Picture of the week: SO CLOSE

Picture of the week: SO CLOSE

January 1 for most people brings cheers of “Happy New Year!”  At least later in the day that’s what they say.  Just after the clock strikes midnight most are probably saying something like “FDAigIGoiuhgoiuyfgyear” but at least they’re sincere about it. For frequent flyers and the mile-obsessed among us, January 1 is the start of Status Requalification.  “Happy Ne-” “Sorry, gotta figure out whether to go for Platinum or Executive Platinum, talk to you in March” is a frequent conversation with people like us. I haven’t really flown that much for work this year but I’ve still managed to get really close to Platinum status on American (thanks to trips to Beijing, Easter Island, and Machu Picchu).  I was in New York last week and was pretty sure when I got back I’d have enough qualifying miles to put me over the threshold.  My math was off.  By fifteen miles.  DANG IT. By the time you’re reading this I’ll be on a flight back to New York on a flight that will get me to Platinum, I just thought it was hilarious to be this close.  What’s the closest you’ve been to a status threshold?

Earning and Redeeming AAdvantage Miles, Part I: The Good Ways to Earn Miles

So, we’ve talked about how to earn status with American Airlines, and I’ve gotten thousands of compliments on the information I provided (note: actual number of compliments far less, used Severe Rounding).  American posts all of the info, I just parsed through it and tried to explain it in as many Normal People terms as possible. Quick review of some terms, although I’m sure everyone knows them by now: EQM = Elite-qualifying miles EQP = Elite-qualifying points EQS = Elite-qualifying segments RDM = Redeemable miles And a new term: CPM = Cents per mile If all of the elite status stuff bugged you or you were quickly overwhelmed by all of it, or if you simply don’t fly that much, this post is for you, for it answers the age-old question: How can I travel wherever I want, and in whatever class I want, for free? YES.  I love that attitude.  You and I will get along very well.  Forget about EQM, EQP, and EQS, we’re going to now focus on RDM and CPM. To travel wherever you want, you need one of two things: a pilot’s license or redeemable miles.  RDM are probably a bit easier, if I’m honest.  There are endless ways to get redeemable miles, I’m going to focus on the most well-known arenas for mileage earning: flying, shopping portals, and dining services.  Credit card sign-up bonuses, the most efficient and effective way of earning miles, will be covered in a later post, as that is a… read more

American Airlines AAdvantage Status Explained: AAdvanced

Attention: this information is now out of date.  The AAdvantage program described below has changed effective January 1, 2016. Hopefully my previous post helped you understand the basics of the AAdvantage program.  I want to get into some more advanced topics, and the easiest way to organize it, I figured, would be to pose a series of questions that I’m often asked, with my responses. Is status with American really that important? Only if you want to skip security lines, board planes first to ensure there’s room for your carry-on up top, check 2-3 bags for free, get free upgrades on domestic and international itineraries, reserve exit row and other premium seats, standby on earlier flights for free, have many different fees waived for you, have rebooking priority when your flight is cancelled, or access to Business and First Class lounges on international itineraries.  If none of that interests you, then it’s probably not worth it to qualify. How long does my status last? To make things confusing, there are two “years” in terms of status: membership year and qualifying year.  There’s really no easy way of describing this generally, but I’ll try my best: Qualifying years run from January 1 – December 31 of Year 20xx. Membership years run from March 1 of  Year 20xx+1 – February 28/29 of Year 20xx+2 I know, I’m sorry.  Here’s the specific example.  It is January 1, 2012.  I currently have no status.  If Gold status is my target, I have until December 31,… read more

American Airlines AAdvantage Status Explained: The Basics

Attention: this information is now out of date.  The AAdvantage program described below has changed effective January 1, 2016. People are always saying things to me like, “Hey Andy, why are you always going on about airline status?” and “Ow, quit standing on my foot!” I can offer no help on the second, but I’m here to help you out with the first.  First, an introduction to airline loyalty. Airline Loyalty Programs There are two flights, nonstop, from DFW-LGA (New York’s LaGuardia Airport).  One is $638 roundtrip, the other $517.  Quick, which one would you pick?  $517, right?  Here’s the crazy thing about airline programs: many people would say wrong.  For those who value airline status perks, a very common response would be “what airline?” because it has a direct effect on their miles balance or qualifying status on their preferred airline. Airlines value loyalty, and they’re willing to pay for it.  If they didn’t have loyalty programs that conferred benefits to some passengers (that fly more often and/or spend more money with that airline), it would be a race to the lowest price, at which point all airlines lose money (even moreso than many do already).  So, airlines give you an incentive to keep choosing their airline, even if you’re paying more money to do so.  Things like free bag checking, exit row seats, all the way up to free upgrades to Business/First Class (on international flights!).  If you travel a lot for work or for pleasure, elite status can… read more


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