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One World

Easiest Ways To Get Elite Airline Status

At the Chicago Seminars, Mommy Points had an excellent presentation about Airline Elite Status.

While I have plenty of free Hotel Elite Status, I do not have any Airline Elite Status.

After Mommy Points presentation I decided that next year I am going to try and shoot for Top Tier Status on 1 Airline, either United or American, to see what all the fuss is about ; )

That being said, the thought of flying 100,000 Butt In Seat (BIS) Miles does not particularly appeal to me, so it was great to hear about some loopholes in Mommy Points presentation.

Aegean Airlines

For those of you not familiar with Aegean Airlines (wikipedia page), don’t worry, neither was I when I first heard of them.

Aegean Airlines is a Greek Airline that is part of Star Alliance.

What is “interesting” about Aegean’s frequent flyer program is how low the qualifications are for Star Alliance Silver and Gold Elite Status.

While on United or most other Star Alliance Members, it would take 25,000 BIS Miles to earn Star Alliance Silver Status, on Aegean it is only 4,000.

What is even better is that with the current sign up, you get 2,000 Miles Sign Up Bonus, so that 4,000 Miles for Silver is now only 2,000 Miles!

Link To Sign Up For Aegean Airline’s Frequent Flyer Program

For Star Alliance Gold Status, on United or most Star Alliance Members, it would take 50,000 BIS Miles. With Aegean it is only 20,000 Miles!.

Once you factor in the 2,000 Sign Up Bonus, it is actually only 18,000!

Once you have Aegean Elite Status, because they are a Star Alliance Member, you get Star Alliance Silver or Gold Status, which gives you free checked bags, priority security, lounge access, etc.

The only thing you don’t get is upgrades on United, because those are reserved for MileagePlus Elites : (

That being said, given how easy it is to get Aegean Star Alliance Silver status, I suggest everyone go for that because at a minimum you will get free checked bags as a Star Alliance Silver.

The best part about this whole thing is that you don’t even ever have to step foot on an Aegean Airplane to earn this Status. Simply credit a United or US Airways flight to them and you are good.

Only thing to watch out for is that most of the discount fares on United only earn 50% credit with Aegean. A full list of earning % by fare class can be found here.

However Aegean is pretty awesome in that they give 500 Mile Minimums for United flights, so to hit the 2,000 miles needed for Aegean Silver, you can simply credit 4 segments (500 Miles earned each segment) to Aegean!

All US Airways fares earn 100% on Aegean.

If you have a long flight to Asia or Australia, I’d also recommend crediting it to Aegean.

Remember you only need 18,000 miles for Star Alliance Gold with Aegean, so 1 trip to Australia or Asia, and you are set.

Of course, I wouldn’t fly to Australia or Asia just for fun to earn this status but if you have a trip planned anyways, Aegean is the way to go.

Now if the low Elite Status qualification threshold wasn’t enough, the real kicker is that apparently as of right now, once you qualify for Elite Status, it is more or less indefinite as long as you credit a flight to Aegean every 3 years.

Gary from View From The Wing had a great piece about it and the specifics.

Of course, Aegean could change this policy at anytime.

As I’ve stated many times before, most of the miles we earn now come from Credit Cards.

So even crediting 18,000 Miles to Aegean for Star Alliance Gold Status isn’t a huge deal when you can easily earn 65,000 United Miles by signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase INK Bold.

The next time I fly on United, my plan is to simply make sure the ticket has 1 stop on each leg, so I can get the four 500 Mile Minimums and get Star Alliance Silver Status!

Turkish Status Match

While this Turkish Status Match trick won’t help you if you don’t have status, it is certainly useful if you do have status.

One of the really dumb quirks of United is that even if you are a Premier Gold Elite with them (50,000+ BIS Miles a year), you only have access to the Red Carpet Lounges if you are flying internationally.

If you have to fly Chicago to New York for work every week, you don’t get lounge access, but if you were flying Chicago to anywhere outside the U.S, you would get lounge access.

For anyone that has been in a United Red Carpet Lounge, it is not really anything special.

The marginal benefits are Free Internet, Free Beer & Wine, and comfy chairs.

