Posts tagged AAdvantage miles
Earlier this year I achieved a milestone with American Airlines when my lifetime AAdvantage miles total passed one million miles. Although I knew it was a long way off, I looked forward to eventually reaching the two million mile mark and earning lifetime Platinum status. However, a recent change by American Airlines in the way that it tracks mileage will make it almost impossible for me to accomplish that.
In the past it didn’t matter how I earned my miles, they all counted towards the one million mile total. I could earn miles by flying, by collecting bonus miles for my elite status, by eating lunch at a restaurant that is part of the AAdvantage Dining Program, by shopping at the AAdvantage eShoping Mall, by charging items on a CitiBank AAdvantage MasterCard. It didn’t matter how I earned the miles, they all counted towards my lifetime total. On December 1, 2011, that will all change.
Under the new plan, American will only count base miles for a flight towards the lifetime status. Right now, if I fly 1,000 miles, I earn 1,000 miles for the flight plus an additional 250 miles as my 25% Gold bonus. A flyer with Platinum status would earn the 1,000 base miles, plus another 1,000 as the 100% Platinum Bonus. All of those miles count towards lifetime status. Under the new plan only the base 1,000 miles will count, the bonus miles will no longer be included.
Under this new system, if you want to earn 1 million mile status, you’ll need to actually fly 1 million miles. For many people, myself included, this will make it much more difficult to reach those elite goals.
I’m lucky, I hit the 1 million mile mark a few months ago, and will keep that status. But I no longer have any hope of reaching the 2 million mile mark. I’m 980,710 miles away from that goal. If I fly 50,000 miles each year, enough to earn Platinum status, I won’t hit the 2 million mile mark until the year 2031. In other words, it isn’t gong to happen.
There is one other way to earn miles; AA will give one mile per dollar spent on the new Citi ExecutiveSM / AAdvantage® World Elite™ MasterCard® credit card. This is the new CitiBank/American MasterCard that has a $450 membership fee. Purchases made on this card between now and December 2012 will count towards the one/two million mile level. If I was close to the two million mile mark, I’d apply for this card. But I am 980,000 miles away and, in my circumstance, it’s a better deal for me to use my Starwood American Express card for my purchases to build up Starwood points rather than AAdvantage miles.
I’m not an expert on the way other airlines track lifetime miles, but messages I have seen on FlyerTalk and MilePoint indicate that American’s old plan was much more generous than those offered by other airlines, The new plan brings them closer to the industry standard.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am glad to have all the miles I earn because I can still use them for free travel. It doesn’t matter how I earn them, they will count towards travel, but not towards my lifetime miles.
So, I am both glad and lucky to have earned my 1 million mile status. I had hoped to eventually hit the 2 million mile mark, it’s too bad that I won’t.
This has been a good year for me. After flying less than 25,000 miles last year and losing Platinum status with American Airlines, I am in very good shape to requalify for it this year. Why is that important to me? With Platinum status I’ll earn double AAdvantage miles on all of my trips through February 2013 rather than the 25% bonus I have been earning while Gold.
I need to earn 50,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) to become Platinum again; I am currently at 41,174 EQMs, leaving me 8,826 miles short of my goal. My next two mileage runs, both scheduled for September, will put me over that line.
The first trip is Austin to DFW to Portland to Seattle to Chicago to Austin. I’ll fly out early Saturday morning and return late that evening. I’ll spend the whole day in the air or in a terminal, there will not be enough time for me to go into town at any of these locations. I’ll earn 5,315 EQMs, leaving me 3,511 short of my goal. Since I have Gold status for this trip, I’ll only earn 25% bonus miles for a total of 6,643. The ticket cost $264, so I am paying 3.97 cents per mile. That’s not bad for a Gold flight. If I was Platinum I’d earn 10,630 miles at 2.48 cents per mile.
There is an interesting story to how I found that route. I used AA.com to look for a round trip flight to Portland. This was one of the itineraries that came up. According to the AAdvantage computer this is a round trip flight to Portland, coming home via Seattle and Chicago.
My second mileage run is Austin to Chicago to Seattle to Chicago and back to Austin. Once again, I’ll spend the entire day in a terminal or in the air. I’ll leave early Saturday morning and be back that evening. I’ll earn 5,398 EQMs for this trip, giving me 51,187 miles for the year and Platinum status. My cost for this ticket is a bit higher, $280.80. I’ll earn 25% bonus miles for the flights to Chicago and Seattle, but will pass the 50,000 EQM mark on the flight between Seattle and Chicago, so I will earn double miles for those two flights. So, I’ll earn a total of 8,771 miles at a cost of 3.19 cents per mile. If I was Platinum for the entire flight I’d pay 2.6 cents per mile.
