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Is there any reason NOT to switch to AAdvantage as a non-business traveler?

Is there any reason NOT to switch to AAdvantage as a non-business traveler?

Old Feb 21, 21, 8:50 am
  #1  
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Is there any reason NOT to switch to AAdvantage as a non-business traveler?

Given that Alaska Airlines is joining Oneworld and American is codesharing with Jetblue, is there any reason NOT to switch to American Airlines from United Airlines as a non-business traveler? I can't imagine ever hitting Mileage Plus Gold again, unless my career pivots to be more travel-centered. Assuming I hit UA gold again this year (possible given all of the bonuses), what should dissuade me from doing a status challenge next year? Should Delta even be a consideration?

For context, I live very close to a United Hub, but fly a lot of two-segment RJ routes due to university. I've only accumulated 60k miles on UA, despite exclusively flying them and hitting gold twice.

Has anyone else done this/plans to do this? Are there other factors at play? WineCountryUA would you possibly have any opinions?
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Old Feb 21, 21, 10:19 am
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Depends on what you value. UA has more partners for international travel, AA tends to have better airlines on average in their partnership.

UA also offers upgrades to silver and gold members complimentary, while AA does not for flights above 500 miles.

Personally, I live in 2 UA hubs and would rather walk than fly United regularly. And that's why I'm an AA customer.
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Old Feb 21, 21, 11:57 am
  #3  
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Hmm, interesting point about no upgrades above 500mi. As United Silver, I did not receive a single upgrade on any flight (minus eco plus), so that shouldn't be a big deal.

Do you fly enough to qualify for UA gold? What makes you chose AA?
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Old Feb 21, 21, 12:42 pm
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I'd drop any preferences and book on price or routing/timing or with those who offer more flexibility. FF programs of majors in US offer very little benefit for leisure flyer.
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Old Feb 21, 21, 1:10 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by adind View Post
Given that Alaska Airlines is joining Oneworld and American is codesharing with Jetblue, is there any reason NOT to switch to American Airlines from United Airlines as a non-business traveler??
<snip>
Originally Posted by azepine00 View Post
I'd drop any preferences and book on price or routing/timing or with those who offer more flexibility. FF programs of majors in US offer very little benefit for leisure flyer.
AA (and UA) are revenue based freq flyer programs.
AS is (currently) a distance based freq flyer program,
For an infrequent leisure traveller better to go with the best schedule fare and treat ff miles as a bonus that may/may not be used. Getting meaningful status will be hard
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Old Feb 21, 21, 1:17 pm
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Totally based on what's important to you. One World sucks. Yep Their airline partners are limited at best to Europe (BA? LOL).

I use them because I'm hub captive here in Dallas. If I lived in a non hub city I'd probably be with star alliance or sky team just for European benefits.
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Old Feb 21, 21, 1:22 pm
  #7  
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I started to write out the requirements for each program's elite tiers, but I decided a chart would be much clearer. I also added Alaska and Delta, since Alaska elites will get certain benefits on AA (guaranteed at least oneworld benefits) and vice versa. Alaska has stated they will add a 100,000 mile tier to their program, but requirements are TBD.



Note that it's stylistically not correct to write $4,000 PQP with the dollar sign, but since they essentially correspond to dollars spent on UA, I felt it was useful to give a fair comparison.

Each program has some slightly different qualifying requirements, but generally:

1 mile flown in economy = 1 EQM = 1 MQM
1 flight segment flown = 1 EQS = 1 MQS = 1 PQF
1 USD spent on non-tax airfare = $1 EQD = $1 MQD = $1 PQP

The tier benefits are similar at each tier with some small variations. I think the only variation worth mentioning is that DL Gold and AS MVP Gold only get extra legroom seats 3 days before departure, while UA Gold and AA Platinum can choose them at booking.

AA vs UA mostly boils down to the question: do you expect to spend a lot per flight, or do you expect to fly long distances cheaply?
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Old Feb 21, 21, 1:54 pm
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Originally Posted by adind View Post
Given that Alaska Airlines is joining Oneworld and American is codesharing with Jetblue, is there any reason NOT to switch to American Airlines from United Airlines as a non-business traveler? I can't imagine ever hitting Mileage Plus Gold again, unless my career pivots to be more travel-centered. Assuming I hit UA gold again this year (possible given all of the bonuses), what should dissuade me from doing a status challenge next year? Should Delta even be a consideration?

For context, I live very close to a United Hub, but fly a lot of two-segment RJ routes due to university. I've only accumulated 60k miles on UA, despite exclusively flying them and hitting gold twice.

Has anyone else done this/plans to do this? Are there other factors at play? WineCountryUA would you possibly have any opinions?
I would make several points for you:

- As a leisure traveler, you will probably not rack up either the miles or money spent to reach an elite status where worthwhile benefits would come into play.

- Most low level tier benefits can be obtained for little or no cost by obtaining the credit card of that airline. Premium credit cards will get you better airline benefits for far less cost than by obtaining those benefits via a higher elite status

- Since leisure travelers don't, by definition, travel that often, other elite benefits can be obtained by simply paying for them. If you want an exit row seat, pay the surcharge. The total amount of money spent for each paid benefit will be far less than trying to attain that benefit using an elite level that was acquired through travel and spend.

- On AA, if by chance you attain Gold and want to go for Plat, you can pay to upgrade. Again, only you can discern whether the premium you pay to get to the next level will be justified by the amount of travel you plan to do versus the cost of the upgrade.

- Even frequent flyers care about price. I am a high level UA flyer and a mid-tier AA flyer. Yet, I have put 50K miles this year on AA, nothing on UA because AA fares have been literally 25-40% less than UA for the equivalent flight. I am loyal, but not stupid.

