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Last week I wrote about the upcoming changes to the American Airlines AAdvantage program due to the AA + US Airways merger. There are definitely some pro’s and con’s, but overall I am pleased with the final program.
One of the con’s is the ability to earn Executive Platinum status is becoming more difficult starting January 2015. Instead of needing 100 segments to earn status, you will need to fly 120 segments – a 20% increase! Of course the number of miles and points needed is staying the same, but in my experience it is much easier to earn status based on segments (at least that is how I’ve earned it in the past).
Now, one of the big pro’s is Chairman Preferred members get 2 international upgrades a year (through US Airways) and once the programs combine, those members will be given an additional eight systemwide upgrades (through American Airlines). Those systemwide upgrades can be used on international flights operated by American.
US Airways runs a status challenge, where they allow you to “Try Out” a particular status and if you earn a number of points/segments throughout the challenge you are upgraded to that status.
So you can pay $200 to try out their Silver Preferred level and still end up with Chairman’s status. The status you purchase is the status you are given during the trial period, but you are able to earn ANY of the status levels as long as you meet the required miles or segments during the 90 day period. While flying 30,000 miles or 40 segments is still a lot of flying, it is a lot less than 100,000 miles or 120 segments that American requires. You will then maintain the status through February 29, 2016.
Until the two loyalty programs fully integrate, having US Airways Chairman’s status will get you complimentary upgrades on both American Airline and US Airways operated flights. After that, your Chairman’s status will turn into American’s Executive Platinum status and you will continue to get complimentary upgrades on American Airlines.
Executive Platinum status also gives you a 100% bonus on all eligible flights, same day standby, three complimentary checked bags, waived award reinstatement fees, etc.
My FAVORITE benefit, however, is the 8 systemwide upgrades. They are worth at least $1,600 (friends have given me $200-$250 each, although keep in mind that selling them is against American’s terms and if caught they can take them all away from you), but many folks will get WAY more value out of them by using them on a flight that could have otherwise cost $2,000+. So if you are able to do many mileage runs for under $1,400, plus the $200 cost for doing the trial, you could break even. Mileage running for this amount is definitely doable. And keep in mind you still get 2 international upgrades from US Airways, although they have a shorter expiration date and cannot be given to friends unless they are on the same flight itinerary. So even if you break even, you are still getting all of the benefits of a top level status member for quite some time.
In the past, American Airlines used to do a “soft landing” for those that did not qualify for status the following year. This meant that an Executive Platinum member would fall to Platinum the following year and then Gold the year after. However, it seems as though that didn’t apply last year so there is no certainty it will work for you. American, however, sometimes gives members who do not re-qualify a challenge the following year to earn that status again.
Overall, this is by no means an “easy” way to earn status, but definitely a much “easier” way for next year. I am personally sitting this one out as I will not be able to fly nearly enough to hit Chairman’s status. And being a full time mom at home, doing that many mileage runs just isn’t my thing anymore. And not quite sure I’ll be the most loved passenger bringing my 17 month old on that many flights! But for those that fly US Airways often enough, this is definitely something to think about. Or, if you love mileage running!
Will you be taking part in this challenge?