Why You Should Avoid American When Doing an AAdvantage Status Challenge

a woman walking near a pool

Yesterday I wrote about the opportunity for Hyatt elite members to fast track their way to elite status with American Airlines AAdvantage – click here to be reminded of the promotion.

But as a quick guide, here’s what you’d need to accumulate to earn elite status from this fast track offer:

  • Earn $700 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) and either 6,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or 7 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) for Gold status
  • Earn $1,500 EQDs and either 12,000 EQMs or 14 EQSs for Platinum status
  • Earn $2,300 EQDs and either 18,000 EQMs or 21 EQSs for Platinum Pro status

If you already fly around the US regularly, you’ve probably already got your strategies for earning/retaining elite status. But if you are an infrequent flyer and/or hope to take an international trip this year, you might be tempted to participate… since you can pick up elite status with one return trip.  Here’s how…

Premium Economy – Los Angeles to London

A very quick check of Google Flights suggested that you could book a return ticket in Premium Economy on either British Airways or American Airlines for roughly $1,450.

a screenshot of a flight schedule

AAdvantage rules state that Premium Economy flights on either American Airlines or British Airways pick up 1.5 EQMs. Since you would fly 11,092 miles to go from Los Angeles to London and back, you will pick up 16,638 EQMs, regardless of the airline you choose to fly.

So, the difference comes down to the EQDs that you can earn, and the difference is substantial…

American Airlines

EQD is pretty simple to understand when flying on American Airlines – it’s what you pay as base fare and carrier-imposed surcharge, before any taxes. Because there are many different taxes on international flights, you’d only earn 1,050 EQDs from this fare. ($275+$275+$500)

a screenshot of a computer screen


British Airways

But on partner airlines, AA doesn’t know how much your ticket costs, so they fudge the matter with some multipliers. It doesn’t matter how cheap or expensive your British Airways Premium Economy ticket is, because it will always earn EQDs based on 20-22% of the total miles flown. A cheap PE fare between Los Angeles and London would pick up 20% of miles flown –> 2,218 EQDs!

a screenshot of a table with numbers and a number of miles

Fly Beyond London to Earn Platinum Pro Status

My Los Angeles to London (return) example could earn you 16,638 EQMs and 2,218 EQDs, provided you fly on British Airways. That is very close to the requirements for Platinum Pro status under this fast track opportunity.

But with Americans required to complete a 10-day quarantine to enter the United Kingdom at the moment, you would probably want to fly onwards to Continental Europe. When you book a long haul flight in Premium Economy, the European leg books into Economy class, which will earn 1 x EQM and 10% EQDs. In order to reach 18,000 EQMs, that would require 1,362 more EQMs (or a flight covering 681 miles if booked as a return).

Examples of destinations (from London) that would suffice are:

  • Madrid, Spain
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Rome, Italy
  • Greece
  • etc.

Admittedly, if your starting point is far closer to London than Los Angeles, you’d have some additional work to do to meet the requirements for Platinum Pro status – perhaps flying in Business Class instead of Premium Economy – but the concept is still the same. On discounted leisure fares, you will almost always earn more EQDs by flying with British Airways or another partner airline.

The Bottom Line

It’s not very often that you can earn 12+ months of Oneworld Emerald status / AA Platinum Pro status from one return trip to Europe in Premium Economy. But if you have Hyatt elite status and choose to fly to Europe with British Airways or Iberia before the end of 2021, it can be done…


  1. Zebraitis says

    Using ITA Matrix, find faraway cheap flight via BA in Business Class. That’s a .25 multiplier on distance.
    I was considering spending $3K to get to South Africa, which would have net over $6k in EQD, and nearly enough EQM to get to ExP in one long flight.
    With the new $2K EQD or $15K spend on CC to keep ExP, I binned that previous plan.

Comments are closed.