Knowing the Difference Between “Real” and “Fake” Elite Qualifying Miles for US Airways / American Status

US Airways and American Airlines post-merger loyalty points, elite status, and alliance.View from the Wing posted about the US Airways Club deal–which I think is a very good deal given the prices of flights lately.  Click on the link for his details, but it is an easy (but not cheap) 5,000 miles.

Gary is gambling on US Airways and American Airlines combining Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) for the next Elite Year.  I’m still trying to figure out how I feel–but I think a lot of it has to do with my experiences with US Airways technology.  The American technology will be what they use going forward, but from my experiences of award tickets ticketing as the wrong time in the back-end and having to change upgrade at the gate rules because your IT system breaks, I’ve become wary of putting my faith into the tech systems combining the EQMs properly.

But if they do combine the EQMs, there are important things to know about the way US Airways views different promotions that help you get status faster.  I’ll call the difference “Real” and “Fake” miles.

US Airways has two really general ways they do promotions.  “Earn extra EQMs when,” or “achieve status faster when your miles count as extra.”

When US Airways says EQMs, that is the only time they mean EQMs, and those are “real miles”.  If the two programs combine EQMs, these EQMs will be added with your American Airlines account.

I’ve seen promotions to earn 5,000 EQMs through purchase (Gary’s deal), the US Airways Mastercard offers 10,000 EQMs when you spend $25,000 on the card, and Keri got a deal offering her triple EQMs last year.

These deals all increase your EQM count.

When US Airways offers ways to “achieve status faster,” these do not count as actual EQMs and they are “fake miles”.  Basically, US Airways is pretending you earned enough to hit status without actually offering you EQM.

What are examples of this?  When you do a status-challenge, your miles count as triple but you are not actually earning triple EQMs.  When you buy-up to a status, you are achieving status without getting EQMs.  If Keri was offered “earn chairman faster by having your flown miles count triple” last year instead of the triple EQM promo, those would not have counted as actual EQMs.

But this is only important if you are planning on banking your American elite qualifying miles together with US Airways’.

If you earn Chairman on US Airways, you will be an Executive Platinum on American whether or not your miles are real.

But I am near-darn certain your fake miles won’t combine with American Airlines.  (They don’t count as EQMs towards anything else US Airways does, including Special Dividends, and they are not reflected in your account).

So if you earned 25,000 miles on American and earned 50,001 miles on US Airways, it would be a waste to spend the $2,499 to buy another 24,999 miles on US Airways.  Why?

Once you buy the 24,999 you will be Platinum on US Airways, and US Airways will pretend you have 75,000 miles.  You don’t.  You still have 50,001.

When the elite programs combine, your US Airways Platinum status will transfer over to American Airlines.  Once your mileage is combined, you’ll still have 75,000, so there’s not enough to bump you up to Executive Platinum.  So you’d be out $2,499 and be the same way no matter way.

But if you have 75,001 miles on US Airways and bought 24,999 miles, US Airways will pretend you had enough to grand you Chairman Status, which will get you Executive Platinum on American.

Let me know if you have any questions because US Airways’ system can be a bit confusing!

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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