Another hub war special. This time between American & United. The United fare is actually lower by like $40 – 60. However, we are presenting the AA fare for Miami due to the reasons below.
But before we get to that, Ho Chi Minh City. If you watch Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, you know he loves Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam in general. To know why, you have to see it for yourself and having been ourselves multiple times in the last few years, the food, the noise, the history, the possibilities, the emergence, the busyness – its a sight to be seen.
- October 19th – 27th. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday travel. Now until December, 2011.
- MIA – ORD (Chicago) – NRT (Tokyo) – SGN (Ho Chi Minh City) – NRT – DFW (Dallas) – MIA
20,429 Miles. This is the first instance of a deal we presented where different segments earn different mileage — here’s the breakdown:
- Miami – Chicago – Tokyo/Narita (AA flights): 7,471 Miles. 100% credit with AA. N Fare Class
- Tokyo/Narita – Ho Chi Minh City (JAL flight): 2,722 Miles. Only 50% credit with AA or 1,361 miles. N Fare Class
- Ho Chi Minh City – Tokyo/Narita (JAL flight): 2,722 Miles. Only 50% credit with AA or 1,361 miles. N Fare Class
- Tokyo/Narita – Dallas – Miami (AA flights): 7,548 Miles. 100% credit with AA. N Fare Class
Actual Earned Mileage: 15,019 (AA flights) + 2,722 (JAL flights) = 17,741 miles or 5.7 cents per mile. That is a net difference of 2,722 miles. Partners sometimes do not credit 100% for miles flown — it is important to know what fare class the ticket is booked on to maximize mileage earning.
You are probably thinking how is this a good deal? Why are we are leaving miles on the table since the ticket isn’t full credit?
American Airlines offer something called the Gold & Platinum Elite Status challenge, where you can earn elite status with either 5,000 or 10,000 point flown on AA metal. N fare class tickets are 50% point earning (AA makes a distinction between MILES & POINTS for elite qualification. Miles are for miles flown, but points are based on the ticket fare class and is a multiple of 1/2 – 1.5x of the mileage. Points have no meaning to AA besides the purposes of elite status qualification. Elite status qualification can be based on miles, points or segments.)
This trip would net (15,019 x 0.50) = 7,509 Points. This would give you Gold status until February 28th, 2013 for a challenge fee of $140. If you have at least another 5,000 miles (a minimum of 2,500 points) of American Airlines travel within 90 days of the beginning of the challenge date, then go for the Platinum Challenge for an additional $100. If you make Platinum, irrespective of the amount of future flying, you will have Gold status until February 29th, 2014 due to AA’s soft-landing policy.
What does elite status give you and how does that make your life easier?
- Business class check-in.
- No baggage fees for the first two bags anywhere you fly.
- Priority security
- Priority boarding
- Preferred coach seats (e.g., exit row)
- Lounge access for international flights if you are a Platinum member — LOUNGE = FREE BOOZE! You are allow one additional guest.
- 25% mileage bonus for every mile flown as a Gold member and 100% mileage bonus for every mile flown as a Platinum member. If you were a Gold, the mileage accrual would have been 20,475 miles, Platinum would have earned 32,760 or enough for a domestic reward ticket or an one way coach ticket to Europe during peak season
- Special number for customer service — minimum wait time
- Free standbys (e.g., you have a flight at 6pm but your meeting end at 2pm and there’s a flight at 4pm, you can put yourself on the waitlist and have a chance of going home at 4PM instead of 6PM)
To enroll in the challenge, call AAdvantage customer service at +1-800-882-8880. Schedule the challenge for either the 1st or the 16th of month (e.g., for this itinerary, you would start the challenge on October 16th). More information can be found here: AA Elite Challenge
Back on topic:
- US Citizens. Visa required prior to arrival. Prices vary. However, you can have an agent arrange a visa for pickup at arrival at Ho Chi Minh City Airport for $20-25 handing fee paid upfront + $25 for the Visa payable on arrival. The Flight Deal team has used VietnamStay.com in the past for this service. It is much better than sending away your passport.
Booking this fare on AA.com:
- Go to the advance flight search page
- Enter information for the flight (e.g., departure city, destination, date, number of passengers etc), then on the 7th section, make sure you select “All Carriers” for this fare to show up
- Select the $434 outbound and $458 inbound flights and you should get this fare.
If you are still reading, traveling smartly sometimes means spending an extra money to save money long term. Elite status would increase your mileage accrual rate, reduce travel stress and save money on ancillary fees that airlines love to charge for now like checked luggage. Just think if you had platinum status, no baggage fees, priority lanes, priority board, preferred seating for 3 years on American!!!
This fare is also available with either United/Continental or American from Cincinnati, Columbus, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Detroit, Memphis, Orlando, Nashville, Ft. Meyers, Tampa, Atlanta and Dallas/Fort Worth