If you are an United Elite and travel primarily in the US for work, you never have lounge access. Your only options would be purchase United Club Membership for a whopping $375 – $425 or get United Club Credit Card that has a $395 annual fee.

Both of those options are terrible, so if you have any Star Alliance Gold, One World Emerald, or Skyteam Elite Plus Status, I’d recommend Status Matching to Turkish Airways.

Again, View From The Wing has all the details.

Normally Airline Carriers don’t Status Match to other Airlines in their alliance because they are essentially poaching from their Business Partners, but Turkish has decided to buck the trend and do just that.

So if you have status on any of the above Alliances, I strongly suggest Status Matching to Turkish Airways.

It is free, and you don’t even have to credit any miles to them.

Once they approve you, they will send you a Turkish Airways Star Alliance Gold Card, and with that you will have access to all United Lounges, regardless if you are flying domestically or internationally!

While Turkish isn’t like Aegean in that the Status is indefinite, they do give you 2 full years of status and 2 years to re-qualify if you choose.

AA Challenge

All of the above examples focus on Star Alliance, but if you don’t have any Status an want to get status quickly, I’d recommend doing an AA Challenge.

More information can be found here.

With a Status Match (as talked about above), the Airline matches you to their program once they verify that you have Status with another Airline.

With a Status Challenge, you will receive the Status, but you have to complete some sort of requirement.

Basically it is just to make sure you are serious and not just getting the Status so you can get free lounge access with United…

For AA’s Status Challenge, there is a fee involved of $120 – $240 depending on what level you are shooting for.

In addition, for Platinum you need to earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Points in 3 months. For Gold, it is 5,000 EQP in 3 months.

Elite Qualifying Points are different than Elite Qualifying Miles. Basically, if you fly discounted fares, you will only earn .5 EQP instead of 1 EQP per 1 Mile Flown.

A full chart of Elite Qualifying Points by Fare Class can be found here.

The reason why this Challenge is important is that if you have a big trip coming up (Asia, Australia, etc), you can easily earn Status with American in a single trip.

So assuming that you buy the cheapest fare that only earns .5 EQP per 1 Mile Flown, a trip from New York to Australia via LAX would put you at around 20,000 miles, which would still meet the 10,000 EQP requirement.

Similarly, if you are going for Gold Status and need to earn 5,000 EQP, a simple Los Angeles to Paris trip would earn you 11,300 Miles. Even if you were earning .5 EQP per 1 Mile Flown due to a discounted fare, you would still pass the 5,000 EQP needed to complete the Challenge.

Unfortunately, I only recently learned about these AA Challenges, or I would have definitely done one when I flew on paid Economy tickets to Australia, Europe, and India in my younger days!

Recap

Hopefully if you don’t currently have Elite Status and are thinking about getting some, you now have some easy ways to earn it without having to fly 100,000 Miles.

While earning Elite Status is not for everyone due to the time and money involved, the benefits of Elite Status can be significant depending on your Elite level.

The perks can really add up when you factor in how much you save on ticket changes fees, baggage fees, as well as free upgrades, lounge access, etc.

Although you do have to pay a small fee for the AA Challenge, once you complete the 10,000 EQP requirement, you will have full AA Platinum status.

As you have seen with Turkish Airline offer above, once you have Status with one Airline, it is very easy to simply Status Match to another Airline.

So even if you only earn Status in 1 year, you can very easily Status Match to another Airline for the next year! Check StatusMatcher.com for more information,

If you have any questions, please let me know!

-Parag

British Airways 100,000 Avios Points Offer Breakdown

UPDATE: OFFER HAS EXPIRED & IS NO LONGER VALID

 British Airways 100,000 Avios Points Offer

If you have been reading the blogosphere, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the new Chase British Airways 100,000 Avios (the name for their miles program) Credit Card offer.

If you did sign up for the Sapphire Preferred last month, and are interested in this new British Airways offer, I would wait at least 1 month to apply.

You wouldn’t want to give Chase the impression that you are only signing up for the miles ; )

While some other bloggers have complained that this offer isn’t technically as good as the original “100,000” Avios Points offer from 2010 and 2011, I personally think that this British Airways card is now the BEST current Credit Card offer available!