I’ll pay more than three cents per mile on both of these trips. Normally I’d say that is not a great deal. But by investing that money now I’ll have Platinum status and earn double miles on all flights through February 2013. Given that, I’m happy with what I am paying for these trips.
NOTE: In the time since I wrote this post, American Airlines has changed the way it calculates when an AAdvantage member has one or two million miles. See this post for more information.
Since January 1 I have made several mileage runs, I have used my American Airlines credit cards, I have eaten in restaurants that are part of the AAdvantage Dining Program, and I have even made online purchases at the AAdvantage eShopping Mall. All of those items brought me very close to hitting one of my goals, one million lifetime AAdvantage miles. This doesn’t mean I have flown one million miles, it simply means that I have earned that many miles using every program American Airlines offers. All AAdvantage miles count towards this total.
My wife and I flew to San Diego last week for four days. After we arrived I checked my miles and saw that I had reached 998,000 miles. That meant that my return flight from San Diego to Dallas would put me over the one million mile mark. Or so I hoped.
Actually, I reached that mark even faster: bonus miles for purchases and dining were added the next day, putting me at 1,000,417 miles. I had reached my goal!
Today I received an email from American Airlines.
Happyflier, You’ve Reached a Major Milestone in the AAdvantage Program
Congratulations on earning 1,000,000 AAdvantage miles!
Whether you eagerly awaited this achievement or didn’t realize it occurred, I want you to know that we think it’s an accomplishment worth celebrating. As a special thank you for your loyalty, you will soon receive a new elite-status membership card with the distinctive Million Miler emblem. For a review of the wide range of benefits associated with your membership, view the Elite Status Benefits chart online at aa.com/elitebenefits.
Plus, your new Million Miler status entitles you to AAdvantage Gold membership for the lifetime of the AAdvantage Gold program, regardless of your annual elite-qualifying activity. Of course, if you meet the criteria for a higher level, then you will be recognized accordingly.
Every one of the 1,000,000 AAdvantage® miles you have earned is an indication of your support, and we thank you for your commitment to American Airlines and the AAdvantage® program.
AAdvantage® Loyalty Program
There are two key points in that message. The obvious one is confirmation that I have indeed reached the million mile mark. The other one is the comment about earning lifetime AAdvantage Gold status. Even if I don’t fly at all in the coming year or two, I will keep my Gold status.
I’d rather have Platinum status and earn double miles for all my flights, lifetime Platinum comes at the two million mile mark. I’ll earn that status later this year after I fly another 8.800 miles and reach 50,000 miles for this year. But even if I never do that, I will remain Gold and have the important benefits that status offers. There are many advantages, but these are the ones that are most important to me:
- I have a better choice of seats including exit row seats with the extra legroom
- I can check in at the First Class ticket counter at the airport
- I don’t have to pay luggage fees
- At most airports I can go directly to the front of the TSA security line
- I can board the plane before the non-elite coach passengers, making it easier for me to find room for my bag in the overhead compartment
- I get a 25% bonus on my miles (fly 1,000 miles, earn 1,250 miles)
- I’ll pay a reduced price when I renew my Admirals Club membership
Those are valuable benefits that I take advantage of every time I fly; I’m glad to know I will have them from now on. At least I hope I will. American sets the rules for the AAdvantage program and can change them at any time they want. They can eliminate Gold status tomorrow, replacing it with Silver status or something similar and say the only way to earn lifetime Silver is to fly 650,000 miles. If they did that I’d be out of luck and would have a long way to go to earn that status. I hope they don’t change, and there is no indication that they will, but I understand that they can if they want.
In the meantime I am thankful for reaching this goal, a number I once felt was far out of my reach. Now, I have to hit my next goal for the year by flying at least 8,826 miles between now and the end of the year to earn Platinum status for 2012.
Saturday, April 9, time for another mileage run to Seattle. As I’ve said before, I can earn more miles on a trip to Seattle than I can to any other city in the 48 states, so I’ve made many trips there. Normally my itinerary has me going through DFW on the way to and from Seattle, but this trip would be different. Instead of flying through DFW I’d go through Chicago O’Hare on both legs of the flight.
