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2018 Mileage Marathon - AA Exec Plat

Discussion in 'Mileage Runs/Travel Hacking' started by zebraitis, Jan 21, 2018.

  1. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    Folks, new year, new goals, the numbers reset to zero, and we begin again.

    Having gotten used to documenting some of the amusing events and tips of my trips last year, I'm starting again for 2018.

    Below I'll add the various trips, trips and troubles that I find in going for Exec Plat for 2018.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  2. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    DEN - JFK - DEN

    Or...

    How to turn a 310 EQD / 3742 EQM trip into … 895 EQD / 11,795 EQM ! :eek: :cool:

    Hi folks. This should have just been a quick round trip from Denver to JFK via Charlotte, but by leveraging weather alerts and some serious travel flexibility, I received the mileage for what would usually take an international flight to accomplish.

    Here's how:

    My first trip out of Denver was dramatically delayed due to weather, and the AA app gave me many options to consider. However the rebook algorithms showed me only trips heading east and getting in VERY late.

    I called AA and asked: can you send me WEST and get me in sooner? So without a problem, I was on my way to Phoenix instead of Charlotte, and then on to JFK. this got me 2751 EQM miles instead of 1871

    Once in New York, the fun REALLY starts!
    [​IMG]

    Again, on the return trip, I received a weather alert, so I called and asked if I could go JFK - LAX - DEN. Doing a 6 hour 45 minute JFK to LAX transcontinental flight, I was hoping to get the upgrade to Business (it's a three class flight!), but I was only able to get Premium Economy, with a middle seat open... no complaints there and 2470 EQM added.

    Once in LAX, Go figure: A delay for the LAX to DEN flight allowed me to select a redeye flight in its place: LAX - ORD - DEN.

    Yes, at this point, I had entered the twilight zone of rebooking. :confused: So my journey from JFK to DEN now goes into its second day. Having Admiral's Club access made this tolerable, as I grabbed a shower in LAX, and another in ORD the next day to keep me refreshed. This added 2625 EQM to the run, and finally got me back to Denver.

    Now, if you have been keeping track of the EQM, you will see that I should only have 7846 EQM... HOWEVER … As an Exec Plat, since I had already upgraded to First on my original flights, the rebooked flights gave me the undeserved EQM mileage bonus for those first class flight on DEN - PHX - JFK and LAX-ORD-DEN. :)

    AND ALSO... on those rebooked flights, AA also gave me the dollar values and multiplier for the flights onto which I was rebooked ... as to rebook me, the flight had to have a ticket value, so rather than 310 EQD I received 895 EQD when adding up all the values. :)

    Bottom line: If you have flexibility, weather alerts can get you to AA EXP faster! :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  3. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    Trip 2:
    DEN-PHX-DEN - an uneventful trip resulting in 1,764 EQM

    On the other hand, a great stay at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass. If you are looking to get away from it all, this is the place.

    [​IMG]

    ------------------------------------------------

    Trip 3:

    Weather worked against me this time... DEN-CLT-BOS-CLT-DEN actually became DEN-CLT-BOS -- ( drive ) -- ALB-ORD-DEN.

    The Nor'easter on Friday cancelled the Boston flights, and I went west on Saturday to fly out of Albany on Saturday night. Another 4,512 EQM done
    ------------------------------------------------
    So far:
    EQD: 1,626
    EQM: 18,071


    Additionally, Acquired the Hilton Aspire card this spring, with automatic Diamond status and 100K Hilton points after $4K spend. This is making my choice of Marriott, Starwood or Hilton MUCH easier! No more needing to track if I achieved the goal. ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  4. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    DEN-PHX-SAN-PHX-DEN EQM-2,176 EQD-$452

    Another uneventful AA flight. Only thing of note is that Phoenix seems to shut down at 8:30pm. The Admiral's Club in B shuts at 8:30, and the Club at PHX shuts down early as well (it becomes a BA-only club in the afternoon). As I was arriving in one "B" and departing another "B", the clubs at the "A's" were too far for the time allowed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
  5. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    DEN-CLT-LGA-CLT-DEN EQM: 4057 EQD: 276

    Third time's a charm. Yep, I was in NYC my the third nor'easter of the season. Got out just in time on Weds morning, as the wind picked up and snow started to fall.
     
  6. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    Busy travel week... low accomplishments towards the end-goal.