In summary, for you, the aim is to get the best flight (times, locations, connections) for the best price. Between credit cards and buy-up offers, your best path is to pick and choose what you want to buy and stick with that. You will get better flights at a far less overall monetary expenditure.

As an aside.....
I personally cannot see how price based elite programs will survive. I made my elite levels due to high priced international tickets. That is gone. There is not a chance in the world that I could spend $15K (without taxes and fees as well) on my domestic itineraries. AA recognized this by basically eliminating the EQD levels for all except ExPlats (via their credit cards).
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Old Feb 21, 21, 2:15 pm
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Originally Posted by adind View Post
Hmm, interesting point about no upgrades above 500mi. As United Silver, I did not receive a single upgrade on any flight (minus eco plus), so that shouldn't be a big deal.
Just want to clarify - you can get upgrades over 500 miles, but you have to use "500 mile upgrade" credits for it. You get a certain number for free based on how many miles you fly. You can also buy them, but unless you're really lucky with upgrades you'll likely have more upgrades than you can use.
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Old Feb 21, 21, 2:18 pm
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Originally Posted by enviroian View Post
Totally based on what's important to you. One World sucks. Yep Their airline partners are limited at best to Europe (BA? LOL).
Oneworld has JAL, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, and Qatar - easily among the world's top airlines. You could argue *A is better due to having more partners, and definitely having better choices in Europe - but Oneworld definitely doesn't "suck" and many AA flyers (myself included) are only loyal to American because of Oneworld.
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Old Feb 21, 21, 2:35 pm
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Originally Posted by enviroian View Post
Totally based on what's important to you. One World sucks. Yep Their airline partners are limited at best to Europe (BA? LOL).

I use them because I'm hub captive here in Dallas. If I lived in a non hub city I'd probably be with star alliance or sky team just for European benefits.
Iberia, Finnair too.

I disagree that OW sucks. It's smaller than the other 2, but the average airline quality is pretty good. QR, CX, JL, QF are all excellent airlines and they don't have any joke airlines like Air India.
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Old Feb 21, 21, 4:27 pm
  #12  
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Looking at UA M+ requirements for 2021 it seems the segment requirement is substantially less than AA's but the spend is higher. That's attractive to me as my AA qualification is solely on segments, not miles, and so far since the MQD was instituted I've had no problems hitting the $6,000 spend for AA Plat except of course in 2020. I expect my travel load to resume normality this year.

I have been UA 1K before and based on my years there and with AA, they both treated me equally badly. I have heard that UA has gotten better since Smisek was forced out and I already have lifetime silver (whee) via Marriott for as long as that deal lasts. I may have to book my next trip on UA and see for myself.

The chart above is not accurate for 2021. See the UA qualifications page here and AA here. Looks like DL did not cut qualification requirements at all for 2021 unless I'm reading their stuff wrong.

Last edited by born sleepy; Feb 21, 21 at 4:48 pm
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Old Feb 21, 21, 4:31 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by radonc1 View Post
I would make several points for you:

- As a leisure traveler, you will probably not rack up either the miles or money spent to reach an elite status where worthwhile benefits would come into play.

- Most low level tier benefits can be obtained for little or no cost by obtaining the credit card of that airline. Premium credit cards will get you better airline benefits for far less cost than by obtaining those benefits via a higher elite status

- Since leisure travelers don't, by definition, travel that often, other elite benefits can be obtained by simply paying for them. If you want an exit row seat, pay the surcharge. The total amount of money spent for each paid benefit will be far less than trying to attain that benefit using an elite level that was acquired through travel and spend.

- On AA, if by chance you attain Gold and want to go for Plat, you can pay to upgrade. Again, only you can discern whether the premium you pay to get to the next level will be justified by the amount of travel you plan to do versus the cost of the upgrade.

- Even frequent flyers care about price. I am a high level UA flyer and a mid-tier AA flyer. Yet, I have put 50K miles this year on AA, nothing on UA because AA fares have been literally 25-40% less than UA for the equivalent flight. I am loyal, but not stupid.

In summary, for you, the aim is to get the best flight (times, locations, connections) for the best price. Between credit cards and buy-up offers, your best path is to pick and choose what you want to buy and stick with that. You will get better flights at a far less overall monetary expenditure.

As an aside.....
I personally cannot see how price based elite programs will survive. I made my elite levels due to high priced international tickets. That is gone. There is not a chance in the world that I could spend $15K (without taxes and fees as well) on my domestic itineraries. AA recognized this by basically eliminating the EQD levels for all except ExPlats (via their credit cards).
-as of now my accruals arenít terrible... Iím still pretty young so a lot is hard to predict. A significant number of my accruals have been luck that is definitely limited to age

-credit card wise, I canít see myself getting approved for at least a year or two unless I falsify income. My personal history isnít long enough yet. If I was able to quality for cards, Iíd probably do chase along with an airline specific for baggage.

If I was a few years down the line, it would be much easier to make a decision. For now though, I canít predict where Iíll be with any accuracy.
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Old Feb 21, 21, 4:33 pm
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For the vast majority of people who aren't traveling on OPM, credit cards are probably the biggest consideration in FF choice: you're not accumulating enough miles fast enough to matter without cobrand cards and/or transfers (to say nothing about qualifying for status).
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Old Feb 21, 21, 4:48 pm
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DL effectively halved the requirement by rolling over all MQM from 2020 (including MQM rolled over from 2019), and since with sufficient card spend DL has long waived the MQD requirement (there's a long-standing way to get Diamond solely from spending $250k plus about $2k in annual fees on cards). They've also been pretty aggressive with offering cardholders bonus MQM.
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