Mad Dash for Status in Early 2014?

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.

View United PQD Progress for 2013
United Bails on Its Clubs, Offers More at Local Malls

Scott created Travel Codex after learning how to travel better on a budget during grad school. He now flies over 150,000 miles every year.
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  • http://www.JustinDoesBlog.com/ Justin Does…

    Although you may not get free upgrades with your AA status when flying AS, I find their exit row is quite comfortable for the 4 hour flight from AUS-SEA. At least if you need AS for your West Coast flights, they are all relatively short. I do like earning full EQM and EQS when flying AS and crediting to AA.

    • Scottrick

      It is pretty comfortable, and I don’t mind economy class for flights under two hours. Three hours is pushing it — I’m getting soft in my old age!

  • HB

    Doesn’t Alaska status expire at the end of December of the current year instead of February of the following year like most other US based airlines?

    • Bruce

      I believe so too, AS qual by December. That’s why I’m doing a SEA-BOS mileage run dec 13-14 to make 75k

    • Scottrick

      That may be. I looked for a date and couldn’t find one. Other dates for program changes suggested status may not expire until February. I still think it would make more sense with the amount I have to fly to do it next year.

  • shay peleg

    competition lol

  • Shane

    Sounds like the death of a thousand cuts has finally gotten to you Scott. You can only be knocked around so much by a company before it’s time to cut bait.