A bit over a week ago I posted about my mileage conundrum, where I was trying to decide whether to credit my British Airways flights between San Francisco and Rome to American AAdvantage or Alaska Mileage Plan.
British Airways partners with both programs, and I’ve already requalified for Executive Platinum status with American for the year.
As I explained, there’s merit to crediting to both programs:
- If crediting to American AAdvantage I’d earn marginally more redeemable miles, and I’d end the year at over 150,000 elite qualifying miles, getting me an extra two systemwide upgrades
- If crediting to Alaska Mileage Plan I’d earn MVP Gold status, which would get me useful benefits when flying Alaska, and the ability to change and cancel their awards for free
We flew from San Francisco to Rome on Friday, and even at that point I wasn’t sure which program I wanted to credit to, since I didn’t actually know with which program I’d get more value out of at year end.
Then something rather obvious dawned on me — you don’t have to decide where to credit your miles when you fly. This should have been obvious all along, as it gives me so much flexibility. So I decided to simply fly without a frequent flyer number.
By not putting a frequent flyer number on my reservation I can request retroactive mileage credit with either American AAdvantage or Alaska. Heck, I could then even easily credit some segments to AAdvantage and some to Mileage Plan, depending on exactly where I end the year in terms of elite mileage. I can’t believe I don’t typically do this for my paid premium cabin tickets, as it’s a no brainer.
Now, it’s worth noting this doesn’t always work. For example, I can’t get a complimentary upgrade on American and then still credit to another program. But when you’re outright paying for the cabin you’re flying, there’s no reason not to. I still get oneworld Emerald benefits by showing my Executive Platinum card, so that doesn’t really change anything.
Of course ideally you don’t want to wait too long, since you’re potentially delaying the amount of time before you actually earn status. However, in my case I’m not actually flying Alaska anytime soon, so there aren’t really any differences whether I’m MVP Gold now or later.
If you’re someone who pays for the cabin you’re flying (rather than upgrading) and don’t know where to credit your miles, then it could make sense to just not credit them anywhere. Most airlines let you request retroactive mileage credit, which can be a great way to get the miles you want at a later point. Alaska Mileage Plan and American AAdvantage let you request missing mileage credit for up to 11 and 12 months, respectively.
So while I wouldn’t use this as a strategy for the entire year, it can be great towards the end of the year when you’re trying to strategically credit flights to maximize your perks.
Does anyone else make a habit of deciding where to credit miles after travel, as a means of trying to optimize mileage earning?