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Should You Go for American Airlines Status? Here’s What You Get With Each Level

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Should You Go for American Airlines Status?  Here’s What You Get With Each Level

Harlan VaughnShould You Go for American Airlines Status?  Here’s What You Get With Each LevelMillion Mile Secrets Team

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American Airlines is the largest airline in the US, and if you’re located near one of their hubs, flying with them might be the most convenient option.  If you fly enough, you’ll earn credit toward elite status, which gets you perks like automatic upgrades when available, free checked bags, and priority boarding.

Like other airlines, you have to fly a lot to earn meaningful status.  And if you find yourself between tiers, you might wonder if it’s worth it to “level up” and earn American Airlines status to make your travels smoother.  Especially if you have a lot of trips planned.

If you like American Airlines miles and perks, you might consider opening one of their cards, like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® for its strong sign-up bonus, or the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, which comes with access to Admirals Club lounges where you can relax and grab a drink or snack before your flight.

There are 4 elite status levels.  To attain each one requires an extra 25,000 miles of flying, and all have different benefits.

Use American Airlines Miles Towards Off-Peak MileSAAver Travel to Save Thousands of Miles Over Normal Award Prices
American Airlines Elite Status Can Get You a Lot, Especially at the Highest Tier.  Is It Worth It for You?

Let’s see what you get with each American Airlines elite status level!

American Airlines Status:  How to Earn It & What You Get

American Airlines Miles Review: Your Ultimate Guide

American Airlines miles are among the most valuable airline miles.  We have our ultimate guide to American Airlines miles to show you how to use them.

When you fly American Airlines, you’ll not only earn miles, but credit toward elite status.  At each tier, you’ll get benefits like free checked bags, upgrades when available, and mileage bonuses, depending which of the 4 elite status tiers you achieve:

  • American Airlines Gold – Earn 25,000 EQMs or 30 EQSs AND $3,000 EQDs
  • American Airlines Platinum – Earn 50,000 EQMs or 60 EQSs AND $6,000 EQDs
  • American Airlines Platinum Pro – Earn 75,000 EQMs or 90 EQSs AND $9,000 EQDs
  • American Airlines Executive Platinum – Earn 100,000 EQMs or 120 EQSs AND $15,000 EQDs

The acronyms may look intimidating, but they’re pretty easy.  Here’s a summary:

  • EQMs (Elite Qualifying Miles) – Earned based on the distance flown, airline, and fare class
  • EQSs (Elite Qualifying Segments) – Earned based on the number of flights you take
  • EQDs (Elite Qualifying Dollars) – Based on how much you spend on American Airlines flights and certain partner airlines

When you start out, you’ll reach a new elite tier every 25,000 miles you fly on American Airlines and oneworld airlines and add your American Airlines loyalty number.  Mileage flown is how most folks earn their status, which is tracked by EQMs.

If you connect a lot, you might qualify solely on the number of flights you take.  EQSs are exactly that, and you’ll earn 1 EQS every time your flight takes off.

While you can qualify for elite status based on EQMs or EQSs, American Airlines also requires you to spend a certain amount on airfare (not including taxes and ancillary fees), called EQDs.

To Earn American Airlines Status, You’ll Need to Fly and Spend Enough to Achieve Each New Tier

Each level requires $3,000 in spending, until you reach Platinum Pro.  To earn the next level up, Executive Platinum, you’ll need to spend another $6,000, for a total of $15,000.

Spending $50,000 per calendar year on the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver MasterCard® will count for $3,000 toward the EQD requirement.  But you cannot apply for this card directly – and that’s a LOT of spending.  So there aren’t many ways around the fact that if you want American Airlines elite status, you’ll have to pay up one way or another.

Now let’s see what each level gets you.