    DEN-LAS-DEN EQM - 0 EQD - 0
    I'm a UA Silver thanks to my Marriott Platinum Lifetime Status. I took a United non-stop to ensure that I protect my 150,000 miles with them. (Of course, no AA points when flying UA.) However, REALLY great meals at the LAS AmEx Centurion club! Nice shower suite, non-stress vibe for the whole place
    [​IMG]

    IN LAS, stayed at the Westin Lake Las Vegas. Didn't know a place like this existed! This is where the Beverly Hills folks must go when they want a vacation.
    [​IMG]

    DEN-DFW-DEN EQM - 1,286 EQD - 375
    Uneventful quick trip, with average meal in DFW Centurion club. The TexMex thing has gotten old. Too many people, unruly loud kids.

    Found out that they are planning to add a Centurion club in DEN. The Points Guy wrote:
    " One Mile at a Time reports that the DEN Centurion Lounge would be 14,650 square feet, making it the second-largest in the lounge network, after JFK’s lounge opens (15,000 square feet).

    The proposed lounge, with a capital investment of more than $14 million, includes all of the Centurion basics — premium bar, high-speed internet, food options, showers, a family room, phone rooms, tranquility area for sleeping and more. Plus, plans detailed to the City Council also detail that the lounge will feature spa and wellness services, as well as beer and wine tasting areas."
    The tentative location is "C" concourse, which is far from the American gates at "A"... however, once open I'll have to reassess if my Citi AA card with Admiral's Club access will be worthwhile to keep in comparison with my AmEx Platinum & Centurion club access.

    Other interesting news:
    • Received my 100,000 point bonus on my AmEx Aspire card for completing $4000 spend. Part of it was using Plastiq to make a tax payment. They counted it as spend, not cash advance, which is good to know. The Aspire card comes with Diamond Status, so it's great no longer stressing about getting my nights in.
    • Called AA / Avis to tell them that their co-branded web reservation form had problems: You could not enter the AA FF#, so no EXP 1,250 miles per rental award. They said they would fix.
    Today's total count: EQM - 25,587 EQD - 2,729
     
  7. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    [​IMG]

    So... I thought I was done with all this East Coast snow stuff... but go figure: This week I go to Boston, and they have an April snowfall. Add that to my being in the area for three Nor'easters, and you have a heck of a travel year so far! Looked like I was going to miss my DFW connection, but travel delays affected that outbound. Back to DEN at 2:00 AM Saturday morning. (... yippee?)

    DEN-ORD-BOS-DFW-DEN EQM: 3,973 EQD: 381
     
  8. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    Hi folks! Great week for accomplishing goals. My Barclaycard AAviator Silver just posted my awards for achieving spend thresholds:
    • EQM: 5,000 …….. EQD: 3,000
    So, that brings the AA 2018 running total to:
    • EQM: 34,560 …….. EQD: 6,110
    Knowing that I will get another 3,000 EQD from AAviator Silver when I hit the next threshold, looks like AA Spend wont be an issue, but the EQM accomplishment will. But it's only April, so hard to say... There are always long haul flights that will get that done. Thank goodness for Google Flights! ;)

    As to travel, no AA flights this week as I am taking United to Louisville.
    DEN-SDF-DEN EQM: 0 EQD:0 :(
     
  9. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    Travel has slowed down, but attainment has not.

    I hit the $50K spend point on the Barclaycard Aviator Silver card... that adds another 3000 EQD and 5000 EQM. (Time to switch spending to the Citi AAdvantage Exec to get the 10K EQM from them)

    That brings my 2018 total count to:
    EQD: 9,110
    EQM: 39,560

    That's not bad for May! :)
     
  10. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    If you have been reading along, I've been in three of the 2018 Nor'easters. So, from ice, let's go to fire with the Big Island of Hawaii !

    Spent a week at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. Great place, great Hawaii vibe. Built on an old lava flow, the hotel has easy access to Kona, Captain Cook, and the western coast. At night there is Manta Ray viewing (they come right up to the hotel !!! ). While we were there during the volcanic eruption on the southeast side of the island, we chose not to get too close. So much else to do and see.

    [​IMG]

    DEN-LAX-KOA-LAX-DEN
    EQD: 490 (yep! $500 bucks to Hawaii !!!)
    EQM: 6,708

    This closes out May, with the totals at:
    EQD: 9,600
    EQM: 46,268

    That means that I have 43,732 more miles (as I still have an expected 10,000 EQMs from CITI by year's end), and $2400 EQD to go.
     
    misman likes this.
  11. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    Hi Folks - I've taken a step into semi-retirement, and it's time to book some trips!

