American Airlines Changes: Should I Risk My EXP Status?

I was pretty pumped when American Airlines made an announcement earlier this week about their 2015 program.  In case you missed it, you can see my post about it here.  A quick summary:

  • Domestic upgrades stay mostly the same for American elites, with the exception that upgrades on flights less than 500 miles are now free.
  • The American Airlines program will maintain 3 levels (Gold, Platinum and Executive Platinum) with virtually the same qualifications as before, with the exception of needing 120 segments to get to Executive Platinum.
  • No changes to their award chart.
  • Miles flown on US Airways will be combined with your miles flown on American Airlines for consideration of million mile lifetime benefits.
  • American Airlines will combine your 2014 US Airways and American Airlines EQMs to determine your 2015 status level.

Yup, that last one is my problem.

You see, I have enough elite qualifying miles combined on US Airways and American Airlines to requalify for Executive Platinum (EXP) this year.  But, separately, I’m a bit short on the American Airlines side.

I have a mileage run scheduled for a couple of weeks from now that would give me enough miles to requalify for EXP by the end of 2014.  But, here’s what American says is going to happen:

On March 1, 2015, your elite status will be determined based on your elite-qualifying activity in each program individually.

In the second quarter of 2015, we’ll integrate our Dividend Miles program into the AAdvantage program with three elite levels.

Your mileage balance, elite-qualifying activity and million mile balance will be moved into a new AAdvantage account or merged into your existing AAdvantage account

If I scrap the mileage run, that means I’m risking a couple of things.  First and foremost, I’m risking that I’ll have Executive Platinum status on March 1st.  American says they’ll combine those balances in the second quarter of 2015 (April to June).  That means I may have to wait up to 4 months, but maybe only as little as a month.

Things could happen more quickly, and they could also run behind.  Previous large airline mergers have mostly been a disaster from a technical standpoint (See US Airways/America West, Northwest/Delta, United/Continental).  If something went wrong, I could be staring at an awful lot of time in the air without the status I value most.

And, I won’t have access to systemwide upgrades (SWUs, also referred to as digital gold amongst the legacy US carrier benefits) until I requalify for EXP.

Or, I fly one mileage run, taking a day away from my family.  The itinerary?

Depart DCA at 10am, connect in PHX, arrive in ANC (Anchorage, Alaska for those playing at home) a bit after 10pm.  Board a flight 2 hours later, just after midnight, to PHX, connect and arrive back at DCA around 4pm the next day.  Likely to be at least some flights in coach, since the ability to get upgrades early on US Airways is limited.

What would you choose?

Weigh in with your thoughts.  I’ll likely tweet a coffee or two out for responses that entertain or interest me.

27 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t chance it if your so close. You’re taking a big gamble that the IT departments will actually have their stuff together.

    1. Perryplatypus, I know. I’ve been lulled into complacency because AA has been doing so well executing so far on the merger. But, still very early days.

  2. I am planning a NY Hawaii and back via LA–
    Do you know if, as last year, we are a few miles short whether we can pay to retain EP?

    1. Maria, good question and no firm answer yet. They did have a program last year but it was generally cheaper to mileage run if you were very close. And, if you literally are a few miles, there have been lots of reports of folks calling the executive offices and asking for a bit of clemency and receiving it. But, as Perryplatypus says, you’re leaving it to chance.

  3. it is funny that you are on the same mileage run that i am planning.. (i have to do 2 of these MR) But i think few days away is well worth the benwfits of EXP status.

  4. I’m MR-ing to HKG as well in Nov. Grabbed a point and money night at the Conrad yesterday too! Dont want to risk EXP, especially with the recent announcement.

  5. Don’t risk it! Do it 🙂
    I just signed for the US challenge since I didn’t fly enough this year to retain EXP. Hopefully I can find some low fares to Asia or ANC soon.

  6. Don’t do it.

    That will be hard on your body, and you already work and travel enough. Stay home, spend those days with your family, and take the risk that _at worst_ you might have to spend a few months as Platinum. Those months will fly by, and you’ll be EXP before you know it.

      1. True. But it is tempting to get a small free pass once in 7 years. Or, I could drop from 1K to Gold instead of shooting for Prem Plat.

  7. I think i should book my Cathay first class to North Asia by using us points before miles combined due to the different charts since us needs 60k but aa 67.5k in one way,right?

  8. I am surprised you were crediting any flights to US.
    I would not risk it…. This might be the last year of eVIPs… They should hit your account when you requalify….the integration could very well take longer…. really reduces your flexibility in using them if a fare and upgrade space becomes available.

  9. Ed,
    Trust the AA system. (Luke, Trust the Force)
    They have *clearly* said that the combination of AA & US travel will count to 2015 status.

    Spend the time at home, & tell the wife she owes me 😉

    If it does happen to go pear shaped, it is in print how things were to be done. You calculated what you had & trusted their written word. So, at that point, you tweet Suzanne Rubin & hold her to account. And, she will honour what they promised. She has the reputation for being as good as her word. All good 🙂

    Cheers

  10. Ed,

    While I like Storyteller’s advice and really want it all to work out as planned, we all know that plans change. I too am in the same situation as you. I am going to take the trip that will take me over the top on AA and here’s why. We all know that when there is IRROPs happens, there IS a system in place to take care of those affected by irrops, but who gets the best choices and options? Those of us who take matters into our own hands and don’t wait in the physical line at customer service. Those of us that take charge of our own destiny usually gets the worm. That’s what I’m going to do and I think you should too.

    Good luck!

  11. I was going to say go for the mileage run because heaven forbid you should have to be stuck with using ‘Stickers’ (shudder) like the rest of us peons….however, Storyteller made such a good case for not…and you DO have that special ‘in’ with Suzanne Rubin….lol
    So I say take a chance and see if the system you live so much comes through for you. It’s another blog post any way you choose. 😉

  12. I was going to say go for the mileage run because heaven forbid you should have to be stuck with using ‘Stickers’ (shudder) like the rest of us peons….however, Storyteller made such a good case for not…and you DO have that special ‘in’ with Suzanne Rubin….lol
    So I say take a chance and see if the system you love so much comes through for you. It’s another blog post any way you choose. 😉

  13. Ed
    An easy solution is to email Suzanne now & just ask her, which ought to eliminate all the mystery & guesswork. If you don’t feel that’s a viable option, what you are really doing is taking the risk of gaining EXP status based on the proposed integration schedule of the new AA. As you have already pointed out, airline mergers have not been successful in keeping to timelines in the past. AA might very well be the first to do so, but their timeline has a bit of flexibility built in, which means you could be flying as a Platinum for 2-4 months. Is that acceptable? If your answer is no, then do the MR.

  14. Take the trip and use the time to blog about it and to set up skeleton outlines for future blogs. That way you can spend more quality time with the Family when you return.

  15. I have not seen anyone mention the fees for canceling your flights. I assume you have already budgeted the cost of the flights and spent those funds since the ticket is booked. Thus this becomes the cost of you maintaining your status and is well spent since you felt it was worth it at the time of booking so you receive the value of those funds. If you cancel you will spend the change fee and receive no value for it. That seems to not be worth the cost. Unless, you happen to be able to cancel for no charge if they change your flights. I would say stick with the MR.

    1. Miki, you bring up a good point about finances. I would take a $200 hit for canceling. That payment may be worth a day at home with the family if there was some chance I lose EXP for a significant period of time if I don’t do the MR. What’s your Twitter handle? This comment is worth a coffee!

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