Airfare Deals Airline Frequent Flier Programs American Airlines American Airlines AAdvantage hotel and travel deals 2015-Q2 United Airlines United Mileage Plus

Difference in miles earned San Francisco Jakarta SFO-CGK United $676 or American $696 April 2015

There is a fare sale happening for April 2015 for San Francisco Jakarta SFO-CGK routes flying United Airlines and ANA for $676 round trip all-in or American and JAL for $696. American Airlines itinerary sucks with Tokyo airport change required for the low fare, but check out the difference in frequent flyer miles earned for these tickets. AAdvantage members earn more than 15,000 miles, while Mileage Plus members earn fewer than 3,000 miles.

This fare to Indonesia provides a good example of the difference in miles earned for United Mileage Plus revenue-based flying and American Airlines distance-based flying for roundtrip flights covering nearly 17,500 miles in flight distance.

San Francisco – Jakarta, Indonesia SFO-CGK April 7-14, 2015 $676


This itinerary SFO-NRT-CGK-NRT-SFO is 17,486 miles roundtrip. United Mileage Plus revenue-based miles earning at 5 miles per $1 for base members means the $574.80 base fare earns 2,874 frequent flyer miles.

The ticket price is the base fare plus carrier-imposed surcharges. Actual mileage posting will be determined by the actual ticket price, purchased ticket routing, fare class, ticket issue date, flight departure date and the Premier status and residency of the traveler. For tickets purchased in a currency other than U.S. dollars, we will convert the purchase to U.S. dollars and then calculate the number of miles you will earn.

United Mileage Plus


JAL Japan Airlines San Francisco Jakarta, Indonesia $696 bookable on American Airlines website

This flight itinerary sucks due to a change of airports both outbound and inbound between Tokyo Narita (NRT) and Tokyo Haneda (HND). JAL Japan Airlines flight arrives at Tokyo Narita Airport NRT. The connecting JAL Japan Airlines flight to Jakarta departs from Tokyo Haneda Airport HND. This is about a 2 hour transit by train at a cost of $20 to $30 USD each way.

I have not been to Haneda Airport, but I made a transfer from London Gatwick to London Heathrow a few months ago and it took several hours to travel between the two airports cheaply. Pay more and there is a shuttle bus express between LHR and LGW in about 90 minutes travel time.

Tokyo and Haneda are about 90 minutes apart by train.  Haneda Airport HND link about transportation to Narita Airport NRT.

$1.00 USD = 120 Japan Yen is about accurate based on current exchange rates.

Narita Airport

Please leave a comment about Narita-Haneda airport transfers and help less informed travelers like me.

There were itineraries available with an all-day layover or an overnight transit layover in Japan at no additional cost.


My primary purpose here for showing American Airlines routing is to compare frequent flyer miles earned with AAdvantage on this ticket compared to United Airlines.

American Airlines AAdvantage flight distance determines miles earned for this ticket.

Great Circle Mapper calculates the flight distance at 8,780 miles each way.

17,560 miles round trip flight distance in Q booking class earns 100% miles with American AAdvantage.

AAdvantage booking code earning 2015

Earn elite-qualifying AAdvantage miles when you fly on American Airlines and American Eagle flights as well as American or American Eagle codeshare flights operated by other airlines.

Three of the four flight segments are marketed as American Airlines codeshares and earn 100% miles for booking code Q. Japan Airlines is marketed and operated as OneWorld partner for outbound segment between Japan and Indonesia. That segment earns 30% base miles according to American AAdvantage chart for Japan Airlines.

JAL non-codeshare flight NRT-CGK = 3,620 miles reduced to 30% miles = 1,086 miles.

These American marketed and JAL operated flights earn a total 15,026 miles.

  • United Airlines and ANA flights are $676 for SFO-CGK and earn 2,874 Mileage Plus miles. Better flight itinerary.
  • American Airlines marketed Japan Airlines flights are $696 for SFO-CGK and earn 15,026 AAdvantage miles. Lousy flight itinerary, but lots of miles.

Where is your frequent flyer loyalty for 2015?

[Note: This was a more complicated itinerary than desirable using an American Airlines booked ticket for Japan Airlines flights for this kind of miles earning comparison to United ticketing on a long-haul international tickets. Please let me know if you see calculation errors for miles earning.]


