Frequent flyer programs and miles started as a marketing tactic to acquire new customers and retain existing ones. It proved to be very helpful when airfare got more competitive and when the Airline industry got deregulated. But this simple marketing tactic became a lifestyle for some. Now some people have millions of Air miles under their belt just for the fun of it. But it’s not that simple nowadays. You can’t just use some miles from your credit card and expect to be Gold status the next day. It costs money and lots of time, if you’ve got both continue reading. The first step to Air Superiority is Status, you’ve got to have status. No matter how hard it is to get you have got to have it. Unlike award miles there is no big multiplier on status miles or EQM’s. Instead you get a bonus for the cabin of service you fly in. For example a flight from New York to Hong Kong is only 8,000 miles each way. But you earn 17,789 EQMs in economy, and 35,500 in Business and 51,000 in First.You need to fly about 4 one way or 2 round trip flights to get the lowest status on most airlines. The airline I recommend gaining status on is American Airlines. You’re probably asking why not United or Delta or other Legacy carriers.
1st: Because American Airlines has a better mile valuation than those other Carriers, for example: Say you want to fly to Madrid from New York, United and Delta will charge you 70,000 miles one way Business Class (Only 10,000 less than going to Asia).American Airlines will charge you 50,000 one way for a great Business Class seat.
2nd: It’s Alliance, American Airlines is part of Oneworld Alliance which is great because American Airlines has the most routes in the United States, while other airlines in Oneworld have the most routes to and from the United States to Asia and Europe, and also plenty of routes domestic inside Asia and Europe.
3rd: It’s credit card program has more benefits than United’s or Delta’s,for example 2 miles for each dollar spent on AA. 1 mile for everything else and 10,000 EQMs after $40,000 is spent in the first year. That is a huge boost, you would only have to take 1 Round Trip to China instead of 2.
So now that we’ve established that American is the best let’s talk about Status, So basically you have to fly 25,000 miles in the air with your butt in the seat to get Gold Status (Don’t be fooled by the name it’s the lowest), 50,000 for Platinum, 75,000 for Platinum Pro, and 100,000 for Executive Platinum (The Holy Grail of Status), and of course the Secret Invite Only Concierge Key which you need to spend upwards of $100,000 per year on American to qualify. So, to start your status you’re going to want to find maybe a special offer for EQMs or EQ anythings and that will give you a boost. For example the American Airlines credit card offers you 10,000 EQMs as a spend bonus. Those 10,000 EQMs are almost half the amount you need for Gold Status. And if you can’t find any offers or don’t want to sign up for one, that’s fine you can just fly. In order to get status it going to cost some money. You don’t gain any EQMs for flying with award miles you’ve got to use cash. And flying business class or First will matter when flying for Status and it will help with award miles. But when you’re flying for status Economy is your best bet money wise, so let’s get to the flights.
A round trip from JFK to LAX is about 5,000 miles and you can’t really boost that. If you want to get it out of the way in one month and fly all 5 round trip flights in economy and attain Gold Status in one month great, but if you can’t fly that much in one month because you have a Job or a Life than you can spread it out. 25,000 miles is definitely attainable in 12 months, or 15,000 if you use the credit card boost. If you think about it, you only need to fly 3,000 miles per month or 1250 with the boost and you’ll have gold next year. There is also something called EQDs which is Elite Qualifying Dollars which can sometimes get tricky when you find good fares. But on the American Airlines credit card you get EQDs as a spend bonus as well. But, Gold is just the beginning and is not much help with Upgrades and earning Award Miles. What you want to be aiming at is Platinum and Platinum Pro and if you’re a serious flyer Executive Platinum. To get Platinum you need 50,000 EQMs and 6,000 EQDs. So basically if you’re looking to attain Platinum than you fly pretty frequently. So the people that don’t fly much are pretty much not going to attain this status. In order to get this status you’ve got to have a decent amount of time and energy that you’re willing to spend purely on flying. So you’ve got to fly 3 round trip to Hong Kong from New York to get this but that’s not what I recommend you do. I recommend that you take trips across the U.S, you don’t even need to stay in the place that you’re flying for more than a few hours and you can spend that in the lounge. Say that John Smith, a lowly man who lives in New York works from 8 to 4 Monday to Friday. But he is secretly aspires to be a Platinum Status member on American Airlines. If he sleeps in to 9 gets up get on his plane to LAX at 12( 2500 EQMs). Lands, shops in the Airport for an hour and gets some award miles from shopping bonuses. Hangs out in the Longue for 6 hours, John has an AA Credit Card so he gets in the