This article looks at elite qualification miles EQM and elite qualifying dollars EQD earned in Delta SkyMiles, American AAdvantage and United Mileage Plus forsimilarly priced $3,007-$3,096 Business Class round trip tickets from New York JFK to Bangkok, Thailand on China Eastern (SkyTeam Alliance), Finnair (Oneworld Alliance) and Turkish Airlines (Star Alliance).
I am only looking at elite qualification earning for each ticket in SkyMiles, AAdvantage and Mileage Plus. I recommend One Mile at a Time for details on aircraft cabins and onboard amenities.
- $3,096 China Eastern/SkyTeam Alliance Business Class “I/J” round trip ticket New York JFK – Shanghai PVG – Bangkok BKK
- $3,074 Finnair/Oneworld Alliance Business Class “I” round trip ticket New York JFK – Helsinki HEL – Bangkok BKKcredited to American AAdvantage.
- $3,007 Turkish Airlines/Star Alliance Business Class “J” round trip ticket.
Important: United Mileage Plus rules do not allow U.S. residents to earn elite qualifying dollars for Star Alliance partner airline coded flights on tickets not issued by United Airlines (see table). You need credit card spend to waive the Mileage Plus PQD requirement.
Alliance Airline Partner flights earn EQM/MQM and EQM/MQM in AAdvantage and SkyMiles based on flight segment distance and booking code.
American AAdvantage and Delta SkyMiles actually favor purchases with Alliance partner airlines. This is a ticketing strategy for elite members who may have trouble reaching the spend levels needed to meet elite qualifying dollar requirements. Delta SkyMiles and American AAdvantage offer a way to lower the amount of airline ticket spend needed to earn elite status without relying on credit card spend by purchasing Premium Economy, Business and First Class tickets with SkyTeam and Oneworld Alliance partners. This strategy does not work for U.S. based flyers with United Mileage Plus. Only United Airlines issued tickets earn PQD.
The fact that banks co-opted the major frequent flyer programs in the USA over the past decade means U.S. flyers are faced with revenue-based programs requiring high spend levels in the form of EQD elite qualifying dollars to earn elite status with American, Delta and United. These have the respective program acronyms of EQD (AAdvantage), MQD (SkyMiles) and PQD (Mileage Plus).
Delta SkyMiles top tier Diamond elite status requires $15,000 MQD Medallion Qualifying Dollars and 125,000 MQM Medallion Qualifying Miles.
American AAdvantage top tier Executive Platinum in 2017 requires $12,000 EQD Elite Qualifying Dollars and 100,000 EQM Elite Qualifying Miles.
United Mileage Plus top tier United 1K requires $12,000 PQD Premier Qualifying Dollars and 100,000 PQM Premier Qualifying Miles, but PQD requirement only applies to U.S. resident members.
Each of the frequent flyer programs waive the elite qualifying dollars criteria when you meet a threshold of spend on their co-branded credit card, which is why I say these frequent flyer programs have been co-opted by banks. If Mileage Plus is your program, then you will want to reduce your PQD threshold with credit card spend. U.S. residents can spend $25,000 on a Mileage Plus co-branded credit card and get PQD requirement waived for all elite levels, except Mileage Plus 1K.
Like I said, banks co-opted frequent flyer programs and I do not view these changes as beneficial change for most consumers.
Turkish Airlines New York JFK – Istanbul IST – Bangkok BKK – Istanbul IST – New York JFK
$3,005.26 round trip Business Class – J. Sat March 11 – Sun March 19.
Flight Distance: JFK – IST – BKK – IST – JFK = 19,369 miles.
19,369 flight miles x 1.00 PQM = 19,369 PQM
19,369 flight miles x 0 EQD = 0 PQD (Must be UA ‘016’ issued ticket to earn Mileage Plus PQD ).
19,369 flight miles x 1.00 = 19,369 redeemable miles + elite bonus.
Turkish Airlines Ticket Price $3,005.26 / 19,369 PQM = 15.52 cents per PQM.
Star Alliance partner airline tickets do not earn United Mileage Plus PQM, unless United-operated flight segment. This may be a good ticket for earning elite qualifying miles, but no cheap route to elite status with Mileage Plus possible through Star Alliance partner airline ticketing.
American Airlines AAdvantage an Delta Airlines SkyMiles offer a route to earning elite status with lower spend thresholds by ticketing through Alliance partner airlines and online travel agency for partner flights rather than flying AA or DL flights.
China Eastern Airlines (SkyTeam) New York JFK – Shanghai PVG – Bangkok BKK – Shanghai PVG – New York JFK
$3,095.46 round trip (Expedia.com) Business Class I/J Sat March 11 – Sun March 19
Flight Miles: JFK – PVG – BKK – PVG – JFK = 18,381 miles.
- Business I class flight segments: JFK – PVG – JFK = 14,785 miles.
- MQM: 14,785 x 1.50 = 22,177 MQM.
- MQD: 14,785 x .35 = $5,174 MQD.
- Redeemable SkyMiles: 14,785 x 1.75 = 25,873 RDM.
Business J Class flight segments: PVG – BKK – PVG = 3,596 miles.
- MQM: 3,596 x 2.0 = 7,192 MQM.
- MQD: 3,596 x .40 = $1,438 MQD.
- Redeemable SkyMiles: 3,596 x 2.0 = 7,192 RDM.
China Eastern $3,095.46 Business Class ticket JFK-BKK round trip earns:
- 29,367 MQM.
- $6,612 MQD
- 33,065 redeemable miles + elite bonus miles.
- $3,095 China Eastern ticket value = 10.54 cents per MQM.
This is a far less expensive way to earn MQD and MQM compared to flying Delta flights.
Finnair (Oneworld Alliance) New York JFK – Helsinki HEL – Bangkok BKK – Helsinki HEL – New York JFK
$3,073.18 round trip Business Class – I. Sat March 11 – Sun March 19.
Flight Miles: JFK – HEL – BKK – HEL – JFK = 18,066 miles.
- EQM: 18,066 x 1.5 = 27,099 EQM.
- EQD: 18,066 x .25 = $4,516 EQD.
- Redeemable AAdvantage miles: 18,066 x 1.25 = 22,582 RDM.
- $3,073 Finnair Business Class ticket value 11.34 cents/EQM.
My objective is a comparison of how many elite qualifying miles and dollars are earned in United Mileage Plus, Delta SkyMiles and American AAdvantage for similarly priced Business Class tickets New York to Bangkok on Alliance partner operated and marketed flights.
Finnair earns fewer AAdvantage elite qualifying miles and elite qualifying dollars than China Eastern earns with Delta SkyMiles. But Delta SkyMiles has higher requirements to reach top tier elite at 125,000 MQM and $15,000 MQD for SkyMiles Diamond than American Airlines Executive Platinum at 100,000 EQM and $12,000 EQD.
Either Finnair or China Eastern Airlines earn enough elite miles and dollars to qualify for AAdvantage Gold or SkyMiles Silver (25,000 EQM/MQM and $3,000 EQD/MQD). China Eastern earns elite qualifying miles at a lower rate of 10.54 cents per MQM in SkyMiles compared to Finnair 11.34 cents per EQM in AAdvantage.
Both of these are better value than Turkish Airlines 15.52 cents per PQM. Plus Turkish Airlines does not earn any PQD for Mileage Plus elite status.
Please comment if you see an error in this post. There is a lot of data in these EQM/EQD articles. Many readers have far more first-hand knowledge about earning elite miles and dollars in these programs than I do. Last Business Class ticket I bought was a Delta $450 mistake fare Buenos Aires to New York JFK in 2007.