A Crazy Mileage Run for the AAdvantage Elite Fast Track – Should I Do It?

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aadvantage mileage run panama city
From Great Circle Mapper.

Mileage Running to Executive Platinum – Elite Fast Track Edition

Like many of you I was able to successfully register for the AAdvantage elite fast track opportunity. As part of that challenge, I need to earn 25,000 EQPs by December in order to get AAdvantage Executive Platinum status. (You can also get Gold with 5,000 EQPs or Platinum with 9,000 EQPs.)

Related: AA Elite Fast Track FAQ – How to Calculate the Distance & EQPs, Where to find Deals & How to Search for Fares

Of course earning EQPs sounds easier than it is. Most of the cheapest coach fares only earn .5 EQPs per mile flown, meaning it can be hard to get them to add up without spending some $$$. Thankfully there is sort of a workaround. If you purchase a premium cabin (Business/First) ticket then you will earn 1.5 EQPs. Of course you then need to find a cheap premium cabin fare.

The Panama City Run

aadvantage mileage run panama city
From Great Circle Mapper.

After looking through Flyertalk’s Premium Mileage Run section I found a fare discussed from Los Angeles to Panama City for around $750. In the thread people discovered that you could route through New York to get more mileage. The entire fare is in first or business class, so it earns 1.5 EQPs. Sounds good!

After doing more research I found that the fare had gone up to about $900, which still isn’t bad. Then I started to see if I could make it work from Las Vegas which would save me the trip to/from LAX. This is what I was able to find.

I was able to put the following fare on hold:

LAS-JFK-MIA-PTY-MIA-JFK-CLT-LAS – $804

All together it ends up being 9,187 miles flown. Multiple that by 1.5X and it is 13,781 EQPs. Since my Gold and then Platinum status will kick in at 5,000 and then 9,000 EQPs respectively I haven’t been able to figure out the amount of redeemable miles since I will earn bonuses on some flights once I reach elite status. I guesstimate I should end up just shy of about 20,000 redeemable miles.

So for about $800 I will end up over halfway towards the 25K EQPs needed plus earn around 20,000 redeemable miles. I also will get a day to spend in Panama which is a new country to me. Sounds good! I have until midnight to book. What do you think? Would you do it?

About 6K EQPs Short

I have a few other trips already booked that will earn me close to 6K EQPs, meaning that I am about 6K short. So even with this “amazing routing” I won’t quite be there, but I should be within one roundtrip flight of being a top tier elite on American. ThankYou points should come in handy to make that last flight happen!

Conclusion

I know a lot of you are struggling to find good mileage runs or flights to meet the AAdvantage Elite Fast Track as well. For me the idea of flying up front the whole way is an appealing one since that many segments in coach can be brutal. While I haven’t yet pulled the trigger on this itinerary, I think I would be stupid to let it go.

What do you think? Have you found any decent deals you are ready to share? Let me know in the comments!


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51 COMMENTS

    • Yes the multi-city tool! In this case I searched LAS-JFK, JFK-PTY, PTY-JFK, JFK-LAS. The flyertalk thread talks about starting and ending in LAX which gives you more EQPs and bonus miles.

  1. Not that good with MRs,

    What is the CPM on this, & can you show us how the calculation goes? I read on FT anything less than 4CPM is a good MR.

    • He is doing EQP (Points) not EQM (Miles) The Cents per Mile calculation at 4CPM only applies to when you are doing economy runs based on miles. He is chasing points.

  2. I do not get it. You’re gonna pay MONEY for this trip, or can you do this with some kind of points. I do not understand why get status if you have to pay money for it. I thought the whole deal of this (and other) blog was to show how to travel without spending money on tix. Can you help a poor dumb old guy out here?

    • I travel a lot and thus will get great value out of the status. Part of what I do is show you how to travel with no money, but there is also something to be said for traveling better for a lot less money. That is all within the realm of this “hobby” I think as well.

      I used to think like you in that finding the cheapest way from point “A” to “B” was fine with me, but the more time I spent on the road the more I realized how valuable it is to have some elite benefits. Remember too that I will earn around $400+ in miles to be used later plus I am getting a day to spend in New York and a day in Panama City which is new to me.

