✈️ Let's talk about American Airlines...

✈️ Let's talk about American Airlines...

Estimated read time: 5 minutes and 27 seconds

I love learning about strange airline routes. Check out this list of 9 of the strangest nonstop, long-haul flights from around the world.

Good morning from the ANA lounge at Tokyo’s Haneda airport.

Today has been one of those “I got to the airport and found out I got the wrong kind of visa to the country I’m flying to, so I threw a last-minute hail mary and managed to get ahold of the right visa just minutes before the deadline to check in for my flight, so now I’m drinking beer after almost getting stranded in Japan” kind of days.

So… yeah...

Needless to say, I’m both exhausted and relieved. But not too exhausted to share some wicked awesome stuff with you, so let’s jump in:

  • 🌍 Daily Drop Travel Tournament: Day 2

  • ✈️ How to gamify American Airlines’ loyalty program to the extreme

🌍 Daily Drop Travel Tournament: Day 2

Yesterday, y’all voted on your favorite airlines and bucket list destinations. And I gotta say; some of the results are shocking.

But you’ll have to wait a little while to see them 😉

But today is even more exciting than yesterday because we’re having the first round of voting for the final two categories; Points/Loyalty Programs and Travel Perks.

As a reminder, simply vote for your favorite option from each poll below. We’ll use the results to determine winners from pre-determined sets of head-to-head pairs.

Ready? Let’s go!!

If you're reading on the web, voting has closed for this round.  But we'll be sharing the results in future Daily Drops!

Next time, we’ll tell you which contenders made it to the next round, and you’ll vote on who progresses even further. It’s going to be crazy.

✈️ Let’s talk about American Airlines

A reader reached out the other day asking if we could talk about American Airlines’ loyalty program.

And then I realized; we NEVER talk about AA… and that’s bad.

It’s bad because American Airlines has what may be the single most fun loyalty program in the U.S., and possibly the most rewarding.

If you don’t know about the new AA program (which recently underwent some changes), your mind is about to be blown.

Oh, and if you live abroad, you should read this…

So, let’s talk about American Airlines.

Basically, the AAdvantage program is based around Loyalty Points, which are earned in a variety of ways. The more Loyalty Points you earn, the more benefits you unlock.

But here’s the kicker:

The best and easiest ways to earn Loyalty Points don’t require you to ever fly with American Airlines.

So that means anybody can earn tons of points, rewards, and elite status by sitting at home on your couch and playing the game in the right way.

It also means that foreigners who want to earn OneWorld elite status (like those who fly British Airways or Qantas) can also benefit from this program.

Loyalty Points aren’t just a currency to get you elite status. Every Loyalty Point you earn is also an American Airlines mile, which you can redeem for free flights on AA and tons of great partner airlines like Qatar and Etihad.

Let me show you some easy ways to gamify this program, rack up thousands of dollars worth of miles, and earn elite status with one or two purchases…

Prepare yourselves…

Here are the main ways you can earn loyalty points:

I know this is a lot to take in, so let’s look at an example that illustrates how this all works in practice.

The best way to rack up Loyalty Points quickly is to use the AAdvantage travel and shopping portals. If you book a hotel, for example, you can earn tons of Loyalty Points on that stay.

Since I’m in Japan, I ran a quick search in the AA travel portal for hotels in Osaka, and found one that costs just $733 for a 4-night stay.

That’s already a good deal on its own considering how expensive the big Japanese cities can be. But this hotel will also earn you 18,000 Loyalty Points.

If you use an American Airlines co-branded credit card to make the purchase, you’ll also earn another 733 Loyalty Points/AA miles for a total of 18,733 Loyalty Points from this purchase.

Those miles are worth $281 on their own as AA miles, meaning right off the bat you’re getting a 38% return on your purchase.

For reference, those miles are almost enough to get you from the U.S. to South America, since you can get from Dallas, Miami, or even New York to Buenos Aires for just 20,000 AA miles…

I know, I know, your mind is blown.

But here’s where things get EXTRA saucy….

Those 18,733 loyalty points unlock the first milestone of this new program, which only requires 15,000 loyalty points.

This first tier gets you benefits like higher boarding priority on AA flights and five preferred seat vouchers.

Again, people, this is all just rewards for buying a 4-night hotel stay…

In addition to putting you over that first threshold, you’re also halfway toward earning AAdvantage Gold Elite Status, which only requires 40,000 Loyalty Points.

This tier gets you :

  • Higher boarding priority

  • Complimentary upgrades on AA and Alaska Airlines

  • Complimentary preferred seats

  • Free checked bag

  • OneWorld Ruby Status

So theoretically, you could do that aforementioned hotel stay twice (or just book an 8-night stay there) and unlock OneWorld Elite status, 40,000 miles (worth $600), and all those other benefits I mentioned…

But let’s skip ahead a bit…

If you earn 75,000 Loyalty Points, you’ll unlock Advantage Platinum Elite Status, which comes with even more benefits, OneWorld Sapphire status, and, of course, 75,000 AA miles.

This is where the program comes in handy for international travelers.

Having OneWorld status gets you perks on airlines like British Airways, Qatar Airways, Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and more.

But back to the 75,000 Loyalty Points/AA miles. Want to know how valuable that is?

Since American Airlines partners with airlines like Etihad and Qatar Airways, you can use 70,000 AA miles to fly in Etihad or Qatar Business Class from the U.S. to the Middle East…

But how much would it cost you to earn 75,000 Loyalty Points?

If we use that hotel stay as a blueprint for maximizing Loyalty Point earnings, 18,733 Loyalty Points cost $733 (the cost of the hotel stay).

Since you need 75,000 to hit Platinum status, it would cost you about $3,000 in similar hotel stays to achieve.

I know, I know, I’m sorry about the math… but I’m on a roll here.

That means for $3,000, you could book an amazing 16-night hotel stay in Osaka, unlock American Airlines elite status, unlock OneWorld elite status, and get a long-haul, business-class flight on one of the world’s best airlines.

Now all of this is based on ONE random hotel booking in Japan.

Keep in mind, you also earn loyalty points from spending on an AA co-branded credit card, meaning your everyday purchases like groceries, gas, and more will be earning you loyalty points.

Additionally, you’ll earn tons of points from smaller hotel stays, car rentals, dining at local restaurants, and even online shopping using the portals I mentioned earlier.

This is the ultimate gamification of points and miles, with a serious payoff at the end of it all. The fact that you can do it without ever setting foot on an American Airlines flight makes it much more interesting, in my opinion.

As a lover of the game, I might go for AA status simply for the fun of it.

After all, if I have fun, get OneWorld perks when flying internationally, and rack up some miles to fly free on Qatar and Etihad… why the heck not?

That’s gonna do it for today. I know it may be early for you, but I desperately need a nap…

See you tomorrow, and I hope you all have a wonderful day 🫶

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

35.6762° N, 139.6503° E

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