AA EXP vs. MVP 75K

Old Dec 1, 19, 7:44 pm
  #1  
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AA EXP vs. MVP 75K

This is my first post in the Alaskan forum and I'll be glad for advice on the following.

Am based in SAN and fly ~150-80K BIS miles/year with enough paid J class travel to be both United 1K and AA EXP. I do ~6 J class RT to India each year, 1-2 trips to Europe (Y and hence need SWUs), and 5-6 cross-country trips/year (in Y and I use RPU's and spare GPUs on UA or even unused SWU's on AA to get upgraded on these flights). I will keep UA since I value the EWR-DEL/BOM and new SFO-DEL flights. Have also been UA 1K for ~10 years and close to MM so will keep that.

I status matched to AA EXP ~5 years ago when my travel volume was growing, and because of BA/JAL non-stops from SAN to LHR/NRT and have since kept both 1K and EXP. I also do another BA RT in J to India every other year to keep BA OW Sapphire, which gets me free Admirals Club access and so I have preferred AA for US domestic travel and done 4 RTs/year to India on United and 2 on CX/BA (credited to AA).

But, AA standards have slipped a lot lately and IRROPS have been painful this year (maybe because of 737-MAX issues). Also, EXP upgrade frequency has dropped quite a bit on AA, and UA upgrade frequency is higher when I use RPU's (which will get easier next year with Plus Points since I don't use all the GPUs).

Since my main reason for AA EXP is access to OW partners (mainly BA, CX, and occasionally QR), I am now considering if it makes sense to switch to Alaskan. Main reasons include:

1) I do ~3 RT's/year on SAN-BOS and the only non-stops are on Jetblue and Alaskan. I've been connecting to use UA or AA, but would like to take non-stops.

2) Excellent non-stops to all 4 islands in Hawaii from SAN on Alaskan (I've mainly used Alaskan to date for family vacations there)

3) Also do 1-2 trips/year to Seattle and non-stop would be nice

4) Increased non-stop coverage from SAN after Virgin merger. I see many more non-stops from SAN on AS than on UA or AA

5) Opens up EK for crediting/redemptions (great for India travel) without hurting for BA/CX/JL (though I'd lose QR on OW)

6) Much better earning of miles - especially if flying on paid J tickets

Costs of giving up EXP include:

1) OWE access to FCL in HKIA and LHR T5 (including the expedited security through the First Class check in)

2) Loss of guaranteed access to LHR Arrivals lounge even if upgrade does not clear (I often use this when I get in on a red eye and hotel room is only ready after 2pm)

3) Loss of 4 SWU's (may not be a deal-breaker since I'll still have UA SWU's and have not used my AA SWU's fully in recent years since I am mostly in paid J in CX/BA)

4) Loss of OW partners like MH (used once) and QR

Main questions for the Alaskan regulars:

1) Do MVP 75K earn the extra 125% mileage bonus on ALL partners (including CX and EK) or only on a few like BA/Qantas/Hainan/Icelandair? Seems like this is only true for the last 4 below.

https://www.alaskaair.com/content/mi...rtner-benefits

Or are these 4 partners the only one with lounge benefits, while the 125% bonus accrues to ALL partners including CX and EK? This would be a key reason to shift to AS Mileage Plan since I'd be earning 350% miles on EK/CX J class and up to 475% on BA. Without this, it would be only 225% on EK/CX, which is the same as with AA EXP.

2) How easy is it to get EK J class award inventory from LAX to India (especially MAA) for AS MVP 75K?

3) Is CX J award inventory the same as for OW partners like AA or better/worse?

4) How easy is it to search for partner airline award inventory on AS?

Anything else I am missing? Would you recommend the switch? I am far from AA MM (having only matched to EXP 5 years ago, and in any case AA MM only provides lifetime OW Ruby status, which is worth a lot less than UA MM which provides lifetime *G) and so happy to let that go.

Thanks so much!
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Old Dec 1, 19, 7:53 pm
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I'll let the more frequent AS flyers chime in with advice, but I thought I would just let you know that the airline is Alaska (not Alaskan)
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Old Dec 1, 19, 8:06 pm
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Originally Posted by PDXPremier View Post
I'll let the more frequent AS flyers chime in with advice, but I thought I would just let you know that the airline is Alaska (not Alaskan)
I don't know why it bothers me so much when people call the airline Alaskan...but it does.
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Old Dec 1, 19, 8:07 pm
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Originally Posted by kyym View Post

Main questions for the Alaskan regulars:

1) Do MVP 75K earn the extra 125% mileage bonus on ALL partners (including CX and EK) or only on a few like BA/Qantas/Hainan/Icelandair? Seems like this is only true for the last 4 below.

https://www.alaskaair.com/content/mi...rtner-benefits

Or are these 4 partners the only one with lounge benefits, while the 125% bonus accrues to ALL partners including CX and EK? This would be a key reason to shift to AS Mileage Plan since I'd be earning 350% miles on EK/CX J class and up to 475% on BA. Without this, it would be only 225% on EK/CX, which is the same as with AA EXP.

