This is Part One of how to meet the 2017 AAdvantage EQD – Elite Qualifying Dollars requirement for elite status at a far lower cost than the posted $3,000 to $12,000 levels by flying partner airlines on premium tickets. British Airways Premium Economy tickets are just one example of how to circumvent the high spend EQD requirement for AAdvantage flyers in 2017.
2017 American Airlines AAdvantage Elite Status Qualification
- Executive Platinum 100,000 EQM + $12,000 EQD
- Platinum Pro 75,000 EQM + $9,000 EQD
- Platinum 50,000 EQM + $6,000 EQD
- Gold 25,000 EQM + $3,000 EQD
2017 American Airlines Elite Qualification includes EQD
To compound the issue of a new elite qualifying dollars EQD component to earning elite status in 2017, EQD are not earned for the taxes portion of an airline ticket. The ticket I will fly this month from Los Angeles to Austria cost $493. This $493 ticket earns only 270 EQD since $223 of the ticket price are taxes. Even reaching AAdvantage Gold elite looked daunting to me for 2017 travel due to the necessity of spending $4,000 to $5,000 on tickets to reach $3,000 EQD in 2017.
Turns out there is a way to significantly reduce the spend requirement on airline tickets to reach the EQD thresholds at each elite membership level.
A Loyalty Traveler reader comment yesterday got me thinking about the potential for earning EQD, elite qualifying dollars, through premium fares. The thought of flying on paid Business Class or First Class is still too high a price for me. Heavily discounted international business class tickets running $1,200 to $1,800 each would max out my annual airline budget without giving me anywhere near the number of trips I want to take.
I ascertained a sweet spot with British Airways Premium Economy fares that solve the AAdvantage EQD problem with far less spend required than $6,000 to earn AAdvantage Platinum, while also earning a good portion of redeemable miles in the new 2017 AAdvantage frequent flyer program.
Quick background of my travel pattern is I have ticketed California to Europe six round trips in 2016. Most of my tickets started in Europe. I flew Amsterdam to Las Vegas 2x, Stockholm to San Francisco 2x, Stavanger, Norway to San Francisco and Salzburg to Los Angeles.
One of the other reasons I have been looking closely at AAdvantage rules is I need to decide on my next ticket purchase for a Star Alliance or Oneworld ticket for Europe to California in March 2017.
AAdvantage Platinum in 2017. Maybe go for AAdvantage Platinum in 2018?
For the past five months I have been trying to figure out my frequent flyer strategy for 2017.
I have already qualified for American AAdvantage Platinum elite in 2017 with 50,000+ EQM flown so far in 2016. Starting next month January 2017 there is a new Elite Qualifying Dollars component to earning AAdvantage elite status.
Changes to AAdvantage for a revenue-based frequent flyer program with $12,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars EQD required to reach Executive Platinum or even $6,000 in spend to reach Platinum elite is simply more than I spend on airline tickets. I fly almost exclusively on cheap deep discount economy class tickets, generally in the lowest of low booking codes.
For months I have been categorizing the benefits and weaknesses of different international frequent flyer programs among Oneworld and Star Alliance carriers. I have nothing against SkyTeam, but rarely find myself on those airlines. Premium fares partner airline strategy can also be used for Delta SkyMiles. United Mileage Plus does not award Qualifying Dollars on Star Alliance partner tickets, so this strategy does not work with Mileage Plus.
The next section shows how the redeemable frequent flyer miles earned on my American Airlines ticket in September 2016 was an 84% drop with the new rules implemented August 1, 2016. On January 1, 2017 the Elite Qualifying Dollars rule takes effect.
British Airway Premium Economy tickets tackle both those problems.
My 84% Redeemable Miles Drop in the new AAdvantage Revenue-Based program since August 2016
Rather than throw a bunch of 2017 AAdvantage program tables with earn rates at readers, this next section reveals the problem I saw for earning redeemable miles on my last economy class ticket from Austria to California. Travelers like me, budget elite frequent flyers buying low cost long-haul tickets, see a significant reduction in redeemable miles earned in the new AAdvantage program since August 2016.
September 2016 flights $493 round trip Salzburg – Dusseldorf – London – Los Angeles – London – Vienna American Airlines Economy O.
