If you read my blog you know my airline loyalty lies with United Airlines. I’ve been a 1K since 2008 & all other elite levels during most years since I first became a Premier in 1990. This summer, I’ve decided to focus my flying on American Airlines and go for Gold elite status in the AAdvantage program, which requires 25,000 miles or 30 segments within a calendar year.
I actually used to fly American with great regularity back in 1998 when I consulted on a technology project for the travel company I was working for. I was based in Chicago at that time, and flew out to Philadelphia every Monday, back every Friday for six months. Sadly, since those tickets were booked in a non-revenue earning fare bucket, a perk granted to my company for their volume of business to American, I didn’t accrue a single mile during those months.
A couple of things got me thinking about going for gold with American. First, earlier this year, I applied for the Citi AAdvantage Visa card and after a little spend on the card, received 40,000 miles as a bonus. Fantastic… that’s good for a free roundtrip economy “MileSAAver off-peak” ticket to Europe. Then, I thought it might make for good blog material to fly on American once or twice to review the experience as a non-elite and compare it to how I’m treated on United. So, I had already booked two trips with American, both in June. Finally, American comes out with Double Elite Qualifying (DEQM) and Redeemable Miles for Los Angeles (and San Francisco) flights to both Chicago and Dallas, a move to de-entice flyers from switching to Virgin America’s new service in both cities.
That’s all it took to get this mileage running & elite status junkie to commit to going for it. Gold status on American brings with it priority services at check-in, boarding & preferred seating, as well as a 25% mileage bonus, free baggage allowance, minimum mile guarantee for flights under 500 miles, oneworld Ruby status, and a few other niceties. And I’ll be able to achieve the status for a “relative” bargain.
The two itineraries I have booked already will net me 8,430 elite qualifying miles (EQMs), so I need 16,570 more to hit 25,000 miles. With the DEQM promo I mentioned above to Chicago and Dallas, the fastest way to hit the mark would be to fly one roundtrip to Chicago, and two to Dallas. Looking at fares right now, though, it actually might be cheaper to do all Chicago runs, since the fares to Chicago are lower than those to Dallas. Also, I have a work trip coming up & will consider American for that one, as my company is flexible with carrier preference.
I fully expect to maintain my loyalty with United Airlines, but it will certainly be nice to have at least the lowest level elite status on American should conditions arise necessitating a switch, and my gold status will be valid through February 2013. The DEQM promos to both Chicago and Dallas end August 31, 2011, so I have a few months to play around with my options. The downside: summer fares can be unfriendly to bargain hunters like myself, and I’m locked into Chicago and Dallas for the double miles. It’s all in the fun for the hunt for status, and I look forward to blogging about my impressions of American’s service since my long hiatus from flying them in the 1990s.