Why I Just Spent 28 Hours On a Plane

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I just spent 28 hours in transit on 5 flights, coming back from a two day mini-vacation in Panama. And when you calculate the outbound flights, it’s more like 56 hours of travel for 39 hours of leisure. My back is killing me. So why am I excited?

I just earned 43,000 award miles and 25% of the elite qualifying miles (eqm) I need to requalify for top airline status. All in a long weekend!

American Airlines has been/is offering $700-$900 First Class fares from Los Angeles to Panama City, Panama. Since Panama wasn’t at the top of my wish list and Los Angeles is quite a ways from DC, I couldn’t understand why my friend was encouraging me to do the mileage run. Fortunately patiently walked through what a great deal it was.

The routing was LAX (Los Angeles)-JFK(New York)-MIA(Miami)-Panama City (PTY), which is 9, 432 miles according to the Great Circle Mapper. Because it’s a paid first class fare, you earn 150% award miles and double status miles.

american airlines earning miles chart

So my flights yielded 14, 148 award miles and 18.864 miles towards status. Executive Platinums still currently get a 100% mileage bonus, which boosted my award miles total to 23, 580.

But it gets better! The flights qualify for American Airlines’s premium class bonus miles offer.
AA bonus miles promotion

As an Executive Platinum I earned 3,500 miles for the LAX-JFK segments, and 500-1,000 for the rest, a total of 10,000 additional award miles.

Tack on the miles earned by flying from the East Coast to Los Angeles and back and I’ve netted over 43,000 award miles for around $1100, plus I got a two night vacation in Panama City, just enough time to soak in some sun, experience the food, and check out the Panama Canal.

Keri Panama Canal top viewing deck

The outbound wasn’t bad. I broke up the flights with a night in LA to hang with a friend and saved the cost of a New York hotel room by taking the redeye. It was the flights back that were a little brutal – 6AM out of Panama, landing in DC at 11AM the next day. Even in lie-flat seats on the JFK-LAX flights, not enough time for sleep.

view of american airlines a321 lie flat business seats

But thanks to this trip, and 3 other fun adventures including Portland Urban Winetasting and the Iditarod, I’m already at 80K for the year making requalifying for Executive Platinum much easier!

If you’re interested in doing this mileage run, Google Flights is still showing availability for select dates May-July, though you might have to pay more and play with dates and flights to get the LAX-JFK legs that earn the biggest bonus. Economy fares are available for under $400, but then you’re not getting the class of service or premium bonus offers.

Note your existing status with American Airlines will determine how many miles you earn, so make sure you do the calculations!

Also note: you should go as soon as you can, before American Airlines puts their new revenue-based mileage earning guidelines in place mid-year.

Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world.


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