Over the course of this week, I’ll be going through ideas on how you can score some last-minute elite-qualifying miles on the US legacy carriers to put you over the edge for elite status qualification before the end of the year. Posts so far include Last-Minute MQM Ideas for Delta Medallion Qualification, Last-Minute United Premier Status Qualification Ideas, Last-Minute US Airways Preferred Status Qualification Ideas, Last-Minute Virgin America Elevate Elite Status Qualification Ideas.
With just under 3 short weeks left in 2012, the mad dash for 2013 elite status qualification is well underway – and with the busy holiday travel season upon us, squeezing a few last elite qualifying miles from your travel plans is harder and more expensive than ever. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to score some EQM’s before the end of the year, no matter which AAdvantage elite tier you’re going for.
Some of you might be worried about what a potential American/US Airways merger might do to the AAdvantage program and the miles you accrue, but it looks like any resolution is a long way off, so there should still be plenty of time to put your miles and elite status to use.
As a reminder, here’s how many miles/segments you need to qualify for each AAdvantage tier:
Gold: 25,000 miles or 30 segments
Platinum: 50,000 miles or 60 segments
Executive Platinum: 100,000 miles or 100 segments
Unfortunately, as usual, American makes it pretty difficult to earn elite qualifying miles without actually flying, so the top few ways to earn extra EQM’s do involve some time in the air, but a couple are potentially very lucrative – and I’ve included a couple non-flying options as well.
1) Double EQM Promo: Now through December 31, American is offering Double Elite Qualifying Miles that can make your upcoming travel plans an EQM bonanza. To register for the promotion, click here, log in and enter promo code AATHX. So if you were just starting today (and I hope you’re not!), instead of having to fly 100,000 miles to earn top-tier Executive Platinum status, you would only have to fly 50,000 miles – the amount that would usually just get you Platinum status. This is an unparalleled opportunity to achieve an elite level that you’ve never been able to hit before, and to those of you within striking distance of Executive Platinum status, I’d highly recommend making an effort to get there since the benefits are miles beyond Gold and Platinum perks, including a 100-hour upgrade window, a 100% elite mileage bonus on flown miles, waived ticketing and award charges, and the most valuable perk: 8 systemwide upgrades that are valid until February 2014, and which you can use to upgrade even the cheapest coach fares available and upgrade to business class, even on international flights.
2) Same Day Standby or Change To Maximize Routing: Hand in hand with the Double EQM promo, a great way to rack up extra elite qualifying miles is by switching onto flights through connecting cities that are farther away from either the departure or destination or both. For example, if you’re scheduled to fly from Miami to LaGuardia on American, you’d normally earn about 1,100 EQM’s but if you same day confirmed to Miami-Chicago-LaGuardia, you’d rack up 1,900 EQM’s, which is about 70% more than the non-stop flight – and with the Double EQM promo, you’d be at 3,800 EQM’s! You’ll be spending more time in the air and at the airport, but if you same-day standby, it’s free to do if you’ve already got any level of elite status. You can also same-day confirm for $75. You might have to pay extra taxes on the ticket, but if $5 gets you an extra 1,600 elite qualifying miles, that’s well be worth it.
3) Gifted Miles or Status: Not going to make any elite threshold on your own? Well, if you know an elite frequent flyer, you might still be in luck. American Airlines offers Elite Rewards where American Platinum and Executive Platinum members who earn elite-qualifying points (points are based on the fare class you buy) above and beyond their qualifying thresholds by flying above their status threshold levels may gift AAdvantage Gold status to a friend. So with the double miles and points promo going on, a Platinum or Executive Platinum would only have to fly 12,500 extra miles on eligible fares (ie not the most deeply discounted economy fares, but ones that earn at least one point per mile flown) to be able to gift Gold status to a friend. Just remember that if you’re on the giving side of this equation, you must register by December 15, 2012, using the code ELTA2 in order to bestow your gifts.
4) Credit Card: The Citi Executive AAdvantage MasterCard gives cardholders 10,000 elite qualifying miles when they reach $40,000 in purchases each calendar year – just under halfway to Gold status. You can find the rest of the terms of this card and the other best Citi offers of the moment here. If you just got the card during this special bonus offer period, you might have a hard time hitting $40,000 spend quickly enough for the bonus EQM’s, but if you’ve had this card for a while, check up on your annual spending so far because you might be closer to that threshold than you think, and those 10,000 EQM’s can really come in handy if you’re close but not quite up to an elite threshold.
5) Business ExtrAA: Business frequent flyer programs can be a great way to double dip on airline perks since the individual flying still earns miles while their company earns points based on spending, which can then be redeemed for various benefits, including elite status. Best of all, you don’t even have to prove you have a company to sign up for a business extra account, and can usually just do so with with your own federal tax ID number. Companies with a Business ExtrAA account can redeem 2,400 points (the equivalent of $24,000 in spending) to bestow Gold status upon an employee. Gold status appointments issued through December 31st of each year are valid through February 28th of the next calendar year (i.e. Feb. 28, 2014).
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