AA that offered bonus miles or 500 mile upgrades, which has been achieved. My question is, should I spend roughly $1000 for a mileage run to London to move from Gold to Platinum?”

Well, in case you didn’t read, AA just announced a double EQM promo from now until December 31, 2012 so your decision was just made a whole lot easier. You no longer need to go to Europe to get those 8,000 miles to achieve Platinum – depending on where you are based, a simple JFK-Los Angeles roundtrip flight will net you 9,000 EQMs!

I’d even consider trying to hit Executive Platinum, which is achieved at 100,000 EQM’s. It won’t be easy, but if you add on two quick trips to Asia, you’re looking at 26,980 for each JFK-Tokyo roundtrip. If you were going to spend $1,000 anyway to get Platinum, you may be able to spend $2,500 or so and get Executive Platinum, which comes with 8 systemwide upgrades that are upgradeable on any paid fare that earns AAdvantage miles!

Also remember that if you travel between November 16 and 26, you’ll get double AAdvantage miles as well – so that Tokyo trip will net you 26,890 AAdvantage miles, which I would value at around $485 (1.8 cents a piece). As an Executive Platinum you’ll get well over a year’s worth of unlimited, space available, domestic complimentary upgrades so your time and money investment level may pay off greatly based on how much travel you foresee in 2013. Just beware: top-tier status is addictive and you won’t want to give it up once achieved!

For anyone else considering whether a mileage run makes sense to achieve the next status level, I think you should consider the following to see whether its worth the time and money:

1) What exactly are the perks of the next elite status level? Generally the largest jump is from mid to top tier, but even if you are gunning for base elite status, the perks like free luggage and premium seating assignments can be lucrative. Is it worth $200 to save on fees and enjoy a better in-flight experience for the next 14 months? Only you can decide.
2) How much travel will you actually have next year? While that may be hard to predict, if you know you’ll be traveling less, it may not be worth it.
3) The value of your time. If you enjoy being on planes (or enjoy time away from your spouse/roommate), you may actually get additional value out of mileage running, but you should take into account the time away from home as part of the cost of achieving that next elite level.

If you want to search for mileage-run worthy fares check out the following:
1) The Flyertalk Mileage Run forum where people post cheap flights
2) Check out sites like The Flight Deal or Airfarewatchdog.com
3) Teach yourself how to search for cheap flights using the ITA Matrix software. It will let you search city pairs and if you select flexible dates, it will show a calendar of the cheapest flights (which you can filter by airline or alliance).

If you don’t have time to mileage run, you can always get last minute elite miles by getting a premium airline credit card. For example, the Delta Reserve card gives 10,000 MQMs with first purchase, so as long as you get approved and get the card and use it by the end of the year, you’ll be fine. The card does come with a $450 annual fee, but 10,000 MQM’s is worth more than that in my opinion, plus you get a bunch of other benefits like SkyClub access, better Medallion upgrade priority and yearly companion passes good for cheap first class fares.

For more information on how to get elite miles without flying, check out my post from last December and if you’re new to elite status, make sure to read through all posts in that series. Happy mileage running if you decide that’s the route (no pun intended) you want to go!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • http://twitter.com/jamucsb Jamison

    I think I’ve given up on looking for my own mileage run lately thanks to @TheFlightDeal …their team works 24/7 looking for deals from all major airports

  • http://twitter.com/heuteistmeintag Ben L

    I’ve been in Chris’ shoes so here is my $0.02

    - Finally made EXP this year for the first time and it is sooo worth it, however, if he is unsure enough to want to ask about doing a run, I’m going to guess that $2500 to make EXP is out of the question. (But if you got the time and money, do it…) With that said.

    - Gold to PLT is ABSOLUTELY worth it if you are only 8,000 EQM short, especially with the DEQM promo which lets you do it for under $300 with a transcon. Three big benefits comes with that jump:

    a) Gold to PLT means you get 100% bonus miles instead of 25%. PLT to EXP there is no jump.

    b) Upgrade window from Gold to PLT goes from 24hrs to 72 hours, so 3 days instead of 1. from PLT to EXP goes to 100hr / 4 days, so only 1 extra day. Goes without saying, but there a helluva lot less PLT than Gold members, so you can actually use your stickers sometimess

    c) PLT gets lounge access as Oneworld Sapphire on international itineraries. If you don’t have Admiral’s Club membership, all you need is one flight disruption for you to realize just how amazing the agents in the AC are in saving your ass. Aside from that, All the Oneworld lounges I’ve been to (BA, JAL, Cathay) have all been pretty nice. Also, being able to take a shower in ORD and DFW after coming back from Europe before heading home is a nice bonus sometimes.

  • http://twitter.com/arcsix arcsix

    Since Chris is already Gold, shouldn’t he earn double RDMs on *all* flights through the end of the year, not just those between Nov 16-26? The terms of the offer are slightly different for current elite members, see here: http://www.aa.com/i18n/disclaimers/elite-double-miles-thank-you.jsp

  • BBTBphile

    I like the eyebrows.

  • JFK-LAX

    TPG, do you think Delta will sell MQMs like they did last September? I am on pace to finish with about 118K MQMs, including all credit card options, and I’d love to make Diamond without the need for a mileage run. Thanks!!

  • thepointsguy

    They have Hertz, SkyClub and Hilton promos running right now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a couple more ways added before years end. Its all about the $$$ and Delta knows people will pay handsomely for last minute MQMs

  • thepointsguy

    Correct! I missed that elite promo- will write a clarifying post

  • thepointsguy

    Agree- they find some great stuff!

  • HikerT

    Re: “the Delta Reserve card gives 10,000 MQMs with first purchase, so as long as you get approved and get the card and use it by the end of the year, you’ll be fine. ”

    Are you sure about that? AMEX states “10,000 Delta Medallion® Qualification Miles will be awarded after your first purchase on the Delta Reserve Business Credit Card. Please allow 2 to 4 weeks after your first purchase for the bonus miles to appear in your Delta SkyMiles® account. Delta Medallion Qualification Miles count only in the year they post to your account. “

  • Fieldhucks

    JFK -Tokyo trip will net you 26,890 AAdvantage miles

    I am AA Plat. Is this the same for me booked in any class?

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