      The value of all of that is going to be different for different people! Thanks Carl!

      • Ok, I didn’t think about the $400 =/- in miles you will earn, so there is that. I guess I need to figure out more about this status stuff since I do not have any except through my currently locked up Amexes. (Long sad story there = FR).

        Good points though, Shawn and thanks for the nice polite and very good explanation. I do know there are a lot of different angles out there to try and admittedly I am a n00b still, but trying to read much and learn.

        Keep writing and explaining and I am sure that I, as well as others, will continue to learn more.

    • Carl,

      The reason for this post is to get AA status under what is called “status challenge”. Thru a technique call “Mileage Run” (MR).

      Why get status on a particular airline you might ask? There is tons of benefit when you obtain certain level of status, some might be more valuable than others.

      For instance, they may upgrade you to biz & 1st class (Free of charge)
      Ever got stuck in connecting airport when ur flight gets canceled due to weather? the airline will take care u first, sort like a VIP (Very Important Person)…

      • Ok, I did not realize you could maybe get upgrades free. That is a cool thing! I only flew 1st once and that was an in-state Texas flight so didn’t last long. It was nice though!

        • Well Carl, its not just about free upgrades and cash equivalent redemption. Since you are getting a lot of polite responses on here to answer your question, I figured I will join too.

          Blogging communities like this are generally a “safe” place. If you were to ask your question on Reddit or on FlyerTalk, you would be punched in the face and a sniper rifle head-shot between the eyes with an IED terrorist style.

          In general, no response here will be enough to answer your question in full. You will need to read A LOT of articles and blogs to fully understand the purpose on mileage running if youre interested.

          This is because PAYING MONEY to just sit in a damn sardine tube for hours and hours or even weeks to do absolutely nothing except having your butt in a seat make no sense to the majority.

          However, mileage running is a proven technique to obtain a Kardashian celebrity lifestyle in the sky for those who want that life style. If you dont live in the sky then you dont do this. Thats the quickest answer I can give you.

          • @NinjaX thanks for the polite and nice reply. Yes, I am learning about status and this column with its many replies has helped. Not sure I want/need it though. I plan to take 2-3 (maybe 4) trips a year and am fine with coach as I view it as a very temporary discomfort. But the “free” lounge access and the very low to no cost tickets available by using points is more my thing, I think. However, not ruling it out at all to try for status someday if things work out.

            I do thank you, Shawn and others for making this a very hospitable blog. I’ve been reading FT and other places where people are just rude beyond words. A lot of those people I doubt are like that to others face to face and this is one of the bad things about the internet, but that is a whole other discussion.

            Thanks again.

  3. Shawn,

    Is the difference between plat and executive platinum big enough to justify the extra work (25k vs 9k) between the two?

  4. Shawn –

    I would even go so far as to complete two back-to-back and be done!

    Heckler, I’d love to do it myself just to peek over the other side of Delta’s world…if only I could get the same Changes invitation; that’s my only obstacle!

    Any suggestions?

  5. Why is it even crazy? Arent you a mileage runner yourself? Doing 3 of these back to back may br considered crazy bt MR standard? One trip? This is jusg a MR.

  6. I registered for the fast track while it was live and got a thank you for registering screen. I have not received any emails? Did anyone receive a confirmation email?

    • Yes. I got an email confirming I got the challenge. Maybe search your spam folder.

      I’m itching to do a couple of MRs, but can’t justify it. Hubby already has lifetime Platinum. It is nice to use the priority check-in, get to board the plane early when we do fly coach, etc. But he doesn’t get upgrades because we fly on miles. AA miles have been the lower hanging fruit for us instead of TYPs. If we had as many TYPs as we do AA miles, I’d be searching for MRs.

      If it makes sense for you, go for it.

  7. I registered while the fast track was live and got a thank you for registering screen. Did anyone receive an email confirming they are in?

    • I registerd, got an email saying I was in but I don’t nec believe it. I wrote customer service so I get an email from someone saying I got it. I was expecting my Progress to Gold to show less than 5K but it showed progress to 25K (norm) so I’m not sure I really got it. Someone commented on another blog that you might not actually get it even with a confirming email if you didn’t get the original LinkedIn email.

