Going for AA Exec Plat ! - Mileage Marathon time

Discussion in 'Mileage Runs/Travel Hacking' started by zebraitis, Sep 20, 2017.  |  Print Topic

  1. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Folks,

    I've been Exec Plat for some time with AA. But this year, there's been a lull I'm my travel. I'm going to do some mileage running to keep my status in 2018.

    My variables:
    1) I'm in Denver, so all travel should start and end there
    2) The flight needs to be an AA ticket, even if it's a different OneWorld carrier's metal.
    3) I'm looking for cheap flights with LOTS of miles.
    4) I want just enough time to grab a shower and a meal in the place that I am going, and fly back. However, likely I'll spend at least a day or two there. :)

    It looks like I need 3 or 4 really-long-haul-flights to make it happen... but I'm cheap, so the lower the ticket price the better. (I can use a system wide upgrade to try to make a better class happen.

    sidebar - yes, I already have Citi AAdvantage and Barclaycard Silver, so I am maximizing the EQD and EQM from those two sources.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
  2. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    OK - just booked my first ticket: Shanghai !

    [​IMG]

    * Oct 20 / Oct 23
    * DEN-LAX-PVG-DFW-DEN
    * $663.00 / person
    * 15,328 Elite qualifying miles
    * 573 Elite qualifying dollars

    I'll have to get a Chinese Visa, unless I throw a side trip into the mix while there.

    Addendum: Ooof !!! :confused: While there are some Visa avoiding strategies (involving transfers, etc.), China only does visas at a few consulates in the US, and no mail-in business. Since I'm in Denver, that means working with an expediter. 2 visas @$140 each, plus fees = $450 (Thanks to Mile High Visas!!! Turnaround was shockingly FAST!).

    We have applied for a multiple-entry 10-year tourist Visa... A good deal if one of my other milage runs are back to China... which is likely. Especially good if I return for another mileage run next year.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  3. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Just re-booked flight #2: Bangkok !

    [​IMG]

    Originally I booked this as a quick turn, but as I'm traveling with my wife, we thought we would see a bit more of Bangkok. So, leveraging the AA 24-hour no-penalty cancellation, we expanded the time in Bangkok. This may allow us to make it down to Phuket.
    [​IMG]

    * Nov 24 - Nov 30
    * DEN-ORD-NRT (transfer) HND-BKK-HND-LAX-DEN
    * $802 / person
    * 19,214 Elite Qualifying Miles
    * 670 Elite Qualifying Dollars

    With just over seven hours to get from NRT to HND, that's plenty of time to transfer AND grab sushi for dinner in Tokyo!
    [​IMG]
    Shibuya, y'all !
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
  4. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Thought I found an interesting trip 3:

    Oct 13 - Oct 16 / DEN-CLT-JFK-LGA-EDI-JFK-ORD-DEN / $665
    [​IMG]
    When you add up the miles, it's only 10,549 EQM for an 8 leg trip... My target to hit after trip 1&2 is to earn 30,640 ... so better to do two LONG runs rather that three shorter. (Although an Edinburgh overnight would have been cool.)

    Keep looking. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
  5. alfagirl

    alfagirl Gold Member

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    Don't you also needs EQDs (along with EQMs)
    good luck
     
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  6. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Yes, you are right. With the Barclaycard AAdvantage Silver and $50K spend, they award $6000 EQD, so I'm more than halfway there. Throw in a bit of legitimate business travel already done ('cause I DO have a job), and I'll have that covered.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
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  7. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Oh, I forgot to mention Trip Zero: Roanoke!

    [​IMG]

    * Sept 22 - Sept 25
    * DEN-CLT-ROA-CLT-DEN
    * 3,696 Elite Qualifying Miles
    * 672 Elite Qualifying Dollars

    Going to a wedding. Sure, western Virginia is not as exciting as the other runs, but it is a cross country flight so EQDs and EQMs count!