1.   American Airlines Gold Status

This is where everyone starts.  After you fly your first 25,000 miles (or 30 segments) on American Airlines, you’ll get:

  • 7 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines and certain oneworld flights
  • At least 500 EQMs every time you fly (or 250 EQMs for Basic Economy fares)
  • Unlimited upgrades on flights under 500 miles
  • First Class upgrades – 24 hours before departure when you use 500-mile upgrades on flights over 500 miles
  • Companion upgrade when available
  • Preferred seats and Main Cabin Extra seats within 24 hours of departure
  • Free same-day standby
  • 1 free checked bag
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Waived award processing fees
  • Partner airline benefits, like priority check-in

Gold and Platinum members will earn four 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 EQMs earned.  You can use one upgrade for every 500 miles flown, and it’s always rounded up to the next 500 miles.

For example, if your flight is 1,220 miles, you’d need to use three 500-mile upgrades to get into First Class.

American Airlines Gold Elite Status Gives You a Shot at First Class Upgrades, Especially on Short Flights

And while upgrades will be hard to come by, especially at American Airlines hubs, you might get lucky when you fly off-peak, or on a less popular route.  And earning more redeemable miles every time you fly is a nice perk.

2.   American Airlines Platinum Status

After reaching Gold, next up is Platinum.  You’ll get everything you got with Gold, and:

  • 8 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines and certain oneworld flights
  • First Class upgrades – 48 hours before departure when you use 500-mile upgrades on flights over 500 miles
  • Preferred seats and Main Cabin Extra seats upon booking
  • Free same-day standby and priority bag delivery
  • 2 free checked bags
  • Partner airline benefits, like priority security, and access to Business Class and frequent flyer lounges

Here’s where you’ll get a little more when you fly.  Your upgrades will have higher priority, you’ll earn more miles, and the overall experience is faster and more convenient.  Also note you’ll be able to use partner lounges starting at this level.

3.   American Airlines Platinum Pro Status

Beyond Platinum, you’ll earn Platinum Pro.  By this time, you’ve flown American Airlines and its partners quite a lot.  You’ll get all the previous benefits and:

  • 9 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines and certain oneworld flights
  • First Class upgrades – 72 hours before departure
  • Free same-day flight changes
At the Platinum Pro Elite Status Level, You Won’t Have to Pick and Choose Your Upgrades Because They’ll Happen Automatically If There’s Space

At this level, you won’t to bother with 500-mile upgrades any more – First Class upgrades will clear automatically up to 3 days before departure.  It’s not a huge step up from Platinum other than that, but you’ll get more flexibility if you want to take an earlier or later flight, because same-day changes are free.

4.   American Airlines Executive Platinum Status

Executive Platinum is by far American Airlines’ most rewarding tier, and for good reason.  You’ve flown a lot to get here, and they’re ready to give you the VIP treatment.  You’ll get everything already mentioned and:

  • 11 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines and certain oneworld flights
  • First Class upgrades – 100 hours before departure
  • 4 systemwide upgrade certificates
  • Upgrades on award tickets
  • 3 free checked bags
  • Waived award change and redeposit fees
  • More award seats to choose from
  • Guaranteed Main Cabin seats if no upgrades are available
  • Free snack and alcoholic drink in the Main Cabin
  • Partner airline benefits, like access to First, Business Class, and frequent flyer lounges
Get 3 Free Checked Bags, Upgrades on Award Tickets, and Oodles More Benefits With Executive Platinum Elite Status

Even if you don’t get an upgrade, you’ll always get the best seat available in the Main Cabin, and a free drink and snack.  You can access most partner lounges when you fly internationally, and check up to 3 bags for free.

The biggest perk here are the 4 systemwide upgrade certificates, which let you book a coach ticket, then confirm yourself an upgrade at the time of booking.  It works for one-way travel (up to 3 segments) – and you can share them with anyone.  You can use these for American Airlines’ longest routes, like Los Angeles to Hong Kong or Dallas to Tokyo, and sit up front for no extra cost – this perk alone can be worth $1,000s if you can find an upgradeable seat.

With American Airlines, the top level really is the best.  You’ll get the most flexibility, best rewards, and lots of extras.

American Airlines Status FAQS

Here are a few of the most common questions about American Airlines elite status.

What Does Elite Status on American Airlines Mean?

Basically, you’ll earn more redeemable miles and have a better shot at upgrades when you fly on American Airlines.  You can also board before general ticketholders and check at least 1 bag for free on every flight.

