130 hours to AA Executive Platinum

Living in India, a land of no airline alliances yet, I figure it was no point siding with an alliance just yet. Regular readers would observe that I’d fly Jet Airways most of the times to places I need to go to, since they service most key bases from India where I’d be expected to travel on work in Europe, USA and Asia. But, with the rapidly downgrading Jet Privilege program and the increasing difficulty with which I could get a seat or two for awards, I figured I’d have to change tack a bit.

As a participant of the oneworld MegaDo in January, I was offered a status challenge on American Airlines which I gladly signed up for. The challenge offered an opportunity to score an equivalent tier on AA as a competing airline tier I held. I am Platinum on KLM/Air France Flying Blue, and I gladly sent my card along to be signed up for the Challenge.

I got an email revert stating I was signed up for the Executive Platinum Challenge, which meant I could be with the highest tier of American Airlines (and an Emerald on oneworld alliance) right up to 2013, if I managed to complete 20,000 miles of flying on AA metal by 13 January 2012. This is 1/5th of the regular requirement to get 100,000 EQM, or 100,000 EQP or a 100 segments. Living outside of the US, it made no sense to me to be aligning with the large requirements.

I was not very sure if I wanted to go with the challenge since it required time and money invested, and I was not fully convinced I should be on this trail, in fact till the time I was leaving home this past evening. But on the other hand, the mileage stack up and the precious 8 SWUs which allow for an upgrade on any international sector flying on AA metal made the journey seem worth it. There is a method to this madness which I will share with you later next year and then the whole plot should fall in place.

Now, here is the trick question for me. AA only flies a DEL-ORD-DEL service on a B777 daily, and did not serve my home base BOM at all. On the other hand, flying DEL-ORD-DEL was going to be a cool 7,484 miles each way, so by heading to Chicago and back, I was going to get to complete 14,968 miles on my challenge easily. However, I am not a great fan of Ultra Long Hauls, especially in Economy. Hence, I’d never done one before.

Considering my limited options to cross over to the dAArkside, I decided to go for the ULH from Delhi to Chicago. There had to be a first time after all. What cemented the decision was a complimentary Platinum status for the period till February 2012, out of the blue. So thank you AAdvantage for the grand gift. This Platinum status did not mean I was going to be carrying more bags around, but the ability to choose seats and the 100% bonus miles meant my cost per mile of this MR was going to go down by half immediately.

To maximise the miles earned, I had to also make sure I booked different itineraries. After all, under the OWMD promotion, all participants on the MegaDo were also offered to earn bonus miles per round trip. For the first RT, 1000 bonus miles, for the second one 2000 and so on. At the same time, I was hoping to get it done quickly, so transcontinental flights in the USA seemed the best way to go about the whole trip.

Since I really wanted to keep costs under control, and I was going to be gone for a while in January 2012 to participate in the MegaDo itself, I figured the best time to do this quick run would be in the holiday season of 2011. This was very much against my own wishes, since if I did the trip in January 2012, the 20,000 BIS miles would also have counted towards requalifying for 2013 on EXP. Combined with my other adventures on the OWMD and a planned trip later in the year, I’d have then be 61K BIS miles in January 2012 itself. Then, all I would have had to do was make my work and personal trips on oneworld alliance for the time being till I reached the 100,000 milestone. Kingfisher joining in early 2012 is going to help also.

So, here I am, on a delayed ORD-BOS segment due to de-icing. But I am not complaining at all, since I am early to BOS as against my initial plan thanks to the free standby I get via the Platinum status! And in the interim, AAdvantage has announced double EQMs for all flights between 13th December and 31st January 2012. Including the OWMD flights. So, the added bonus now is that I am earning triple miles for this trip, and also for crossing the pond in January to visit British Airways on the OWMD. Winking smile

Bring on the miles, make them rain. I’ll absorb them all. And bring on the EXP. I am half way there already!

Watch this space to read the rest of the report which will come to you shortly!


P.S.: I am adding this note on the return BOS-ORD flight, where I turned around in 30 minutes by adding myself to the standby list and going straight on top due to the Platinum again. A fellow mileage runner in a red Jacket who was sitting next to me on ORD-BOS is also back on the BOS-ORD turn. Say Hi if you are reading this!

About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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