Maximizing BA Tier Points on AA USA domestic flights

This traveler is planning for ex-pat loyalty with my American Airlines exit to what appears to me more favorable loyalty friendly skies over Europe with Oneworld Alliance British Airways. My analyses this week show US resident flyers can easily pick up British Airways Executive Club low level Bronze elite with 25% bonus Avios for $500 or less; mid-tier Silver elite with 50% bonus Avios for $1,000 or less and top-tier Gold for $2,500 or less. Of course, to get these kinds of cheap fast-track to elite tickets is a matter of flying highly selective routes on cheap fares.

You probably need a flight to or from Europe at some point during the membership year to pick up 4 BA operated flight segments for Executive Club mid-tier and high-tier elite qualification.

A simple knowledge of Executive Club Tier Points earning rules, as they apply to flight routes across the USA, can maximize British Airways Tier Points earning on American Airlines for USA routes and higher Tier Points earning connection options within the USA for international fights.

Basics rules of British Airways Executive Club (necessary to understand point of this post).

British Airways Executive Club has three tiers of elite status.

  • Bronze 300 Tier Points  + 2 British Airways marketed and operated flights in membership year.
  • Silver 600 Tier Points + 4 British Airways marketed and operated flights in membership year.
  • Gold 1,500 Tier Points + 4 British Airways marketed and operated flights in membership year.
  • BA Executive Club Membership year is based on program enrollment date. Most U.S. frequent flyer programs use Jan 1 – Dec 31 calendar year as membership year.

British Airways works on a system of Tier Points earned for flights flown. Deep discount economy tickets on American Airlines typically book in economy class G, N, O, Q. S for low points earning Executive Club Tier Points.

The minimum Tier Points earned for a flight segment on American Airlines in the USA for routes like Boston – New York or San Francisco – Los Angeles is 5 Tier Points when flying deep discount economy ticket classes.

A route like New York JFK – Dallas DFW at 1,723 flight miles earns 5 Tier Points. Even Phoenix to Miami 1,972 flight miles earns only 5 Tier Points. But go just a little farther and a flight segment 2,000 miles or more on a route like New York JFK – Phoenix PHX at 2,153 miles earns 20 Tier Points, for the same ticket price in many cases.

Key to American Airlines flights for US travelers with objective to maximize Executive Club Tier Points is know American’s  USA routes of 2,000+ flight miles.

Some long-haul USA routes

Charlotte CLT – Seattle 2,279 miles.

Dallas – San Juan, Puerto Rico 2,165 miles.

Los Angeles – Anchorage 2,345 miles.

Los Angeles – Charlotte 2,125 miles.

Los Angeles – Honolulu 2,556 miles.

Los Angeles – Miami 2,342 miles.

Los Angeles – Washington IAD 2,288 miles.

New York JFK – San Francisco 2,586 miles.

Philadelphia – Phoenix 2,075 miles.


American Airlines New York JFK/LGA to Albuquerque, New Mexico 3 different routes earn 25, 55 and 60 Tier Points.

AA Ticket A earns 25 Tier Points: $215.70 AA Economy N Class; Routing: New York LGA – Dallas DFW – Albuquerque ABQ – Dallas DFW – Charlotte CLT – New York LGA.

AA Ticket B earns 55 Tier Points: $293.70 AA Economy N/Q Class; Routing: New York JFK – Phoenix PHX – Albuquerque ABQ – Phoenix PHX – Charlotte CLT – New York JFK.

AA Ticket C earns 60 Tier Points: $201.20 AA Economy N Class;

Routing: New York LGA – Philadelphia PHL – Phoenix PHX – Albuquerque ABQ – Phoenix PHX – Philadelphia PHL – New York JFK.

Note the difference in Tier Points earned on three different itineraries New York LGA – Albuquerque, New Mexico ABQ in AA economy N class. The key to maximizing BA Exeucitve Club Tier Points is flying USA segments over 2,000 miles in length.

British Airways Executive Club Flight Calculator


American Airlines  New York LGA – Albuquerque ABQ earns 60 Tier Points on a deep discount economy N class ticket.

$201.20 round trip   Mon Jan 23 – Fri Jan 27

LGA-ABQ $201 AA Jan23-27


Tier Points Increase Significantly when flying AA Business Class.

Fly American Airlines Business Class discount economy I class on flights under 2,000 miles in the USA and earn 40 Tier Points. But go more than 2,000 miles and you earn 140 Tier Points in Business Class. A round trip ticket between New York and LAX in discount Business Class earns 560 points. That is only 40 points short for BA Executive Club Silver elite at 600 Tier Points (+ 4 BA flights). BA Silver is the equivalent level to AAdvantage Platinum 50,000 EQM / $6,000 EQD requirement in 2017.

Ticketing higher cabin classes earns significantly more Tier Points in BA Executive Club. This difference in earning rate allows an Executive Club member to acquire elite status comparable to AAdvantage Gold and Platinum for about 25% of the airline spend needed for elite status in AAdvantage 2017. You just have to be sure to squeeze in some BA operated and marketed flights. You can always do that in cheap economy O class, periodically $400 to $500 round trip on British Airways to Europe, even from California airports.

Difference in Tier Points earning between two American Airlines New York to Honolulu routes:

AA Ticket A earns 360 Tier Points: $1,766.96 AA Business I Class; Routing: New York JFK – Dallas DFW – Honolulu HNL – Dallas DFW – New York JFK.

JFK – DFW = 40 Tier Points (I class) each way

DFW – HNL = 140 Tier Points each way

AA Ticket B earns 640 Tier Points: $1,885.91 AA Business I Class; Routing: New York JFK – Phoenix PHX – Los Angeles LAX – Honolulu HNL – Los Angeles LAX – Phoenix PHX –New York JFK.

JFK – PHX = 140 Tier Points each way

PHX – LAX = 40 Tier Points each way

LAX – HNL = 140 Tier Points each way


American Airlines  New York JFK – Honolulu HNL

$1,885.91 round trip AA Business I class  Mon Feb 13 – Tue Feb 21

JFK-HNL $1888 AA-I Feb13-21

In my opinion, the ability to acquire Tier Points for under $2 per TP is a desirable objective.

  • Bronze 300 Tier Points in membership year = $600 airline spend for elite
  • Silver 600 Tier Points in membership year = $1,200 airline spend
  • Gold 1,500 Tier Points in membership year = $3,000 airline spend

Business Class Ticket A $1,767 = 360 Tier Points. $4.91 per Tier Point.

Business Class Ticket B $1,886 = 640 Tier Points. $2.95 per Tier Point.

While you are spending an extra $119 on Ticket B, the additional 200 Tier Points earned are at a rate of 60 cents per Tier Point. That is a Tier Points earn rate hard to beat for a small incremental amount of additional spend.

While Tier Points earning may be good, in this example, I would go for the better aircraft business class seat on the AA DFW – HNL routes.




About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. I think you meant to say, “That is only 40 points short for BA Executive Club Silver elite at 600 Tier Points..”

  2. Earning in AA domestic F is about to be cut in early 2017
    sometimes 1TP per $ can be had in domestic F going Hawaii/West Coast – SJU

  3. @Andrei – thanks for correction. I did mean to write 600 tier points.

    @tom – 1 TP per $1 would be a great find. So far $1.37 per tier point is the best value I have found with Business Class tickets in southeast Asia.

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