Do American Airlines Elite Status Members Get Free Checked Bags?

Yes, you’ll get:

  • 1 free checked bag with Gold elite status
  • 2 free checked bags with Platinum or Platinum Pro elite status
  • 3 free checked bags with Executive Platinum elite status

What Are Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) on American Airlines?

EQMs are the number of miles you’ve flown on American Airlines and oneworld partner airlines, and it’s calculated based on the actual miles and airline flown, and the fare code purchased.  For example, here’s what you’ll earn on American Airlines flights:

For Most Coach Fares, You’ll Earn 1 EQM per Mile Flown, and More If You Buy Premium Tickets

You can see the fare code when you book your ticket, so you can find how many EQMs you’ll earn for your flight.

Does American Airlines Match Elite Status?

No.  But you can call them at 888-697-5636 to request a Gold or Platinum status elite challenge for $200.  You’ll have 90 days to earn:

  • 7,000 EQMs OR 8 EQSs and $1,000 EQDs for Gold
  • 12,500 EQMs OR 16 EQSs and $2,000 EQDs for Gold

Want status right away?  You can pay an extra $200 for Gold ($400 total) or $300 for Platinum ($500 total).

Can You Buy Elite Status on American Airlines?

They occasionally run targeted offers to purchase or “buy up” to the next status level.  But again, those are targeted, and usually at the end of the year.

Otherwise, you can pay the up-charge to get instant Gold or Platinum elite status when you do a status challenge.  But it’s only good for 90 days, unless you meet the requirements (see above).

Is American Airlines Status Worth It?

American Airlines’ top-tier Executive Platinum elite status requires a lot of flying.  And the lower levels aren’t as rewarding as other airlines because of their 500-mile upgrade system you have to deal with until you hit 75,000 miles or 90 segments flown.  Until then, you have to get by with upgrades on shorter flights or hanging out in a preferred or Main Cabin Extra seat, with an occasional upgrade on longer flights.

Plus, there’s really no way to get around the EQD requirement.  You have to spend money if you want the status.  Because of these limitations, I wouldn’t go out of my way to earn it, unless:

  • Your travel is reimbursed or covered by your employer
  • You’re hub captive and don’t have many other choices
  • American Airlines’ routes, times, and prices serve your travel needs the best
  • You plan to earn elite status with American Airlines year after year and can keep the higher levels easily

When you earn American Airlines elite status, it’s good for the remainder of that year and all of the following year.  So if you have a period of heavy travel, you can set yourself up with elite status for nearly 2 years.  If that gets you Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum, you’ll have the best shot at snagging those space-available upgrades.

But honestly, I wouldn’t go out of my way to earn American Airlines elite status, especially considering you can get perks like a free first checked bag on domestic itineraries and preferred or priority boarding with these American Airlines credit cards:

If you find yourself between tiers, carefully review the perks of the next level to see if they’ll save you time and money.  There’s not much difference between Gold and Platinum, but there’s something to be said for being Platinum and going for Platinum Pro (not dealing with 500-mile upgrades any more).

Ultimately, it’ll depend on your travel goals.  If you have a lot of travel coming up, with most of it on American Airlines, it’s certainly worth earning perks along the way and seeing where you end up.

Bottom Line

I wouldn’t earn American Airlines status unless I was certain I’d reach the Executive Platinum tier to get the most benefits.  That’s because status earned is valid the rest of the current year and all of the following year.  So with a lot of travel, you’ll have the best shot at upgrades, and get tons of benefits to make your travels smoother.

At lower levels, you have to mess with 500-mile upgrades, and at hubs or on busy routes, your upgrade chances are buried by top-tier elites.  Plus, there’s no way around the EQD requirements, so you have to spend as well as fly certain amounts on American Airlines.

That said, if American Airlines is your best and/or cheapest option for travel, definitely see what level you can earn, because something is better than nothing.  And earning bonus redeemable miles is always a nice treat when you fly.

If you have American Airlines status, what you do think of it?  And what’s your favorite benefit?

Here are our other articles to learn more about American Airlines miles:

 

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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