Next week I’ll officially hit Executive Platinum status with American, and I will have done so without having set foot in coach.
A while back American issued me an Executive Platinum challenge, giving me Platinum status upfront and requiring that I earn 25,000 elite qualifying points (which are different than elite qualifying miles) within a 90 day period to earn Executive Platinum. I started off my challenge by booking a paid (discounted) business class mileage run from Tampa to Paris via Chicago, Miami, and London on the outbound, and London, Miami, and Dallas on the return, which I’ll be flying next week. After applying a couple of systemwide upgrades, my flights from Miami to London and London to Miami were even confirmed in international first class – not a bad way to mileage run!
That got me about 21,000 elite qualifying points (about 14,000 actual flown miles plus the 50% point bonus for flying in a paid premium cabin).
Then I flew roundtrip from Tampa to New York a few weeks back, and even purchased some “sticker” upgrades to upgrade the roundtrip for a total of $240 (which, while not cheap, isn’t bad for upgrades on four flights). All of my upgrades cleared.
Then this evening I’m flying from Los Angeles to Dallas to Tampa. I don’t think there’s a worse redeye in the world than a 1AM redeye from Los Angeles to Dallas with a flight time of 2hr20min (which is why I’m posting this from aboard, since I decided it’s not even worth trying to sleep).
A friend had, against my will, bought me some stickers and upgraded my flight from Dallas to Tampa to first class for $60. Shame on him. However, Los Angeles to Dallas would remain in coach, since it’s a crappy redeye no matter how you slice it.
Well I got to the gate for my flight from Los Angeles to Dallas at around 12:05AM, an hour before departure. I asked the gate agent if they might need volunteers as the flight was looking full, and she put me on the list and was very appreciative that I volunteered to be bumped. Five minute before boarding starts her colleague calls me up to the podium and says they won’t need volunteers. I simply responded with “oh, okay, too bad” though he told me to hold on for a minute. After a minute he told me he would page me again in a couple of minutes. I had assumed (hoped?) that I was getting an operational upgrade, since first class still had two seats left with no one on the upgrade list (that’s right, a Sunday night hub-to-hub flight with no one on the upgrade list) and coach was oversold.
Sure enough, moments later I noticed my name appeared on the upgrade list, and a minute after that I was paged back up to the podium. The guy issued me a first class boarding pass without so much as a word, so I assume I got operationally upgraded.
American rocks! From no status to top tier without flying coach once. My total “investment” was around $2,100 or so. Admittedly I could have completed the challenge for less, though I’m kind of taking more of a comfort approach towards flying. I’ve done over a million revenue domestic butt in seat miles, so if I can get all the way to top tier status in comfort for around $2,100, I’d say that’s a remarkably good deal.
I can’t wait to report my experiences as an Executive Platinum. I’m hoping my upgrade luck stays as good as it has been thus far.