American Airlines “instant upgrade” fares are an amazingly cheap source of British Airways Tier Points (TP). You see, the British Airways way of elite qualification disproportionately favours those who buy Business and First class fares, rather than those who fly economy class. (Which business wouldn't?!).
A standard LHR-JFK first class fare is typically ?3000 or so, which gives 420 tier points. Equivalent to a collection rate of over ?7/TP. If you want to really rack them up, you need to reduce this rate as much as you can, and also to collect as many as you can. So here's an outstanding way to do so. Be advised that to hit either of these tiers requires at least 4 “qualifying flights” which are British Airways marketed OR operated flights, or Iberia marketed AND operated flights. (thanks to AMuller396 for reminding me of this!)
I touched upon the Amsterdam to Jersey tier point run, which is far more convenient for European residents, however American Airlines are selling a LAS-SJU one-way ticket in domestic First class with multiple transfers. Since British Airways classifies these as paid first class cabins, you receive 60 tier points for segments <2000 miles, and 210 tier points for segments >2000 miles.
The beauty of this is that it's a one-way fare bookable in both directions. This means you have no minimum stay restrictions in place, and so direct turnarounds are possible. Simply book two one-way trips, one LAS-SJU and the other SJU-LAS. You can also get enough tier points to hit BA Silver in one return trip. (But don't forget your qualifying flights!)
Be careful of a few things:
- MIA-SJU or SJU-MIA will be in business class, so you receive 40 tier points.
- Usually I would avoid connections through DFW and ORD since this will break up any 2000+ mile segments, thus ruining the efficacy of this tier point run. However none of the permissible routes can avoid this, so your next strategy is to go for as many segments as possible. I can see 5 each way, giving (4*60 + 40)TP = 280TP each way or €1.032/TP.
- There are a few odd LAS-LAX-LAS….(etc.) routings which give 7 segments. I don't know if backtracking through your start airport is valid, but in the event these routings are ok, then you're looking at (6*60 + 40)TP = 400TP each way giving an optimum collection rate of €0.7225/TP.
This is a routed fare, as opposed to an MPM based fare (but whilst you're at it have a read of how to maximise MPM fares), but nonetheless I've copied in the routing rules from KVS Availability Tool at the bottom of this post, but bear in mind most of them will not be bookable online. So far on ITA Matrix I can't find flights with more than 3 stops, but if you find a good travel agent then you might be able to book it through them.
And here are the routing rules. Don't worry that it says “economy class non discountable”. It's an instant upgrade fare so it's all in domestic first or business class.
LASSJU-AA 08MAY13 *RULE DISPLAY* TARIFF 0867 RULE VP02 -FARE BASIS USD NUC PTC FT GI MCE5UPZ1 348.00 348.00 ADT NL MCE5UPZ1CH 348.00 348.00 CNN NL MCE5UPZ1CH 348.00 348.00 INS NL MCE5UPZ1 0.00 0.00 INF NL MCE5UPZ1 348.00 348.00 UNN NL BOOKING CODES I INDUSTRY FARE TYPE - END - ECONOMY CLASS NON DISCOUNTABLE --------------------------------------------------------------- ROUTING 606 FROM-TO LAS-CHI-BOS/BDL/BWI/PHL/WAS-SJU* FROM-TO LAS-CHI-RDU/MSY/STL/NYC/EWR-MIA-FLL -SJU* FROM-TO LAS-CHI-RDU/MSY/STL/NYC/EWR/MSY/STL/ NYC/EWR-FLL-MIA-SJU* FROM-TO LAS-CHI-RDU/MSY/STL/NYC/EWR/MSY/STL/ NYC/EWR/MSY/STL/NYC/EWR-MIA/FLL/TPA -ORL-SJU* FROM-TO LAS-CHI-RDU/MSY/STL/NYC/EWR/MSY/STL/ NYC/EWR/MSY/STL/NYC/EWR/MSY/STL/NYC/ EWR-ORL-FLL/TPA/MIA-SJU* FROM-TO LAS-DFW-STL/MSY/RDU-MIA-FLL-SJU* FROM-TO LAS-DFW-STL/MSY/RDU/MSY/RDU-FLL-MIA -SJU* FROM-TO LAS-DFW-STL/MSY/RDU/MSY/RDU/MSY/RDU -MIA/FLL/TPA-ORL-SJU* FROM-TO LAS-DFW-STL/MSY/RDU/MSY/RDU/MSY/RDU/ MSY/RDU-ORL-FLL/TPA/MIA-SJU* FROM-TO LAS-LAX-LAS-CHI-BOS/BDL/BWI/PHL/WAS -SJU* FROM-TO LAS-LAX-LAS-CHI-RDU/MSY/STL/NYC/EWR -MIA-FLL-SJU* FROM-TO LAS-LAX-LAS-CHI-RDU/MSY/STL/NYC/EWR/ MSY/STL/NYC/EWR-FLL-MIA-SJU* FROM-TO LAS-LAX-LAS-CHI-RDU/MSY/STL/NYC/EWR/ MSY/STL/NYC/EWR/MSY/STL/NYC/EWR-MIA/ FLL/TPA-ORL-SJU* FROM-TO LAS-LAX-LAS-CHI-RDU/MSY/STL/NYC/EWR/ MSY/STL/NYC/EWR/MSY/STL/NYC/EWR/MSY/ STL/NYC/EWR-ORL-FLL/TPA/MIA-SJU* FROM-TO LAS-LAX-LAS-DFW-STL/MSY/RDU-MIA-FLL -SJU* FROM-TO LAS-LAX-LAS-DFW-STL/MSY/RDU/MSY/RDU -FLL-MIA-SJU* FROM-TO LAS-LAX-LAS-DFW-STL/MSY/RDU/MSY/RDU/ MSY/RDU-MIA/FLL/TPA-ORL-SJU* FROM-TO LAS-LAX-LAS-DFW-STL/MSY/RDU/MSY/RDU/ MSY/RDU/MSY/RDU-ORL-FLL/TPA/MIA-SJU*