My strategy for participating in American’s Fast Track to Elite promotion (H3TLI)

American Airlines Strategy

A week ago today, American Airlines announced a promotion called “Fast Track to Elite” whereby once registered, non-elites who fly 30,000 miles between now and the end of the year can earn top-tier (Executive Platinum) status for all of 2014. Gold and Platinum could also be reached much faster with this promotion:

American Airlines Fast Track to Elite promo
Details of the American Airlines Fast Track to Elite promo

Depending on how you look at it, the release of the offer was either a big mistake or a huge success for AA. News of the offer spread like wildfire, and it was pulled within a few hours of being released. Some say that releasing it publicly to everyone was a mistake and that it should have been privately offered to select individuals – while others insist that it was a brilliant planned event to secure a lot of dedicated new AA flyers for 2014. Either way, this is a pretty big deal.

I’m not normally one to jump on these kinds of promos, primarily because I don’t like being tied down to one airline or alliance. But this one seemed far too good to be true so I didn’t hesitate to sign up as soon as I saw it posted on twitter. Even while signing up, I wasn’t sure I’d follow through on it.

Even though the offer has been closed, American said that they will honor it to those who successfully signed up for it before they pulled it down. I have documented proof that I registered in time (in the form of a confirmation email), so that means that I am good to go.

I think I’m going to do it. The primary motivation for putting my butt in an airline seat for 30k miles over the next four months is the upgrades. With this offer, I’ll get 8 SWU’s which will come in very handy over the next year for sure. I’m not sure how they will be used, but between convincing my wife to travel with me somewhere internationally, or using them to upgrade her parents coming to visit us from Japan, they will definitely come in handy.

Besides, the thought of doing some mileage running this fall sounds fun to me – it’s been a long time since I’ve done this sort of thing.

Some other things to know about my situation:

  • I’ve got approximately 23,000 flown miles on AA so far this year (well, most of that was on British Airways but credited to AA), so I’m going to make Gold halfway through the first trip.
  • Even though I’ve put 23,000 miles in my AA account this year, I am not a regular AA flyer. I had no intention of flying with them any more this year – or next year.
  • All of my flying is personal – I don’t do any flying for business. That means I’ve got to schedule these mileage runs for weekends.
  • We’ve already got a trans-Pacific trip to Japan planned for late September (on UA/ANA) and another short domestic trip for mid-October (on SW). Combine those with this 30k run, and I’ve got a lot of flying to do this over the next four months. For some, this would be easy – but for me – that’s a lot of flying.
  • I currently don’t hold status with any other airline.

Here is my planned itinerary for this 30k run:

  1. SAN-DFW-TPA-ORD-SAN (4835 miles). Reason: it was the cheapest transcon I could find out of San Diego for the particular weekend I wanted to fly.
  2. SAN-LAX-JFK-LAX-SAN (5186 miles). Reason: I want to fly the 767-200 on this route one last time before they are retired and replaced by A321’s.
  3. SAN-LAX-HNL-LAX-SAN (5330 miles). Reason: Because Hawaii…even though it’ll just be an out-and-back trip with no time to stay and enjoy.
  4. SAN-NRT-SIN-NRT-SAN (17763 miles). Reason: this will be my first chance to fly the 787. It’ll be my first time on Japan Airlines as well.

Total: 33,114 miles

At the time of this writing, only the TPA trip has been booked. I will make Gold halfway through that run, so I’ll wait to return before I book anything else (so I get get preferred seating for free). With that said, the rest of the listed trips are subject to change because price is my ultimate goal here. I’m looking to do this as cheaply as possible, but I’m willing to spend a few extra dollars if necessary for convenience.

So that’s the plan. Assuming all goes well, I’ll be Executive Platinum by middle to late December!

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