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Go for EQM or EQP? American AAdvantage ExPlat Fast-Track

I wondered last week if I blew it buying my airline tickets at the beginning of August? AA dropped airfare to low $600s to a variety of places in Europe for a one day sale. Last week I could have ticketed 30,000 American Airlines EQM for under $700. I paid about $1,500 for my American Airlines tickets.

In about ten days, I begin a series of three trips to Europe on three American Airlines tickets I purchased to earn 30,000 AAdvantage elite qualifying miles, referred to as EQM.

The way it worked out, I paid about $1,500 for three tickets between California and Scandinavia. One $670 ticket is Orange County SNA – Copenhagen, Denmark – Los Angeles LAX. Two tickets are Bergen, Norway to San Francisco, California, $376 USD and $398 USD each. All tickets booked on American Airlines website. Basically, I have a ticket to Copenhagen with a return date five weeks later. I will return home to Monterey, California twice during those five weeks. $1,500 is my ticket cost for the AAdvantage ExPlat challenge and about $1,500 more to make these flights into three destination trips with car rentals to get between SFO and SJC and my home in Monterey and all expenses of three weeks traveling.

Trip 1

  • Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden
  • Prague and Brno, Czech Republic
  • Bergen, Norway.

Trip 2

  • London
  • Lofoten Islands, Norway, north of Arctic Circle
  • Bergen, Norway.

Trip 3 

  • Paris
  • Clermont-Ferrand, France, surrounded by National Parks and HQ for Michelin tires.
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Copenhagen, Denmark.

GCMAP Ric Europe flights Sep15

What is the difference between 30,000 EQM and 30,000 EQP?

In June 2015, I received an unsolicited, targeted offer from American Airlines. The offer was a fast-track to American Airlines AAdvantage elite status.

Earn AAdvantage Gold after 6,000 EQM and AAdvantage Platinum after 12,000 EQM. The real gem in this offer was an unexpected opportunity to grab AAdvantage Executive Platinum elite membership with 30,000 EQM or EQP earned by October 9, 2015. Normally, AAdvantage Executive Platinum requires 100,000 EQM or EQP in flights during a calendar year.

The astounding part of this offer from American Airlines is I have no elite status with any airline frequent flyer program at the moment. I held American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum elite in 2013.

Elite Qualifying Miles and Elite Qualifying Points EQM vs. EQP

EQM, elite qualifying miles are basically the miles flown in aircraft for American Airlines operated flights and AA codeshare flights, along with many other Oneworld partner flights, including British Airways flights. The booking fare or code or class is the letter designator for ticket type and determins the rate EQM and EQP are earned for the specific ticket.

American Airlines Details on Earning Miles by Booking Code

AAdvantage booking code earning 2015

American Airlines booking codes and miles earn rates.

Elite Qualifying Miles EQM

The ticket booking class code determines the earn rate. American, US Airways, British Airways and FinnAir flights all earn 100% elite qualifying miles for deep discount economy booking classes.

For example, British Airways G, Q, S, N, O deep discount economy fares earn 100% EQM at one flight mile = one EQM rate.

1 flight mile = 1 EQM

AAdvantage BA booking class earn miles

British Airways booking codes and AAdvantage miles

Deep discount economy tickets earn 100% redeemable miles based on flight miles and 100% EQM based on flight miles. Long flights at low prices are the way to earn AAdvantage elite on the cheap.

Earning 30,000 EQM is inexpensive on sub-$400 fares from Bergen to San Francisco flying British Airways. My two tickets in Deep discount economy Q class earn over 25,000 EQM for $774. That is about 86% of EQM needed for AAdvantage Executive Platinum fast-track.

Elite Qualifying Points EQP

These same two deep discount economy Q class tickets from Bergen, Norway to San Francisco on American Airlines and British Airways earn only 50% EQP based on flight miles. This is half EQP compared to EQM, about 12,500 EQP for these same two tickets and earns nly 43% of EQP needed for AAdvantage 30,000 EQP Executive Platinum fast-track.

Low Business Class Fares for EQP Elite Fast Track

Earning EQP for elite qualification is a more comfortable travel style The deal is finding a low Business Class fare that earns 1.5 EQP per flight mile. I would only need 20,000 flight miles in Business Class to earn 30,000 EQP for AAdvantage Executive Platinum status.

