American Airlines Unwritten Rule

For the most part, figuring out how many miles you'll earn in what situation is fairly straight forward. If you make your way over to American Airlines earning page for their own flights, it's pretty straight forward. 1 EQM (Elite Qualifying Mile) per mile flown in economy, 2 EQM for every mile flown in discount business/first class, and 3 EQM for full fare first/business class. 

There is one situation I had a lot of trouble finding an answer to before this weekend. This past weekend I made a trip from Philadelphia back to my home town of Syracuse, NY. The flight is very short, only 228 miles in the air. As a Platinum member, I'm guaranteed a minimum of 500 EQM no matter how short the flight. However, I booked my flight in first class, which means I earn 2 EQM per mile flown. The question that I couldn't get a good answer on was this... how does the 2 EQM pair with the minimum mileage of 500 EQM per flight.

Scouring the internet, I didn't find a good answer anywhere, except for an internet forum that seem to confirm my suspicions that they would base the 2x miles on my minimum mileage guarantee. In that case I would expect the minimum mileage to kick in to 500 miles, and then double that for 1000 EQM per direction... boy was I wrong, and I'm even more glad I booked this using credit card points. If I had paid for this upgrade in class of service, I wouldn't have been happy.

Don't get me wrong here, the math does make sense the way American Airlines does it. 228 miles flight at 2 EQM per flown mile comes out to be 456 EQM. In this case it is under 500 EQM, so my minimum mileage kicks in to 500 miles. The frustration comes in that this was a regional flight without many elites flying on board, so many first class seats were open. If I had booked into economy, I would have gotten bumped to first class without a doubt. The thing is, that I would have still gotten 500 EQM for the flight. I have the guaranteed mileage no matter my class of service, so 228 or 456 miles earned, I still get 500 EQM. So keep this in mind everyone, for super short flights, 1st class is not a good idea for earning EQM, you'd be better off in economy and bumping to first class, since you actually end out with the same number of EQM at the end of the day.

I guess I now have an answer for this question.