Sadly there isn’t much time left to attain American Airlines AAdvantage status in 2017. If you haven’t already qualified or aren’t close it may be time to give up. I say this because it might be better to save your money this year and use those funds to get a head start of 2018 status. The only exception would be if you’re reasonably close to Executive Platinum. Earning EP is easily worth $2,000+ in benefits, so if you can earn EP for less than that, it may still be a good deal. If you’re between Gold, Platinum, or Platinum Pro it is probably a better idea just to wait for 2018. Luckily, there is currently a great deal that should help anyone get a jumpstart on 2018 status.
Premium Cabin Mileage Runs
For 2017 and beyond, American followed the competition and switched to a Revenue-Based loyalty program. Those who spend more money with American earn status faster. Those who pay for deep discount economy fares end up suffering. You could still fly well over 100,000 miles, but if you don’t earn at least 12,000 EQD you won’t qualify. Most business travelers are understandably upset by these changes, but I’m quite excited.
The “New” revenue based AAdvantage system is ultimately an incentive to fly in Premium Cabins with OneWorld partner airlines. For example, I earned Executive Platinum in 2017 by flying Qatar Airways business class for a few days straight. Under the new system I no longer look for a cheapest flight from Chicago to Los Angeles via Newark. Instead, I look for the longest, least expensive, premium cabin flight I can find with a OneWorld partner. I also look for cheap, long distance, economy tickets on American to buy as a Special Fare, but that’s a topic for another time.
Cathay Pacific Premium Economy From The US To Hong Kong
Today I stumbled upon some interesting Cathay Pacific Premium Economy fares which should help AAdvantage members get a jump start on 2018 qualification. The fare is from most US gateways to Hong Kong, non-stop, in Premium Economy.
The best part about this particular fare is that you can fly to/from Hong Kong in a weekend for just $1,185. Currently you could extend your stay longer if you want to, but if I’m going to make use of this Mileage Run I want to try to squeeze it into a weekend.
How Many EQM and EQD Will I Earn?
If you purchased this same trip on an American Airlines operated flight you’d earn EQM based on the mileage flown, but EQD would be based on the price of the ticket. For this $1,185 ticket, you’d earn approximately $1,000 EQD. So, you’d have to spend at least $12,000 to earn Executive Platinum status.
Luckily, AAdvantage members earn EQD and EQM based on the distance flown when flying with Cathay Pacific. EQD and EQM earning rates with Cathay Pacific are outlined in the chart below.
As you can see from the above Cathay Pacific AAdvantage earning chart, Premium Economy fares earn EQD and EQM based on a multiple of the total mileage flown.
According to WebFlyer’s Mileage Calculator the flight from Chicago (ORD) to Hong Kong (HKG) is just over 15,000 miles. This flight books into the “E” fare class, so you’ll earn 1.5 EQM per mile flown and 20% EQD per mile flown. In total, if you booked this flight you’d earn approximately $3,000 EQD and 22,500 EQM. If you bought five of these trips you’d earn AAdvantage Executive Platinum status for less than $6,000 or about half of what American wants you to spend.
Lastly, with this flight you’ll earn AAdvantage Award miles. As an Executive Platinum elite you’ll earn a 120% bonus per mile flown or approximately 33,000 AAdvantage miles. I value AAdvantage miles at $0.015 per mile which means you’re essentially earning a $500 rebate with each flight.
While taking 5 of these trips to earn Executive Platinum status essentially defeats the whole point of earning elite status, taking one or two will help boost your EQD if you’re otherwise buying inexpensive economy trips with American. I don’t know if I’ll buy one of these trips before the fare expires, but I’ll continue monitoring this option throughout 2018. This price is definitely a discount compared to normal Premium Economy fares, but it’s a price I’ve seen before.
The best part about this particular sale is that the fare appears to work from Most US gateways. If you really wanted to maximize this sale you could book from New York (JFK) for a few extra miles however that would require a positioning flight for me.
Lastly, as an AAdvantage Executive Platinum member you’ll have access to Admirals Clubs or Flagship Lounges at your originating airport. You’ll also have access to Cathay Pacific’s incredible Business and First lounges in Hong Kong when returning. Overall, this is a great opportunity to get a fairly comfortable and inexpensive head start on your 2018 AAdvantage Elite status.
Note: The Featured Image is Cathay Pacific Business Class, NOT Premium Econ.