Guide to American Airlines Elite Status

Holding American elite status can help you get upgrades, free checked bags and other perks.

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If you regularly fly on American Airlines, it may be helpful to know how its elite status works. If you satisfy the requirements, American Airlines elite status will offer opportunities for upgrades, free checked bags,  and other perks. What's more, the airline has made it by reducing its status requirements and offering other shortcuts.

American Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world. It operates about 6,700 flights per day to 350 destinations in 50 countries. As a member of the , American Airlines and its partners offer a combined 14,250 flights per day to 1,000 destinations in 150 countries.

With so many destinations covered, odds are American Airlines can get you there — or at least somewhere close by. And elite status makes your travels more comfortable and enjoyable.

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Like most airlines, American Airlines has its own travel rewards and loyalty program: . If you ever fly on American, it’s a wise decision to sign up for this free program.

Membership allows you to , which can be redeemed for award flights, upgrades, lounge membership and other uses.

Customers who meet minimum requirements for elite qualifying miles (or EQMs), elite qualifying segments (also known as EQSs) or elite qualifying dollars (that's EQDs) during a calendar year can earn Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum status.

Once you reach the minimum requirements, your new AAdvantage status kicks in. The most exciting perk for many members is a chance at complimentary upgrades.

American Airlines elite status is available in four tiers:

As you’d expect, progressing into higher tiers gives you new and increased benefits. Here’s a summary of the main benefits of each tier:

American Airlines also has an unpublished elite status level called . There are no written guidelines on how you can achieve this status level, but it is believed that this level is reserved for the biggest spenders ($50,000 or more spent on AA flights).

Gold and Platinum members get four 500-mile upgrade certificates for every 12,500 EQMs earned during the membership year following the year they achieved status. These upgrades give main cabin passengers the ability to move up to the next class of service on flights over 500 miles. These upgrades are included with the higher status tiers.

Executive Platinum members who travel often can earn even more. At 150,000, 200,000 and 250,000 EQMs, members can choose between two systemwide upgrades, 40,000 bonus miles or a gift of American Airlines status.

If you reach 1 million qualifying miles, you’ll earn Gold status for the life of the program, 35,000 bonus miles and other Million Miler program perks. At 2 million, you get lifetime Platinum status and four one-way systemwide upgrades. For every additional million miles you fly, you can earn an additional four one-way systemwide upgrades.

Airlines know who their elite customers are, so elite status members may also find top-tier customer service along the way. Depending on the airport and the flight, that can include a fast lane at check-in and early boarding.

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Earning AAdvantage elite status requires meeting the following minimum requirements:

It’s important to note that elite qualifying miles are not always the same as regular AAdvantage miles. Miles earned through a credit card may not qualify as EQMs, and not all miles flown will translate 1:1 to EQMs.

However, the  and both offer opportunities to earn up to 10,000 EQMs per year when you meet minimum purchase requirements.

Elite qualifying segments are segments flown on eligible purchased tickets. EQDs are based on the ticket price, less government-imposed fees.

You can earn EQMs, EQSs and EQDs when traveling on American Airlines marketed and operated flights. You can also earn them on some travel with Oneworld partners.

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The value of American’s elite status depends on various factors, including how often you fly with the airline, how much you use the status and the value you place on perks like upgrades. To assign a value to each level, we performed a of the relevant perks.

The “value” of each status level is also based on the cost to earn. We divided the value of the perks by the cost to calculate the “elite earn rate” for each level.

The highest tiers (Platinum Pro and Executive) offer solid elite earning rates, reflecting that the higher you go, the more value you’ll extract from the benefits.

According to our valuations, American AAdvantage miles are worth about . When thinking about the value you could extract from your miles, a good rule of thumb is to use your miles on redemptions that meet or exceed that valuation.

Great ways to extract even more value from your American miles include using them on , particularly those in cabins. If you’re booking regular MileSAAver awards, rates also provide great opportunities for spending even fewer miles on certain routes.

Earning AAdvantage elite status also gives you perks when flying with the other 13 Oneworld airlines. Alaska Airlines is Oneworld’s newest member, and elites on Alaska and American can now receive . JetBlue and American Airlines have also deepened , and as of May 2021, passengers on both airlines can now benefit from elite qualifying perks when traveling on either carrier.

Here’s how status carries over to other Oneworld travel:

With Ruby status, you’ll enjoy priority check-in and standby. Sapphire level adds on priority boarding, security and partner lounge access. Emerald gives you access to additional lounges and an extra bag allowance.

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American Airlines has a partnership with Hyatt hotels that gives you benefits with both brands. Link your account by entering your World of Hyatt number when logged into your American Airlines account.

Once linked, you get the following benefits:

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If you have elite status with Delta or United, you may qualify for a status match. American may be willing to match your status to Gold or Platinum tier without going through the steps of earning the elite status on your own.

These opportunities can come and go, and some are limited to employees of specific companies — check with your employer to see if this situation is relevant for you.

American Airlines also sells special challenge offers where you can pay for a fast-track to elite status. If you earn status through this method, you’ll have to re-earn it with the normal terms to keep it. To find if you have a current offer available, log in to the American's . The airline has also been known to send out targeted emails for status challenge opportunities.

Earning elite status at American Airlines isn’t easy, but if you travel enough to qualify, you should absolutely take advantage of the benefits because it can completely elevate your travel experience.

Even if you don’t earn elite status, joining the AAdvantage program still makes sense for people who fly on the airline at least once every year.

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