2) How easy is it to get EK J class award inventory from LAX to India (especially MAA) for AS MVP 75K?

3) Is CX J award inventory the same as for OW partners like AA or better/worse?

4) How easy is it to search for partner airline award inventory on AS?

Anything else I am missing? Would you recommend the switch? I am far from AA MM (having only matched to EXP 5 years ago, and in any case AA MM only provides lifetime OW Ruby status, which is worth a lot less than UA MM which provides lifetime *G) and so happy to let that go.

Thanks so much!
1) All partners.

2) Easy? Depends when you're looking to go and how flexible/far in advance you look for availability, this will be like any airline looking for partner award space. Looking in Oct 2020 I see multiple flights on SQ/EK/BA. But we don't know when EK will release inventory.

3) No, usually worse. OW and AS inventory are not the same since AS is not in OW.

4) Depends how savvy you are, overall it is simple if the airline is bookable with AS and they don't have the occasional partner booking issue. But airlines like CX are not bookable online so that is a PITA since you have to call and have no clue if it is available to AS awards.

Your last question is also comparing apples to oranges, outside of the published benefits AS elite status does very little (nothing) if traveling on the OW overlapping airlines, and considering you ask about J+ redemptions, class of service will already give you the same benefits and more from the ticket. I maintain status on both airlines because it fits when I need it to, but AS alone will not substitute OW status. Plus we don't know what AS's relationship will be with the other OW airlines in the next 5 years. (See AA relationship)
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Old Dec 1, 19, 8:18 pm
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Originally Posted by kyym View Post
Main questions for the Alaskan regulars:

1) Do MVP 75K earn the extra 125% mileage bonus on ALL partners (including CX and EK) or only on a few like BA/Qantas/Hainan/Icelandair? Seems like this is only true for the last 4 below.

https://www.alaskaair.com/content/mi...rtner-benefits

Or are these 4 partners the only one with lounge benefits, while the 125% bonus accrues to ALL partners including CX and EK? This would be a key reason to shift to AS Mileage Plan since I'd be earning 350% miles on EK/CX J class and up to 475% on BA. Without this, it would be only 225% on EK/CX, which is the same as with AA EXP.

2) How easy is it to get EK J class award inventory from LAX to India (especially MAA) for AS MVP 75K?

3) Is CX J award inventory the same as for OW partners like AA or better/worse?

4) How easy is it to search for partner airline award inventory on AS?

Anything else I am missing? Would you recommend the switch? I am far from AA MM (having only matched to EXP 5 years ago, and in any case AA MM only provides lifetime OW Ruby status, which is worth a lot less than UA MM which provides lifetime *G) and so happy to let that go.

Thanks so much!
A few answers, though I don't claim to be the AS expert:
1. The 125% 75K bonus applies to all elite-earning partners. The link you posted relates to lounge access for the 4 airlines listed;
2. A cursory check shows plenty of availability SAN-MAA in EK J for 82,500 miles one way;
3. My experience with CX J awards AS vs AA is that AS is slightly better, but I fly midweek mostly, and you do have to call AS for these vs AA now having them online;
4. AS makes it easy to search most but not all partner premium cabin award inventory. Interesting that on the SAN-MAA searches I did, BA thru LHR came up, which you might find of interest.

Of course, if you do have to book coach on any of the AS partners, you can't get the best seats for free, like you can with AA EXP. I just booked a one-way SFO-SEA-NRT-BKK on AS/JL and JL wouldn't give me the bulkhead or exit rows with my AS MVPG 75k number, only my AA EXP. Probably not a big deal for you.

AS non-stop transcons are pretty good, of course AA has their A321T service and UA the 757's lie-flats, plus some wide bodies which I prefer, but then you can't have everything, well you can if you pay for it.
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Old Dec 1, 19, 9:01 pm
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Thanks so much. So looks like the main trade off is losing FCL and SWU but earning MANY more miles on AS.

I guess one more intriguing possibility is to give up BA Silver (which I use for Admirals Club access) and credit that BA flight to AS to get close to MVP Gold and then credit my domestic non-stop flights to AS and get to MVP Gold instead of 75K. That way, I keep my OWE, and get the benefits of MVP Gold (and get to credit to it) on AS non-stops domestically and to Hawaii. Since I am thinking of shifting to mainly UA on domestic flights (upgrades with RPU/PP are higher than complimentary EXP upgrades on AA), the loss of AC access may not be as big a deal.

