American AAdvantage Elite Status

Aug 11, 2012
American AAdvantage Elite Status
  • AAdvantage Elite Status
    There are three levels of AAdvantage Elite Status: Gold (GLD), Platinum (PLT), and Executive Platinum (EXP). AA.com now provides a chart summarizing qualification levels and elite benefits.

    Elite Status Qualification Period
    AAdvantage elite status is granted when the appropriate requirements are met within one calendar year (January 1 - December 31). Status earning is cumulative within the same calendar year and you do not "reset" to base zero upon achieving the next status level. However, status earning does not carry over into the next calendar year, and everyone resets to base zero on January 1.

    In contrast, AA defines their elite status membership year as March 1 through the last day of February the following year. A status level can be attained at any time during the calendar year and carries through the ''current calendar year and following membership year''. So, for example, if you qualify for PLT status anytime in 2009, your status will last through February 28, 2011 (unless you requalify in the 2010 calendar year, in which case it will last through Feb. 29, 2012).

    Qualifying for Yearly Elite Status
    There are three ways to qualify for yearly AA Elite Status: Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM), Elite Qualifying Points (EQP), or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS). Do not confuse EQM with redeemable miles (RDM) that you may earn from Non-Air Mileage or bonus miles - EQM are earned only by flying. See Miles and Points for details and examples of mileage and point calculations. See the AA.com Elite Status Qualification page for official rules.

    Qualifying for Elite Status Summary
    Qualification MethodGoldPlatinumExecutive Platinum
    Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM)25K50K100K
    Elite Qualifying Points (EQP)25K50K100K
    Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS)3060100


    Your qualifying flight will accrue elite bonus mileage in accordance with your new elite level. Subsequent mileage bonus calculations will be made in the proper sequence even though your new status may not yet be processed and is not showing on AA.com. Call AA if you need to use your status in the days before it has been processed (to request an upgrade for example).

    Gold and Platinum Challenge
    A popular way for individuals to get status quickly when they start flying with AA is to take either the Gold or Platinum Challenge. There is an Executive Platinum Challenge, but it is by invitation only and is not widely known or discussed at AA.

    Benefits of Elite Status
    There are many benefits to having Elite Status documented at AA.com.

    Benefits of Elite Status Summary
    BenefitGoldPlatinumExecutive Platinum
    Hotline800-848-4653800-843-3000800-843-6200
    In-flight Reservations Hotline*044*055*066
    Pre-reserve Exit Row SeatsYesYesYes
    Waived Checked Baggage Fees(1)YesYesYes
    4 Domestic Upgrade "Stickers" every 10K milesYesYesNo
    Complimentary Domestic UpgradesNoNoYes
    Domestic Upgrade Clearing Window24 hours72 hours100 hours
    Check-In (AA)BusinessFirstFirst
    Check-In (oneworld)BusinessBusinessFirst
    Admirals Club Discount$50$100$150
    oneworld TierRubySapphireEmerald
    Lounge Access based on Status for Intl Travel(3)NoneBusinessFirst
    Boarding (if seated in main cabin)Priority AAccessPlat/EXPPlat/EXP
    Mileage Bonus(4)25%100%100%
    Systemwide Upgrades (SWUs)008
    Waived AAdvantage Award Fees(5)SomeSomeYes, even same day
    Expanded MileSAAver Award Availability(6)NoNoYes
    Guaranteed Economy Seating on Sold-Out FlightsNoNo24 hour notice
    Priority Waitlist for Purchased Business/First SeatsNoNo24 hour notice
    Luggage Tags per Year002
    Free Drink (1) & Snack (1) in Economy Class(7)NoNoYes
    Free Drink (1) & Snacks on American Eagle(8)NoYesYes
    Priority Baggage DeliveryNoYesYes


    Notes:

    1 Within size/weight limits. Overweight/oversize baggage fees may still apply.

    2 In airports without Business Class check-in, AAdvantage Gold members may use First Class check-in.

    3 Must be departing on a oneworld operated/marketed flight that day. Excludes AAdvantage members traveling on solely North American itineraries. North America is defined as U.S. (including Hawaii and Alaska), Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), Bermuda, The Bahamas, and the Caribbean.

