How I Earned AA Executive Platinum For Under $500 & Avios - Running with Miles
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How I Earned AA Executive Platinum For Under $500 & Avios

AA Executive Platinum
Written by Charlie

Find out how I used various bonuses and promos to earn AA Executive Platinum for under $500 and Avios. These deals are what make this game so great!

Advertiser Disclosure

As a previous top tier airline elite in the major US programs – (charter) Delta Diamond, United Premier 1K, and Alaska MVP Gold 75K – I always had a desire and interest to try out American Airlines’ Executive Platinum status. With many fellow bloggers talking of their loyalty for AA and the bonus of the 8 systemwide upgrades (which let you upgrade a cheap AA economy ticket to business – space permitting – anywhere in the world), I really wanted to give it a shot. But, my location and normal destinations never were quite a fit for it so I never went for it. However, circumstances and promos aligned and it allowed me to earn AA Executive Platinum status for under $500 and Avios. Here is how that happened.

How I Earned AA Executive Platinum For Under $500 & Avios

AA Executive Platinum

AA Executive Platinum status – for very little out of pocket!

This is to highlight how it is possible to use promotions and travel deals to combine in a way for great returns. These methods are no longer available but that does not mean that something similar may come around next year so hopefully this helps to illustrate what is possible.

The AA Executive Platinum Fast Track

AA Executive Platinum

Executive Platinum is American Airlines top-tier elite status and normally requires one of the following in a calendar year – 100 flight segments, 100,000 miles flown, 100,000 points earned. For a short while in September, there was a promo targeted towards LinkedIn members for a fast track to all three status levels – Gold, Platinum, and Executive Platinum (in the end, anyone that signed up for it received the fast track even if they weren’t targeted – very un-AA!). The terms were that it had to be earned within the timeframe of September 14 – December 23 and had to be earned with points. In return, they made the required point amounts smaller and they looked like this:

AA Executive Platinum

The requirements for the elite fast track

Not A Good Enough Deal To Work For Me

While any status is better than none, the real prize was the Executive Platinum status as it came with the 8 systemwide upgrades and complimentary domestic upgrades. But, the problem was the points as well. Elite-qualifying points were based on the fare purchased. Discounted economy fares would earn .5 point while premium cabin fares would earn 1.5 points per mile flown. Since my paid travel is made up of discount economy fares, that meant I would actually have to fly 50,000 miles in 3 months. I simply did not have the time to do that and purchasing business/first class fares to get it done would not have worked either. My calendar was tight so I would have had to flown in business/first to get the total number of flown miles down to just under 17,000 miles.

I really wanted to go for it since this was going to be a great time to enjoy it before American Airlines made changes next year (like only giving 4 systemwide upgrades). But, given the cost and the time involved, it was not meant to be. In fact, I had worked on a post to publish about how I was not going to go for the “easy” Executive Platinum and show why some promotions may not always be the best deal just because it sounds like it. I had planned to publish it a handful of times and never did. And I am glad I didn’t!

British Airways Sale + Stacking Promos

AA Executive Platinum

Then in October, British Airways launched a business class sale that was supposed to be for select US cities to London and be available roundtrip for about $2,000. Nice deal, but certainly not something I was going to jump on. But then something happened – I first saw over at Frequent Miler that British Airways was letting you use up to 30,000 Avios at a value of 2.5 cents per Avios to take off money from a business class fare. Not only that, but the AARP discount of $400 on British Airways business/first class fares was working on this as well! Now, a $2,000 business class fare was down to about $800 roundtrip! To make it even better, the sale was working all over Europe! A really great deal!

Getting It Even Cheaper!

But, that would mean I would need to fly 2 roundtrips to achieve my Executive Platinum fast track requirements and that would cost $1,600. I still was not going to spend $1,600 for the status since it was still too much for me to spend just to get the status. Again, something happened. Certain city pairs were pricing much lower than the $800 after the discounts and that happened to include Philadelphia – Athens (via London). Since Athens is just a short hop from me, I began to play around with it. I was able to find dates that worked for under $250 for each roundtrip!

