$99 fares are back between San Francisco/Los Angeles and Chicago on American!

Yesterday I outlined a method by which California and Illinois residents can earn Executive Platinum status with American for under $2,000 in four days, which gets you benefits like unlimited domestic upgrades, eight international upgrades per year, international first class lounge access when traveling internationally, etc.

Unfortunately they pulled the $99 one-way fares between San Francisco/Los Angeles and Chicago that I had mentioned yesterday that were required to make this work, though they have just been reloaded them, so it’s once again possible to make Executive Platinum status for under $2,000 in just a few days.

One important thing to note regarding American’s double elite qualifying miles promotion between Dallas/Chicago and Los Angeles/San Francisco (which in this instance means you would get triple elite qualifying miles), is that travel must be nonstop between those cities to qualify for triple elite qualifying miles, and you can only book one roundtrip per ticket. The terms and conditions state the following:

Offer only applies to AAdvantage members with an address on file with AAdvantage Marketing Programs in California, Illinois or Texas. AAdvantage promotion is valid for round-trip travel on purchased, published fare tickets on American Airlines marketed and operated nonstop flights between Chicago (ORD) or Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) from October 27, 2011 through March 31, 2012. A round trip is defined as two one-way trips booked in a single reservation under one ticket number. Reservations containing open jaws are eligible. A maximum of one round trip is permitted per reservation.

Let me make this exceedingly easy on you guys. Say you live in San Francisco. You could fly the following for $440 all-in:

American 1522 San Francisco to Chicago departing at 11:55PM and arriving at 5:50AM (+1 day)
American 1341 Chicago to San Francisco departing at 6:50AM and arriving at 9:25AM
American 556 San Francisco to Chicago departing at 10:35AM and arriving at 4:55PM
American 1561 Chicago to San Francisco departing at 7:15PM and arriving at 9:55PM

That would net you 22,152 elite qualifying miles. Do that for four days and you’re almost at Executive Platinum.

Look folks, I have no skin in the game here. I have travel booked for next year that will just about requalify me for Executive Platinum, and that was travel that was booked way before double elite qualifying miles were announced. Hell, I do have skin in the game — more Executive Platinum members means more competition for upgrades, which means more time in coach for me, which means fewer hot nuts and more time looking at the curtain from the wrong side (the horror). But I’m trying to help you guys out. This is the best opportunity I’ve seen to “get in the game” from scratch in at least a couple of years.

And don’t expect these fares to stick around. If you want to take advantage of this offer, do so now.


  1. United seems doing something to react this right now (as their DEQM Promotion requires W or above booking classes). There are more W class available.

  2. Lucky,

    I live in LA, so i am going to use this offer to “get in the game” Do I need to reigster to take use of these promos?

  3. @ Danny — Congrats! Yep, you’ll need to register for both promotions (systemwide double EQMs and double EQMs from LAX-ORD) through the links in my earlier post.

  4. Lucky –

    If I ‘move’ to Chicago or SFO and then, of course, update my address in my AA account, will I be eligible? Does AA have a waiting period on address changes? Do they check such things?

  5. thanks ben for the details. perfect for a beginner like me.
    seriously contemplating this fantastic opportunity…and a great alternative to the usual ‘moms weekend spa getaway’. must weigh the possible ramifications a) divorce and b) 4 angry teenagers in coach with one happy mom up in the front of the plane. now really, i would share some of the upgrades!

  6. I’m a 1K and Continental Platinum but it’s my understating American will not status challenge/match prior to earning credit which means, I think, that it would be coach travel all of the way until hitting actual flight requirements. Correct? If so, I just can’t do it.

  7. @ danray — That’s correct, they don’t have a published “free” challenge/status match option for 1Ks, though you can always contact them and see if there’s anything they’re willing to do. They are, after all, in Chapter 11.

  8. Lucky –

    One more follow-up question. If you fly in Jan 2012, I’m assuming that means you can get status for 2012 AND through 2013.

    Do you get 8 SWUs a year? So 16 in total? If so, 16 SWUs plus the redeemable miles you earn for around $2,000 seems like a steal to me.

  9. Actually, you should get more miles than that. If you do all the segments, you will obtain gold @ 25,000 then silver @ 50,000 status which give you another 25% bonus then 100% bonus.

