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I have written a couple of times about how American Airlines is completely rethinking its approach to earning elite status. Instead of simply rewarding those who fly a lot, elite status is now available to those AAdvantage members who earn AA miles from a variety of partners.
Because American Airlines is a member of the Oneworld alliance, I have been thinking about whether AAdvantage could be a viable alternative to British Airways Executive Club, at least for those interested in the perks of elite status. Oneworld elites are equally entitled to lounge access, priority check-in / security, etc. so you are not required to have your elite status with British Airways Executive Club when you want elite benefits for BA flights.
As a reminder, the relevant AA statuses – and the number of so-called Loyalty Points required – are:
- AAdvantage Platinum status (i.e. BA Silver) –> 75,000 Loyalty Points
- AAdvantage Platinum Pro status (i.e. BA Gold) –> 125,000 Loyalty Points
Earning Loyalty Points by Booking a Hotel
Because American Airlines no longer has a co-branded credit card in the United Kingdom, the quickest way of earning Loyalty Points – WITHOUT FLYING – is to book hotels via BookAAHotels.com.
BookAAHotels should look familar to anybody who has used Rocketmiles, PointsHound, etc. The hotel booking service is offered by Booking.com – a major Online Travel Agency – and a few hotels will offer you the chance to earn AA miles with your hotel reservation.
So far… relatively standard. However, on the next page you will be invited to buy additional AA miles for approximately 1.5p each.
It doesn’t stop there, because at the next stage in the process you can boost your miles purchase even further…
By the time you get to the final stage, you could be earning a large number of AA miles…
ALL 10,000 miles will post to your AAdvantage account as base miles, meaning that they are all Loyalty Points!
Is This a Good Deal?
Obviously we will want to compare against the hotel rate if booked directly. You would pay £120 to book this hotel directly…
As a result, you would be paying an extra £140 to “buy” 10,000 American Airlines miles. At 1.4p per mile, that is slightly higher what they are worth (1.1-1.3p)…
How Many Loyalty Points / Miles Can I “Buy” per Stay?
There is a lot of trial and error involved when looking at AAHotels. But if I extend the “Malaga stay” example to a full week, I can buy and boost an additional 4,000 miles per night.
By spending a week in a specific hotel, you could earn 34,000 Loyalty Points. With only 125,000 Loyalty Points needed for AA’s Platinum Pro status – equivalent to British Airways Gold status – you would be 27% of the way there…
Yes, you have substantially overpaid for your hotel stay… except you also have 34,000 miles to spend via American Airlines AAdvantage!
Short-haul flights on British Airways aren’t the best use of your AA miles, but with 42,500 miles you can fly one-way in Business Class on Etihad to Abu Dhabi (or beyond to the Maldives, Indian Subcontinent, etc.)
By strategically booking your hotel stays via BookAAHotels.com you might pick up Oneworld elite status quickly. Or perhaps more enticingly, to upgrade your status to Oneworld Emerald – i.e. BA Gold – when your normal travel patterns might only get you to BA Silver.
Of course, you would have to accept that you will NOT receive any hotel status benefits, credit, points, etc. – you would be booking your hotel stay via an Online Travel Agency. But for an independent hotel, that shouldn’t matter…
However, I expect you might aim for airline elite status because you travel frequently enough on a Oneworld airline such as British Airways. So in Part Two, I will look at whether AAdvantage is competitive with British Airways “Tier Points” for earning elite status from flying.