A few weeks ago I received an email from American Airlines which promoted the ability to purchase either AAdvantage Gold or Platinum status directly for just $500 and $1,300 respectively. Then I completed some last-minute flights which put me even closer to qualifiying for AAdvantage Gold and a second email arrived which reduced the outright cost from $500 to $400. I planned on paying for status outright, but was recently assigned to travel to Minneapolis for work. My STL-DFW-MSP-ORD would put me just 2 segments shy of qualifying for AAdvantage Gold in 2017 so I quickly looked into completing a Segment Run!

Planning

My options were more limited in planning this trip because I was going to be in St. Louis instead of Chicago when I was hoping to fly. I found fairly decent prices from St. Louis to Minneapolis or Chicago, but was worried about traveling north and running into snow or ice. Then I noticed a round trip flight from STL to DFW with a same-day turn for just $250! I realize $250 is expensive for a segment run, the goal is <$50/segment, but $250 is much less than paying for status outright. I booked the flights immediately and was ticketed shortly thereafter. The turn in Dallas was going to be tight, just 40 minutes on the ground. I was not too worried when I booked the flight, but that changed when it was time to fly.

St. Louis to Dallas

Yesterday was the travel day, interestingly I was allowed to check-in to my STL to DFW leg and unable to check-in to my DFW to STL return. I have run into this issue before. Whenever I build nearly impossibly tight connections AA does not allow me to check-in until I am at the gate for the next flight. Since the app wasn’t allowing me to check-in I started to question if I could make it from DFW Terminal B to Terminal C in enough time. I definitely did not want to overnight in the DFW airport so I made a run for the airport to try to catch the 3:38PM departure.

After a quick Uber to the airport I arrived at 3:05pm and hurried to the security lines which are often extremely slow at STL airport. Thanks to TSA PreCheck (which was free from the Citi Prestige card) I was through security in no time. Next, I ran to the STL Admirals Club (also thanks to Citi Prestige) to try to get a seat on the earlier flight. Within a few moments I was added to the standby list, confirmed, and in a seat. The flight was 100% full and I wonder had I walked to the gate first and waited for a gate agent if I would have been able to get on.

DFW Airport

With my original itinerary I was only going to have about 40 minutes at DFW airport, but because I hopped on the earlier flight I had about 2 hours to kill. I took the SkyLink to the D gates to visit the American Express Centurion Lounge (via American Express Platinum Card) for dinner, drinks, and a stop at the Exhale Spa for a massage. After a few hours I got back onto the SkyLink and went to Terminal C for my return flight to STL.

Dallas to St. Louis

My flight back to St. Louis was “extremely full,” but it seemed first class was only about 50% full. I wish I would have stopped by the Admirals Club in DFW to request an upgrade. I guess it was not worth the 500-mile upgrade anyway considering the flight is just 503 miles and lasted just over an hour.

Final Thoughts

This year has been interesting to say the least. I went into 2016 with intentions to qualify for American AAdvantage Platinum with 50,000 miles flown, but ended up qualifying for AAdvantage Gold through completing 30 segments. After several “enhancements” to the AAdvantage program I planned to switching loyalty to Delta in 2017, but as a Chicago based traveler Delta just did not make sense. It looks like I will end up flying American again in 2017!

Also, this trip highlighted my value of Admirals Club access. I honestly do not know if I would have gotten a seat on the earlier flight had I waited for the gate agent to complete the boarding process. Usually if you arrive at the gate after boarding has begun you have to wait until the boarding process is complete to receive help. In that time, the agents work through the standby and upgrade lists to assign seats to waiting passengers. I guess I am going to have to convert the Citi Prestige back to the Citi AAdvantage Executive card in 2017!

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