As my Executive Platinum status was coming to an end in February, I booked one last revenue ticket from LAX-JFK on American Airlines on the new A321's. On the way back, I used Lufthansa miles as described here to fly back to LAX on United's new PS (Premium Service) 757's with lie flat seating. What happened was a bonanza of miles through a confluence of luck (both good and bad) and my willingness to spend 10 minutes on contacting AA.
Originally, I booked a $190 one way fare in economy from LAX-JFK. A few days before the flight, I was upgraded into the business class section of my 7:00am flight. However, a day before I was to leave, I was contacted by an American Airlines agent who told me that the business class and first class cabin on my flight was oversold. If I volunteered to take the next flight out an hour later, I'd be confirmed into first class on another A321 flight. And in a paid first class bucket, rather than an upgrade fare class no less!
Of course I agreed and was very excited when boarding the new flight… only to see that I was the only passenger in the first class cabin who did not have a functioning in flight entertainment (IFE) system. Of course I was disappointed, but some of this was mitigated by the "extra special" treatment that I received from the purser in response to the malfunction.
When I got to New York, I made sure to send AA a short response on the situation. I explained the circumstances of how I volunteered to bump back a flight, how grateful I was about the upgrade to first, but also how I was disappointed that I wasn't able to use the IFE on a 5 ½ hour flight, especially on such a new plane. A few days later, I checked my account and this is the mileage earning breakdown I saw for this flight.
Base Miles: 2,475 Miles
Bonus Miles: 3,713 Miles (1.5x multiplier because I was in "paid first class")
JFK-LAX Bonus Miles: 7,500 Miles (promotion found here)
Compensation for broken IFE: 10,000 Miles
Total: 23,688 Miles! Off of an initial $190 investment!
The moral of the story:
1. It's better to be lucky than good.
2. Sign up for any/all promos that you come across. I never envisioned paying $3,000 for a paid first class flight from LA to NYC, but I would've been out 7,500 miles if I didn't do it "just in case".
3. Also, don't be afraid to contact your airline if your experience was subpar. They obviously have no control over the weather, but things like mechanical issues and general slip-ups should be reported to the management.
Overall, through a combination of luck, some well timed promotions and a short email to AA, I was rewarded with 94% of the miles needed to fly this segment again in business class!
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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