I’m going to China in a few weeks. On a premium fare which, if credited to the AAdvantage program, will earn a whole lot of elite qualifying points. So many, in fact, that on the outbound half of the trip I’d meet the qualifications for the Platinum challenge which AA offers. I currently have no status in the program and have been considering the value of paying for the challenge; I’m not entirely convinced I should bother.
- Platinum status means shorter hold times on the phone and some reduced fees. I also get 100% bonus reward miles and bigger bonuses on the long-haul premium fare segments. This ticket booked into I class so that’s 1,000 bonus points as a Platinum member versus none as a regular member. Plus the ~7,200 bonus points on my return routing.
- Future international trips in 2015 would get lounge access. Not that I have any booked or planned, but odds are some will come up. No idea if they will be on oneworld partners or not.
- Future trips in 2015 on AA would get Main Cabin Extra access for free at time of booking rather than only at check-in time.
- Having status in two alliances does make life a little easier when it comes to planning travel. But I’ll get AA Gold on the return flight so I’ll have at least something either way.
- Paying $200 for ~8,200 miles seems like just an OK price of ~2.44 cpm.
- My other AA/oneworld trips which I know of for this year all come before the China trip, not after it. That means no taking advantage of the benefits for those trips.
- Getting an additional ~22k EQPs or 26k EQMs to reach Platinum for 2016 is certainly possible, and I’d have the Platinum status during those flights, but the value proposition there is much harder to calculate.
- Or, instead of crediting to the AAdvantage program I could credit the flights elsewhere. Putting 19,000+ Avios in my account would be a nice boost and worth more if I manage to redeem for short-haul awards. It is unlikely that I’ll get the 4 BA segments necessary for status in the Executive Club program.
- The Alaska Airlines MileagePlan program is also an option and upcoming trips would be enough to earn me MVP status in that program. The advantage there is that it includes some benefits on both American and Delta (being on the east coast I don’t find myself flying on Alaska Airlines very often), but the Delta benefits are eroding and the future of the American relationship is unclear. Plus, the bottom tier status there doesn’t get me all that much which AA Gold wouldn’t similarly offer.
At the end of the day I fell like the status options are just wallet candy, not something I’ll get true utility from. And odds are that the Avios are better for my redemption patterns, though I’m still sitting on a pile from the BMI days and haven’t managed to burn them very quickly. Maybe I just need to travel more to solve that problem.
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