How I’ll be taking advantage of American’s double elite qualifying miles promotion in January

As I posted about a couple of weeks back, American is running a double elite qualifying miles promotion through January 31. I posted a strategy at the time by which residents of California and Illinois could earn top tier (Executive Platinum) status for under $2,000 in just a few days.

Now, I’m neither a resident of California or Illinois, nor am I in desperate need of elite qualifying miles, given that I already have a bunch of international travel planned for 2012 on American, confirmed in first and business class thanks to the eight systemwide upgrades I get annually for being an Executive Platinum member.

Still, just to boost my beginning of the year balance, I decided to plan a fairly quick trip to Shanghai. Since flying American I haven’t really done all that many pure mileage runs, but rather just mini-vacations. In this case I’ll be going to Shanghai for four days.

The fare wasn’t spectacular — I paid $1,129 all-in, though I did manage to route the ticket from Tampa to Shanghai via Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in both directions. That’s a total of 22,322 base elite qualifying miles, or 44,644 elite qualifying miles through this promotion (not to mention I’ll also earn 44,644 redeemable miles for the trip). Best of all, the long segments are all confirmed in business class.

And that’s exactly what I love about top tier status with American. Even as a leisure traveler I never have to mileage run, but rather can just take a few fun international trips a year upgraded to business class.

I now have two trips planned to Spain (in business class), one to Shanghai (in business class), and one to Japan (in first class), all on American.

And I hate to say this, but let me make my big, baseless airline prediction for 2012, given that American is in Chapter 11 — I suspect they’ll add fare restrictions to their systemwide upgrades, so that they can no longer be used on all fares. I’m certainly hoping I’m wrong…


  1. What’s your rationale behind that prediction? They used to have it that way, but switched a couple of years ago.

  2. Indeed, AA has been expanding the applicability of SWUs…now allowing upgrades off of I fares, too.

    For many pax, this is such an incredibly valuable benefit. For me, it is the biggest differentiator between EXP and 1K/DM.

  3. Last minute trip to Shanghai? Isn’t that difficult to do with the necessary visa? I seem to remember mailing my passport to a consulate last time I went to China about 5 years ago. Great post!

  4. Since I live in Middle East, I will be travelling DOH-AUH-CDG-MIA to start a business in Miami… also making lots of miles with the CDG-MIA and back on AA metal. The CDG-MIA is one of the longest flights from the east coast.

    I went to China in November using Qatar Airways: Shanghai-Xi’an and Beijing and it was fantastic, with stays at Westin Shanghai, Sheraton Xi’an and Westin Beijing Financial Centre.

    Enjoy Shanghai , I know you will.

    Thanks for the blog and Happy New Year!

  5. @ Brian — Like I said it’s baseless, though the fact that they’re in bankruptcy suggests some things need to change, and being *way* more generous than the competition (both in terms of the number of systemwide upgrades offered, as well as the fare classes they can be used on) doesn’t seem like smart business. I certainly hope I’m wrong.

    @ Matt — Gotta get working on my visa ASAP.

    @ Matrix — You mean the map? If so, I used

  6. Not sure if you have all your hotel stays booked, (looks like your staying at the Park Hyatt by your recent post) but the Hotel Indigo on the Bund was probably the best hotel I have ever stayed in, such amazing service, just a suggestion.

    Also the Food Republic in the Metro City Mall was amazing.

  7. How are you calculating the 44,644 redeemable miles for the trip? If it’s for the 100% bonus for being an elite member, should that be 22,322 (i.e. 100% of base miles)? Thanks.

  8. @ Mike — Good to hear, thanks for the heads up. Hmmm, kind of tempted to hop around a bit, I must say…

    @ Paul Ahn — The roundtrip “butt in seat” mileage is 22,322, and as an Executive Platinum I get a 100% bonus, for a total of 44,644 redeemable miles. Make sense?

  9. Your original post made it sound like the trip would result in 44,644 EQM + 44,644 RDM for a total of 89,288 miles. When it fact the trip would result in 22,322 BIS + 22,322 EQM (using DEQAA) + 22,322 RDM (EXP 100% bonus) = 66,966 miles. BIS miles are EQM, therefore, I agree on the 44,644 EQM figure, but to add BIS miles to bonus RDM to get 44,644 RDM is double counting the BIS miles. It would make sense to state: 1) 44,644 EQM and 22,322 RDM, or 2) 66,966 RDM of which 44,644 are EQM.

  10. @ Paul Ahn — I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. For this trip I earn a total of 44,644 elite qualifying miles AND 44,644 redeemable miles. I earn double elite qualifying miles for the promotion American is running, and double redeemable miles on account of being an Executive Platinum miles. I’m not sure where you’re getting your numbers from, but I earn both double elite qualifying miles AND double redeemable miles.

  11. AA fairly recently removed the fare restriction on the SWUs, I would be surprised if it was added back so soon. AA is good at avoiding over selling flights to the point of easy VDB voucers, the same logic applies to SWU. They are giving EXP upgrades that would not have generated revenue to begin with.

  12. Help the newbie – I’ve put three itineraries on hold. I used AS MVP# when reserving to get preferred seating; I am sure I must change to AAdvantage # before flying to ensure DEQAA accrual. When should I do that, to preserve seating and ensure my mileage run mileage posts properly? I don’t want to shell out $3000 before knowing this will work. Thanks!

  13. welcome to Shanghai, Ben! I think you’ll love it if Hongkong is one of your favorite city. BTW how do you manage to do a route like MIA-JFK-SFO-LAX without additional (or little) cost? Any suggestions?

  14. @ Ted — Thanks, quite looking forward to it. I’ve been to Shanghai before and enjoyed it. American has very liberal routing rules on international tickets, so those connections were all a legal routing. Just took a bit of playing around with ITA to make it happen.

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