American Airlines Elite Status: What You Need to Know

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, more miles earned when traveling with the airline and other perks.

The airline has made it easier to earn status in 2023 by reducing its status requirements and offering other shortcuts. In addition, American Airlines has completely revamped the way flyers will earn status starting in January 2022 (you don’t even have to step foot on a plane).

How AAdvantage elite status works

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

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

The most exciting perk for many members is a chance at complimentary upgrades.

AAdvantage elite status levels

There are four elite status levels in the program:

  1. AAdvantage Gold.

  2. AAdvantage Platinum.

  3. AAdvantage Platinum Pro.

  4. AAdvantage Executive Platinum.

As you’d expect, progressing into higher tiers gives you new and increased benefits.

American Airlines status benefits

Here’s a summary of the main benefits of each tier:

AAdvantage Gold

AAdvantage Platinum

AAdvantage Platinum Pro

AAdvantage Executive Platinum

Upgrades

Complimentary upgrades on flights 500 miles or more.

Complimentary auto-requested upgrades on flights 500 miles or more.

Complimentary auto-requested upgrades.

  • 4 one-way systemwide upgrades.

  • Complimentary auto-requested upgrades.

  • Complimentary upgrades on award tickets.

Upgrade window (before flight)

24 hours.

48 hours.

72 hours.

100 hours.

Main cabin upgrades

  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra at check-in.

  • Complimentary Preferred seats.

Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats.

Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats.

Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats.

Free checked bags

1 free checked bag.

2 free checked bags.

2 free checked bags.

3 free checked bags.

Mileage bonus

40%.

60%.

80%.

120%.

American Airlines also has a fifth unpublished elite status level called ConciergeKey. 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).

Additional perk: 500-mile upgrade certificates

Gold and Platinum members get four 500-mile upgrade certificates for every 12,500 elite qualifying miles, or 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.

American has not announced how members will earn 500-mile upgrade certificates with the new elite status earning requirements.

Million Miler perks

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.

Despite the change in the way elite status is earned, you still need to fly to earn Million Miler status.

How to earn AAdvantage elite status in 2022

On Jan. 1, 2022, American Airlines transitioned to a completely new way of earning elite status. Previously, passengers had to earn a combination of EQMs; elite qualifying segments, also known as EQSs; or elite qualifying dollars — or EQDs — during a calendar year to earn Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum status.

Passengers can now earn elite status by flying, shopping with an American Airlines partner or  using an AAdvantage credit card. The only benchmark for earning elite status is Loyalty Points,  and the system is really straightforward. One eligible mile earned equals one Loyalty Point.

  1. Purchase something with an American Airlines credit card.

  2. Fly with American Airlines, Oneworld or any other partner airline.

  3. Dine, shop, and spend money with American’s partners, including AAdvantage Dining, AAdvantage eShopping, SimplyMiles and others.

Removing a required spending threshold will make it much easier to earn status. However, you will need to earn many more Loyalty Points to achieve status.

How many Loyalty Points do you need to earn status with American Airlines?

Because it is now much easier to earn status — including without stepping foot on a plane — the number of points needed to reach the top status levels are high.

AAdvantage Gold

AAdvantage Platinum

AAdvantage Platinum Pro

AAdvantage Executive Platinum

30,000.

75,000.

125,000.

200,000.

Table showing points required to earn AAdvantage elite status.

Upgrade priority will be based on the number of Loyalty Points earned. So, the more points you earn, the higher are your chances of getting upgraded. For example, if you’re a Gold elite with 30,000 Loyalty Points, another Gold elite who earned 45,000 Loyalty Points will have upgrade priority over you.

In addition, flying with American Airlines will still be necessary to earn Loyalty Choice Rewards (formerly known as Elite Choice Rewards).

Loyalty Choice Rewards for Platinum Pro elites and above

Starting in March 2022, those who earn AAdvantage Platinum Pro status or higher and fly at least 30 flights get access to Loyalty Choice Rewards. To get access to these awards, you’ll have to step foot on a plane. This is one way that American can compensate those who actually fly with the airline.

Reward level

Loyalty Points required

Number of Loyalty Choice Reward options

1

125,000 (plus a minimum of 30 eligible flight segments).

1.

2

200,000.

2.

3

350,000.

2.

4

550,000.

2.

5

750,000.

2.

Table showing American Airlines Loyalty Choice Rewards levels and requirements.

Choices include systemwide upgrades, Admirals Club day passes, 15% award rebates, a gift of Gold status, $200 American Airlines trip credit and more. As the reward levels increase, so do the choices.

For example, those reaching level 1 can gift Gold status, while those reaching level 4 can gift Platinum status. Once you reach reward level 2, you have two choices to pick from. Check out American’s site for a full list of benefits.

New AAdvantage calendar year

Previously, AAdvantage elite status qualification was based on a calendar year and elite status would expire on Jan. 31 of the following year.

Now, instead of using a calendar year for qualification, members will qualify for status based on the 12-month period starting on March 1 of each year. Status earned will last through March 31 of the following year.

Those who earned status in the 2021 qualification year will have status through March 31, 2023.

January and February 2023 period

Those aiming to earn status toward the 2022 qualification year can continue to do so through Feb. 28, 2023. Loyalty Points earned in 2023 through Feb. 28, 2023, will be added to your account in March and count toward status.

If you don’t re-earn status for the 2022 qualification year, your status will expire on March 31, 2023.

How much is American Airlines AAdvantage elite status worth?

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 comprehensive analysis 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.

Due to the change in the way elite status is achieved, NerdWallet is currently updating calculations for what American Airlines elite status is worth. This table valuation is based on the old method of earning elite status.

Elite level

Value of benefits

Cost to earn

Elite earning rate

AAdvantage Gold

$849.25.

$3,614.

23%.

AAdvantage Platinum

$2,360.24.

$7,229.

33%.

AAdvantage Platinum Pro

$4,232.98.

$10,843.

39%.

AAdvantage Executive Platinum

$9,626.20.

$18,072.

53%.

Table showing AAdvantage elite levels, value of benefits, cost to earn and earning rate.

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.

What are American Airlines miles worth?

According to our valuations, American AAdvantage miles are worth about 1.2 cents each. 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 Web Specials, particularly those in first and business class cabins. If you’re booking regular MileSAAver awards, off-peak award rates also provide great opportunities for spending even fewer miles on certain routes.

Status matching opportunities

There are three status matching opportunities with other airlines when you have elite status with American.

Oneworld Alliance

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 reciprocal benefits. JetBlue and American Airlines have also deepened their code-sharing relationship and 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:

American Airlines elite status level

Oneworld elite status level

Gold.

Ruby.

Platinum.

Sapphire.

Platinum Pro.

Emerald.

Executive Platinum.

Emerald.

ConciergeKey

Emerald.

Table showing AAdvantage elite levels and corresponding Oneworld elite levels.

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.

World of Hyatt

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:

  • Earn 1 AAdvantage bonus mile per qualifying $1 spent at Hyatt.

  • Members of the somewhat mysterious, ultra-elite ConciergeKey status tier get World of Hyatt Globalist status.

  • AAdvantage Platinum members and higher can earn World of Hyatt elite status more quickly.

Delta or United

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 elite status on your own. It remains to be seen if these opportunities will be available under the new elite status system.

Generally, status matching 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.

Can you buy AA elite status?

American Airlines 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 reearn it with the normal terms to keep it. The airline has also been known to send out targeted emails for status challenge opportunities.

Final thoughts on American Airlines tiers

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.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

partner programs

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Alaska Mileage Plan
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Highlights:
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on Alaska's website

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