  10. I’ve been reading the promotion rules, and I have some questions. Fortunately I never updated my address with AA, so I still “live” in CA, but I’ll need to position from SEA to SFO.

    I figure the cheapest option is to fly SEA-SFO-ORD, then do three ORD-SFO round trips a day before flying back ORD-SFO-SEA. I would book SEA-SFO-ORD-SFO-SEA as one ticket and nest the other trips inside, camping out at my parents’ near SFO each night. Will nesting come back to bite me? I didn’t see anything in the fare rules. Also, the SEA-SFO flights are operated by AS, so no DEQM, but will I still get DEQM on the SFO-ORD and ORD-SFO segments? I’m not sure if the DEQM applies to travel that’s part of a larger itinerary.

    I initially thought of doing two RTs a day and getting it all done in one long weekend, but I’m pretty sure I’d die (and other passengers wouldn’t appreciate my lack of showers). If I do this two weekends in a row, I should be pretty close to Executive Platinum.

  11. Thanks for the info. If I book DFW-SFO-ORD-SFO-DFW as two seperate roundtrips on two separate PNRs, will I earn 3xEQM on all 4 legs?

  12. If you book DFW-SFO-DFW on one ticket, and SFO-ORD-SFO on another ticket, then yes. Assuming you’re registered for the promo with an AAdvantage address in one of those states, of course.

  13. I’ve asked this in a few places, but haven’t gotten an answer yet….what happens if i book DFW-SFO-DFW as a roundtrip, then have another DFW-SFO-DFW roundtrip right after it (like your example above) and my return flight is delayed or canceled and I miss my next outbound flight? Will I be accommodated somehow, or is that just a missed flight and I’ve got to pay? Thanks

  14. @ Ryan — It really is a case of “your mileage may vary.” They should be able to accommodate you, though technically since they’re separate tickets they don’t have the obligation to. That being said, in practice I can’t imagine you’d have any issue.

  15. Very strange that there is not too much discussion about this opportunity on FT. It’s a great opportunity to earn 200k miles (at least, may be more with status kicking in) and 8 evips for $2k. So, you get $5-6k for $2k and 4 days of “work”. Seems like a great payback for many people.

  16. I’m new to this whole mileage running/travel hacking game. I’ve read about this offer on several blogs and need clarification on a few things. First, if I earn all of these EQM’s in January 2012, will I have elite benefits in 2012 or will I have to wait until 2013 to get the benefits? I’ve read somewhere that American Elite status is good for 2 years. Is this correct? And if so, does that mean I get 8 (one way) international upgrades each year for 2 years? I’ve got several international trips planned this year and it would be great if I achieved this status for 2012 and could upgrade my flights.

  17. @ al613 — I would call Costco, as the individual stores are usually good about telling you whether they have something in stock.

  18. @ Ariana — Welcome to the “game.” If you qualified for status in January 2012 you would get the benefits right away and they would be valid through February of 2014, so you’d get two full years of these benefits. You would get eight systemwide upgrades for qualifying, and then eight for requalifying.

  19. can someone confirm the elite status bonus %? i know that AA Gold gets an additional 25% after 25k and Plat receives addtl 100% after 50k, but is that EQM only, or EQM + RDM?

    I’m trying to figure out how many flights I should book to get EXP in Jan, ORD-SFO-ORD. Actual mileage 3,692 rdtrip. With stacked bonuses, 11,076 EQM (7,384 RDM).

    Then, after AA Gold @ 25k, the 3,692 becomes 13,845 EQM (3,692 x 3, * 1.25) and 9,230 RDM (3,692 x 2, * 1.25)?

    after AA Plat @ 50k, the 3,692 becomes 22,152 EQM (3,692 x 3, * 2.00) and 14,768 RDM (3,692 x 2, * 2.00)?

    That can’t be correct.

  20. @ Ken — As an elite you only earn bonus redeemable miles, and NOT bonus elite qualifying miles. So the number of elite qualifying miles you earn through this promotion is the same regardless of your elite status.

  21. For those that aren’t road warriors and only travel 4-5x a year, would it be worth it to spend the $500 or so in order to get AA Gold status? Or is it only really valuable to go all-in for EXP?