    Surprise: I was able to book my wife's round trip ticket for 15,500 miles. (AA discounted monthly destination, 7500 miles off with affiliate CC, 10% miles back with affiliated CC)

    But me? $750. Working to earn those EQD's !!! (... and getting in two Hilton nights to make the dash to Hilton Diamond)
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
  8. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    You know, it's funny, but I'm not even considering the award miles I'll earn on these trips. :confused:

    I don't even want to think what math that would be... ((Fare + Airline Fees) - Govt taxes) x bottom-of-the barrel class multiplier x 11 Exec Plat multiplier x shoe size... :)

    Still... it's not about the awards miles, it's about keeping EXP for 2018 ! :D
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
  9. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Two more posts / messages before I can post pictures. Yippee!
    [​IMG]
    As you can see... I hit ten. :cool:
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  10. misman
    Original Member

    misman Gold Member

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  11. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Thanks! I appreciate the invitation... and I have created a quick message there:
    https://insideflyer.com/forums/threads/aa-exec-plat-saying-hi.138742/

    But this is ALL about the mileage run ... or in this case, mileage marathon.
    (sent from 7A, coach. I upgraded my wife to first... Happy wife... :) )


    Addendum: I liked the idea of "mileage marathon" so much, I changed the name of the thread
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
  12. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Booked the third trip - Chengdu !
    [​IMG]

    (wait... what, where? Oh, China again.)


    * Dec 7 - Dec 13
    * DEN-LAX-HKG-CTU-HKG-LAX-DEN
    * $530 / person (no, that's NOT a misprint !)
    * 17,032 Elite Qualifying Miles
    * 435 Elite Qualifying Dollars (... probably.)

    So that is a trip to see the Pandas and have some Sichuan food for two people for just over $1000. Clearly - Google Flights is your best friend. :)

    Addendum: Using the AA 24 hour change option, I was able to get an overnight in Hong Kong raising the ticket cost up $260.00 per person (for a total $790 per person). Still a great deal.
    [​IMG]

    I hope to move that departure from H.K. to later in the day by going standby, so it becomes two days, one night in H.K. That should be sufficient to see the highlights.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  13. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    So far... What does this mean... if I do this, will I make it?

    EQM's - GOAL 100,000
    Today, I have 38,887 miles. Adding the return from western Virginia, and the three long-haul flights and an additional 5,000 from Barclaycard Aviator Silver... that will bring me to an estimated 96,469 EQM. ... probably.

    EQDs - GOAL: $12,000
    Today I have 7,106 (that includes an already awarded $3000 EQD from Barclaycard Aviator Silver). Adding the return from western Virginia, and the three long-haul flights and an additional 3,000 from Barclaycard Aviator Silver... that will add $5050 EQD and bring me to an estimated total of 12,156 EQD. (I had overlooked that EQD = base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, which are applied for fuel or whatever on international flights.), so that should put me over that $12K number.

    With this estimate, right now, I'm short EQM... but within a reasonable target.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
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  14. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Booked the 4th trip - LAX for the weekend !
    [​IMG]

    * Sept 30 - Oct1
    * DEN-LAX-DEN
    * $72.41 / person -- $144 for both (Roundtrip!!! No, NOT a misprint !)
    * 850 Elite Qualifying Miles
    * 42 Elite Qualifying Dollars

    This should be an interesting experience, as this flight is booked in AA Basic Economy. :eek:

    If you click on that link, you see it's pretty restrictive... unless you are an elite member or have the right credit card (so, yes on both). Still, no free pre-selection of seats (unless you wish to pay extra) or upgrades. Seat assigned at check-in by AA, and no guarantee of together. But as an Exec Plat, re-checking in at the First Class line in DEN, it will likely be good seats, together by the time we are done.