  • United1K March 22, 2015

    My loyalty still lies with United. In today’s environment, passengers shouldn’t expect to receive the same amount of RDMs as people who buy higher fare class tickets. You receive what you pay for. The airlines can’t afford to “give” away RDMs, like they used to under their old programs. Once the AA/US merger is complete in 2016, it’s more than likely AA will switch from distanced-based to revenue-based.

  • yyzfreqflyer March 22, 2015

    I agree with United1K – I spent over $50k with United last year and flew 170 segments for a total of around 80,000 miles. Most of my flying is within 1,000 miles of YYZ and I don’t think it is fair for airlines to reward those who spend less with more miles. It seems the whole blogger community is up in arms as mileage runs won’t be possible with United any longer. Having said that, I am happy with the change as I fly for work and will now be able to benefit (along with my family) for the amount of time I spent flying. It is antiquated to expect that those who spend the least per mile flown get the most reward.

  • Ric Garrido March 22, 2015

    “It is antiquated to expect that those who spend the least per mile flown get the most reward.”

    It is not antiquated while there are still competitor airlines giving 100% miles on deep discount economy fares.

  • Minos March 22, 2015

    “Having said that, I am happy with the change as I fly for work and will now be able to benefit (along with my family) for the amount of time I spent flying.”

    It is antiquated that your family shall receive frequent flyer benefits when you or your boss paid for the said airlines tickets.

  • sue March 22, 2015

    I did a HND-NRT transfer but left about 10 hours in between on purpose so I can eat some sushi. As a first timer to Tokyo, the trains and transfers were really confusing for us even though I did a ton of research. Everyone is helpful but speak minimal English. During rush hour, its hectic. We took the train to tokyo station, left our bags in the lockers at the station ( there are tons ), and took the express train to nrt. Buying the express train ticket was a bit confusing since we were there less than a day, we couldn’t use the online reservation system( you have to pick up online reserved tickets the day before or something). Instead, we bought reserved tickets at the train office. We did alot of pointing since the agent spoke minimal English. We got our tickets, the agent was helpful picking out the right train to take so we have plenty of time at NRT. Finding the right platform for our express train was confusing too but thankfully we found an information booth at Tokyo Station. The reserved train was great and fast. Overall, it was a bit nerve wracking since we didn’t want to miss our reserved train to NRT and be late for our flight. However, as long as you leave enough time in between I think its doable and the trains are great.

  • Robert March 22, 2015

    I only fly United if it’s an award ticket, or the absolute only option. Such a depressing option, with service levels fitting of a funeral procession. Only a hub-captive bafoon would spend their money with United, or Delta for that matter. Showing up at the airport with an upgrade list of 40+ people… it takes a very low level of intelligence to think that’s a good airline.

  • Kyle March 22, 2015

    Earning a mile for a mile flown isn’t archaic – it’s fair. We use cases like SFO-NRT for $600 as an example, but ask the average consumer how much they paid for their last economy seat on that route. They will say $1200-1500, if you don’t believe me just try it. Does the person paying $1500 deserve more miles than the guy paying $600, sure – I can go with that. But on the other side of it, United is going to pad some surcharges in there, and you don’t get miles for the taxes either, so in the end, the person that paid 2.5x as much for the total fare may have paid $1000 in base fare compared with $100 from the $600 ticket. My question to the United apologists, do you think that 5,000 miles is a fair exchange for a reasonably priced fare in United coach? I don’t. And I won’t fly United or Delta because of it. Even if American moves to that model later, I will still move my business to someone who doesn’t.

    That being said, for the guy spending $50,000 on United and only getting 80,000 miles that sucks too. I would be thrilled if that was my situation. The benefit in that design is that you will win every business traveler that stands to gain. The problem is trying to make an airline run with fewer seats sold. This year, I doubt United and Delta will see losses, but for the business clients that fly every week and have to shop for the cheaper fares, when they look at the end of the year at their balance and see that instead of 75,000 miles in their account They have 20,000 they are going to be pissed. And when you have those folks heading for the door, I think the plan backfires. I bet this year is really good for United and Delta, but next year load factors are down and they have lots of high paying customers with an empty back of the plane.

    Further, does it really matter if this year you make 160,000 miles instead of 80,000 miles since they doubled the cost of the awards anyway? You have more pesos and less dollars. Big deal.

