If you travel often like I do, airline elite status can be a great thing. Free upgrades, bonus miles, less lines to stand in and priority boarding to grab much desired overhead bin space can all make a trip much smoother.

Over the long 4th of July weekend, I took an eight flight, 14,000 mile journey purely for the sake of collecting airline miles to achieve American Airlines top tier Executive Platinum status. Today, I’ll recap my recent eight segment mileage run to Panama City, Panama and explain the benefits of American Executive Platinum status.

My first aircraft, a Boeing 737 from DC to Los Angeles.

My first aircraft, a Boeing 737 from DC to Los Angeles.

Earning Status

Back in May, my American AAdvantage frequent flyer account was targeted with a fast track to elite status challenge. Normally you have to earn 100,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) for Executive Platinum status. However with the challenge, If I earn 35,000 American EQMs before September 9, I’ll have Executive Platinum status through January 31, 2018. One elite qualifying miles is earned for each mile you fly in the sky with American Airlines. I was particularly impressed that status would be granted all the way into 2018, so I decided to undertake the challenge.

The Mileage Run

A mileage run consists of finding the cheapest airline ticket which will earn you the most elite qualifying miles, and then flying the ticket just to earn the miles. I am based in Washington, DC but found a very cheap business class fare from Los Angeles to Panama round trip for just over $1,000. Because it was a business class ticket, I would earn double EQMs. I decided to book the ticket and then book a round trip Washington to Los Angeles positioning flight. Here is what my weekend routing looked like:

Washington Dulles -> Los Angeles -> New York JFK -> Miami -> Panama City -> Miami -> New York JFK -> Los Angeles -> Washington Reagan

A map of last weekend's flight routing.

A map of last weekend’s flight routing.

What made the trip a lot of fun was being able to fly business and first class the entire way on a variety of different American Airlines aircraft. I had a recliner seat, my own American Flagship Suite, and a suite on American’s new premium transcon JFK-LAX flight. I met interesting people, did some incredible people watching, and got to spend a night in Panama City and visit the Panama Canal Miraflores locks.

My Flagship Suite on a Boeing 777-300ER.

My Flagship Suite on a Boeing 777-300ER.

What Does Executive Platinum Mean?

The highlights of Executive Platinum status mean that anytime I fly the airline on flights within North America including Canada, Hawaii and the Caribbean, I’ll be first in line for complimentary upgrades to business class. I will also receive four systemwide upgrades which mean I can buy the cheapest ticket on any American operated flight to anywhere in the world and instantly upgrade myself to business class. Add in all the other perks, and I am confidant in valuing American Executive Platinum status at around $7,000.

Bottom Line

I still need 6,122 more EQMs before September 9th to complete the challenge and lock in the American status. I have a few options for that mileage run, but it looks like I will be flying to Puerto Rico for a day and right back to DC. I had a great time over the weekend up in the air and on the ground in Panama and look forward to enjoying all of my elite status benefits into 2018.

Would you ever take a mileage run?