    The EQM and EQD are cut in half because... well, that's the rules of the game. But since I want to make sure that I'm over the top of the requirements, why not spend a day or two in Hermosa Beach! :cool:

    PRO TIP: Renting from Avis for this three day weekend through American Air gets me a car all-in for $100, PLUS as an EXP you earn 1,250 award miles (which is more than the air award miles I will earn for this trip). And since LAX is an Avis Select and Go location, our subcompact became a nice mid-size SUV. Details at https://www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-program/miles/partners/cars.jsp
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
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  15. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    As this is a number game, a quick double check of goals after Roanoke:

    Today's EQDs = 7,414

    Add Shanghai (573) + Bangkok (670) + Chengdu (435) + Los Angeles (42) + Barclaycard Silver (3000)

    Estimated finish: 12,134 EQD (which hits target!)
    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Today's EQM = 40,735

    Add Shanghai (15,328) + Bangkok (19,214) + Chengdu (17,032) + Los Angeles (850)+ Barclaycard Silver (5000)

    Estimated finish: 98,159 (which is 1,841 miles short of target.)
    -------------------------------------------------------------

    While all this can change, looks like one more cheap domestic flight will lock it in. :cool:

    (FYI: Numbers change because if I make a change, then AA has to use an estimate because their system does not easily track changed trip EQD and EQM. I'll update as I have official numbers after the flights).
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
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  16. alfagirl

    alfagirl Gold Member

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    okay, you inspired me.

    booked LAX-PEK for $550, all in. 12/6-12/9....
     
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  17. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Just saw that I received an additional 5000 EQM from Barclaycard.

    So that means that I have received the total 10,000 EQM from Citi and the 10,000 EQM from Barclaycard.

    (It's nice that Barclaycard awards in partial amounts... halfway there... half of the award. with Citi, you get nothing until you hit the requirement. I look forward to getting that additional Barclaycard 3000 EQD yet this year.)

    That brings today's count to:
    EQD: 7,456
    EQM: 46,585

    If I were to stop here for the year, I would end up being Gold. That won't do.

    It is astounding that the three long haul flights will make that substantial of a difference.
     
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  18. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    A word about upgrades:

    You know... back in the day (like 10 years ago)... as an Exec Plat, I could almost always count on a free courtesy upgrade internationally to Business Class if the seat was available at time of departure. Living in Brazil as an E.P., I appreciated how often this happened, and that is one of the items that bonded my loyalty to American Airlines.

    [​IMG]

    Well, those days have changed... I just finished some calls looking at upgrade options.

    As an EP, I have 4 system-wide upgrades. (The days of 8 systemwide upgrades ended in 2016, except by adding much MUCH more miles per year - "You can earn up to 4 more systemwide upgrades; 2 at 150,000 EQMs and 2 at 200,000 EQMs.")

    Doing an upgrade on a paid ticket, the Asian upgrade option is 25,000 miles and $350.00 Now that doesn't seem bad, but that is per person, each way. So, if we clear to business on one of those trips, that means 100,000 miles and $1,400.00 :eek:

    Kinda blows the whole "cheap" concept of this mileage run, but still substantially less than buying a business class ticket.

    So, here's what we're doing:

    Shanghai - since there is only one long leg and it's a quick overnight turn, we'll do this without an upgrade. We grabbed two seats in the back (29A&C) which SeatGuru said is more roomy than the "better" coach seats up front. Room on both sides, window and aisle together, with no bathrooms in the back of this craft (so no lines), and enough room not to get bumped by the cart. I'll let'cha know how that works out.

    Bangkok - This is a two long-leg flight, so we'll use the systemwide upgrade on the American metal. JAL Tokyo-Bangkok-Tokyo will be coach.

    Chengdu - This is also a two long-leg flight. Since the systemwide upgrades are gone, then it's a miles and $$$ upgrade for American metal as well. Hong Kong- Chengdu-Hong Kong on Cathay Dragon is coach.

    Of course, the last two are pending... IF American releases inventory for upgrades. But it looks good. At least today.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
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  19. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Hey campers...

    We are within 24 hours of our fist big trip.

    AA was nice enough to upgrade Sandra and I to First in the Domestic DEN to LAX leg (it's one of those new configurations that only has 8 seats in First). As an EP, my up was complementary, Sandra was 2 @ 500 mile "stickers". The two 500 mile adds were $40 each, driving up the trip cost a bit more.

