30,000 miles to nowhere. Progress and plans.


Background: Currently, there’s a one time opportunity to get top tier AAdvantage elite status (Executive Platinum) by enrolling in and completing the US Airways Preferred Status Trial.  For fun, I decided to go for it and I know that many readers did too.  Follow along through this series of posts, or on Twitter search for hashtag #30Ktonowhere.  For additional background, please see: The last great mileage run.

2,000 miles earned, 28,000 to go

Last weekend I flew my first US Airways flights since starting my Preferred Status Trial.  This wasn’t really a “mileage run” but rather a planned trip to FTU and then to visit family.  From this short trip, I earned the following:

  • Preferred Qualifying Miles (PQMs): 2000
  • Redeemable Miles: 3500

Yes, I should have earned even more miles, but I didn’t.  See: 30,000 miles to nowhere. Lessons learned so far.

Booked Plans

OK, so 2000 PQMs isn’t much of a start, but I’d prefer to earn most of the 30,000 miles in 2015 anyway so that they’ll count towards my 2016 status as well.  Fortunately, when I reported a short-lived amazing deal for flights between Vegas and Philadelphia, I was able to snag three of them (see “30,000 miles to nowhere. Amazing fare!”).  Then I also booked flights from my home airport (Detroit) to Vegas as positioning flights for these trips.  Thanks to holding a Citi Prestige card, I am able to redeem ThankYou points for a value of 1.6 cents each when buying flights on AA or US Airways.  I did exactly that for the positioning flights.

The trips that I booked require two two-night stays in Las Vegas.  I used the Orbitz promotion for $100 off two night stays (details here) to book decent hotels at very low rates, even after resort fees are considered.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • DTW to LAS, via DFW: Cost: 9,015 ThankYou points; Expected PQMs: 2,042
  • Hotel in Los Vegas for two nights: Cost: $63.93
  • LAS to PHL to LAS: Cost: $74.60; Expected PQMs: 4,353
  • LAS to DTW, via PHX: Cost: 8,927 ThankYou Points; Expected PQMs: 2,171
  • DTW to LAS, via DFW: Cost: 9,015 ThankYou points; Expected PQMs: 2,042
  • Hotel in Los Vegas for two nights: Cost: $81.78
  • LAS to PHL to LAS: Cost: $74.60; Expected PQMs: 4,353
  • LAS to PHL to LAS: Cost: $74.60; Expected PQMs: 4,353
  • LAS to DTW, via PHX: Cost: 8,927 ThankYou Points; Expected PQMs: 2,171


  • Expected PQMs: 21,485
  • Expected Redeemable Miles earned: 37,599
  • Out of pocket cost for flights: $223.80
  • Out of pocket cost for hotels: $145.71
  • ThankYou points paid: 35,884

To estimate my cost per PQM, let’s take assume the original price of the flights that I booked with ThankYou points: 35,884 TY points x $0.016 = $574.14.  So, my grand total cost for these mileage runs comes to $943.65.  And my cost per PQM (including hotel costs) is: $943.65 / 21,485 = 4.4 cents per mile.

Tentative Plans

The above booked plans combined with my 2K PQMs earned so far still leave me short of my 30,000 mile goal by 6,515 miles

My plan right now is to complete $25,000 of spend on my US Airways card so that I’ll earn 10,000 PQMs from that card.  My hope is that those PQMs will count towards the Preferred Trial.  I am also intentionally completing the spend in December with the hope that when my statement closes in early January, the 10K PQMs will count as 2015 PQMs and will, therefore, count towards 2016 status.  To be clear, I do not expect either of these things to happen.  I’m doing this as an experiment, just in case.

If my 10K PQM experiment doesn’t pan out, I’ll know in January and will have to  book another 6,515 miles in flights before my Preferred Trial expires mid February.

Your turn

Are you doing the US Airways Preferred Trial?  If so, I’m interested in hearing how your doing.  Have you booked enough flights to meet your goals?  Did you find any fantastic deals? Please comment below.

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Nathan Drake

Am I crazy if I try to do this without flying International and doing it all through January and February?

John Hill

Greg, I can’t turn down a challenge so when I saw #30Ktonowhere I had to go for it. Booked 2 PHL-PDX and 1 LGA-HKG for just over 30K and a 4.1cpm (before bonuses).

Now, if you could just do a post explaining it to my wife, I’d be forever in your debt. 🙂


10k PQM is only good for 2014. I signed up for the card a month ago and learned this the hard way. However, they gave me a 10k boost on the sign up bonus when I complained.


So….is it possible that the 10k PQM bonus for 25k spend will count this year AND early next year for the purpose of the 30k challenge?….if so that means I will need just 10k of BIS flying?……interesting….very interesting.


BTW, I enjoyed your session at FTU DC Advanced.


I have enough flights booked to complete the trial with only a couple this year that were already planned months ago. I have the Citi executive and US airways card (once it’s converted for the extra 10k EQMs), so should get close to platinum in 2016 as well once I finish the spend on those cards next year.


Ooops. not Scott it was Ben who covered it.


I think Scott may have covered that in his 12/1/14 post. It was only the butt in seat miles that counted toward the trial preferred program. I am on the fence as to starting this challenge because AA challenge you can fly F and get 1.5 EQP per mile to get to the status faster.

Charles McCool

Fingers crossed for spending being applied to the 30k challenge.