Last year was a bonanza for bonus elite-qualifying miles (EQMs), with double-EQM promotions in place at several major carriers for fully six months.
So far, this has been a leaner year for EQM bonuses.
US Airways' first offer awarded double EQMs for all flights, for two months, but ended June 15.
American, Delta, and United are fighting it out with triple EQMs for flights between New York and Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
And Delta and American are using double EQMs to boost traffic from Nashville, Raleigh, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.
The latest EQM promotion is again from US Airways.
Between July 7 and October 10, Dividend Miles members will be awarded one credit for each completed flight within 20 categories: North America, east; North America, west; Europe; Shuttle; new routes; and so on. Four credits earn Silver Preferred status, or a one-level bump for members who already have elite status. Eight credits earn a two-level status bump. Twelve credits earn a three-level bump. And sixteen credits earn a four-level bump, to Chairman's Preferred.
Status earned through the promotion will remain in effect through February 29, 2012.
Deal or No Deal
Unlike the other current EQM promotions, which target specific routes, the US Airways offer is systemwide. That's both a strength and a weakness. Because flights within the same category only count once, it would be necessary to complete flights over most of US Airways' network to earn the maximum 16 credits. Even for the most frequent flyers, that's a highly unlikely scenario.
On the other hand, earning four credits—enough for entry-level elite status, or to upgrade to a higher tier if you're already elite—shouldn't be too difficult.
So, if you're already a US Airways customer, this is an offer worth considering. It might even make sense to take an extra flight, if the price is right, to snag that fourth credit. Or even the eighth credit, if you travel often and widely enough.
But for those vested in another program, or who are airline-neutral, this promotion sets too high a hurdle to bother with.
Reader Reality Check
Any takers on this? How high do you plan to aim?
If you already have elite status in US Airways' program, how successful have you been in getting elite upgrades?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.