longue free. Later that night at 11:00 he flies back to JFK (2500 EQMs). He gets home at 5:00 AM. Sleeps untill 12:00 and hangs out in New York for the afternoon. John is pretty smart if you couldn’t tell, he’s getting 5000 EQMs in a weekend. If he does that every weekend for 2 months, he’s got Platinum Status. What John Smith did was very effective and quick, but it required some money, about 4180 for the cheapest fare Round Trip 10 times. Like I said AA Status isn’t for the poor. But if you don’t want to give up half of your weekend to flying than what you’re looking for doing is a mile run. A mile run is when you go on an extensive trip making multiple stops just for the miles. One of the best Mile Runs is San Francisco – New York, then New York – Buenos Aires, than Buenos Aires – Brasília, than Brasília – Recife, and then Recife – Miami, and then Miami – San Francisco. So this extensive Mile journey will take you about 4 days, and will cost you about $1500 but will earn you 35,000 EQMs which is very good. If you do this trip once on a vacations plus the 10,000 EQM bonus for the Card. You will have Platinum Status. Ok, before I go on, You should know that Platinum Plus and Executive Platinum are only for those who are completely dedicated to flying. That means every vacation you’re butt is in a seat racking up tons of EQMs. Going to far away places just for the EQMs. Technically if you have a 6 day vacation and money’s no object then you would spend about 1590 and get 51,336 EQMs in 6 days if you took about three flights to Hong Kong from JFK. That plus average flying throughout the year would get you Platinum Pro status and that trip twice would get you Executive Platinum status, The Holy Grail of Status.
Now that you’ve got your status, whether it’s Gold, Platinum, Platinum Plus, or Executive Platinum. It’s time to start using your award miles, so if you followed what I advised about attaining status you should have a decent amount of miles in your account. Check the Chart Below to see how many miles you should have.
|Gold||Platinum||Platinum Pro||Executive Platinum|
So, now you have to start using your miles for flights. BE AWARE that if you’ve used miles to book a flight you will not get EQMs on them. Usually when booking a flight with award miles I prefer to book business class, if one or two people are flying because on American Airlines the mileage prices are pretty good for business class. A typical Business MileSAAver fare to Europe from New York one way is from 50 to 60k miles But if you’re whole family is flying (4+) economy fares are for you. A typical economy MileSAAver fare to Europe from New York one way is from 25k – 30k miles. But the question is, is this trip worth taking. Is the one way flight from JFK to LHR worth 50-60k of my miles. Well a great way to find out is to find the lowest cost of a business class ticket that you can pay for with money. Than find the valuation of 1 frequent flyer mile and then multiply. For example a business class ticket on American Airlines is 65,000 miles. The value of one mile is about 1.5 cents so 65,000 x 1.5 = $900. So if you find a one way business class ticket to Europe for $900 or less than book it because it is not worth it to redeem your miles. A great method for earning miles is to credit them to another airline that rewards for miles flown not money spent. For Example: Alaska Airlines award for miles flown. So say you are flying a trip from JFK to HKG on American Airlines for a very low price. You don’t log into your American Airlines account and then put your mileage account as your Alaska Airlines account. You then get double the amount you fly in your Alaska Airlines account and book an Award Miles booking through Alaska Airlines.If you are booking a domestic flight (not including coast to coast). I suggest that you book with money, a Business Class Award Ticket is 25,000 miles each way to ORD from JFK. So, 25,000 x 1.5 = $375. I found a Business Class ticket on Orbitz for $652 each way. Therefore, you would go with the miles. I would recommend getting your status first and then using your miles. For Example: You only have 50,000 miles left and you have Executive Platinum status from previous trips for EQMs, and you have to go to Europe. Round trip in Economy MileSAAver is 50,000 miles Round Trip. You book the ticket, 100 hours before the flight you are upgraded to Business Class. You saved 50,000 of your precious American Airlines Miles by not booking a Business Award Ticket for 100,000 miles Round Trip. This is because you got your status first and then flew with award miles.
Sometimes a Economy ticket price is so good you just need to get two. This is great for extra space and for getting double EQMs and Award Miles. All you need to do is book two different tickets in two different reservations. I recommend you do this on a run you do only for miles so you only have a carry on bag. So you check in at a self check in counter or online, than you pass through security like normal. Than when you’re about to get on the plane, you tell the attendant that you have 2 seats and get on the plane. Than the same thing on the way back.
If you follow this guide to getting status and using miles efficiently I guarantee that you will achieve status quicker and cheaper than you thought was possible.