  • Ed March 22, 2015

    I would recommend the bus for this inter-airport transit. I took the bus to HND from downtown Tokyo and found it very easy. While walking through the HND terminal I saw the train arriving from the city and it was packed – standing room only and plenty of stops between HND and Tokyo. I’d avoid it, especially when traveling with luggage.

  • United1K March 22, 2015

    Robert, I fly United exclusively out of IAD. I do have other choices; however, I like United. Sure, there have been issues; but, United has definitely made improvements. Honestly, I haven’t experienced some of the issues that I hear people talk about. I’ve had minor issues from time-to-time; but, I remain flexible and don’t take out any frustration on the GAs or FAs.

    People usually complain about the upgrade list, because either they don’t understand how it works or they don’t want to put in the work (loyalty) to position themselves better for prioritization on the list. I have a very high success rate for upgrades.

    Which airline do you recommend one should spend money on, since you’ve already ruled out UA and DL? Foreign carriers are not applicable, since they are on a different playing field than US airlines due to subsidies.

  • Andy March 22, 2015

    HND – NRT transfer isn’t terrible and both airports are extremely easy to navigate. You can take the Airport Limo Bus (not sure of the hours) and go door to door. Even if slightly more expensive than train it’s the easiest option for those who aren’t familiar or are traveling with checked luggage

  • United1K March 22, 2015

    Kyle, I recently returned from Dubai (IAD-DXB) on holiday on a “B” class ticket. Under the old MileagePlus Program, I would have received approximately 10.5K RDMs each leg; however, under the new MileagePlus Program I earned 25K+ each direction, which is a much better return as a 1K.

    United is not padding anymore taxes to their tickets than the other US carriers. For example, United imposes a 7.5% US Federal Transportation Tax, which does not get calculated into the PQD requirement, but most carrier surcharges do. I think the RDMs a passengers earns should be proportional to the amount spent. Passengers have a choice, if you want more RDMs, purchase a higher fare class ticket, it’s that simple.

    The distance-based program caused the airlines to reconsider their position due to the dilution of their frequent flier programs. Mileage runners and the use of credit cards to generate miles, ruined those days; people could rack up miles for cheap and earn status diluting the frequent flier pool. Those same passengers “demanded” upgrades and award travel; but, there were too many elites for the airlines to support. So, then enters the PQD requirement to help thin the ranks, and now we’ve transitioned to a revenue based program to further reduce the ranks, as well as reward people who purchase higher fare class tickets. So, I do think it is a fair exchange. if you avoid airlines that use the revenue-based model, eventually you are going to run out of US airlines to fly, foreign carriers are not applicable. Loyalty is not being a “fair weather” flyer, and looking for greener pastures somewhere else. A loyal flyer is one who sticks it out, adapts to changes, and understands (not necessarily agree with) why certain changes must be made.

    WN has used the revenue-based model for years. People made the same comments back then, as they are now about the load factor comparison. WN’s airplanes are not flying empty, and neither will UA’s or DL’s.

  • Kyle March 22, 2015

    @United1K – I want to be really clear on this, I mean no offense and hope that we are both engaging in basic banter about the state of miles and the path that UA/DLand AA are all on respectively.

    To be fair, American also gives a bonus of up to 12,000 miles on that same trip this year (they do not fly to Dubai, but assuming equal destinations, let’s pretend they do). So for that distance and price bracket we are talking about a difference of 1000-2000 miles which is not changing anyone’s life. But I think you know that you are one of VERY few that are buying that fare class. They only have a handful of seats and are eliminating first all over the place, so they will count on the 200 seats in the back at some point to make some money. You say people won’t leave but they already started. United was instantly the world’s largest airline by passenger volume as soon as the merger took place and has since then been dethroned for second place by Delta, and have dropped to third. So basically UA/DL/AA are all even on what the average person would be awarded on this route and fare, no advantage to United thus, no particular reason to stay with them.

    I just pulled the fare for IAD-DXB on US direct in B class and there was $1,450 in YQ. That’s padding the fare and part of the problem on the cheaper fares, they don’t award miles on the YQ or taxes, so it’s not just the 7.5% you mentioned, it’s also this other $1450. This means that on an average fare (say $2000 fare in coach) you might have only $200-300 for which you would be awarded points with United, making the average entry level person taking 6 of those trips in coach is going to generate 1,000-1,500 miles per trip. They will spend $12,000 and earn just 6-9,000 miles and spend 50% more than the current price on a random B fare I saw of $8500. So who is the better the customer, the one time customer in business spending $8500 or the customer spending 50% more than that riding in the back of the bus?

