I’m headed to Italy soon thanks to a cheap ~$1,100 roundtrip business class fare on British Airways. I’ll be flying from San Francisco to London to Rome, covering a roundtrip distance of 12,532 “butt in seat” miles.
With this flight coming up soon, I’m trying to decide where to credit my miles, and I’m sort of conflicted.
My first thought was to credit to American AAdvantage, where I’m an Executive Platinum member. However, Alaska Mileage Plan is also a British Airways partner, and I’m tempted to credit to them. However, while I used to be MVP Gold 75K with Alaska, I didn’t have any status with them last year, though am slowly working my way up the ranks again.
I get a lot of questions from readers asking what frequent flyer programs they’re best off crediting miles to. Therefore I figured I’d share my general thought process when deciding which program to credit to, using my upcoming trip as an example. As a starting point, I should note that my ticket is booked in the “I” fare class, which is a discounted business class ticket.
Crediting British Airways flights to American AAdvantage
American awards the following number of miles for travel on British Airways:
My “year to date” summary on American looks as follows:
With American AAdvantage I’d earn:
- 150% elite qualifying miles
- 125% “base” redeemable miles (100% plus the 25% bonus for being in business class)
- 120% bonus elite redeemable miles (that’s what Executive Platinum members earn)
So altogether I’d earn 150% elite qualifying miles and 245% redeemable miles, for a total of 18,798 elite qualifying miles, and a total of 30,703 redeemable miles.
Other considerations are that I already requalified for Executive Platinum status, so the only upside other than the miles would be that it might get me closer to 150,000 elite qualifying miles, which would earn me an extra two systemwide upgrades.
Crediting British Airways flights to Alaska Mileage Plan
Alaska awards the following number of miles for travel on British Airways:
My “year to date” summary on Alaska looks as follows:
I’ve basically only earned miles with them so far for my recent Delta first class ticket, as well as my Hainan business class ticket earlier in the year.
With Alaska Mileage Plan I’d earn:
- 150% elite qualifying miles
- 150% “base” redeemable miles (100% plus the 50% bonus for being in business class)
- 50% bonus elite redeemable miles (since I’m only an MVP member)
So altogether I’d earn 150% elite qualifying miles and 200% redeemable miles, for a total of 18,798 elite qualifying miles, and a total of 25,064 redeemable miles. However, this trip alone would also earn me MVP Gold status, and going forward I’d receive a 100% bonus on flown miles.
Sometimes there’s just not a right or wrong answer in terms of which program to credit to, especially given the speed at which programs change. In the past I might have said “well, I should credit to Alaska since their program is better all around,” but with frequent flyer programs changing so fast, I’ve stopped planning long term.
I value 25,000 Alaska miles roughly as much as 30,000 American miles, so the difference comes down to whether I’d rather have:
- Two more systemwide upgrades, since crediting these flights to American would get me much closer to that requirement
- MVP Gold status with Alaska, which will earn me free award ticket redeposits, a 100% mileage bonus going forward, and a good shot at upgrades on Alaska (though I don’t fly them much nowadays)
I’m leaning towards Alaska here, but see merit to either option.
Would you credit to Alaska Mileage Plan or American AAdvantage in the above situation?