Airfare Deals Airline Frequent Flier Programs American Airlines American Airlines AAdvantage ANA Airlines (Japan-Star Alliance) ANA Mileage Club hotel and travel deals 2015-Q2 United Airlines United Mileage Plus

AA $765 or UA $571? Are more miles worth higher price for New York Saigon flights?

This post analyzes in detail the difference in miles earned for a $571 United Airlines EWR-SGN ticket with a $575 ANA Airlines website purchased ticket flying all ANA-operated flights and a $765 American Airlines purchased ticket JFK-SGN ticket flying all codeshare Japan Airlines operated flights.

A reader comment on United Airlines $547 New York Newark NJ EWR – SGN Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon saying this is not a good deal compared to paying $900 to fly American Airlines and earn flight miles had me thinking about the difference in miles earned and ticket price paid in the new revenue-based United Mileage Plus compared to flight distance based American AAdvantage.

My immediate comment was most flyers might not prefer to pay an extra $350 for American Airlines tickets to earn miles when there are $547 tickets available through United.

This post looks at the value of paying $200 more to buy a ticket earning 100% AAdvantage flight miles as redeemable frequent flyer miles for award flights to flying United and Star Alliance with miles credited to Mileage Plus.

Miles Earning Analysis


American: JFK-NRT-SGN-NRT-JFK = 18,933 miles.

United: EWR-NRT-SGN-NRT-EWR = 18,908 miles.

Great Circle Mapper is a simple to use website for finding a close approximation of the flight distance used by airlines between airports. These mileage estimates are usually within five miles of the miles airlines use for these routes.

United Airlines New York Newark NJ EWR – SGN Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, Vietnam = $571 Sep 10-24, 2015

(Some dates had $547 fare yesterday)

EWR-SGN UA Sep10-24 $571

United Airlines has revenue based miles earning since March 1, 2015. It makes no difference in miles earned for the outbound routing from EWR-HKG-SGN compared to inbound flights via Tokyo and Chicago.

Mileage Plus miles earned = $463.20 PQD base fare without taxes x 5 miles = 2,316 miles earned in United Mileage Plus.

There is little value in this fare for frequent flyers chasing redeemable miles from low cost ticket purchases on United. The value for Mileage Plus frequent flyers are low cost PQM elite miles to reach a higher elite tier.

Mileage Plus Elite Qualification in 2015

Mileage Plus 2015 Elite Qualify table

Mileage Plus Premier Silver status requires 25,000 PQM and $3,000 PQD for U.S. residents in 2015.

United K fares earn 100% PQM Premier Qualifying Miles.

United Earn PQM and PQS chart

United and ANA flights in K class earn 100% PQM for 2015 Premier qualification.

The $571 ticket in economy K class earns 18,061 PQM. This is 72% of the PQM needed for Premier Silver status. One ticket for a business flyer who will make spend in PQD, but not sufficient flight miles. A single long-haul trip can add 18,000 PQM to boost your United Mileage Plus elite status for 2016 for under $600. And if you are not a U.S. resident, then this fare covers 72% of flight miles needed in 2015 for a bump in Mileage Plus Premier status with a single $571 ticket.

Mileage Plus Premier Qualifying Dollars – only applies to U.S. residents

Earning United Mileage Plus Premier elite in 2015 requires 25,000 PQM and $3,000 PQD in spend. You earn PQD – Premier Qualifying Dollars for the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges on eligible flights. PQD FAQ. PQD requirement for Mileage Plus elite status only applies to U.S. residents. This low $571 fare does little to reach $3,000 in 2015 spend.

United Mileage Plus clearly is pimping its Mileage Plus credit cards since spending $25,000 on a Chase Bank co-branded Mileage Plus credit card waives the PQD requirement. Or you have a Mileage Plus Presidential Plus Card.

Also, military and diplomatic personnel with APO address are exempt from PQD requirement.

$571 Newark EWR-SGN Ho Chi Minh City is a low transpacific fare from the US east coast. You won’t earn many frequent flyer miles on this fare with United Airlines Mileage Plus revenue based earning in place for 2015. The fare earns only 2,316 redeemable frequent flyer miles at 5x base fare ticket price.  The flight distance of 18,061 miles will cover 72% of the PQM needed for Mileage Plus Premier Silver status or an incremental boost in elite status if you otherwise have the spend, but may fall short of miles to reach Premier Silver, Gold Platinum or 1K in 2015.

Fly Star Alliance ANA All Nippon Airways $575.50 JFK-NRT-SGN for more United Mileage Plus miles

A way to get more miles from the New York Saigon ticket is to book ANA flights on the ANA website. ANA All Nippon Airways offers the same route for only a few dollars more than buying a ticket on United Airlines.

Miles earning is based on flight miles when a ticket is purchased through another Star Alliance member airline and there are no United operated flights.

ANA JFK-NRT-SGN-NRT-JFK Economy K class $575.50

JFK-SGN ANA $576 Sep10-14

ANA Deep Discount Economy K booking class earns 25% flight distance miles in United Mileage Plus. JFK-NRT-SGN-NRT-JFK = 18,933 flight miles.

