Late last week, my American Airlines and US Airways loyalty accounts were merged. Even though AA and US Airways will continue to operate as separate airlines until the merger is complete, their loyalty programs are now one. An interesting outcome of the merger of the US Airways Dividend Miles program into the AAdvantage program is that all US Airways Preferred Qualifying miles transferred one to one to both AAdvantage Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) and to Elite Qualifying Points (EQPs). Since I had earned 28,004 US Airways Preferred Qualifying Miles so far this year, I now have the same number of AAdvantage EQMs and EQPs:
As the chart above shows, I would need to earn another 71,996 EQPs or 71,996 EQMs in 2015, to reach Executive Platinum status for 2016.
Why is this interesting? The flights I took so far this year were deeply discounted economy fares. If I were to take the same flights again, I would earn only half as many EQPs:
Usually, those who mileage run achieve status through EQMs, not through EQPs. With AA, every mile flown earns 1 EQM per mile, regardless of the class of service or price paid for the ticket. EQPs, though, are dependent upon the class of service. Business and First class tickets earn 1.5 EQPs per mile flown whereas deeply discounted economy tickets earn only half an EQP per mile flown. So, those who chase cheap economy fares will always earn more EQMs than EQPs.
EQMs or EQPs for me?
I expect that everyone who took part in the US Airways Preferred Trial recently (see: 30,000 miles to nowhere: Mission accomplished.) is in the same boat as me. We suddenly have twice as many EQPs as we have any right to expect. And, those who booked the recent Beijing business class mistake fares (see: Beijing bound!) will soon earn even more EQPs. In my case, I expect to earn 14,382 EQMs and 21,573 EQPs from my flight. So, I’ll be a bit closer to re-upping Executive Platinum status through EQPs than through EQMs. Those who booked multiple trips to Beijing will be much closer through EQPs.
Still, I’ll have around 50,000 EQPs yet to earn. And, I’ll almost certainly fly in the neighborhood of 10,000 to 15,000 miles on deeply discounted economy tickets. That alone will wipe out the current advantage I have in EQPs over EQMs.
Is it worth searching for long distance business class bargains? I doubt we’ll see anything like the recent Beijing mistake fare again, anytime soon. That said, great fares do occasionally pop up, so that could be a good way to go.
On the other hand… most great fares (both mistake fares and sales) are in coach. The great thing about having AA Executive Platinum status is that when those flights are on AA or US Airways metal, I could use my systemwide upgrade certificates to upgrade to business class. Mileage running, then, would not only take me to interesting places, but I would fly in relative comfort as well. On those flights, though, while I’d earn the full 1 EQM per mile flown, I would earn only half as many EQPs.
One other thing… I recently decided to go ahead and spend $40,000 on my AA Executive card in order to earn 10,000 EQMs (more about that in a future post). Unfortunately, the card offers only bonus EQMs, not EQPs.
With my current balance and expected earnings from my upcoming flight to Beijing, it looks like I’m closer to achieving AA Executive Platinum status for 2016 through Elite Qualifying Points (EQPs) rather than through Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs). That said, I expect that circumstances (such as flying discount economy flights) plus EQMs from my AA credit card will flip the equation within a few months. I don’t really have to decide now whether to chase EQMs or EQPs, but if I were to bet on which will get me to my desired status level first, I’d bet on EQMs.
How about you?