The day started well, instead of my normal 6 a.m. departure from Austin, my flight to O’Hare did not leave until 8:25 a.m. I appreciated the extra sleep, but it also meant I’d have less time on the ground in Seattle. I usually get there before noon, on this trip I wouldn’t arrive until 4 p.m.
I got to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport with time to spare, more than enough time to visit the Admirals Club. One of the best things I have done in my travels has been to get an Admirals Club membership. The club is always quiet, the coffee is hot and fresh, and the AAngels behind the counter always make me feel welcome.
After 25 minutes at the club I went downstairs for my flight on an MD-80 to O’Hare. Could I make some extra money from this trip? I told the gate agent I was willing to be bumped if needed, but she said they would not need that.
We boarded the plane and it was packed, very few empty seats. Once everyone was seated and we were ready to push back from the gate, the pilot announced that there were weather delays at O’Hare and we’d have to sit for 40 minutes at Bergstrom before we took off. So, we backed away from the terminal and sat. Thankfully we did not have to turn off our electronic devices, so I was still able to use my phone and do some reading from my Kindle.
After a 40-minute wait we were cleared for departure and took off for a very uneventful flight to Chicago. Once we arrived in the area and began our descent I could see that the weather had not cleared up completely. You can see our landing in this YouTube video.
It may sound like there was a cat on the flight, but that was actually a baby who was crying as the plane landed.
We arrived at O’Hare 40 minutes late, but that was not a problem, I had a two-and-a-half hour layover, so I still had plenty of time and did not need to rush.
For the past 26 years American Airlines has been a strong supporter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and its efforts to find a cure for breast cancer. In fact, American is now the official airline of the foundation and supports it with generous donations and offers way for AAdvantage members to make donations. You can find more information about their efforts on the AA website.
I visited the food court for lunch, relaxed at the Admirals Club, then boarded the flight to Seattle. This flight was on a Boeing 737 and was, like my first flight, very full. I managed to get some sleep on the flight and was actually feeling refreshed when we landed at SeaTac.
I’ve been to many airports, but I don’t know of any airport where people can get as good a view of aircraft in the air and on the ground as they can get from the food court at SeaTac airport.
After taking some photos I left the terminal to walk to the light rail station. Stepping outside was a shock to me, I didn’t realize how cold it would be. I checked the weather on my phone; Seattle was more than 40 degrees colder than it was back home in Texas!
I boarded the train; my plan was to go downtown and look for a seafood restaurant.
One of the early stops for the train was a large park-and-ride parking lot. The train quickly filled up as people boarded, almost all of them were going to the Seattle Mariners game that night. I enjoy going to baseball games, but I do it in Texas during the summer when the temperature is in the low to mid 90s. So when I think of baseball, I think of hot. It was different for these people. Almost all of them were in winter coats with scarves, gloves, and hats. Many of them brought blankets to keep them warm at the game. All I could think was “If it’s that cold, don’t go to the game. Maybe go if they’re playing New York or Boston, but don’t freeze just to see them play Cleveland!”
The train emptied at the stop for Safeco Field, and continued towards downtown. At one of the stops I heard the announcement “Get off here for Chinatown and the International District.” Chinatown? When I heard that, I immediately got off the train.
Whenever I take a mileage run I try to do something that I cannot do at home. Central Texas does not have a Chinatown, Seattle does, so that was an easy choice. My new experience for this trip would be eating Asian food for dinner.
I went upstairs and found myself at the entrance to Chinatown. I walked around for a few moments, taking in the sights and sounds. After a few moments though I had to find a place to eat, my body was still on Texas time where it was past 7 p.m.
If I had been looking for a restaurant ten years ago, all I could do was walk around looking for a place that appealed to me. But this is 2011—I could reach in my pocket and find a restaurant quickly and easily.
I took out my phone and went to Yelp.com. It automatically found my location; I selected the Asian Food option under restaurants and had a long list just a few seconds later. I like to eat noodle dishes and one of the listings I saw was for a restaurant called the Phnom Penh Noodle House. All of the reviews were favorable and it was less than a block away.
I made the short walk down King Street to the restaurant and went in. While it was late to me, local time said it was early, I arrived before the dinner crowd. The owner greeted me and gave me a menu. I looked it over and realized the obvious, the food was Cambodian and not Chinese. Did that matter? Not at all!