    (As I had lost some of my complementary system wide upgrades last year due to non-use, AA was nice enough to drop a few 500 mile stickers on me for upcoming flights)

    As an EP, flying internationally, we have access to the Emerald / One World First Class lounge in LA (Quantas First Class Lounge) and in Shanghai (Cathay Pacific & Air China). Looking forward to that !

    Wish us luck!
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
  20. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    The good: The Quantas first class lounge rocked. The flight attendants on the AA flight to Shanghai were caring, but very very busy.

    (Although there was one that definitely reminded me of the song by The Replacements: "Waitress in the Sky")

    The bad: whoever thought that the two seats in the back of that flight were roomy never went transpacific... or must have been a midget.

    The ugly: I ended up having some sort of stomach flu / creeping-slow-death on the flight. So bad, an out-of-body experiences. The flight attendants were kind enough to let me lie down in their duty row and try to get some sleep.

    One full night of sleep in a bed, and I am back to 100% :)

    Shanghai is culture shock but very cool. Staying at the Renaissance Putuo and the staff has exceeded expectations. Afternoon of sightseeing, with a spa /massage this evening.

    Your web experience is totally farked: No Google (no Google search, no Google maps or no anything Google-ish), no Facebook, no WhatsApp, no Twitter, no whatever the government doesn't like. This place is like Alice in Wonderland where capitalism has gone down the rabbit hole.

    Pro tip: bring cash. Credit cards acceptance is limited. And don't expect your ATM card to work in the machines. Taxis will need to know where you are going written in Chinese or you are in for a tour unexpected. We took a standard taxi from the airport, passing by all the limo drivers hoping to make a quick buck... a two hour taxi ride from airport to hotel was 250 RMB (about $40 USD)

    And yes, already called AA and asked to be added to the standby list for an upgrade on the trip back. Sometimes 50,000 miles and $700 is actually a bargain.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
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  21. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Shanghai is behind us, and we are back in the USA.

    1) A half-day tour of Shanghai ensured that we saw all the highlights (Old Shanghai, The Bund, The French Quarter, etc.).

    2) Chinese Socialism seems to be creating a lot of Capitalistic wealth! Saw a pink McLaren 570GT (on a delivery truck) and a new pink Rolls Royce on it's way to the airport. Sisters are doing for themselves, eh?

    3) We didn't get the upgrade to coach, but we made sure to change our seats to Main Cabin Extra. The legroom, pitch and leather seats made a world of difference. Not lie-flat by any means, but not cramped-panic-attack either.

    4) Lounges in Shanghai - Air China had the preferred First Class lounge. They had menu service, but the general result of that visit was dramatically underwhelming. They did have eel nigiri, which was cool, but the item ordered via menu (lamb shank) was of poor quality. It just didn't feel "first class". After we ate, we went to Cathay Pacific's lounge (serving first and business class) where the vibe was much better. Larger, open, and good snacks. Sometimes less is more.

    Other Observations:

    A) Not being ill on the way back, I could assess the flight a bit more: The status of being an Exec Plat in coach flying internationally is basically nothing and of no value. There is not the recognition that you get domestically ("thanks for your business") or the benefits of a free snack. The flight attendants are focused on doing their tasks and that's it. God save you if you get in the way of meal service.

    (Tip to AA if reading this: You could easily fix that by giving a token gift to the EP traveling and spouse / family if in the same reservation. A smaller travelers kit, a special snack, whatever.)

    B) While I did not sleep (chose to watch 4 films instead), the 36 hour extended calendar day was cool... two sunrises and sunsets in the same day. That is a unique memory that I'll keep.

    C) MINOR RANT: AA makes my life miserable when traveling with my wife. Here's why:

    AA's policy is that if an EP and companion are traveling together and the upgrade clears in advance of the flight, then both the EP and companion are upgraded. HOWEVER--- if the upgrade does not clear in advance, then when upgrade control transfers to airport control (two hours before flight) then the upgrade is based on status / fare / upgrade method.

    The result in Shanghai was that I'm number 1 on the list, she's number 9. If that cleared and I would have gotten upgraded internationally, then well... imagine THAT scenario.