18,933 miles x 0.25 for ANA K booking class = 4,733 redeemable miles in Mileage Plus for ANA flights. You will earn 2x miles as a base member in United Mileage Plus on an ANA purchased ticket. That is far better earning than 2,316 redeemable miles earned when buying your ticket through United Airlines.

Mileage Plus elite members do not receive as much benefit in the 4,733 redeemable miles earned for a $575.50 ANA ticket compared to the $571 ticket on United with its $463.20 PQD miles earning component:

Redeemable miles earned by United Mileage Plus Premier elites buying $571 United EWR-SGN ticket.

  • Mileage Plus Premier Silver = 7 miles x $463.20 = 3,242 redeemable miles
  • Mileage Plus Premier Gold =  8 miles x $463.20 = 3,705 redeemable miles
  • Mileage Plus Premier Platinum = 9 miles x $463.20 = 4,168 redeemable miles
  • Mileage Plus Premier 1K = 11 miles x $463.20 = 5,095 redeemable miles

$571 ticket earns more miles for Mileage Plus Premier 1K elite members, reducing the advantage of buying and flying ANA ticket.

ANA $576 K class ticket earns 100% PQM for 18,933 PQM elite qualifying flight miles and more redeemable miles than buying a United Airlines ticket for $571, unless you are United 1K.

United Airlines has an unnecessarily complicated frequent flyer program now, as can be seen in calculating redeemable miles, PQD and PQM earned for United and Star Alliance partner tickets.

The primary question of this post is AA$765 or UA $547?

American Airlines AAdvantage Miles for JFK-SGN $765 ticket in economy Q class purchased on


18,933 flight miles flying American codeshare flights on Oneworld Partner airline Japan Airlines. AAdvantage members earn 100% redeemable miles for AA codeshare flights in Q class on oneworld partner airlines.

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.

AAdvantage booking code earning 2015

American Airlines purchased ticket flying Japan Airlines codesahre flights for $765 earns 18,933 AAdvantage redeemable miles.

Paying $190 more for a $765 American Airlines purchased ticket flying AA codeshare flights on Japan Airlines operated flights earns 18,933 AAdvantage redeemable miles compared to 4,733 redeemable miles in Mileage Plus for flying ANA operated flights on a $575 ANA website purchased ticket or 2,316 redeemable miles for a $571 United website purchased ticket flying United and ANA operated flights.

New York EWR/JFK – SGN Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam Sep 10-24, 2015

$765 JFK-SGN = 18,933 redeemable AAdvantage miles buying American Airlines ticket with AA codeshare flights on Japan Airlines.

$575 JFK-SGN = 4,733 redeemable Mileage Plus miles buying ANA ticket flying ANA operated flights with miles credited to United Mileage Plus.

$571 JFK-SGN = 2,316 redeemable Mileage Plus miles buying ticket flying United operated and ANA operated flights earns 5x miles of $463.20 base fare.


14,200 AAdvantage miles for $190 = $13.38 per 1,000 miles, which is a price point that may or may not be a compelling difference in your choice of airline ticket purchase for New York JFK – SGN Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, Vietnam.

At the additional airfare to fly American at $765 compared to ANA at $575 for the same airport routing, the cost rate for earning 25,000 redeemable AAdvantage miles, sufficient for a round trip ticket in US is $335, which is not a particular bargain compared to saving $190 on the lower cost ANA ticket. Of course, at this rate, earning 50,000 miles for an AAdvantage Business class award ticket one way USA -Europe for $670 is a price many flyers would gladly pay to earn miles for premium seat flights.

Would you choose Star Alliance flights for lower fare and fewer Mileage Plus miles or American and oneworld flights at higher fare for more AAdvantage miles?


  • Alan April 5, 2015

    K fare credits 50% to foreign programs.

  • Scott April 5, 2015

    @ric like I posted yesterday, it’s a good fare for no status passengers. It is not if you even share UA any status and AA Platinum even.

    AA plat gives 36xxx miles compared to what 8xxx with ANA and a 1k bonus.

    I’m both a 1k and execplat ams will pay up to 1000 on vs the 550 ua fare as about 30000 miles is worth about 600$ to me.

    All I’m saying is worth the revenue earning on UA for long distances it gets me to spend more on AA.

  • JL April 5, 2015

    Flying JL is much more comfortable than UA. Wider seats, better IFE, tastier food, friendlier service, the list goes on.

    I’d pick AA in a heartbeat. Plus AA miles are more valuable than UA miles.

  • Essay Maker April 5, 2015

    Wonderful articles in this post it’s very beneficial for me. Thanks to share this post.

  • dale m April 6, 2015

    just shows to go ya’ …your no doubt accurate explanation(s) of the UA crap is too complicated to follow and make quick sense of … if the “explanation” is that complex and full of “but only if” type noise, the reality of their byzantine system is absurd.

  • Kevin April 6, 2015

    Enjoying all of your flight related posts lately, I can only take so much Best Western in BFE California ports 😉

    I’m EXP on AA (was 1K united for several years). No way would I even consider UA, definitely worth the slight premium to fly on JAL.

  • Karung99 April 6, 2015

    Ric, I am enjoying those new posts keep up the good work. I would pay higher fare and get AA miles.

Comments are closed.