I ordered Prohut Jien, Cambodian Fish Cakes as an appetizer, and Phad Thai with pork as my entree. It wasn’t long before the food was brought to me and I realized that I had ordered a LOT of food!
The fish cakes were all right, nothing particularly special. But the Phad Thai more than made up for it, it was excellent! The seasonings were just right, there was enough pork to get the flavor, and the noodles were perfectly cooked. It was so good that I ate all of it! Looking back I should have stopped after eating half of the Phad Thai, but it was so good that I kept on eating.
When I had finally cleared my plate the waitress asked if I wanted dessert. I laughed and said “Not unless it is something very special!” She smiled and said “Let me bring you my favorite.”
A few moments later she placed an amazing taste treat in front of me: steaming hot black bean rice pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of it.
As you can see from this photo, they took extra time to make sure it was presented just right. After one bite I realized it could have come out on a paper plate and I would not have cared, it was that good! The rice pudding was not as heavy as our traditional rice pudding, but had a much richer flavor. The ice cream combined with it to take it to the next level. It was quite simply, superb.
I had eaten far too much for dinner but that did not stop me from eating all of the dessert. It was that good.
I sipped some green tea, hoping it would help me to not feel quite so stuffed, but no luck, I had eaten too much for that to happen. So, I expressed my appreciation to the owner and his daughter, paid my bill and left. My goal was to eat a meal I could not get at home—I certainly fulfilled that goal!
I started to walk towards Pike Place Market, hoping the walk would do me some good. The walk was a little more than a mile, but I took a detour to walk along Alaskan Way, the road that follows the waterfront. I found the Seattle Ferry Terminal and got some information about the ferries and where they go. I decided that a ferry ride will make a great highlight of my next Seattle trip!
I continued along Alaskan Way towards Pike Place Market. I assumed, wrongly, that Pike Street, where the Market is located, would intersect Alaskan Way. Let’s just say I was wrong.
Instead of reaching Pike Street, I ended up at the Pike Place Hillclimb Walk. The Market is four blocks from the waterfront at the top of a very very steep hill, so steep that they built the Hillclimb Walk, a stairway that goes all the way to the Market. I was still full after dinner and did not relish the thought of walking up that many stairs, but I didn’t have much choice if I wanted to get back to the light rail, so up I went.
I eventually got to the Market and, after resting for a while, went in. It was late, almost all of the stores were closed. I stopped at the Pike Place Bar & Grill, one of my favorite places, but it was so crowded that I could not get in. So, I walked around the Market for a while and then made my way to the light rail station for my ride back to SeaTac.
I arrived a half hour before my flight would board; once again I volunteered for a bump, and again, was turned down. We started to board shortly before midnight, and the flight was like my flights earlier in the day, completely packed. By now, I was feeling exhausted, it was past 2 a.m. Texas time and I hoped to be able to sleep on the flight to O’Hare.
We took off a few minutes late and shortly thereafter I fell asleep. I had an aisle seat and the gentleman in the middle seat was a big guy; not fat, but big, and every time he moved in his sleep he either knocked his arm into mine, or kicked my foot. And every time he did that I woke up. So, I got some sleep on the flight, but not much.
We arrived on time at O’Hare and I made my way to the food court for breakfast. McDonald’s is the only place open before 6 a.m., so I did not have much choice. I bought a breakfast to go and took it to the Admirals Club where I was able to eat in peace. When I had finished the meal I asked the AAngels if a shower was available. They told me it would be shortly, and a few minutes later, paged me to give me the key to the shower.
Whenever I fly on a red-eye, taking a shower at the Admirals Club is a true luxury. I left feeling refreshed and, after checking my email, made my way to the gate for my non-stop flight to Austin. The good news was that my upgrade to First Class had gone through; this gave me a very comfortable seat with no one bumping into me as I had on the previous flight. I fell asleep shortly after we took off and slept almost all the way to Austin. When I woke up the flight attendant said there was still food available if I wanted breakfast, but I told her no.
We landed at Austin at 10:40 a.m., exactly on time. I had taken four flights on this trip, and except for the first one that had the weather delay, they all arrived on time or early. I took the shuttle to my car and was home before 12 noon. It had been a long weekend, but I had had a great meal in Seattle and earned 5,400 EQMs and 6,734 total miles. Those miles made it worth it; it was a good weekend.
We’re a little more than three months into the year, I have made several mileage runs and have a few more on the books. So how does the year look so far?