My most recent American Airlines flights and codeshares earned a total 2,001 redeemable miles for Salzburg to Los Angeles flights. These same flights would have earned 12,278 redeemable miles in July 2016. That was an 84% reduction in redeemable miles as an Executive Platinum member on my $493 ticket. Only $270 of my ticket earned redeemable miles. $223 of the $493 ticket cost were taxes.
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.
British Airways Premium Economy and AAdvantage EQD
Flights marketed by oneworld® carriers and Alaska Airlines will earn EQDs based on a percentage of the flight distance and the fare class purchased.
The terms for earning Elite Qualifying Dollars EQD through Alaska Airlines and Oneworld partner airline flights are advantageous to long haul international flyers compared to flying American Airlines on cheap economy long-haul tickets. These rules are even more beneficial to flyers on premium tickets.
AAdvantage Earning Miles on British Airways flights
Here is my Goldilocks comparison of British Airways Discount Business I class (high price), Deep Discount Economy Q class (low earn) and Discount Premium Economy T class (sweet spot).
LAX-London Heathrow LHR round trip ticket in Business I class is $4,852.
LAX-LHR = 5,456 flight miles.
British Airways Business I code flight segment earns 100% base miles = 5,456 redeemable miles RDM + 25% bonus each way = 13,640 RDM.
British Airways Business I code flight segment earns 1.50 EQM per mile flown = 8,184 EQM each way = 16,638 EQM.
British Airways Business I code flight segment earns 25% EQD per mile flown = 5456 x .25 = $1,364 EQD each way = $2,728 EQD.
The problem is the real cost of a British Airways Business Class ticket today. You need to fly this ticket three times at a cost of nearly $15,000 to earn AAdvantage 50,000 EQM Platinum. If you could buy three tickets when they had one of their limited time deep discount Business Class fare sales from USA to Europe in 2016, you potentially might spend under $5,000 for three Business Class tickets and earn AAdvantage Platinum. But that is more luck of timing with sales than an annual elite status travel strategy for AAdvantage.
Loyalty Traveler – British Airways Business Class $1,565 Atlanta to London/Jersey open-jaw and more UK deals from DTW/MSP/SLC (June 8, 2016)
Look at these same British Airways flights Los Angeles to London LHR for $624 round trip in lowest priced economy class Q.
LAX-LHR = 5,456 flight miles.
British Airways Economy Q code flight segment earns 25% base miles = 2,728 redeemable miles RDM.
British Airways Economy Q code flight segment earns 0.50 EQM per mile flown = 5,456 EQM.
British Airways Economy Q code flight segment earns 5% EQD per mile flown = 10,912 flight miles x .05 = $545 EQD
The problem is the low EQD earn rate and EQM for deep discount economy tickets on British Airways. It will take 9 to 11 round trip tickets in 2017 to reach 50,000 EQM and $6,000 EQD and that is still about $4,000 to $6,000 in airline spend to earn AAdvantage Platinum elite.
Sweet Spot for AAdvantage Elite is British Airways Premium Economy T code ticket LAX-LHR = $1,165.68 round trip
LAX-LHR = 5,456 flight miles.
British Airways Premium Economy T code flight segment earns 100% base miles = 10,912 redeemable miles RDM.
British Airways Premium Economy T code flight segment earns 1.50 EQM per mile flown = 16,638 EQM (same as Business I).
British Airways Premium Economy T code flight segment earns 20% EQD per mile flown = 10,912 flight miles x .20 = $2,182 EQD (Business I earns 25%).
The Sweet Spot in AAdvantage earning is British Airways Premium Economy T. It will take three round trip tickets to reach 50,000 EQM and $6,000 EQD for $3,500 in airline tickets to earn AAdvantage Platinum with 2017 flights.
This is just one example of a British Airways Premium Economy fare class ticket at one price point for Los Angeles to London Heathrow.
The objective is to lower the overall cost for earning AAdvantage elite status by finding even cheaper Premium Economy flights with British Airways or other AAdvantage airline partners for long-haul flights. British Airways Premium Economy tickets have favorable earn rates on relatively low cost premium tickets.
The rules for earning elite and redeemable miles in American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer program have major changes in 2017. Alaska Airlines and Oneworld partner airline flights in premium classes of service offer a way to earn more redeemable miles with your airline spend. But even more importantly for many flyers, this is a strategy to continue earning American Airlines AAdvantage elite status with 2017 flights at a far lower cost than buying American Airlines tickets.
My next post shows examples of British Airways long-haul premium economy tickets at a far lower price than $1,166 round trip.