For those of you new to the hobby, back in 2010 and 2011, the offer for the British Airways card was 50,000 Avios Points after you signed up and another 50,000 Avios Points after $2,500 or so of minimum spend in 3 months.

The current offer for the British Airways card is 50,000 Avios Points after 1st purchase, an additional 25,000 Avios Points after you spend $10,000 in 1 year, and an additional 25,000 Avios Points if you spend more than $20,000 in 1 year.

From an initial analysis, it would look as if Chase is trying to pull a fast one on us, since to earn the full 100,000 Avios, you would have to spend $20,000 in 1 year.

Since that is not exactly feasible for everyone, it seems that many people have written off this offer and are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the next “big” deal.

I 100% understand because I personally don’t think I could spend $20,000 in a year without spending it on stuff that I don’t actually need.

However when you break down the offer and look at how valuable British Airway Avios are, this is actually a GREAT offer!

I did the original British Airways 100,000 mile offer back in March 2010, and I wish I could jump in on it again due to the amount of free trips that 1 sign up bonus got me!

The Benefits

In addition to the 100,000 Avios sign up offer, the British Airways Credit Card also offers the following benefits:

  • 1.25 Avios per $1 Spent
  • 2.5 Avios per $1 Spent on British Airways
  • Free Companion Ticket If You Spend $30,000 In 1 Year (Can be used in conjunction with miles!)
  • Chip & Pin Technology (Great for Europe)
  • No International Transaction Fees

What The 100,000 Avios Sign Up Offer Really Means

Tier 1

The easiest way to look at this offer is to break it up into 3 spending tiers.

If you signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred offer last month you know that Ultimate Rewards points are transferable to partners like United and British Airways.

Let says you really like British Airways and you got the Chase Sapphire Preferred last month solely because you wanted to convert the 50,000 UR points into 50,000 British Airway Avios.

In that case, to get the full 50,000 UR points needed to convert into 50,000 Avios,  you would have to spend $3,000 in 3 months to meet the minimum spend requirement on the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Not as bad as $10,000 in 3 month, but $3,000 is still $3,000.

When looking at the new British Airways offer, to get the first 50,000 Avios, all you have to do is sign up for the Card and use it once.

The end.

Although there is a $95 annual fee that is not waived, there also is no minimum spend requirement! In my eyes, those cross each other out.

I wish there was an annual fee for the first year on the Chase INK Bold, so I didn’t have to spend $5,000 in 3 months! It would make life a lot easier.

The best thing about this new British Airways offer is that even if you don’t think you can complete the $10,000 or $20,000 spend to get the full 100,000 Avios, just by signing up for this Card, you would get 50,000 Avios, no questions asked!

If you and your travel partner (spouse, friend, lover, child, etc.) both signed up for this Card, without doing any additional spending, you would have 100,000 Avios between the two of you. Not bad!

Tier 2

For the sake of this example, lets say you and your travel partner both signed up for the Card.

As you can see above, you both would already have 50,000 Avios each.

The next tier of this offer is an additional 25,000 Avios if you spend $10,000 in 1 year.

Now before you see the $10,000 and pass on the offer, remember that is $10,000 spent over 1 year.

This equates to only $833.33 a month per a person!

My rent alone is $750 a month!

Plus also remember that you can use Amazon Payments which allows you to transfer up to $1,000 a month for free!

Just by using Amazon Payments, you both should be able to spend the minimum $10,000 spend in 1 year, at no cost to you!

Another cool thing is that these offers fail to incorporate the points you earn from completing the minimum spend.

Unlike most Credit Cards, the British Airway Card earns 1.25 Avios per $1 spent.

This means if you completed the $10,000 spend in 1 year, you would earn $10,000 x 1.25 Avios = 12,500 Avios.

This 12,500 Avios is on top of the 25,000 Avios you will get for meeting the $10,000 spend.

So if you complete the $10,000 spend in 1 year, you will get:

50,000 Sign Up Bonus (Tier 1) + 12,500 In Actual Spend (Tier 2) + 25,000 Spend Bonus (Tier 2) = 87,500 Avios

If your travel partner also signs up and also completes the $10,000 spend, then that is 87,500 Avios for them too!

So between the 2 of you, that is 175,000 Avios!

Wow!