  22. @ Carlos — That’s tough to say. If you’re paying $500 for Gold status and usually take five trips, you’re basically paying $100 per trip to make it more pleasant. Is that price worth it to you for preferred seating, check-in, security lines, boarding, a 25% mileage bonus, etc.?

  23. Actually, I’m not correct. You don’t get 200k RDM, only 66k miles if no status. So, its more like spent $2k and 4 days get $4k in miles and evips plus Ex Pl status for 2 years. Still a good deal for many people, esp. if you plan to fly AA beyond first 9 r/t (if you still want to flu after them 🙂 )

  24. @ go kings go — Are you willing to fly a redeye out? That way you can do four one-ways in less than 24 hours.

  25. lucky – i don’t mind at all flying a red eye as in your example from sfo, but i just can’t seem to find any flights past 6 pm or so.

  26. What are the chances you could bring the cost down signficantly by bookyourself on overbook flights and getting bumped? (Assuming you have an basically unlimited amount of free time in January)

  27. So just curious, as I’m starting to look at doing this in January for my first mileage run, I’m seeing you can route SFO-ORD via DFW for the same $99 fare. When you get 22% more miles than the nonstop, why isn’t anybody suggesting doing that? By my logic (living in DFW), I could book a DFW-SFO-DFW roundtrip, then in the middle fly SFO-DFW-ORD-DFW-SFO roundtrip. $460 total for 22,383 EQMs. Am I missing something?

  28. @ MJ — January is typically a pretty slow travel period, though if there’s bad weather and as a result irregular operations, there might be a shot at a bump. Still, I wouldn’t count on it, especially since American doesn’t oversell all that much.

  29. I am a SFO based UA 1K, but booked 3 days of double turn SFO-ORD in Jan. That, plus my BIZ travel if I move it to AA will make me an Exec Plat at the end of the month. I have been a 1K for two years, so I am excited to be both for two years to compare…any other insight on differences I should expect? Super excited to have 8 E-VIP that wont require W fare..just not looking forward to traveling in the back of the bus for all of Jan!

  30. Hi, I am wondering if you get the double qualifying miles if you book on a site other than aa.com? Can anyone confirm? Thanks!

  31. Hey Ben,

    1) I booked an itinerary with multiple DFW/ORD-SFO/LAX runs, do the T&C mean that I need to rebook under all separate reservations because there’s only one roundtrip per reservation that qualifies? or will it count all 4 rountrips in the ticket?

    2) How do you deal with delays and cancellations in MRs like these where the connection times are within an hour or two and don’t allow too much flexibility?

    3) Does AA allow same-day standbys and changes for free for status members like Delta does?

    4) Are Delta and AA’s “calendar years” hard stops at December 31?


  32. @ Becca — You can’t have multiple roundtrips on a reservation per the way I read the terms and conditions.

    If something gets canceled or delayed substantially you’ll have to work with them to accommodate you on a different routing.

    Standby is free for elites, and the calendar year does end on December 31.

  33. I have over 22000 EQMs in AA to go to maintain Gold for next year and I live in Miami. What do you suggest I do?

  34. @ Maury — To clarify, you have less than 3,000 EQMs this year then, right? If so, I would start at the beginning of next year instead of trying to requalify this year, since you could get an extra year of status out of it that way.

  35. I noticed on the Double Miles promotion announcement for the LAX/SFO – DFW/ORD fares there is a promotion code. Is that code something you have to input with the reservation? I didn’t make my reservations with that.

  36. @ Nic — You just have to enter the promo code at the time you register for the promo, and not at the time you actually make the reservation.

  37. Good luck to all of you booking tight connections in January at ORD. Be prepared to overnight if there is a snowstorm.

    Of course, who ever heard of a snowstorm in January in Chicago?

  38. so thanks to your post, I ended up booking 6 roundtrips in january on AA on this route 🙂 I’m doing 3 a weekend on two weekends. I spaced my flights out though, so my turns are all at least two hours long. however if there’s a really bad snowstorm, I doubt that’ll help me much.

    First you convinced me to mattress run at starwood hotels for cheap platinum, now a month of mileage runs…what next? 😛

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