    Late September - Beijing China
    Late October - Sidney Australia
    Late November - Kauai Hawaii

    I'll write in greater detail later on each of these trips, however, the flight costs for TWO PEOPLE were a real bargain:

    * Beijing - $1006
    * Sydney - $2138 (with INSANE routing: DEN-CLT-LAX-SYD-LAX-CLT-DEN !!!)
    * Kauai - $707 (yes, for two!)

    This will take me over the required 100K miles for the year by 237 miles, but has me $798 short on the EQD's for the year... which I will need to address.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  12. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  13. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    Today, the CITI AAdvantage Executive Card applied 10,000 EQM based on spend.

    That brings me to:
    - EQD - $9,600
    - EQM - 56,268


    One thing of note: I haven't flown since May 19th (3 months!), but in that time I've earned 110,085 FFM's. That includes a 60,000 new card award miles and the rest (50,085) is spend and spend bonus miles. :cool:

    This type of earning helps offset the fact that ExP's do not get the 500 mile certificates that most folks get. Of course, as an ExP I get upgraded on most flights, so I don't need them, but traveling with my wife (in the same record), I need to use those to upgrade her. So I purchased a bundle of 8 (for the possible upgrade to Hawaii) for 40,000 miles.

    Still, playing the CCard game, the actual amount of miles spent on those 8 "stickers' was 38,000 miles. I saved 2,000 miles because of card affiliation. ;)
     
  14. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    A quick thing about hotels... I just merged my Marriott and Starwood accounts. I'm in the "Lifetime Platinum Premier" level, which is only being awarded this year.

    While on the one hand this means that I have plenty of hotel points and choices for my upcoming trips, it also means that I have spent 1219 nights in a hotel (according to the combined count by Marriott.)

    That's over 3 years. Looking at that, I'm surprised that I haven't lost everything that I have owned in a hotel room over that time, packing and unpacking and repacking.
     
  15. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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  16. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    OK... time to start to document our trip to Beijing China! :) Here is some forward planning info.

    As I mentioned above, our two coach tickets to Beijing came to a total of $1006.00 US.

    From an AAdvantage earning perspective, that means:
    EQD 414
    EQM 15,015

    We are flying DEN-ORD-PEK-DFW-DEN on Saturday Sept 29th - Thursday October 4th. While we did not know this at the time of booking, this is China's "National Holiday" week... so everyone does the tourist thing at that time in China. What this really means to our trip is an unknown right now, but going at a time when everyone is focused on fun can't be all bad! :p

    What is interesting about this routing is that AA will be cancelling it's ORD-PEK route in October (and going forward) due to lack of passenger interest. So, we will be taking advantage of that in one direction, and then that routing (via ORD) is gone for our return.

    Taking advantage of existing credit-card-related free-hotel-night certificates, we are only using hotel points for one night of our trip! ;)

    The day of arrival, after MANY hours on the plane, we get in at 8:30PM... so it made sense to stay near the airport: Hilton Beijing Capital Airport, to be specific. As my Hilton Aspire card included a free weekend night, that is a no-charge night stay at a hotel that is in the airport and has a nice lounge for Hilton Diamond members.
    [​IMG]
    PEK is the worlds second busiest airport, and this is China's first airport luxury hotel. (Seriously... Marriott / Starwood has NOTHING near the airport!).

    After a night's sleep and breakfast, we are off to the JW Marriott
    [​IMG]
    I chose this based on availability AND the use of two free night certificates from my Marriott Premier / Premier Plus card... and since it's the national holiday, the rate dropped to 17,500 for the last night. So I look forward to seeing what the "Lifetime Platinum Premier" Marriott status will mean there! :cool:

    So that gives us two solid days (Tues & Weds) to see the sights. The JW is in the financial district, and near subway stations, so we may be able to hit some of the top places without setting up a tour.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  17. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    Upgrading for the Beijing Flight...

