Let me start out by saying – this is not for everyone. In fact, as I start this post, I’m not even sure if this is for me. Really, I started looking at alternatives after experiencing mileage run fatigue last week. But I felt like it was an interesting challenge, and one that some might find useful, so here it goes.
American Airlines, under their current program, gives 1.5 Elite Qualifying Points (EQPs) for certain fare codes on their own metal as well as most partner metal. The earn rate varies per partner, but here’s AA metal earn rates, as an example:
So I thought to myself – how can I attain Executive Platinum (EXP) status without flying 100,000 “Butt in Seat” miles. Doing the math, I figured I could fly just over 66,000 miles in a premium cabin to make it. Of course the first thought I had was, how could I find economical premium cabin deals that would justify the cost to fly 66,000 miles. So far, I’ve only found a handful of examples (which I’ll share below), but I remember many more over the past few years. But let me warn you, we’re not talking about 2-3 cents per mile here.
Examples of premium cabin mileage runs
Before I start, I’ll offer that you can find the latest and greatest premium cabin deals on FlyerTalk’s newest forum. There are other sources, but in my experience, that one is the best.
So here are my examples:
Here is the “key” and costs associated.
You can see the breakdown per EQP in the table above. The cheapest is a New York to Santiago via Miami on LAN from back in February 2013. If one jumped on that, they could get Executive Platinum Status for as little as $5,412, plus however much the additional ~6.2k miles would cost (figure no more than $500). So, if LAN were to repeat the business class fare deal they offered 18 months ago, you could have Executive Platinum Status in less than 70,000 “butt in seat” miles, and at a cost of less than $6,000.
Here’s that table from above, expanded showing how much the other options would cost (they are not nearly as “pretty”).
It pretty clear that that status costs a bunch. Even in economy you’re looking at ~$4-5k to earn status. I find it interesting though that the marginal cost of flying more comfortably in a premium cabin isn’t a significant multiplier above that. Rather, even when you assume $4k in Economy, and the most expensive option in the table above of LA to Rome, you’re looking at a hair over twice the cost (2x). All things being equal, I think the argument for considering premium cabins vs. economy for pure mileage running for status is pretty compelling.
Now does this mean I’ll pursue this avenue? I still need to run the numbers to determine if I’m generating sufficient “value” to justify such a cost. In fact, I haven’t committed (read: planned) to what status I may pursue, but that’s due more to the fact that this game is changing pretty quickly.