Tier 3

If you can spend an additional $10,000, on top of the first $10,000, in the span of 1 year, then you will get an additional 25,000 Avios.

This would bring the entire yearly spend to $20,000 per a person.

Now I will be honest and say that completing the required spend for Tier 3 is a bit much unless you condense all of your family’s spending onto 1 British Airways card.

So to get the entire 100,000 Avios offer, you would need to spend $20,000 in 1 year, which is $1,666 a month.

If you and your travel partner sign up, then between the 2 of you, that means spending $3,222 a month to complete the Tier 3 spend.

In the event that you can complete the minimum spend for Tier 3, you will earn:

50,000 Sign Up Bonus (Tier 1)  + 12,500 Actual Spend (Tier 2) + 25,000 Spend Bonus (Tier 2) + 12,500 Spend Bonus (Tier 3) + 25,000 Actual Spend (Tier 3)  = 125,000 Avios.

If you and your travel partner both spend $20,000 in 1 year and complete Tier 3, you will have 250,000 Avios between the both of you!

What To Spend All Those Avios On

As you can see instead of simply calling their frequent flyer miles, “miles”, British Airways decided to name their “miles” and the mileage program, Avios.

In my old posts, I refused to call them Avios and continued to use “miles”, but then British Airway’s PR team emailed me to correct me on my “mistake”, so now I call them Avios.

I am not sure why British Airways came up with such a dumb name for their program but the name change came when, to the dismay of many frequent flyers, British Airways “gutted” their award chart by switching to a distance based format.

This switch got rid of ridiculously generous partner redemptions like using 80,000 BA miles for Business Class award ticket from U.S to Asia on Cathay Pacific.

European Vacation

The ironic thing about British Airway Avios is that they are worthless if you want to travel to Europe.

This is because when flying to Europe, British Airways forces you to fly only on British Airways and you have to stop in London.

It doesn’t matter if you can find a direct award flight on American Airlines (which is a OneWorld Alliance Partner), you still have to fly British Airways.

Why is this bad?

Because British Airways imposes STEEP fuel surcharges on British Airway award tickets, and London Heathrow also has some expensive airport duties.

For example, say you wanted to go to Paris in September and use your Avios for an award ticket.

You might think that since it is an award ticket, you will only have to pay the menial $100 in taxes on the ticket .

Think again!

Not only would you not be able to fly direct to Paris even if there was an available flight on American Airlines, but it would also cost you 49,000 Avios and $668.24 in “Taxes, Fees, Charges, and Surcharges”!

Yes, $668.24 ON AN AWARD TICKET!

However looking on Kayak.com for the same travel dates for a flight to Paris, you could pay only $794 on Finnair.

Before you laugh at flying on Finnair, when you read the fine print, you can see the flight is actually run by American Airlines!

So for only $126 more, you could save 49,000 Avios and actually earn some miles on your flight to Paris!

Domestic Flights

Before you get all depressed thinking Avios are worthless, there is one good thing about British Airways!

In switching to a distance based award system, they made their domestic redemption options amazing!

Even though British Airways doesn’t fly domestically in the United States, you can redeem Avios on their OneWorld partner, American Airlines.

This means that there aren’t any ridiculous fuel surcharges since you aren’t flying British Airways.

So what use to be a flat 25,000 miles between cities in the USA is now variable, based on distance.

The Avios calculator can be found here, but below are some examples of how useful Avios can be for short domestic flights.

For example, while on United, Delta, and American, a free flight from Chicago to New York would cost you 25,000 miles, using your British Airway Avios to fly on American Airlines, it would only cost you 15,000 Avios round-trip. That is a difference of 10,000 miles!

Similarly for a flight from New York to Washington D.C, which would typically cost 25,000 miles on any other airline, is now only 9,000 Avios round-trip.

Although saving 5,000 or 10,000 miles per a ticket is great, the benefits become readily apparent when you look at how much you save on family travel.

If you have a family of 4 and wanted to take your 2 kids to Disney in August, redeeming miles for 4 award tickets on any other airline at a minimum would cost 25,000 miles a person, so 100,000 miles total.

Using British Airways Avios to fly on American Airlines, it would only cost you only 7,500 Avios each way per a person, so 15,000 each round trip.