The main attraction of AS for me right now is the much larger number of non-stop flights from SAN (including places like BOS, AUS, SEA, and PDX) than either UA or AA, and MVP Gold may be good enough to get these benefits and open up EK flights/awards (which I'd love to have the option of).

How good are the upgrade rates as MVP Gold? Do MVP Gold members using one of their 4 complimentary upgrades get higher priority than MVP 75K using a complimentary one?

Also, for award inventory, does MVP 75K provide greater access to J class inventory on EK/CX? Finally, do AS redemptions on BA also incur BA's large fuel surcharges?

Thanks again!
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Old Dec 1, 19, 9:05 pm
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Originally Posted by kyym View Post
....
I also do another BA RT in J to India every other year to keep BA OW Sapphire, which gets me free Admirals Club access and so I have preferred AA for US domestic travel and done 4 RTs/year to India on United and 2 on CX/BA (credited to AA).
...
..
4) Loss of OW partners like MH (used once) and QR
.....
If you have BA Oneworld Sapphire (mid level) you still have OW partners like MH and QR. Anyway what would be the loss?

BA and several other OW airline are AS partners. But AS status mean little to nothing when flying on them.

What do you use your ff miles for?
Flying paid J gets you most/many of the benefits of mid-top level status.
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Old Dec 1, 19, 9:09 pm
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I mainly fly in paid J on my work trips to India, but use FF miles to take family to India and to get parents/in-laws to SAN in J

I think that giving up BA OWS and using that BA flight (RT J to India from SAN) to get to MVP Gold and keeping both EXP (hence OWE) and 1K may be the way to go!
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Old Dec 1, 19, 9:10 pm
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The MVP Gold Guest Upgrades are instant if there is upgrade space available and you pay a higher fare (normally). They aren’t like the legacy certificates that put you on a waitlist. You can apply them after booking if the upgrade space opens up, and then you may upfare to the right fare to apply them.

Last edited by williwaw; Dec 2, 19 at 12:20 am
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Old Dec 1, 19, 9:13 pm
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Originally Posted by kyym View Post
I guess one more intriguing possibility is to give up BA Silver (which I use for Admirals Club access) and credit that BA flight to AS to get close to MVP Gold and then credit my domestic non-stop flights to AS and get to MVP Gold instead of 75K. That way, I keep my OWE, and get the benefits of MVP Gold (and get to credit to it) on AS non-stops domestically and to Hawaii.
How would you keep OW Emerald? AA? Give up flying in UA?
AS MVP is not OW.

You are asking about AA EXP vs. MVP 75K
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Old Dec 1, 19, 9:18 pm
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Yes. Right now, I am AA EXP, UA 1K, and BA Silver.

So I'm thinking I'll keep the first 2 and swap BA silver for AS MVP Gold. Main thing I give up then is free Admirals Club access (with premium drink coupons) on domestic AA flights but open up the option of earning/redeeming on EK, taking non-stops from SAN without worrying about not crediting those miles, and earning way more miles on my BA flights credited to AS than to BA EC.

Gold seems easy to get/keep with even one RT on SAN-India on BA on J, C, or D fares. Seems like this is the way to go?
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Old Dec 1, 19, 9:36 pm
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Originally Posted by rbAA View Post
AS non-stop transcons are pretty good, of course AA has their A321T service and UA the 757's lie-flats, plus some wide bodies which I prefer, but then you can't have everything, well you can if you pay for it.
neither AA or UA offer lie flat from SAN. It would require a connection via SFO or LAX on either airline.
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Old Dec 2, 19, 12:18 am
  #13  
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Upgrades would be a lot better at G75K.

There *are* more elites in SAN these days.

Other nice perks include 50K mileage bonus when crossing 75K AS metal, 90K AS+partners in a calendar year.

Companion upgrades are nice as well.

My favorite aspect of MVPG+ is the change fee waiver.
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Old Dec 2, 19, 2:50 am
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The 50k biz awards on Cathay and Hainan make AS a much better option than AA. I went from EXP to AS gold (Along with DL plat) and Iím happy as a clam.
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Old Dec 2, 19, 5:06 am
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Originally Posted by AS Flyer View Post
neither AA or UA offer lie flat from SAN. It would require a connection via SFO or LAX on either airline.
If that's what's important to you, then you would do it. Being a free agent, I wouldn't bother, unless I had the time and wanted to get on a better ride.
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