Here are my numbers from AA.com
|Program to Date Miles||938,749|
|YTD Elite Qualifying Points||8,254|
|YTD Elite Qualifying Miles||19,431|
|YTD Elite Qualifying Segments||17|
|Miles Towards Elite Upgrades||1,000|
|Miles with Expiration Deferred Through Oct. 04, 2012||58,749|
The most important number for me is my year-to-date Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs): 19,431. I want to regain Platinum status this year, to do that I need 50,000 EQMs. So, I am 38% of the way there.
I have booked four additional mileage runs:
Austin – Chicago – Seattle – Chicago – Austin: I’ll earn 5,398 EQMs. I’ll get into Seattle late in the day, almost 4 p.m. I’d love to fly back after a short delay but I could not get a good fare for that. Instead, I fly out at 11:59 p.m. to Chicago, and arrive in Austin at 10:40 Sunday morning. While in Seattle I’ll have some time to go into town and look for a new restaurant where I haven’t already eaten. The worst part of the flight is the midnight departure from SEA, that’s 2 a.m. Austin time.
Austin – D/FW – Newark – DFW – Austin: I’ll earn 4,680 EQMs. This is a short trip, I’ll leave Austin at 7 a.m., have an 80 minute layover at Newark then come home, landing in Austin at 8:20 p.m. I’d like it if I had time to leave the airport and go into New York City for a few hours, but there is no chance for that.
Austin – San Jose – Portland – Seattle – San Jose – Austin: I’ll earn 4,387 miles for this trip on Alaska Airlines. I’ll leave Austin at 8 a.m., get back in at 11:30 p.m. I’ll spend almost the entire day flying, my longest layover is 1 hour 10 minutes.
Austin – Los Angeles – Seattle – Chicago – Austin: I’ll earn 4,895 EQMs for this trip. I’ll fly American Airlines from Austin to LAX, departing AUS at 7:50 a.m. then fly Alaska Airlines from LAX to SEA. I’ll get into SEA at 1:10 p.m., then take the red-eye at midnight to Chicago, arriving back in Austin at 10:40 on Sunday. I’ll have enough time to leave the airport and look for yet another Seattle restaurant :-). This trip was a real bargain, $221 round trip. I haven’t seen a Seattle trip at that price in almost two years!
I’ll earn 19,360 EQMs for these trips, giving me a total of 38,791 for the year. I’ll need another 11,209 to reach 50,000 EQMs and have 7 months to do it. I don’t think I’ll have a problem with that: 3 trips to Seattle in 7 months will put me over the top. (Why so many trips to Seattle? It’s the longest trip I can make in the lower 48 states. The only way I can get more miles on a trip would be to get a bargain trans-continental fare and take that flight. I did that a few years ago when AA was offering Boston to the west coast for $99 each way!)
The other way I can earn Platinum status would be for American to offer a double EQM sale. That would help a lot.
So, I think Platinum is easily within my reach. The other milestone for me will be to reach the 1,000,000 lifetime miles level. The advantage to that (other than getting a fancy congratulatory letter from AA) is that I will earn lifetime Gold status. With my future flights I’ll have approximately 963,000 miles. The lifetime figure includes all miles, not just flying, so I’ll earn additional miles for using the AA credit card, taking advantage of the AA Dining Program, and any other special promotions I may find. It would be nice to reach that mark this year, but I don’t see it happening. Make it a definite for 2012 though!
One of the reasons I do mileage runs, in fact the biggest reason I do them, is to earn miles to pay for international travel. My wife and I have used our miles to pay for some long distance trips (Hawaii, Europe, Hong Kong/Thailand) and some closer to home (the Bahamas). Last month Mrs. HappyFlier told me that she had always wanted to visit Rome, Italy, and asked if we had enough miles to pay for that. With more than 150,000 miles in my AAdvantage account I knew we could do it and told her I would take care of it. I expected this to be an easy task, unfortunately it turned out to be a bigger challenge than I expected.
I went to AA.com and saw that American Airlines offers several different ways to use miles for a trip to Europe.
- Economy MileSAAver off peak: 20,000 miles one way coach
- Economy MileSAAver: 30,000 miles one way coach
- Business/First MileSAAver: 50,000 miles one way in business or first class depending on the configuration of the aircraft
- Economy AAnytime: 60,000 miles one way coach
- First Class MileSAAver Peak: 62,500 miles one way first class
- Business/First AAnytime: 100,000 miles one way in business or first class depending on the configuration of the aircraft
- First AAnytime: 125,000 miles first class
I did not have enough miles in the account to pay for the last four categories, so those were eliminated.
