Why I am nonetheless reserving Southwest regardless of striving for American elite standing

Though it is solely September, I’ve already booked my flights house for the vacations.

2020 marked the primary yr in my 32 years of life that I ever missed Christmas in St. Louis with my dad and mom, which meant I used to be past excited to see them final Thanksgiving after being separated for 12 months.

Having the ability to journey house extra simply and sometimes is a giant motive why I moved to Chicago in June. It helps that, not like most carriers, Southwest Airways has maintained a constant presence at St. Louis Lambert Worldwide Airport (STL).

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Actually, Southwest has doubled its presence at STL previously decade, accounting for 55% of the airport’s market share.

With 45 nonstop, weekly flights between STL and Chicago’s Halfway Worldwide Airport (MDW), I can at all times depend on having the ability to discover a Southwest flight house.

I additionally really feel assured reserving a Southwest fare realizing that I can at all times cancel or change my flight if wanted due to the service’s versatile fares, which let you modify your flight without spending a dime as much as 10 minutes earlier than boarding.

In case you use Southwest Fast Rewards factors to guide your flight, you will merely be credited these factors again; when you use money, you will obtain a flight credit score to be used on a future flight.

Associated: The way to redeem factors with the Southwest Fast Rewards program

Not solely do I recognize this flexibility and quantity of every day flights, however I additionally love that the airline’s fare varieties are sometimes rather more inexpensive than opponents, so I typically spend much less to fly with Southwest for routes like this one.

Nevertheless, working at a spot like TPG means there are occasions once I have to fly different carriers. So, despite the fact that I’ve constructed up a variety of love for Southwest since I first began flying the airline as a younger woman, I’ve discovered myself flying American Airways commonly this yr.

Regardless of my choice for Southwest, American is the service I’ve used for each home flight I’ve taken thus far in 2022.

The explanation for this loyalty change is easy — I used to be gifted 30,000 American Airways AAdvantage Loyalty Factors through a raffle at a TPG perform in early 2021. These Loyalty Factors meant automated AAdvantage Gold standing, American’s entry-level tier.

Whereas this low-level standing could seem insignificant to some, it was a giant deal to me, as I might by no means held airline standing earlier than. So, I shifted my flying technique to maximise my time spent within the air with American in an effort to achieve AAdvantage Platinum — the following elite tier — by March of 2023.

Associated: Chasing American Airways elite standing? Listed below are 14 methods to earn Loyalty Factors

When it got here time to guide flights house for the vacations, I discovered myself feeling conflicted. Ought to I fly house with Southwest, as I’ve carried out for each vacation season so far, or ought to I take into account American for the sake of Loyalty Factors and standing?

In the long run, I made a decision to maintain with custom and guide Southwest. This is why the service swayed me to stay with my normal itinerary as a substitute of flying with American.

Worth of the flights in money and factors

To find out which airline I ought to use this vacation season, I turned to each carriers’ web sites to check costs for Thanksgiving and Christmas flights. I began with my most popular Thanksgiving journey dates of Nov.18 and 30.

After I checked out American flights, the most affordable nonstop possibility I discovered in the principle cabin price $300 round-trip or 13,000 miles plus $11.20 in taxes and charges.

Alternatively, I may pay $240 in money or 16,274 Fast Rewards factors plus $11.20 in taxes and charges for a nonstop Wanna Get Away fare on Southwest.

For Christmas, flight costs have been related. On my journey dates of Dec. 17 and Jan. 3, flying in American’s predominant cabin would price me $340 or 15,000 miles plus $11.20 in taxes and charges.

In the meantime, the most affordable Wanna Get Away fare for a nonstop route would set me again $240 in money or 16,274 Fast Rewards factors plus $11.20 in taxes and charges.

Since I’d save a complete of $160 for each journeys by opting to fly Southwest, the service gave the impression to be my best choice. Nonetheless, I wished to issue within the worth of flying American for my standing quest, too.

Associated: Lastly reunited: How 100,000 Southwest factors are taking me house for the vacations

Worth of flying American for attaining standing

Past the fare value itself, I calculated the impact of a missed incomes alternative with American.

To earn AAdvantage Loyalty Factors, you will have to fly with American or one among its many companions or use a cobranded bank card.

When on American flights, you’ll at all times earn the identical quantity of Loyalty Factors as you do redeemable miles, so 1 base mile earned equals 1 Loyalty Level. The space of a flight flown is barely related on Oneworld accomplice flights.

Calculating my earnings for these Thanksgiving and Christmas flights was a cinch. I merely multiplied the fare value of each American itineraries earlier than taxes and charges (which have been $251 and $288, respectively) by seven — this accounts for the 40% elite mileage bonus I obtain as a Gold member — to get to a ultimate whole of three,773 Loyalty Factors.

I did the identical for the 2 round-trip Southwest choices, multiplying each itineraries (sans taxes and charges) by six — the incomes charge for Wanna Get Away fares — to get a mixed whole of two,356 Fast Rewards factors.

Then, I used TPG’s present valuations for AAdvantage Loyalty Factors (1.77 cents per level) and Fast Rewards factors (1.5 cents per level) to find out the worth of all of the flights. My Loyalty Factors earnings could be price $66.78, whereas my Fast Rewards factors would internet me $35.34 in worth.

Though the Loyalty Factors could be of larger worth, this additional $31.44 in worth would not totally offset the $160 in financial savings Southwest was providing with its decrease fares. Since saving cash is my high precedence, Southwest ended up being the easiest way to go.

Backside line

Finally, I couldn’t ignore the low price of the Southwest flights I discovered for the vacations. Regardless of the missed alternative to earn extra Loyalty Factors, the worth of these potential earnings was not sufficient to justify paying additional to fly American — if I had determined to make use of money.

As luck would have it, I had greater than 32,000 Fast Rewards factors in my loyalty account, so I may cowl each flights with factors. This was an added bonus to my determination to fly Southwest, as I solely had just a little greater than 14,000 American miles, which might’ve lined the Thanksgiving itinerary however not my Christmas flights.

If my Gold standing with American was on the road, I seemingly would’ve thought of paying extra for the American flights.

Nevertheless, I plan to fly a Oneworld accomplice to Asia earlier than the qualification interval ends, so I am assured I will nonetheless obtain Platinum standing by March. Keep tuned for extra about that flight and the way it helped me attain my American elite standing objectives later this fall.

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