    [​IMG]

    We requested ExP Systemwide upgrades for our Sydney trip, and Hawaii will likely be a standard ExP upgrade (as Hawaii is a domestic route) so that means that the Beijing trip has no "cheap" upgrade options for us. :(

    Since the flight for the two of us was $1006, we are nowhere near full coach fare. That means a "miles and dollars" upgrade is our only option: $350.00 and 25,000 miles per person per direction. So that sounds like a deal until you add it up: $1,400 and 100,000 miles. :eek:

    Having flown to China in coach last year...
    [​IMG]

    … we decided not to repeat that experience, so we made the commitment, bit the bullet, and did the upgrade.

    Why? This is why:
    [​IMG]

    Good news: AA let me use my wife's 100,000 miles as part of this upgrade, and since she also has an affiliate card, the 100,000 mile award was discounted to only 90,000 miles. AND... since most of those miles were bonus miles for getting the affiliate card, that means that the miles part was fairly non-painful.

    Mildly good news: As I charged this fee on my Barclaycard AAviator Silver card, that means that I have earned 3x the AA purchase in miles resulting in 4,200 miles back. :confused: Not a lot, but miles are miles.

    Annoying bad news: Upgrade dollars spent does NOT count toward the yearly EQD count. grrr... :mad:

    Remembering a better program: Back in the day, an ExP would be given an international coach-to-business upgrade free if "negative space" (an unsold seat) was available. Those were the days.

    My next update will likely be AFTER the trip, so wish us a Bon Voyage! :D
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  18. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    Sitting in the ORD Flagship lounge with a few hours to kill before the flight to Beijing.

    They have gummy bears. A cookie jar full of gummy bears. Those bastards!
    [​IMG]

    So, top of mind...I saw that United raised its 1K spend requirement to $15k. Let's hope American doesn't follow suite and raise their EQD requirement, as that would be the final insult to domestic US travelers.

    Sure, bag fees were just raised, as were drink prices, but if EQD goes to $15k, then I think AA will see a drop off in those that pursue ExP. And that means a revenue drop for AA.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2018
  19. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    Beijing trip -- DONE.

    Going during "Golden Week" (China's national holiday) may not have been the best idea, as the crowds were massive at all the various sights, like the Palace Museum (Forbidden City) ...
    [​IMG]
    … The neat thing is many of those Chinese tourists in Beijing were from remote rural areas. As a result we are now in many photos where these folks will be going back to their village and saying "Really! We saw Americans! Blonde Americans!!! ". This is the first time that we had the experience that WE were the oddity!

    DEN-ORD-PEK-DFW-DEN
    EQD: 414 ….. EQM: 15,417

    Running Total:
    EQD: 10,014 ….. EQM: 71,685

    This puts me just 3,315 miles shy of Platinum Pro, with Exec Plat still as my goal.

    Some trip observations:
    * Both long haul flights were Flagship Business class (no first class offered).
    * The flight there (787-8) had better seating (forward facing / rear facing seats) that offered greater privacy. Seat was more "pod-like".
    * The flight back (787-9) had all forward facing seats. Strangly NO privacy wall between the two middle seats in Business.
    * The flight there had a Business snack spread, but not on the return.
    * While this was a 6000+ mile transpacific filight, supposed "Flagship Business" service, the Casper offerings that AA was promoting was really lacking. Yes, there was a blanket and slippers, but no pajamas or bed topper.
    * I was told by a flight attendant on the 787-9 that they plan to reconfigure the plane, taking out business seats and adding more premium economy seats.
    * As my original ticket was very inexpensive, My frequent flier miles earned for this flight (total) was 4.554 miles. Embarrassing, really, for a 15,000 mile flight.

    Generally, it strikes me that the American staff is none to please of the changes taking place in making the American Air offerings a lesser product, however they are powerless to prevent it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2018
  20. zebraitis

    zebraitis Silver Member

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    10 days before the flight to Australia. Biz class seat availability -- 6 on the way there, 8 on the way back.
    --------------------------

    UPDATE: The flight is today!

    Systemwide upgrades approved? No.

    It was August 11th when I booked the flight to SYD. That's 2 1/2 months of waiting for AA to release some "C" seats in business. AA never did. Worse yet, when we got to the airport (AFTER AA sold all the seats), I found out we were 5th and 6th on the upgrade list.

    So: if there is no intent of making seats available, why string people along? What a way to ensure that a customer is royally tweaked.

    If systemwide upgrades (EVIP) seats are never made available, then that further devalues the ExP status.

    I love to travel for the sake of discovery, but this really makes me question why I am putting so much effort into a company that is not reciprocating.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018

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