This post compares earning differences in AAdvantage redeemable miles, elite miles and elite dollars for same Finnair flights from Chicago to Copenhagen when ticketed as a $400 American Airlines ticket or a $400 Finnair ticket. The results may surprise you.
Finnair, American, British Airways and Iberia Oneworld Alliance airlines have Chicago to Copenhagen priced from upper $300s to low $400s. Finnair has prices under $400 available through online travel agencies found in Momondo.com and Skyscanner.com searches. AA codeshare tickets for Finnair flights are available for $400 and Finnair sells the same flights for same price coded as Finnair AY flights.
American and British Airways flights are $420s.
Lowest fares $400 to $451 round trip are departures March 4 to May 10.
ExploreTrip.com ticket for American Airlines and Finnair operated flights
Chicago ORD – Helsinki, Finland HEL – Copenhagen CPH – HEL – ORD
$387.63 round trip Wed Apr 5 – Wed Apr 12
Here are two examples of American Airlines tickets where I show the impact on frequent flyer elite and redeemable miles earned by ticketing primarily AA codeshare flights for Finnair operated aircraft.
American Airlines ticket AA codeshares for Finnair Chicago ORD – Helsinki, Finland HEL – Copenhagen CPH – HEL – ORD
3 of 4 flight segments are ticketed as AA numbered codeshare flights for Finnair operated aircraft. The outbound Helsinki-Copenhagen flight segment has Finnair AY number.
American Airlines ticket redeemable miles = 1,500 RDM.
American Airlines ticket Elite Qualifying Miles = 9,707 EQM.
AAdvantage redeemable miles RDM are based on fare amount ($100.00) and carrier-imposed fees ($200.00) without taxes.
Miles earned for ORD-CPH round trip ticket = $300 x 5 miles/$1 for AAdvantage base members = 1,500 redeemable miles.
Elite qualifying miles EQM are earned 1:1 to flight miles for AA numbered codeshare flights in economy O booking code ORD-HEL-CPH-HEL-ORD = 9,985 flight miles, if all flight numbers are AA coded. Different earn rates apply to Oneworld airline partner coded flights.
Finnair flight number segment earns 50% EQM in AAdvantage based on 556 flight miles = 278 EQM.
AAdvantage EQM = 9,985 – 278 = 9,707 EQM.
AAdvantage Elite Qualifying Dollars EQD are 2017 game changer for elite status
EQDs will be awarded based on ticket price (base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, excluding any government-imposed taxes and fees) on American Airlines-marketed flights.
If you are like me, and don’t plan to spend $1,000s on AA tickets in 2017, then EQM in AAdvantage are a moot point since meeting the minimum spend to earn Elite Qualifying Dollars for AAdvantage elite status is too high a threshold for most economy fare deep discount ticket flyers.
$3,000 + 25,000 EQM for AAdvantage Gold qualification in 2017 is in the ballpark for many travelers, but that actually means spending about $3,500 to $4,000 in ticket purchases after deducting tax portion of tickets to reach $3,000 EQD, if buying American Airlines tickets.
In the American Airlines ORD-CPH ticket shown above, 25% of $400 ticket price does not earn redeemable miles or elite qualifying dollars.
EQM are easier to earn in AAdvantage when buying American Airlines tickets, but EQD can be more expensive to earn compared to buying tickets from online travel agencies OTA or directly through a Oneworld Alliance partner.
Cheaper AAdvantage EQD with Oneworld Partner Airline Ticketing on Long Distance Travel
AAdvantage has a different Elite Qualifying Dollars earning rule for Oneworld partner issued and OTA tickets with deep discount economy booking codes.
AAdvantage members earn 5% EQD in Finnair, British Airways and Iberia based on flight distance for economy O booking code flight segments. This earning rule is advantageous to some AAdvantage flyers on long-distance flights, but offset by 25% base miles and 50% EQM earning on many deep discount economy booking codes..
Besides earning only 50% EQM for AY coded flights, deep discount economy fares like Booking Code O earn only 5% EQD based on distance flown. While 5% might seem like a ridiculously low earn rate, the EQD earned on low cost long-haul international flights can easily exceed EQD earned for same flights ticketed through aa.com as AA codeshares.
American Airlines ticket for Finnair Chicago to Copenhagen flights in above image earns $300 EQD.
The same price ticket booked through Finnair with AY flight numbers as shown below earns 9,985 flight miles x 5% EQD = 499 EQD.
Finnair ticket Chicago ORD – Helsinki, Finland HEL – Copenhagen CPH – HEL – ORD
While the EQD are 40% more with a Finnair ticket, the EQM are 50% less. An AAdvantage flyer needs to fly 60,000 flight miles to reach 30,000 EQM for Gold elite (25,000 EQM) and earn $3,000 PQD based on 5% flight miles. This means four to six long-haul international deep discount economy flights.
There seems potential to earn AAdvantage Gold with actual spend around $3,000 to ticket 60,000 flight miles in a 50% EQM booking code on a oneworld alliance airline partner.
AAdvantage Platinum at $6,000 EQD can be achieved with 120,000 flight miles and possibly spending at little as $4,000 to $5,000 in 2017 for about ten long-haul tickets. This is potentially far less than the $7,000+ in American Airlines ticket spend to reach $6,000 EQD for 2017 tickets.
What about AAdvantage Redeemable Miles?
In addition to potential advantages for earning EQD by booking long-haul international flights on Oneworld Alliance airline partners, there is also a definite advantage for earning more redeemable miles through partner airline tickets credited to AAdvantage.
The AA ticket Chicago – Copenhagen earns 1,500 redeemable miles based on $300 fare + $200 carrier imposed surcharges portions of ticket price.
Finnair ticket earns 25% flight miles as redeemable miles: 9,985 x 0.25 = 2,496 redeemable miles.
AAdvantage earning for same Finnair flights when ticketed as American or Finnair:
AA codeshare ticket for Finnair Chicago to Copenhagen ticket Economy O class
- 1,500 redeemable miles
- 9,707 elite qualifying miles
- $300 elite qualifying dollars
Finnair coded ticket Chicago to Copenhagen ticket Economy O class
- 2,496 redeemable miles
- 4,992 elite qualifying miles
- $499 elite qualifying dollars
For the AAdvantage deep discount economy class ticket long distance flyer who has little chance of earning elite status based on 2017 annual ticket spend with American Airlines, there is potential to spend your way to AAdvantage elite status for significantly less by ticketing oneworld alliance partner tickets for long haul international flights. Plus, you will likely earn more redeemable miles with AAdvantage than you will based on American Airlines ticket spend.