    Domestically, I was upgraded from Dallas to Denver. I had my wife sit in first, while I spoke to the stranger that was sitting in my former seat. The result was that he got the free ride in First, with the two of us now sitting together back in coach. All of this seat swap mathematics is because my wife likes to sit WITH ME.

    Thanks, AA for rewarding total strangers for my loyalty. :mad: OK, rant done.

    SUMMARY:

    Looks like my trip accomplished more to my goal.

    Trip data:
    * 15,328 Elite Qualifying Miles
    * 574 Elite Qualifying Dollars
    * 6,314 Award miles

    (Tip to AA if reading this: Remembering AA's previous program, the award miles is embarrassing. You should at least ensure it is a minimum of 1:1 on long haul flights.)

    Total status today:
    * 8,030 Elite Qualifying Dollars
    * 61,913 Elite Qualifying Miles

    This trip allowed me to jump up from Gold to Platinum, nearing Platinum Pro

    Next up: Bangkok
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
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  22. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Fun fact... Seems like American Airlines CEO Doug Parker says the mileage run is dead.
    [​IMG]
    http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea...tacks-mileage-runs-wants-miles-just-currency/

    I'm glad I'm not one that listens to others well. ;)

    PRO TIP: Since I've started, one important items that I've learned: The partner airline you fly (and how it is booked) will have an impact on your mileage run.

    I was reading http://moorewithmiles.com/2017/01/american-airlines-mileage-running-is-not-dead/ ... I appreciated that he was setting a scenario where with one long roundtrip on an AA partner's Premium Economy flight, you could get halfway to EP. Clearly, I'll be taking advantage of that strategy next year.

    However, the real nugget of gold is the earning chart for partner flights: https://www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-program/miles/partners/partner-airlines.jsp

    Since I bought these flights at rock-bottom prices, all my fares are in "O" fare class. Sadly, what this means is that my Hong Kong-Chengdu-Hong Kong leg on Cathay Dragon will earn NO EQD and NO EQM, even though it is an AA partner. :confused: (On the other hand, my Tokyo-Bangkok-Tokyo flight on JAL is not affected by this because I'm flying JAL metal but with an AA flight number on AA paper.)

    This will affect my calculations, but better to know now than later... and while the Chengdu leg is earning nothing, I'm still glad to be going. Can't wait to see the pandas!
    [​IMG]
    Minor Update: Since Cathay Pacific (HKG-CTU-HKG) yields no Elite Qualifying Miles, my corrected EQM for that flight is 16,218. EXCEPT for the fact that I will abandon the LAX-DEN last leg. Family wants to see Harry Potter in Universal Studios in L.A. So:
    16,218 - 860 = 15,358
    Then, 4 days later (on Sunday), I'm catching an flight back to Denver from Ontario CA via Phoenix (ONT-PHX-DIA) adding 925 miles
    15,358 +925 = 16,283

    Quick EQM Check:

    Current EQM - 61,913
    Bangkok EQM - 19,214
    Chengdu EQM - 16,283

    Total Estimate EQM - 97,410
    Short EQM - 2,590

    Looks like I need to do a quick flight to Miami or some other domestic (but distant) city will do it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
  23. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Quick update between flights...

    Received an email today from AA... As an EP (currently today at Platinum by the numbers for next year), AA was generous to offer me Platinum Pro status for 2018 for "only" $1,645.00
    As our next international flight (Bangkok) will bring me to Platinum Pro, then that will be a "hard no" on that offer, as the goal is Exec Plat.

    How much are they charging YOU? Take a look:
    https://elite.americanairlines.com/eliterenewal/login.cfm
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  24. zebraitis

    zebraitis Member

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    Having hit the $50K spend mark, Barclaycard Silver just posted an additional 3000 EQD (for a total of 6000 EQD this year), bringing my current total account EQD for 2017 to 11,030

    For an EQD update on my Mileage Marathon:
    * Today: 11,030
    * Bangkok: 670
    * Chengdu: 435 (approx.)
    Estimated total EQD when completed: 12,123
     
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  25. tcw8858

    tcw8858 Member

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    is this in coach ouch
     

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