    You mention that it’s the fault of the mileage runners and the credit card churners that are the cause of these changes (which you like anyway so I am sure you will be sending out thank you cards right?). I disagree with that. They love the credit card relationships and have even amped up their offers to try and get more of those customers. They know who they attract when they put out bigger offers, but that’s the bank anyway. There is no downside to Chase offering more United miles and what would United care about churners anyway, it just helps Chase burn more of their miles and need to buy a new stockpile.

    You mention being a fair weather fan which is not the same as loyalty. So let me ask you this, how loyal is it to your best customers to both halve the value of their miles they already have earned through their years of loyalty and then on top of that make it harder to earn miles in the future. If my coffee shop halved the amount of coffee I got after ten drinks once I already had saved up a few free drink cards, I would be pissed and it would not seem like they were being loyal to me.

    I really can’t imagine that a United 1K is trying to strive for a program like WN. There are some similarities sure, but do you really want that for your airline? Besides that, the product, the market, the program, none of these things are anywhere comparable to United. Jet Blue is at least closer because they have some interline partners, but I would not tout the success of WN’s program. Their customers do not know what they are getting for what they are flying, and I am afraid, given that you are buying B fares on direct flights to Dubai, that you are also a little disconnected from the other 230+ passengers on the plane.

    One last question. If you are spending that kind of money (or your business is) and you want a direct from IAD-DXB – why are you not flying Emirates? Certainly you couldn’t compare United’s J product to Emirates. That’s paying prime steakhouse prices at Applebee’s – I am sure there is a reason, but I can’t imagine what it would be.

  • United1K March 22, 2015

    Kyle, definitely just a friendly banter. I agree that there are very little differences between the US major carriers for the average flyer; perhaps, not even for the biz/first fliers. I am aware that people have left in search of a better product, but the grass is not always greener on the other side. I choose to stay with United because my needs are met, and I am well into the Million Miler Program.

    I returned from DXB on 8 Mar, and I honestly don’t remember the fare break down (taxes/surcharges)’when I purchased the ticket. However, I do know I did not earn PQD on the fuel surcharge, however much it was. I fly a lot (170K last year) as you probably do as well; but, I can not speak for the buying of other passengers. I generally buy (not company bought) either B/Y or higher tickets for my holidays, because I like the flexibility. I do know for the average traveler, this is not the norm.

    I do not mileage run or churn credit cards. The elite ranks did increase due to mileage runners, and I heard it first hand from airline executives. The PQD requirement is one of the results to help thin the ranks. The point I was trying to make about credit card spenders is that they can spend $25K a year on their co-branded credit card, and receive a PQD waiver up to Platinum status; granted they still have to fly the required miles. This too is creating a problem, that is being talked about. My point was not to address the financial relationship between Chase and United, which I agree they both enjoy; just merely the ability to receive a PQD waiver.

    Some may say the airlines best customers are the ones that spend more money than the average flyer who may only travel a few times a year. The fiscal environment for the airlines has changed, so if people want more RDMs, they unfortunately have to spend more. The move to a revenue-based program was not to alienate more passengers, which some say they did, but was a necessary move. I understand your coffee shop analogy, but I do not think it is applicable in the case of the airlines.

    My comparison to WN was just a simplistic one. I do know the business models are drastically different, and by no means was I suggesting UA adopt their model. Although, I do have a soft spot for WN, I did a graduate thesis on the airline when Herb was still running the show. The point I was trying to make about WN, is I remember people mentioned some of the same things (lose of revenue, planes flying at less than full capacity, etc) you referenced when they switched to a revenue-based program.

    I have never flown Emirates, but I hear it is very nice. The US carriers hard/soft product is definitely different than foreign carriers, so you really can not compare the two since the playing fields are not equal. The closest the US carriers could get to foreign carriers would be prior to the Deregulation Act of 1978, and that is still not the same. Like I mentioned previously, I have a lot invested in UA, and perhaps once I crack the 4M mark, I may try another carrier. I do fly foreign carriers within the *A when booked through UA though.

    I liked your prime steakhouse to Applebee’s analogy. I hope what I wrote clarifies things, and makes more sense.

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