EQP, elite qualifying points are designed to reward higher fare tickets with more credit than flight miles. Paid First, Business or full-fare economy earn 1.5 points per flight mile.

My AAdvantage Executive Platinum challenge can be achieved with 20,000 flight miles in paid discount business class. That would have required far less travel on some low cost business class routes and possibly not much more ticket cost than flying 30,000 economy class miles.

American Airlines San Francisco SFO –Dallas DFW – Santiago, Chile SCL

$1,630.10 Business Class (FiDomestic First P and International Business I)

12,667 flight miles x 1.5 EQP = 19,000 EQP. At that rate to earn AAdvantage EQP, earning 30,000 EQP would take around $2,500 flying paid Business and First class.

SFO-SCL $1630 BIZ Class


Why am I flying 40,000 EQM in economy class for the AAdvnatage Executive Platinum fast-track?

I like to travel. I am flying nearly 40,000 economy class miles in September and early October on American Airlines, British Airways and US Airways aircraft during the AAdvantage challenge period. Also, I have ticketed Air Berlin, Air France, Swiss, SAS and Norwegian flights within Europe and Southwest for intra-California.

Documenting expenses to earn AAdvantage Executive Platinum compared to value of this high elite status over next 18 months

I received the AAdvantage challenge in June, traveled most of July on trips I had already booked, and then returned home the last week of July to plan out trips for earning 30,000 EQM and Executive Platinum fast-track status.

Over the next 18 months, from September 2015 through February 2017, my objective is to document how much I paid to earn American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum status and how much value I get out of my 17 months of AAdvantage Executive Platinum membership.

My quick estimate is $3,000 for all travel expenses related to three trips between California and Europe over five weeks in September and October. This is about $500 more money than I initially projected when planning this AAdvantage fast-track.

The ticket cost is less than $1,500 for the three long-haul international tickets between California and Europe to earn 30,000 AAdvantage EQM. The additional $1,500 for this venture is the cost for intra-Europe flights, trains, hotels and estimated travel expenses in Europe for three weeks of travel to Copenhagen, Prague, Brno, Bergen, London, Lofoten Islands in Arctic Norway, Paris and Clermont-Ferrand in France and Geneva, Switzerland. Hotel points I already had in my accounts covered much of the expenses for travel.

I might be wishing I had booked two quick Business Class tickets after I experience 40,000 flight miles in economy class on nine different airlines over the next six weeks.

Next week is coming fast.


  • Graham August 24, 2015

    Been enjoying your analysis and documentation on this…appreciate it and best of luck. Hopefully not too uncomfortable at the back, but hopefully it’s worth it in the end. Very bummed i wasn’t targeted for this offer.

  • Danny August 24, 2015

    Thank you for the great information. I found it very useful. I just finished off achieving EXP with some MR in business. I don’t mind paying more for that. If you do find some good fares in business it would be helpful to some of us to write about it. I know you do some already. Keep up with the great posts! Much appreciated.

  • Christian Young August 24, 2015

    if only most people could have 5 weeks of vacation…

  • mdtravel August 25, 2015

    My goodness, you have the writing style of a third grader. Repetitive and really not that informative. Is this all a risky undertaking (venture)? Not one of your best, that’s for sure.

  • DJ August 25, 2015

    I have really enjoyed your chronicling this ExPlat challenge. I just signed up for a Platinum challenge on AA (10,000 EQP in 90 days). I really wish I had gotten the offer you did instead, as I could get that 30K EQM pretty easily.
    I’ll be locking down Platinum with the following flights:
    Kansas City to San Diego (via PHX) R/T in economy $300
    KC to Dusseldorf R/T in business (work trip)
    ORD to Beijing R/T in economy

  • […] Go for EQM or EQP? American AAdvantage ExPlat Fast-Track (Aug 24, 2015) Weeks after ticketing my 30,000 EQM in flights, I examined the option of EQP. More relevant post now that many members received a different offer this week from American AAdvantage to fast-track to Executive Platinum with 25,000 EQP. Warning! According to one reader’s comment, my writing style is the level of a third grader. […]

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