Where to credit a one-off oneworld flight??


Last week I was facing a bit of a conundrum: I had an upcoming flight on an alliance I don’t bank a lot of miles in and I wanted to make sure I got the best points value for the travel. This was one of the $950 Chile in business class fares so, to be honest, even without the miles I’d say I was getting pretty good value (n.b. this is the same trip ultimately canceled due to illness but the exercise still makes sense I think). Given that the flights covered more than 12,000 miles in paid business class there had to be somewhere useful to put them, right? Here’s the thought process I went through to make my decision about where they should post.

Great Circle Map

First up, as is my default for flights on both American Airlines and Delta, I looked at crediting to the Alaska Airlines MileagePlan program. Alas, the two longest flights were codeshares (AA code, LA metal) which meant no chance of credit. Without those flights crediting the pain of splitting the segments onto different programs was far in excess of the value realized. OK, scratch MileagePlan from the game plan. I guess I really need to do some research on this one.

My next thought was to credit the flights to AAdvantage. It is an AA ticket, I already have some points in an AA account and, all else being equal, it seems like a reasonably safe place to put a small stash. But is it the best choice? Here’s what the points would have looked like credited to AA:

Netting over 16,000 award miles isn’t so bad, but also not spectacular. More disappointing to me was that the status earning potential in AAdvantage would be pretty poor. The 19,000+ EQPs is great but I still wouldn’t be AAdvantage Gold (lowest elite tier) And getting 6,000 more EQPs would take a lot of flying on cheap fares (only .5 EQP credit for G, Q, N, O and S) which is what I usually purchase. I was mentioning my disappointment over this to Fozz and he suggested Avios as an alternative. Now I had to do some real research.

The combination of Avios and British Airways Executive Club is one which I’ve thought about from time to time but never done much research on. I get Avios from my American Express Membership Rewards transfers more than from actually flying with their partners so not so much in caring about accrual rates. And status in a program which requires me to fly some number of segments on their planes isn’t quite so easy when said planes are based in London. Still, I had to give it a look. The numbers were pleasantly surprising.

That same 16,491 award miles number gets me three one-way short-haul awards (and a decent bit leftover) or two one-way medium-haul awards. I think that’s of more value than the same number in the AAdvantage program (though with much larger numbers the metrics can shift). On the status earning side of things the 540 Tier Points (Tier Points calculator here) leaves me 60 points short of Silver status. I’d have more than the 300 points required for Bronze status, though I’d still need two BA metal flights (or 4 for Silver). Sure, it would require more travel to get to the status threshold but far less than what AA would require of me and the value of that status would be much better. BA Silver includes oneworld sapphire status which includes lounge access, priority check-in and 100% bonus RDM earning on future flights. That’s pretty darn nice.

Alas, the trip was not meant to be for me (all three PointsHoarder hosts scheduled to make the hop to IPC had to cancel; maybe there is a curse). Still, going through the process of exploring where to credit the flights was a useful learning exercise for me. And spending the 20 minutes reviewing my options helped ensure I was making the best possible decision. At least I think I was.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

12 Comments

  1. Avios is a no brainer choice. I credit the occasional OW flights there!

  2. If you know you’ll be able to be in Europe and can make two cheap flights and also earn another 60 tier points AND know that you have little shot of hitting the next status with AA I completely agree with your decision.

  3. Seth, for DL/KL/AF code shares credited to AS I usually send in the operating metal’s boarding pass for retro credit. If you have a AA/LA codeshare reprint the boarding pass from LA with their flight number and send it to mileage plan before crediting to Avios.

  4. I would have done Avios if only for the reason that they are easy to transfer points from MR and UR. Thus, having a few points in Avios is better than in say Royal Air Jordanian or whatever… Of course that is very simplistic, but we’re not all as smart as you 🙂

  5. Unless I missed it in the post, how were you getting back from Easter Island to Santiago?

    If you forgot that one, it changes the #’s significantly and perhaps your calculus.

  6. I had a separate ticket for IPC-SCL booked via Avios. Even if it was a revenue flight it would only be another 2200 miles so not enough to put me over any of the options.

    As for doing a status challenge on AA, I certainly could have. So I would’ve had Platinum (or probably EXP) and no plans to fly AA any more for the year. So why bother?

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