United just keeps finding new ways to outcompete Delta in developing the most unfriendly loyalty program. I’m not going to do anything different for the rest of 2013. I am close enough that I plan to complete my efforts to reach Premier 1K status. But I will be actively looking for any announcements about changes to American AAdvantage.
My soft landing to AA Platinum status this year has not gotten much use, and I expect it to run out at the end of February 2014. During the time I was an Executive Platinum member in 2012, I enjoyed it quite a bit even though I didn’t find it enticing enough to switch over. Things at United weren’t yet bad enough.
I have been relatively happy about my status match to Alaska’s mid-tier MVP Gold this year. My only regret is that I was so focused on earning elite status with United that I am far away from requalifying. Having a wedding didn’t help as it sucked up my time and meant a lot of the travel I did take was on award tickets. This close to the end of the year I’m not sure it would make sense to book a bunch of mileage runs, and paying American’s $1,000+ fee for a status renewal is out of the question.
Again, I expect my status to run out at the end of February 2014.
Update: As a couple readers have pointed out, Alaska’s status only lasts through the end of 2013. I did look for this info, couldn’t find it, and made a guess based on some program changes. My bad. But I am so far from MVP Gold I still think it makes more sense to wait. We’ll see how much time/money I have as the year comes to an end. The larger argument made in this post remains intact
So what to do? I’ll be booking mileage runs for early 2014. It’s a strategy you should consider if, like me, you’re a long way from your status goals.
- The fact that elite status expires two months into the next year gives you a window to requalify while you still have elite status! This makes mileage runs much more bearable, and you earn bonus miles while you do it.
- Earning status during the beginning of 2014 means your status is good for all of 2014 as well as all of 2015. If I were to make a rush for status right now, it would expire at the end of February 2015.
- Mileage runs tend to be cheaper at the beginning of the year. The holidays are over, and most people don’t take vacations in January and February, preferring warmer climates when school is out. It’s the best time to book a cheap flight to Europe or some snowy Midwestern city (after bouncing around a few coastal hubs). Your competition from year-end mileage runners is also much less. Just expect some potential weather delays — and request compensation if necessary.
I will definitely take this approach with Alaska (since no matter what happens I’m not setting my sights higher than Premier Platinum with United next year). And if American’s changes look okay, well, I guess it might be time to switch. American’s West Coast network will still suck after the merger, but having status with Alaska and American will make it tolerable.