    4 Elite status bonus miles on all eligible American Airlines and codeshares, as well as Alaska and eligible partner airlines. Exceptions: Japan Airlines, Malév, and effective March 1, 2008, British Airways.

    5 As of July 29, 2010, GLD, PLT, and EXPs are exempt from the close-in redemption fee (=21 days to flight time) if the miles come from the elite's account. EXPs are also exempt from ticket service fees (phone or airport booking) when they are traveling on the ticket, and from award ticket change and reinstatement fees when the award miles come from their account. The close-in redemption fee (21 days or less to flight time) does not apply if the miles come from an elite member's account. In addition, the ticket service fee (phone or airport booking) does not apply, but only if the EXP is personally flying on the redeemed trip.

    6 Expanded availability is available only by calling American Airlines; it is not available on AA.com. Tip: double-check with the agent that they're searching from the EXP expanded availability.

    7 This is a new policy push, as indicated by flight attendants, but may not be formalized in benefits documentation. As American Airlines is unable to accomodate all EXP members in first class, they are trying to serve EXPs better by providing additional benefits typically found in first class.

    8 This is a new policy push, as indicated by flight attendants, but may not be formalized in benefits documentation. Previously, flight attendants were allowed to do this, but there was no policy encouraging it. As American Eagle takes on longer routes, they are trying to serve elite members better.

    Lifetime Status
    A formally documented benefit of the AAdvantage program as of August, 2011 is the ability to get lifetime Gold and Platinum status. Before you ask - there is no such thing as lifetime Executive Platinum status. Unlike the yearly status qualification where only EQM/EQP/segments qualify you, for lifetime status all miles count - including the ones accrued by credit card purchases. NOTE: non-flying miles stopped adding toward lifetime status as of 1 December 2011, except for holders of certain credit cards. See Non-Air Mileage for ways to earn miles without flying.

    Although American Airlines now documents this bonus, it is subject to change at any time.

    Lifetime Status Qualification and Benefits
    Benefits1 Million Miles2 Million MilesEach Subsequent Million
    StatusLifetime GoldLifetime PlatinumLifetime Platinum
    Luggage Tags2 Gold Tags (or current level, if higher)2 Platinum Tags (ditto)2 Platinum Tags (ditto)
    Upgrades8 Stickers (or 4 SWUs for customers with 'international' addresses(1))4 SWUs4 SWUs


    Notes:
    1 When the million mile status is processed, members with addresses in Europe, South America, Asia, Australia/NZ, Africa will get SWUs. Members with addresses in Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean and Central America will receive stickers. Changing your address may or may not result in the award of SWUs instead of stickers, and may violate the terms of the AAdvantage program.

    It takes about 2-3 weeks after your qualifying flight for your million-mile status to be recognized by the system.
    10 million miles has been recognized by AA parties in focus cities.

    Prepaid Travel Card
    In 2006, AA offered a Prepaid Travel Card declining balance card, where you could immediately get status by purchasing a prepaid travel card. The Prepaid Travel Card was reintroduced in 2008 (last date to purchase was March 31, 2008,) with the following details:

    2008 Prepaid Travel Card Elite Status
    Elite LevelGoldPlatinumExecutive Platinum
    Initial Account Balance$5,000$10,000$20,000


    The 2008 card confers status through February 2009. A notable change in the 2007 and 2008 programs is formal assurance of a "soft landing," which has long applied to status earned in the usual manner, and which lets you drop down one level at a time.

    See discussion of the 2006 program and discussion of the 2007 program.

    The Prepaid Travel Card was not offered again in 2009.

    Status Match
    On occasion AA will do a status match to Gold or Platinum if a member has elite status on another airline. Typically, AA offers this to corporate travel desks as a perk. If your company has a travel desk, it is definitely worthwhile to inquire with them. If you have a travel agent who brings a lot of business to AA, he or she might be able to help as well. In addition, a status match is an official benefit offered with the Merrill+ Card at the +2 level ($20k in annual spend). (Merrill+ is apparently no longer offering this advantage per their website.) As of January, 2011 you are able to obtain a status match simply by calling AA customer service (provided you did not previously have status -- this cannot be used to maintain last year's status). They will ask you to provide either a picture of your current elite card or a screenshot of your statement showing your status.