In other words, ONLY 60,000 Avios for 4 people!

You would save 40,000 miles compared to if you had redeemed miles on United, Delta, or even on American!

That is insane!

What makes this an even better deal is when you look at how much the cheapest flight to Orlando costs in August, a cool $265 a person, or $1,060 for 4 people!

So if you signed up for this British Airways card, and completed the Tier 2 $10,000 spend, you would have enough miles for at least 4 tickets to pretty much anywhere in the U.S. As you can see below, at a minimum you would save $1,060!

If your travel partner signed up, then you would have enough Avios for at least 8 trips in the U.S.

I’ve had the Card in the past, and even I am still amazed at how valuable these Avios are!

 Final Review

While at first this new British Airways “100,000” Avios offer may look unattainable, as you can see you don’t need to spend the full $20,000 to reap the full benefits of this sign up bonus!

If you are your travel partner both were to sign up for the card and only make 1 transaction each, you would have a total of 100,000 Avios at your disposal!

While British Airway Avios are not useful for traveling to Europe, they can be EXTREMELY valuable for short flights in the Continental United States. This is exactly what I use them for!

I have already had this Card in 2010 so I am not eligible for the sign up bonus, but if I was I would jump on this in a heart beat!

If you have any questions about British Airways, Chase, How To Use Avios, etc, you can always email me at FrequentFlyerUniversity@gmail.com.

I always have my iPhone on me, so I typically respond ASAP!

-Parag

 

1,000 American Airlines & British Airway Miles & A Movie Recommendation

UPDATE: Looks like OneWorld has pulled the 1,000 point language from the site, so more than likely they aren’t giving the 1,000 point bonus anymore. : (

OneWorld alliance launched a game today that will get you 1,000 miles per an account.

Although it technically is for the first 20,000 people, there was a glitch this afternoon in which the site wasn’t working properly. After a barrage of angry tweets, it seems like the site is back up and working. Although it was suppose to cap at 20,000 contestants, I just did it and it still seems to be working fine.

I suspect that OneWorld will honor this promotion past the first 20,000 people due to the errors this afternoon and the fact that the game is still up and running.

The promotion is free and takes all of 3 minutes to complete.

LINK

You can register multiple frequent flyer programs for this promotion. So you can play once, and put down your American Airlines number, and then play again and put down you British Airway number, etc.

The following airlines are participating:

  • British Airways
  • American Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • LAN
  • Qantas
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Siberia Airlines

OTHER NEWS:

So taking my own advice, this past week I signed up for Netflix to get 3,000 AA miles for $8. While I was working on some upcoming blog posts this weekend, I randomly picked a movie on Netflix and had it playing in the background.

The movie I randomly picked was called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. WOW! What an amazing movie!

It is about this Australian guy that comes to the U.S and road trips across America for 60 days trying to lose weight and learn more about why we are so overweight.

I am sure there are a bunch of us (myself included) that made New Years Resolutions to lose weight back on January 1, 2012 and yet after 2 short months we are back to our same old bad habits.

If you need motivation to lose weight or get back in shape, I STRONGLY SUGGEST YOU WATCH THIS MOVIE!

While Frequent Flyer University is obviously a blog about frequent flying, I also like talk about financial health (ie Credit Scores), but sometimes it is also important to occasionally talk about personal health.

The other interesting thing about this movie is that the main character, Joe Cross, is an Australian Road Warrior who is obviously a frequent flyer because in his cartoon montage, he included a Qantas A380 complete with First Class seats and the Bathroom Suite (although I’m not sure if Qantas’s A380s have the Emirates A380 bathrooms).

I know there are a lot of Road Warriors out there that spend most of their days either up in the air or at hotels, where dining decisions are based on whatever is most convenient. While I wish I had a job where I could travel and collect all those miles, I can only imagine the impact such a lifestyle has on your health.

Anyways at a minimum, I hope you take 2 minutes to watch the trailer! I promise that you won’t be disappointed and you will probably want to visit Sydney after viewing it!

If you want to watch the full movie, it is conveniently on Hulu for free, or if you took part in the Netflix deal then you can also find it on there.

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead Trailer

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead on Hulu

If you have seen the movie before or have tried any of his methods, please comment and let me know what you think!

-Parag