With just under two months left in the year, it’s a good time to start looking at your elite qualifying activity and finalize your status goals for the year. Are you at 40 elite qualifying nights with Hyatt or Starwood? It might be a good time to decide whether you want to go for Diamond or Platinum status, respectively.
Are you at 80,000 elite qualifying miles for the year with American, United, or US Airways? It might be worth thinking about whether you’ll achieve top tier status with your current travel plans or not. If you won’t, it might be worth considering whether or not a couple of mileage runs would make sense for you.
While it’s not something we usually see from hotels, it’s pretty normal for airlines to offer an opportunity to “buy up” to status at the end of the year. It’s rarely cheap and almost always comes with a lot of fine print, but if you’re desperate enough it is worth considering.
For example, last year American AAdvantage offered an Elite Boost offer, whereby if you were within 5,000-10,000 miles of earning a status tier, you could “buy up” to that tier. Rates were high. For example, if you had 95,000 elite qualifying miles and wanted to “buy up” to Executive Platinum status, it would cost you $1,199.
I’d never voluntarily pay that, but at the same time if I happened to end the year with that many EQMs, mileage running wasn’t an option, and I had a decent amount of travel planned the following year, I think that’s well worth it for eight systemwide upgrades, unlimited complimentary domestic upgrades, etc.
Last year the Elite Boost offer was rolled out on November 8. While we haven’t heard anything official this year yet, JonNYC notes that in the past couple of days aa.com/elite has been updated from:
Thanks for stopping by
This promotion has ended.
Thanks for stopping by
So I think it’s safe to assume that this promotion will be returning this year, probably this week. I’d expect prices to be at least as high as they were last year, if not higher. I’d also expect that AAdvantage won’t be doing any “rouding up” of status, given the published ways to buy up to status under this program.
Make sure you plan your travel and get those mileage runs booked before the end of the year, so you don’t end up paying 20+ cents per elite qualifying mile!
Looks like they are running the buy-up:
I only have lowly gold status which, looking at the AA website would end early 2015 if I don't meet status again. Stupid question, but what is the deadline for flying the EQMs needed to retain status? Is it end of year. Confusing given my status doesn't appear to expire at end of year but rather early 2015.
Second stupid question. If I lose status, will I lose my 500 mile upgrades earned?
@ Pam -- The qualification period is based on the calendar year, though regardless of whether or not you requalify, the status is valid through the end of February.
Apparently, US has updated their "Buy up to Preferred" link as well... Now reads:
"As part of our merger with American Airlines, we’re updating our Buy up to Preferred program.
Please check back soon for new offer details."
I've always been a little confused about how the 8 system wide AA upgrades can be used. Are they eligible on award redemptions? I've redeemed award tix next yr to China for my fiancée and I and if these could be upgraded I would def consider buying up to EP with AA.
@ Dub Z -- Nope, but they're valid on all revenue fares for flights operated and marketed by American.
Looks like US is likely to offer the same thing. It used to say the program has ended, but now says "As part of our merger with American Airlines, we’re updating our Buy up to Preferred program. Please check back soon for new offer details. "
I'm at 29 AA segments flown this year, so I booked a mileage run 1-way 1-stop flight for $90 that will bump me to 31 segments and qualify me for AA Gold. Using 4,000 Southwest miles for the return flight.
Is a flight likely the cheapest, easiest way to get Gold status? Any chance AA would qualify me at 29 segments if I ask nicely?
I'm further away from Gold on miles and points than on segments.
@ Jason -- I certainly wouldn't count on them qualifying you with 29 segments, since they'll likely be wanting to sell it to you. I'd say that's not a bad option at all, assuming you have the time.
AA gave me complimentary Gold Status about two months ago, which runs out at the end of the year. I cannot fly enough to keep my status by the end of 2014, but do have some trips upcoming in early 2015 that might let me do it. Any chance I could ask for an extension and get it? If so, what is the best way to go about it?
@ Bryan -- Highly doubt they'd extend it, unfortunately. Your best bet would be to do as much flying as you can in the first two months of the year, while you're still Gold. If you fly enough in that time period you could have no lapse in status.