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This year I’m crediting most of my flights to the British Airways Executive Club because I’ve worked out that it’s cheaper for me to earn top-tier status with BA than it is with American Airlines.
American Airlines Executive Platinum status was a fantastic option before the introduction of a minimum spend requirement but, since then, the pursuit of top-tier status with American has become uneconomical for me.
But what if you didn’t care about earning status?
Reader Josh emailed over the following question (edited by me):
“I booked two Business Class Flights (including two regional first Class flights) on Qatar Airways but don’t know where to collect the miles.”
“I don’t care so much about status, I’m more looking to earn miles for redemption. I’m based in Europe so should I collect the miles with AA or with BA?”
As questions go this one is pretty timely as the recent spectacular devaluation by Qatar Airways’ own loyalty program means that it’s now an even worse option than it was before – AAdvantage and the BAEC are now the two likeliest places people will be looking to credit their Qatar Airways flights.
The flights Josh has booked are as follows:
- Kuwait to Bangkok via Doha
- Frankfurt to Manila via Doha
Josh also let me know the cost of the fares but, as neither American Airlines or British Airways uses the actual fares to calculate the miles/Avios awarded, the cost is irrelevant.
Note: American only uses the actual cost of a fare to calculate the miles it awards when the fare is booked through American Airlines.
The only sensible way to answer Josh’s question is to work out how much each trip will earn with American Airlines AAdvantage and the BAEC.
Josh failed to pass on two pieces of information – details of any status he currently holds (so I’m going to assume that it’s none) and what Business Class fare code he’s booked into (I’m going assume he’s booked fare code I or R as the fares he has booked are inexpensive).
Kuwait To Bangkok Trip
British Airways Earnings
The simplest way to work out how much this trip will earn if credited to the British Airways Executive Club is to use the Avios Calculator on each segment of the trip.
This is what that looks like:
- KWI – DOH (A Fare Code) = 750 Avios
- DOH – BKK (I or R Fare Code) = 4,084 Avios
A roundtrip fare will therefore earn 9,668 Avios.
American Airlines Earnings
American Airlines awards miles based on the distance traveled and the fare code booked.
- KWI – DOH (A Fare Code) = 880 AAdvantage Miles
- DOH – BKK (I or R Fare Code) = 3,285 AAdvantage Miles
A roundtrip fare will therefore earn 8,330 AAdvantage Miles
Frankfurt to Manilla
British Airways Earnings
Once again the simplest way to work out how much this trip will earn if credited to the British Airways Executive Club is to use the Avios Calculator and this is what that tells us:
- FRA – DOH (I or R Fare Code) = 3,559 Avios
- DOH – MNL (I or R Fare Code) = 5,668 Avios
A roundtrip fare will therefore earn 18,454 Avios.
American Airlines Earnings
- FRA – DOH (I or R Fare Code) = 2,853 AAdvantage Miles
- DOH – BKK (I or R Fare Code) = 4,531 AAdvantage Miles
A roundtrip fare will therefore earn 14,768 AAdvantage Miles
While Josh could choose to credit one trip to BAEC and the second trip to AAdvantage I can’t see any reason why that would be a useful thing to do so Josh is left with the following options:
- Credit 28,122 Avios to the British Airways Executive Club or
- Credit 23,098 Miles to the American Airlines AAdvantage program
I value Avios at around 1.0 cent each and AAdvantage Miles at 1.25 cents each so, essentially, Josh can choose between a rebate of $281 (BAEC) or $289 (AAdvantage) – there’s nothing between them.
But that’s not where this ends.
Based on what Josh has told me there is a correct decision available here.
Assuming Josh doesn’t already have a stash of AAdvantage Miles (and everything points to that being the correct assumption to make) there’s little point in him collecting just 23,000 AAdvantage Miles.
What would he do with them?
23,000 miles is not enough for a roundtrip long-haul redemption and AAdvantage Miles are poor value for short-haul flights.
28,000 Avios is also not even close to what Josh will need if he wants to book a long-haul award but, bearing in mind he’s based in Europe, Avios can be very useful for short-haul redemptions and they could save him quite a bit of cash if used carefully.
It’s usually not tricky to decide where to credit your flights once you’ve worked out what each loyalty program will give you for each trip you take – you just have to do the math.
If your calculations don’t come out with a clear winner (as in this case) then you should work out which loyalty program’s currency is easier for you to use for your particular circumstances.
It may well turn out to be the case that no program gives you what you’d most like (enough miles/points for a long-haul redemption) but there will almost always be one program where even a small number of miles/points can prove useful.
In this case, and based on the information provided, I think that Josh should credit both of his trips to the British Airways Executive Club.
Anyone come up with a different answer?
Note to Josh: I tried to reply to your email but my response bounced back…which is just as well because I got my math wrong in the response! 🙂