Planning Your Year: How to Achieve Ik/Diamond/EXPLAT

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by THREEA4ME, Feb 14, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    I've been thinking about this a lot. So much goes into achieving status: a keen eye for promotions, fare sales, navigating explosive relationship boundaries (e.g. "Hey, love, can I leave you with the kids again so I can take three days off to go a quasi run?" "Where are you going?" "Oh, just to Lisbon via Dallas/Chicago/Miami/Madrid") and a little luck.

    Right now I've got 20K EQMs with 80K more needed to retain my explat status, a moniker I wear as proudly (and foolishly) as a veteran dons his Silver Star. I'm right on target. I should make it no problem. EXCEPT I have a busy family summer planned with little travel. Do I really want to put myself in the desperate need of another generous 3x/2x promotion? And what if AA scraps that idea this year? Am I going to be flying LAX-DEL three straight times in December in order to achieve status? I mean, once you hit Elite Status, it is impossible to go back. There are just too many perks, as you all well know.

    So the central thrust of this thread is for everyone to offer up their best strategies on their way to elite status. Do you pounce on low fares, even if they are crazy runs, as I just did when I flew LAX-DFW-BWI for $200 ai (with the double eqm promotion to boot) or do you wait patiently for that golden trip that may or may not happen -- last year, for me, I had such a dream trip: PIT-LAX-ORD-PIT-ORD-DFW-NRT-LAX-DFW-PIT-LAX-PIT-ORD-LAX.

    Also, and this may be a topic for another thread, but does it concern any of you that the achievement of elite status also, in most cases, comes with an addiction to it. Before elite status, I wasn't checking AA's promotions four times daily, running their fares through ITA hourly or scrutinizing my upgrade chances on expert flyer's like a jewelry looks for diamond flaws. Lots and LOTS of time wasted. It concerns me.

    But maybe that is for a different day.

    Anyway, curious to hear what some of your strategies are for the rest of the year and preserving coveted elite status.
     
  2. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    I generally have a core of some long trips (in time rather than distance) mapped out in advance and save short weekend trips for those special fares & promos.

    For instance right now I have all my long trips booked for 2011.
     
  3. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    That's amazing. Did you lock in fares, use your upgrades immediately and just say, this is where I'm going? The only downside to that, I can see, is if a 3x/2x promotion pops up to a place you wanted to go anyway.
     
  4. Its rare I have been able to take advantage of such promotions. My time and schedule don't allow it.
    Since I plan at least 60 days out for about 20% of my trips and more than 90 days for the balance; typically I miss the promotion window or I already have plans.

    If a target airline is less than 20% more than an a cheaper one I am willing to use, then I consider it.
    In general, I will go with a cheaper airfare that meets my schedule requirements without regard for any real loyalty these days.
     
  5. mrpickles
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    mrpickles Silver Member

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    For renewal of 1K I have already planned $85k in spend on MP Visa cc to earn 10k EQMs and then to purchase 5k EQM using miles, that will start me off with 15k EQMs for the year. Using left over vouchers for SAN-BOS same day trips to add up more EQM and keeping an eye out for good deals on long hauls.
     
    Freddie Listo likes this.
  6. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    For many years, I've always just done the travelling that I would otherwise do anyway and then monitored my mileage totals during the last two months of the year. This resulting in once flying to ORD for a day of shopping in Chicago and once spending Thanksgiving weekend in Tokyo in order to ensure NW's new PE level that year.

    However, rollover on DL has changed this a bit for me. Last year I did do an unnecessary long-haul or two late in the year with DMQM that I probably would not have taken in order to build up a big "war chest" of rollover MQMs as insurance. These were places I wanted to go, not pure MRs in any sense. Now I'm beginning to think about using this freedom to try another carrier (after getting a status match, of course).
     
  7. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    Well I can add more trips of shorter duration (eg a weekend or long weekend). But yes, sometimes it bites me.
     
  8. eightblack
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    eightblack Silver Member

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    I put little thought into retaining 1K. I kind of know I'll do at least 3 round trips (SIN-JFK-SIN) or similar and I typically start doing all my long-haul travel on UA towards the back half of the year. Last year, I don't think I set foot on a UA bird until June. I'm probably going to try and be a little smarter this year and buy B fares so I can get the 50% EQM bonus and give myself the best chance of my SWU's clearing, but thats about it. I'm fortunate that ticket prices ex SIN are very reasonable.
     

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