$2,200 all-in business class fares on American to China!

A couple of days ago I posted about American’s double miles promotion (double elite qualifying miles, double elite qualifying points, and double redeemable miles for elite members) through the end of the year, and also shared thoughts for maximizing it. If you haven’t read those posts yet I’d suggest going back and reading those before continuing on this post.

There are lots of great fares to China in the off season, and as I pointed out in the previous post, it’s easy to get sub-$1,000 fares to China. That being said, for those flying without Executive Platinum status, that translates to some long flights in coach.

I was hoping for some decent premium cabin international fares, and it looks like my prayers have been answered — American has some sub-$2,200 all-in business class fares to China over the coming weeks/months. For example, out of Los Angeles I see the following routing available to Beijing:

Let’s do the basic math — that’s 17,206 flown miles, and as an Executive Platinum member you’d earn the following:

17,206 base miles
17,206 bonus miles (100% bonus for being Executive Platinum)
17,206 bonus miles (100% bonus through current promotion)
5,314 bonus miles (class of service bonus which is 50% for first class and 25% for business class)

That’s a total of 56,932 redeemable miles, 34,412 elite qualifying miles, and 51,618 elite qualifying points (since you earn 1.5 elite qualifying points per mile on the above itinerary, and the total amount is doubled). 51,618 elite qualifying points is huge, and if you’re already an elite member keep in mind it may very well get you over the threshold for 2012 Elite Rewards. In my case, for example, it would get me to the 125,000 elite qualifying point level, which would earn me another 70,000 AAdvantage miles, for a total of 144,138 redeemable miles as a result of this trip. Also keep in mind that with American all revenue tickets are upgradable using systemwide upgrades, so as an Executive Platinum member you could upgrade to first class using systemwide upgrades (and upgrade space is generally readily available).

If you don’t currently have status you wouldn’t earn that 100% bonus for being an Executive Platinum and wouldn’t earn the 100% redeemable mileage bonus through the current promotion unless you’re flying November 16 through 26, as those are dates during which American is offering everyone double redeemable miles.

This is actually a really comfortable way to get started mileage running as well. One of these trips gets you Platinum status starting from scratch, or two of these will get you Executive Platinum status. Under $4,400 for Executive Platinum status is quite decent, especially given that you won’t even have to step foot in coach.

For what it’s worth similar fares are available from many cities in the US, ranging from $2,150 to roughly $2,800 from the east coast.

The best way to search availability is to use matrix.itasoftware.com. Simply enter your desired origin and destination (Beijing seems to be the cheapest and Shanghai slightly more). Then enter “aa aa” in the box below each city, which simply means you’d like to fly American in both directions with two segments (though you can either use different scripts or add more “aa’s” to indicate that you want more segments). Then select a date range and how long you’d like to stay, and be sure to select “Business class or higher” in the drop down menu.

The next page will return a calendar with results.

From there you can always modify dates, origins, etc.

Lastly it’s worth keeping in mind that you need a visa for China, though that’s not too tough to obtain, so I wouldn’t let that be a hindrance in your decision making process.

I’ll probably take advantage of one of these fares so I can comfortably pass 125,000 elite qualifying points.

If you have a bit of disposable income I’d seriously consider taking advantage of one of these, especially if you’ve been trying to figure out a “comfortable” way to make Executive Platinum status.

Filed Under: Advice, American
  1. Great way to maintain Exec Platinum throughout 2014 since I got my status matched from United. I just need 55,000 to re-qualify!

  2. Awesome post. I’m seriously considering doing this as a kick-off to obtaining EXP (purely for fun) for 2013. I live in Vancouver, but would either fly to LAX on a reward ticket, or do this run out of SEA for a few less miles, but lets assume I depart from LAX.

    Since I do not yet have AA status, you mentioned, “One of these trips gets you Platinum status starting from scratch”. Can you help me with that math on that because I think I’m missing something?

    If the base is 17,206 miles, and I fly between Nov 16-26 for double miles, I’d only earn a total of 34,412 miles, short of the 50,000 required for Platinum, would I not?