Now we are talking! But, the problem still remained of a tight schedule for me this time of year. Fortunately, I had a ticket to the US already for a family trip so I went and moved that award ticket to November to let me begin my roundtrip business class trip in Philadelphia. After that, it was leaving early Monday morning and getting back in Greece early Tuesday – easy! Two of those trips and I was all done!

The Required Trips


Maps generated by the
Great Circle Mapper –
copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

My trips worked like this –

Trip A was departing Philadelphia to Athens, two weeks back home in Greece, and then taking the return of Trip A back to Philadelphia where I jumped back on the plane to start Trip B. Then I returned to Greece and used the return of Trip B for what would have been the original award ticket I moved so that I could start Trip A. Yes, it took a little bit of organizing to make sure this would all work right!

Looking At The Numbers

Ok, so what did it actually cost me for these two trips and what did I earn? Here is what I spent:

Ticket 1

  • Starting price – $1,388
  • AARP discount – -$400
  • 30,000 Avios discount – $750
  • Final ticket price – $238

Ticket 2

  • Starting price – $1,388
  • AARP discount – -$400
  • 30,000 Avios discount – $750
  • Final ticket price – $238

Total cost – 60,000 Avios and $476

What Did I Get?

AA Executive Platinum

Even though I just got over what was needed for Gold, I picked up AA Executive Platinum thanks to these promos!

So, what did I get for that? Why was I willing to use 60,000 Avios in this way? Fortunately, there was another promo going on – a transatlantic promo that AA was using to award 25,000 bonus miles for each roundtrip to Europe in business/first class. And this stacked with all the above! Automatically, I was earning 25,000 AA miles roundtrip just from the promo. Plus, I was also earning another 12,000 miles for the flying. Along the way, I hit the elite levels that gave me more bonus miles so my total haul was 79,000 AA miles!

I looked at it like this – until March 23, I view AA miles as much more valuable to me than British Airways. Not only can I redeem for better awards at a lower level but AA miles are harder for me to earn. So, I basically traded the 60,000 Avios to get AA miles in return. For me, that was an excellent trade!

Not only did I receive the bonus miles, but I also earned AA Executive Platinum status until March 1, 2017. This gives me those valuable 8 systemwide upgrades as well as free redeposits on award tickets. Yes, it also gives complimentary domestic upgrades but that does not mean all that much to me since I will not have a lot of flying in the US. But, the free redeposits will be tremendously helpful as I try to make the most of my AA miles before the devaluation kicks in.

Summary

That was a lot of numbers and info – I know! But, the end result was that I paid $460 and 60,000 British Airways Avios to earn 80,000 American Airline miles and AA Executive Platinum status until 2017. It took a bunch of bonuses aligning and two quick roundtrip business class trips across the Atlantic but I think it was a great deal. For me, it was one of the best travel/mileage deals that I had this year and I was really glad I took advantage of it!

This shows that it pays to sign-up for every promotion you see. Normally, AA will not let people use a promo that was not targeted for them (even if they send a confirmation e-mail) but this time was different. So, you sign-up for promos, check out bonuses, and do the math because you never know how these things may work together to give you some incredible value. For me, it resulted in me finally able to get AA Executive Platinum status which rounds out my top-tier statuses that I have had in US programs (I missed out on US Airways’ Chairman status). I am looking forward to seeing how it stacks up and enjoying the benefits that come with it!

Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

5 Comments

  • Nice but rather misleading given this was done on a Challenge or Status Match, not to mention there was a cost to obtaining those BA Avios miles that were not introduced into the calculation. They didn’t materialize out of nowhere even if received through a credit card promotion. 60K even on sale would translate into at least $1200. (We won’t quibble about the $16 to join AARP.)

    • No intent to mislead which is why I said it was how I earned it and mentioned the Avios as well. There really isn’t any big deal with the Avios since they were swapped for AA miles, essentially. I included them in the calculation but not in a cash value because of the earnings. Had I not done this fare sale, I would not have used the Avios but would not have earned the 50k AA miles either. Trust me – I really struggled with the best way to title this one! 🙂 Oh, I had the AARP membership before this so did not include it in the totals either.

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