For months now I’ve been been trying to find inexpensive premium cabin OneWorld flights for a good old fashioned American Airlines mileage run. I even discussed a few of my favorite mileage run ideas a few weeks ago. Well it seems I’ve come up with my solution and I have to admit it’s totally insane. In fact, it’s so insane that I’m not even sure I can do it. I’m just not sure if I can spend this many hours in a plane traveling in one week. Before I get into the details of the mileage run I want to explain why this year and this run is different. If you don’t care about the reasons for booking this trip feel free to skip to the “my mileage run” section of this post.
American Airlines Elite Qualifying Dollar Requirement
In years past American Airlines elite status was based on a single thing, butt in seat miles flown. It didn’t matter if you booked a cheap ticket or an expensive ticket, all that matter is that you flew, a lot. American Airlines mileage runs in the past were simple. All I needed to do was open the ITA Matrix and find the cheapest Chicago to ? city that I could fly to and back in a single day. It was that simplicity that lead me to go to both Miami and Los Angeles for single day trips.
Sadly this year American Airlines introduced an elite qualifying dollar requirement or EQD. EQD represents a cumulative total of the base fares paid throughout the year. You could continue booking cheap economy tickets, but you’d earn EQM at a disproportional rate compared to EQD. For example, you could fly 50,000 EQM, but if you earned less than $6,000 of EQD you wouldn’t qualify for Platinum status.
There is still one way around the EQD requirement. The trick is to book American Airlines Special Fares. Special fares earn EQD as a percentage of mileage flown. For discounted economy tickets you generally earn 10% of the total mileage flown. Special Fare mileage runs are great for cheap long distance economy flights, but horrible for short flights or most premium cabin flights.
Premium Cabin Mileage Runs
Luckily American’s earning chart rewards flyers for flying in premium cabins, especially on partner airlines. The only issue is that premium cabin flights are expensive already so the trick is to find inexpensive premium cabin flights to help reduce the out-of-pocket cost of earning elite status. Also, to maximize your EQM and EQP earning you must also fly extremely long distances.
This is why I’ve been so interested in flying to Auckland or Asia. Assuming I book a premium cabin on a partner airline I’ll earn 20% EQD and 1.5 EQM per mile flown. The best part is that I don’t have to sit in a tight cramped economy seat the whole way. If I get the right fare I could have a lie-flat seat the whole way and have access to airline lounges the whole way.
My Insane American Airlines Mileage Run
With all that being said, I’ve finally booked a mileage run to qualify for American Airlines elite status. You may have heard of the mistake airfare on Qatar Airways over the weekend am I’m happy to say I was able to take advantage of the deal. If you haven’t heard, over the weekend Qatar Airways released business class inventory from Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam to many destinations for under $700USD round trip.
For months I’ve been looking to book a cheap business class fare on Qatar. I nearly paid $1,400 to fly from Stockholm to Singapore. After that deal expired I again noticed cheap fares from Stockholm to Singapore for $2,000. That out of pocket cost was just too big for me to stomach paying and I couldn’t do it. Now I have the perfect mileage run(s) to help me qualify for American Airlines elite status in 2017.
A Few Issues
One of the biggest problems with this mileage run idea is the pure total amount of time all of these flights will take. To initiate the mileage run I first have to get to Ho Chi Minh City. Next I have to fly from Vietnam to the US and back. Once back in Vietnam I have to again get back home. Since these flights are with Qatar Airways I won’t be flying over the Pacific to get there. I’ll be flying from the US to Doha, Qatar and then on to Vietnam. Likewise getting to the US I’ll have to fly through Doha. All in all it’s a ton of time on the road traveling and believe it or not I have a day job. I simply am not sure if I have time-off I need to complete these trips.
Another issue I have is again with the duration of travel. The round trip is 60 total hours. 43 of those hours are in the air on the plane and the rest are on the ground in Doha. The good news is that for those 43 hours I’ll have a lie-flat bed in the sky, delicious food, and premium alcohol. For the 16 hours on the ground I’ll have access to the Al Mourjan business class lounge to eat, sleep, and shower. Even so, that’s just an insane amount of time flying and moving. Not to mention the flights to and from Vietnam.
Oh and the final issue. I bought two of these in close succession. So there’s that. See I wasn’t sure when which week made the most sense to travel. I’ve been around enough of these insane “deals” to know that if you snooze you lose and I wasn’t ready to miss out. In the excitement of the deal I booked two. One should get me to Platinum Pro status, but if I do end up flying both I’ll hit Executive Platinum in 2017 for sure.
It’s now about 48 hours after the Qatar Airways business class golden ticket sale. In those 48 hours I’ve experienced the normal range of emotions associated with these fare deals.
First, the holy s*** excitement of stumbling across the deal (thanks OMMAT). Second, the panic of trying to find the dates, times, and destinations that make sense. Third, the frustration of the airlines webpage timing out or crashing before you have a change to purchase. Forth, the satisfaction of nailing down the perfect itinerary and receiving confirmation of your booking. Fifth, the realization of what you just did. Sixth, the anticipation to see if the airline will honor the fare. Seventh, the anxiety that comes from trying to see if you can even physically complete these flights. I’m in that stage right now. I’m planning on taking these flights, but man am I anxious about them. It’s just a ton of time on the move in such a short period of time.
When it’s all said and done I should end the year at either AAdvantage Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum status. My goal for 2017 was to reach Platinum Pro so hopefully I’ll accomplish that goal after taking these flights!
Featured Image Courtesy of A350xwb.com