    Although there do not seem be any published rules, there is a FT thread with some anecdotal information including information that under extremely limited circumstances, AA may match top tier status (Executive Platinum). There is also a FT thread indicating that some company's CIPs as well as Frequent Flyers from some airlines may be granted a status match (only into the two lower tiers, Gold and Platinum).

    It has been reported as of Nov and Dec 2009 that Elite Status Challenge participants having elite status on another airline may be conferred GLD status immediately for the duration of the Challenge.

    Exception Policy
    There is an unofficial exception policy for members who come close to qualifying, but don't quite make it. Note that you cannot request an exception before the end of the qualifying year and by then it is too late to fly more if the exception is not granted. The automatic exceptions have been as follows in previous years:

    • 24,500 miles or points for Gold Status
    • 49,000 miles or points for Platinum Status
    • 99,000 miles or points for Executive Platinum Status
    There have also been older reports of manual exceptions to get Executive Platinum if the member has flown 95,000 miles and has accrued 90,000 points. You will have to call for a manual exception. (N.B.: Reports of this exception all date back to the early days of the points system, when only paid First and Business fares earned more than 1 point/mile. Since then the point/mile ratio has been liberalized, with all fares from B (slightly discounted economy) and up earning 1.5 points/mile. Six more heavily discounted economy fares now earn 1.0 point/mile. A 90/95 ratio of points to miles no longer indicates heavy spending as it once did. As of late 2008, nobody has reported obtaining an exception on this basis for years. There is reason to doubt it still exists.)

    The Exception Policy can change at any time.

    Soft Landing Policy
    In prior years (including the 2010 membership year), AA has had a "Soft Landing" feature which means that if you fail to requalify for a given status level, you will only drop down one level at a time. This is not a publicized aspect of the program. At this time, (April 2010), it's not known how long this will continue.

    Buy-Back Program
    In 2011 and previous years back to 2003, AA has offered a Buy-Back Program for elites who have failed to requalify for status in the preceding year.

    The 2011 offer notes the following eligibility rules: "All current AAdvantage Platinum and AAdvantage Gold members who earned their 2010 elite status* are eligible to participate in this offer provided they have flown at least one elite qualifying segment during 2010. Members who participated in the 2010 offer are not eligible to extend their status for the 2011 membership year''"

    • Gold members pay $409 or $559 (depending on mileage/segments flown in preceding year - breakpoint is 20,000 miles or 24 segments)
    • Platinum members pay $619 or $769 (depending on mileage/segments flown in preceding year - breakpoint is 40,000 miles or 48 segments)
    • Executive Platinum members are not eligible for the program (but will only drop to Platinum in any case)
    • Members who participated in the previous year are not eligible
    • Members who obtained their status through a challenge are not eligible
    • Members who are elite only due to a soft landing are not eligible
    • Prepaid Travel Card members are not eligible
    • Members who received their status as a gift (e.g., through Business ExtrAA) are not eligible
    The Buy-Back Program can change at any time; it is unknown (Dec 2010) if it will again be offered in 2012, or what the pricing will be.

    ConciergeKey
    ConciergeKey Services are provided to a select group of VIPs to facilitate travel on AA. The program is offered on an invitation basis only and is targeted at customers who control travel policy for large organizations. Customers who generate a high amount of revenue for AA may also be invited into this program (those who spend upwards of US$50k a year on travel with AA). Services provided include airport escorts, airplane pre-boarding, and also assistance with flight changes, seat changes, and upgrade requests via their own dedicated reservation line. ConciergeKey representatives will also monitor day of travel of ConciergeKey members and will proactively reroute or rebook travel when necessary. ConciergeKey status allows check-in at First Class counters, as well as access to elite lines through security at certain airports, however it has no effect on upgrade standby listing (ConciergeKey status is not linked to elite status).