I knew we’d have enough to do a Business/First MileSAAver for 50K one way, and Economy MileSAAver off peak coach for 20K for the other part of the trip. I checked AA.com for availability in the 50K category and found that there was not a single day with that option available until December! I was looking at a trip in August/September/October, but even the eight months until October was not enough time to book that category.
So, my next option was to go coach, not my preference, but it was all I could do. The first thing I did was look for a 20K ticket: that was not available until very late in October. We wanted to go sooner so I looked at the 30K trips and found availability for almost every day in September. But there was a catch.
The itinerary for the 30K tickets to Rome was acceptable, flying to either O’Hare or JFK to connect to the Rome flight. The problem was on the return trip. We’d fly back to either O’Hare or JFK, but then have to spend the night at a hotel and get the connecting flight to Austin the next day. That, my friends, was not acceptable. We wanted to fly straight home without a one-day delay. I looked further and saw that I could do that in September but would have to pay 60K for the return trip. Again, not acceptable.
So, I kept looking and finally found a trip to Rome and back in October for 30K each way. We’ll fly from Austin to JFK where we will have the only bad part of the trip, a six- hour layover. Looks like we’ll put the Admirals Club to good use that day! Then we’ll fly to Rome arriving at 10:55 the next morning.
Our return flight leaves Rome at 11:30 a.m. and arrives at O’Hare at 3:10 p.m. We’ll clear customs and be on a 7:40 p.m. flight to Austin, arriving at 10:20 p.m. That is a bit later than I would like, but still much much better than spending the night in an airport hotel. I booked this itinerary, using 120,000 miles (30K each way for each of us).
So, I had reserved my trip, but wondered about some of the categories that were not available to me; when were they available? Seats become available for award booking 330 days in advance. For some routes you better make the reservation that first day or you are out of luck. (A few years ago I booked a business class trip to Hong Kong and Bangkok; I literally called just a few seconds after midnight once the trip became available. Even though I was so prompt I was not able to get my first choice, it was already gone.) For some other routes it is not as important. Which category is Austin-Rome in?
I went to AA.com and looked at flights for next year. From January 1, 2012 to February 4 the Business/First MileSAAver fare (50,000 miles) was only available on two dates. The First Class MileSAAver Peak fare (62,500 miles) wasn’t available on any dates! What about the Economy MileSAAver fare (30,000 miles in coach)? No luck there either, not available on any dates. The Economy MileSAAver off peak (20,000 miles in coach) was available until January 19; if I traveled after that the best rate I could get was 60,000 miles each way in coach, double what I am spending on our trip!
One hundred twenty thousand miles for a coach trip to Europe is absurd! How absurd is it? A few years ago we took the trip to Hong Kong and Bangkok. We flew First Class on American from Austin to Los Angeles. Then we flew Business Class on Cathay Pacific from Los Angeles to Hong Kong; we sat upstairs in a 747, had seats that went almost flat for us to sleep in and had several gourmet meals. Suffice to say this is better than anything we’ll get from American in coach. After a few days in Hong Kong we flew Cathay business class (again on a 747) to Bangkok. Before boarding that flight we had access to Cathay’s spectacular Business Class lounge in Hong Kong which, among other things, featured a wide variety of food including chefs who would prepare the meals from scratch. This is much better than anything than I have ever seen in an Admirals Club. Our return trip was on Japan Airlines Business Class from Bangkok to Tokyo, again with great seats and gourmet meals, then JAL from Tokyo to Chicago with more of the same great service. We flew American First Class from Chicago to Austin and after our treatment on Cathay and JAL we felt like we were on a WalMart loading dock. In all, we flew half-way around the world surrounded by luxury in the air and a the airports. How many miles did I use for that trip? One hundred twenty-five thousand miles, only 5,000 miles more than AA would charge for a coach flight to Europe! As I said, this makes the price for the ticket to Europe seem absurd!
I look at those 50K business and 20K coach fares and wonder — were they ever available? I’m was looking at an itinerary more than 300 days out and still could not find these lower rates. Have they already been booked, or are they not being offered? I just don’t know.
I understand that there are fewer planes in the air, and that fewer seats area available for award travel on each flight, but I did not realize that it would be this difficult to spend my miles.