American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum“In the right seat, getting there can be half the fun.” – Executive Platinum Program Guide

I did it! I ended the year with 101,816 elite qualifying miles granting me Executive Platinum status on American Airlines for the flying year of 2008!

How did I do it? Do you remember the mileage run I mentioned a couple of weeks ago? Well, I didn’t actually do a mileage run for the pure sake of the miles. Instead I cancelled my award ticket (free and doesn’t count for miles) for our holiday trip to see my family in Ohio and rebooked it as a regular (albeit very expensive) coach ticket. Jeanine still flew for free but because one of us had a paid ticket, they went ahead and upgraded both of us to first class.

What did this ticket cost me? $850. Before everyone gasps and chastises me for blowing a boat-load of money… hear me out. If you divide $850 by 14 months (I’m guaranteed Executive Platinum status through the end of Feb 2009), this comes to $60.71 per month. Pennies in my opinion for this perk. Some of you spend more on lattes every month.

Why did I do it? For the eight complimentary systemwide upgrades. You see, I have plenty of 500-mile upgrades in my account (over 30, yes thirty!), but these are only valid on North America flights and I rarely get to use them… that’s why I have so many sitting there unused in my account. But the systemwide upgrades allow me to get an advance confirmed upgrade when I book an international flight. So at the end of January, when I’m heading to Japan, I’m hoping the ten hours from Los Angeles to Tokyo will be in Business Class. Rinse and repeat on the seven other international flights I’ll likely be taking in 2008.

For four years, I’ve been flying coach all over the world. That’s how it works when you work for a start-up. Coach tickets. Name a city in Europe. I’ve been there via coach. Name a city in Asia. I’ve been there via coach. And after every trip, I have the swollen ankles to prove it.

For sixty bucks a month, it’s worth being able to put my feet up! And if some cute flight attendant fluffs my pillow and offers me a hot towel… well, that’s a gift with purchase. Executive Platinum status is priceless and I’m going to love every flying minute of it.