  8. I’m doing something very similar for $1,800 but I’ll end up with almost 25,000 eqp by the end. I’m getting my mind around this since I’ve never done anything like this before.

  9. Yes, the 8 system wides are totally worth the under $2K in spend. I do remember a trip report from someone, how they almost got in trouble (?) bc they did a trip to Central America and immigration suspected them of something bc they had a quick turn around. But congrats on the hard work to put it together. Go for it! Like most places, Panama prob has lots of great stuff/adventure.

  10. Started to go from zero to platinum executive before fast track started. Flying premium twice rt lax-dfw-hkg and one rt lax-jfk. 100,000 eqp in 3 flights.

    Wish the fast track came out a month sooner!

  11. I need to find something out of San Diego but would prefer Europe if it exists. Let me know if there is any luck there.

  12. I’m kinda new to this…
    What inexpensive recommendations do u have to gain 25k eqps from Chicago or Cleveland (I rotate between the two cities)? Thanks in advance!

    • I would check out some of the tools in the FAQ I created. (Linked to at the top of this post.) It takes some time and effort to search, but there are a lot of helpful resources you can use!

  13. Shawn, are you sure about the EQP calculation?
    What fare bucket are these segments in?
    This being such a low fare are they in cheapest fares buckets of G,Q,N,O,S? With AA those fares only earns 0.5 EQP per mile, but earns 1.0 EQM per mile. Elite bonuses do not earn bonus EQPs just EQMs.

    Just wondering.

  14. Hi Shawn,

    Big fan of your blog, in fact registered for the promotion thanks to an alert from your newsletter!

    I am planning to qualify in one shot through my mileage run to India in premium economy. Flight costs 2000 bucks and total mileage (Lax-Lhr-blr) is 20000 miles approx. round trip. With my work schedule and family it was difficult to plan multiple runs.
    Sweet spot for me is that BA PE qualifies for 1.5 EQP so will take me beyond 25K. Will get to stay for a few days with family. Convinced an initially incredulous and head shaking wife (what’s in it for kids and me?) with the magic word aka 8 system wide upgrades that we can use next year for vacation 🙂
    To your point, platinum should kick in on my way back so will get 100% on the way back. In summary, Earned miles- 33,000 (with bonus). EQP:33,000 for 2K.
    Welcome to any better suggestions and opinions. Thanks!

  15. So, I found this run (or very similar) with more miles and EQP’s for $801

    I just need that darn Challenge…I would do two back-to-back and be done and enjoy AA EXP for the rest of 2015 and all of 2016 and tell XX Airlines to Kiss my A## 😉

    • Im with you bro!! If you do this, YOU GO ALL OUT – BALLS TO THE WALL!! FOR SPARTA!!

      All or nothing man!!

      I dont see the details of Shawns flight in terms of dates and hours and stops, but if there is availability for first/business, I would stretch this out like a mofocca as much as I can.

      Like 10+ days straight and CLEAN HOUSE! TEAM NO SLEEP!

    • I don’t think it is possible to get the challenge anymore. It was something that died pretty quickly. You can ask AA if they will give you a challenge, but they normally charge.

  16. How cool! Thanks for sharing all. Three questions.

    1) Are there other airlines that make sense to do mileage runs on if American doesn’t work for you because of geography? We have such a small airport locally that American isn’t here.

    2) Does it make any sense to consider using a second airline like American out of SFO? Which is our hub to the world.

    3) Is there any reason not to combine mileage runs with a real vacation like a week in Costa Rica or Nicaragua?

    If anyone does make it to Panama I would consider seeing if you can tour the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. They are doing some amazing work discovering new species in the canopy.

    Thanks,
    Dirk

    • Well in this case I am trying to get status on American, so I really need to fly them or their partners internationally. Some people relocate to another airport when doing mileage runs.

      Out of SFO United is probably the overall biggest airline. American really only flies form there to their hubs.

      Definitely not. Combining mileage runs with vacation is a great idea. In this case I’ll have a day in Panama, but I have a tight schedule since I have other plans shortly after I get back.

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