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In March 2022, American Airlines AAdvantage will change its approach to earning elite status – click here for details. 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. And I wrote yesterday about how you can earn/buy massive amounts of Loyalty Points by booking hotel stays.
Because American Airlines is a member of the Oneworld alliance, I am studying 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
What I most want to highlight for Executive Club members is this… it only takes 60% more American Airlines Loyalty Points to make the jump from Oneworld Sapphire to Oneworld Emerald. With British Airways Executive Club, you need 150% more Tier Points! So… Platinum Pro – i.e. Oneworld Emerald status – might just be the sweetspot with American Airlines AAdvantage.
Earning Loyalty Points by Flying
Any regular reader of InsideFlyer UK is probably well aware of the best ways to pick up Tier Points. Cheap Business Class flights to 80 Tier Point destinations such as Greece, Morocco, Sofia, Malta, Bucharest, Helsinki, etc. Long-haul flights in Business Class on Qatar Airways, connecting in Doha.
But a lot of those methods are rather inconvenient during the pandemic. And there are only so many times that you want to fly to Sofia in a year – you’re more likely to be regularly flying somewhere closer to the UK. Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, etc.
Example – London to Malaga on British Airways
Executive Club members are probably familiar with the Avios and Tier Point calculator available on ba.com. For a flight between London and Malaga, Spain, you could earn:
As a reminder, you would need (at least in 2022):
- 75,000 Loyalty Points (AA) or 450 Tier Points (BA) for Oneworld Sapphire status
- 125,000 Loyalty Points (AA) or 1125 Tier Points (BA) for Oneworld Emerald status
Crediting to AAdvantage
Because a one-way flight between London and Malaga covers 1,041 miles, you would earn:
- Lowest Economy — 260 / 125,000 –> 0.2% of the requirements for Oneworld Emerald
- Low Economy — 521 / 125,000 –> 0.42% of the requirements for Oneworld Emerald
- Lowest Business — 1,562 / 125,000 –> 1.25% of the requirements for Oneworld Emerald
Crediting to British Airways Executive Club
You might be more familiar with earning Tier Points. A one way flight would earn:
- Lowest Economy — 5 / 1,125 –> 0.44% of the requirements for Oneworld Emerald
- Low Economy — 10 / 1,125 –> 0.88% of the requirements for Oneworld Emerald
- Lowest Business — 40 / 1,125 –> 3.55% of the requirements for Oneworld Emerald
Don’t Forget the AAdvantage Elite Bonuses
One of the interesting elements of American’s new Loyalty Point system is that elite tier bonuses will be extremely helpful for those seeking to requalify. With British Airways, you could be a basic member or a Gold Guest List member – you will still earn the exact same number of Tier Points based on your purchased fare.
As a result, even though a base member will have an uphill slog, an AA elite status member will earn:
- AA Gold – 40% bonus miles
- AA Platinum – 60% bonus miles
- AA Platinum Pro – 80% bonus miles
- AA Executive Platinum – 120% bonus miles
But it Does Work a Bit Differently to Executive Club
British Airways Executive Club members with elite status earn bonus Avios based on the flight distance. So, taking the London to Malaga example:
- A Silver member would earn a bonus of 50% of 1,041 (the actual flight distance) in all fare classes
- A Gold member would earn a bonus of 100% of 1,041 in all fare classes
Unfortunately, however, AA’s bonus miles calculation is based on the base miles earned, which is capped at 100% and reduced to 25-50% for the lowest fares. So, a Platinum Pro member would earn an 80% bonus of the base mileage earned. Taking the London to Malaga example from above, a PP member would pick up:
- 260 * 80% = 208 bonus miles in Lowest Economy
- 521 * 80% = 417 bonus miles in Low Economy
- 1041 * 80% = 833 bonus miles in Economy Flexible, Business Lowest and Business Flexible
It is really hard for somebody flying around Europe in Economy class to earn 1,500 Tier Points (1,125 in 2022). But it’s not much harder to reach 125,000 Loyalty Points by collecting AA miles instead.
But perhaps we already knew that… the question might be whether Tier Point running for status is cheaper than overpaying for hotels booked via BookAAHotels. In Part 3 of this series, I’ll look at some popular Tier Point maximising routes instead…