While I’m traveling at least as much this year as in the past few years, I’ve done more award flying this year than ever before. I’ve done everything I can to sample new airlines and products for the purposes of sharing my experiences with you guys, and while I’ve already flown about 200,000 “butt in seat” miles this year, a vast majority of that has been on award tickets, which don’t accrue miles.
As I shared in my mid-year status check, I’m about on track for requalifying for Executive Platinum status with American and a bit behind on requalifying for MVP Gold status with Alaska. Thanks to the flexibility in my schedule and ability to work from anywhere I’m really not ever worried about requalifying, especially since fares tend to be best after the end of the peak summer travel season.
But as I try to set my goals for the rest of the year, I’m faced with a bit of indecisiveness.
Go for 150,000 miles with American?
American published some really lucrative Elite Rewards options this year, which basically reward you for surpassing the traditional elite tier thresholds. As a reminder, the Elite Rewards look as follows:
So I’ll requalify for Executive Platinum either way, which requires 100,000 miles. In the course of doing that I’ll pass the 40,000 and 75,000 mile thresholds, for which I’ll receive 10,000 bonus miles and 20,000 bonus miles, respectively.
But if I choose to go for 125,000 miles I’ll be earning an additional 30,000 bonus miles, and if I choose to go for 150,000 miles I’ll be earning an additional 40,000 bonus miles. That basically means for flying 50,000 miles beyond the Executive Platinum threshold I’ll earn 70,000 bonus miles. Given that I ordinarily already earn a 100% bonus due to my status, I’d basically be earning 340% of base miles for my marginal flying between 100,000 miles and 150,000 miles. When you’re earning 340% of base miles it’s really tough not to fly… right?
Go for MVP Gold 75K?
While I’m way behind on requalifying for MVP Gold this year, it’s a status level I have to requalify for if I plan on staying in Seattle. Being MVP Gold gets you upgrades (including for a companion), a 100% mileage bonus, very liberal same day changes, and most importantly you can cancel tickets for free and deposit the value of a ticket in your travel bank. That’s hugely valuable living up here, especially since Alaska flies just about everywhere from Seattle (well, domestically at least).
Qualifying for MVP Gold takes either 40,000 miles on Alaska or 50,000 miles on Alaska and partner airlines. MVP Gold 75K takes either 75,000 miles on Alaska or 90,000 miles on Alaska and partner airlines.
So what are the marginal benefits of flying an additional 40,000 miles on Alaska and their partners? In addition to higher upgrade priority, you get the following as an MVP Gold 75K:
The only benefit there that I really value is the 50,000 bonus miles. And when you do the math here, you’re already earning 100% bonus miles for travel as an MVP Gold, so for the marginal 40,000 flown miles you’re actually earning 130,000 miles, so you’d be earning 325% base miles for the marginal flying. Again, that’s tough to say no to, along with the added benefit of the higher upgrade priority that comes with MVP Gold 75K.
The flying would be similar…
On the surface it seems easier to do more flying on American since they fly internationally, meaning you can reach status with fewer trips. But the thing about Alaska is that they partner with American, so I could actually book a mileage run on American to China, use American systemwide upgrades to upgrade to business class, and then credit the miles to Alaska. So the flying actually wouldn’t be all that different, since I’d likely do international mileage runs regardless of which program I decided to go “above and beyond” with.
I’m trying to convince myself to go for both thresholds since they seem worthwhile, but that’s a lot of non-award flying.
Anyone in a similar position? Would be curious to hear what you guys would do!