    And if you base it on points @ 1.5 for business class, I still don’t reach 50,000 points.

    What am I missing?


  3. Hey Lucky, seriously considering doing this too! Although last year I was able to ‘buy’ Platinum status again for under $1000 (and a friend was able to ‘buy’ it back for 2 years in a row). Question is whether I would be able to ‘buy’ my status again next year? That would definitely be a cheaper option than mileage running for me. Thoughts? Thanks!

  4. @Dax – Thanks for the help. I was wondering if that was the case, but I wasn’t sure if that was “double-dipping”. i.e. you get double miles OR 1.5 points – not both. Learning is fun, but it’s also like “open mouth and insert fire hose” sometimes. 🙂

    @stacey – How on earth did you manage to “buy” Plat status for under a grand???

  5. @ jpc — You normally earn 1.5x EQPs per trip for paid business class, and that’s doubled. So each trip earns you 51K+ EQPs, as it’s 3x EQPs.

    @ Todd — You earn 17,000+ base miles, and because you’re in paid business class you earn 1.5 EQPs per dollar, so that’s over 25,000 EQPs. Then that’s doubled through this promotion, which is 51,000 EQPs.

    @ stacey — It’s anyone’s guess, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they offer it again since they’re not really in a position to turn down cash right now.

    @ shids — Only 1.5x EQPs. 1x EQM per mile.

  6. @ jpc — Well I’ve already qualified for Executive Platinum on EQMs, though I’ll qualify for the Elite Rewards on EQPs.

  7. DL appears to be matching. Just got FLL-PEK-PVG-FLL for $2493. DL’s flat bed is far superior than AA or UA IMHO. 2/14-21

  8. This is a great deal for anyone without kids, a wife, a demanding job and other personal commitments.

    For me, this would put me over 125k EQPs and get me ELTAA, but I can’t take time off work, have at least one weekend before the end of the year that I’ll be shooting a TV commercial, a birthday and Thanksgiving coming up…

    As awesome as this deal is, I just couldn’t do this even if I wanted to…

  9. @ Jason — Definitely a better business class product, though with American you can upgrade to first class and earn valuable miles. 😀

  10. Lucky, if United is matching and you were at 0 EQM with AA and just shy of 25k EQM with UA would you still go the AA route?

  11. @ Dax — That’s a toughie. I guess it comes down to what your status goals are for next year. Would status with American or United be more useful? I’d go with whichever airline it would be more useful for given your travel patterns.

  12. I just read the AAdvantage Geek blog and he has posted this statement that the EQ-points earned will not count toward Elite Rewards…

    “Do the bonus elite-qualifying points count toward AAdvantage Elite Rewards? No. From the terms and conditions “This offer does not increment the member’s prize eligible mileage balance”.”

    Ben… What’s your take on that? If the EQ-points don’t count for Elite Rewards, there’s no need to make a MR to Beijing (haven’t bought a ticket yet). I hope the Geek is wrong!

  13. @ Mary Beth — I don’t think AAdvantageGeek is correct. There’s nothing in the T&Cs of the Elite Rewards saying that promotional EQPs don’t count. I think that verbiage is specifically stating that it doesn’t add to your Million Miler balance, or if you’re a Gold/Platinum go towards your 10K miles needed to earn the next set of sticker upgrades.

    I’m 90% sure I’m right, though I’m seeking clarification right now, and will post here when I have confirmation.

    Thanks for bringing that up. 🙂

  14. Okay, I’m in… got two PEK trips booked over the next few weeks.

    Any recommendations for hotels near the PEK airport (looks like there’s a Hilton), and what one should do with one or two full days/nights in Beijing?

  15. @ gstork — If you want to stay near the airport that’s definitely the best option. It has been years since I’ve been to Beijing so I wouldn’t be the person to ask for specific recommendations, though there’s a lot to do and I’d definitely venture into the city.

  16. @ Alan — The fare isn’t available for flights departing the US anymore, and I haven’t seen any similar fares for flights departing Asia.

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