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Elite status members are usually an airline's most valuable flyers. So, airlines try to incentivize current elites to remain loyal by offering perks such as upgrades, bonus miles, priority boarding and free baggage. Some airlines take this even further by making it easier to requalify for elite status by lowering status requirements or offering accelerated earnings to existing elites.
With these programs, it's easier to maintain airline elite status than earn it.
And now, a familiar program joins the list: American Airlines AAdvantage elite members can currently requalify for elite status significantly faster than non-elite members.
If you're considering a long-term partnership with a new loyalty program, you might want to consider one that offers reduced requirements to maintain status. Here are seven airline loyalty programs that make it easier to requalify once you're already an elite.
How to maintain airline elite status, broken down by program
Starting January 2022, American Airlines revamped its elite status program.
Earning Loyalty Points from flying is relatively simple: If you earn an AAdvantage mile from flying, you'll earn a Loyalty Point. The only exceptions are earning AAdvantage miles on flights marketed by China Southern, Etihad, Fiji and Hawaiian.
American Airlines' elite status is available in four tiers: Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum.
Let's take qualifying for AAdvantage Platinum elite status as an example. To earn Platinum elite status for 2023, you'd need to accumulate 75,000 Loyalty Points between Jan. 1, 2022, and Feb. 28, 2023.
If you already have Platinum elite status, you'll earn 8 Loyalty Points per dollar spent on American Airlines-marketed flights. To maintain elite status just from flying, you'll need to spend $9,375 on airfare to maintain the Platinum level.
If you're starting from no status, you'd need to spend at least $12,429 on American flights to qualify for Platinum elite status. That's because non-elite members earn just 5 Loyalty Points per dollar spent; however, your earning rate is boosted to 7 Loyalty Points per dollar spent once you hit 30,000 Loyalty Points (and earn Gold elite status).
That means current Platinum elites need to spend $3,054 less to earn the same status as AAdvantage members starting from scratch this year.
2. Asiana Club
Only a few U.S. airlines offer more manageable ways to maintain elite status, so let's turn our attention overseas. Asiana Airlines is a South Korean-based airline, but Asiana Club is a great option for earning Star Alliance elite status — which you can use to enjoy perks on airlines like United Airlines and Air Canada.
Your Asiana Club elite status qualification clock starts when you sign up for Asiana Club, and you have 24 months from enrolling to meet the elite status initial requirements. If you do, you'll be upgraded for the remainder of the initial 24-month period plus the following 24 months. That means you can enjoy Star Alliance elite status for up to 48 months if you can achieve the attainable elite status requirements shortly after enrolling.
To earn Asiana Club elite status from flying, you need to earn:
Gold (Star Alliance Silver): 20,000 miles accrued or 30 flights with Asiana Airlines.
Diamond (Star Alliance Gold): 40,000 miles accrued or 50 flights with Asiana Airlines.
For requalifying, Asiana reduces the elite status requirements for existing elites by 25%:
Gold (Star Alliance Silver): 15,000 miles accrued or 20 flights with Asiana Airlines.
Diamond (Star Alliance Gold): 30,000 miles accrued or 30 flights with Asiana Airlines.
Another Star Alliance partner that makes it easier to maintain elite status is Turkish Miles&Smiles. To earn Miles&Smiles elite status, you'll need to earn the following Status Miles within one year:
Classic Plus (Star Alliance Silver): 25,000 Status Miles.
Elite (Star Alliance Gold): 40,000 Status Miles.
Elite Plus (Star Alliance Gold): 80,000 Status Miles.
Then, current Miles&Smiles elites have up to two years to "renew" elite status. You can do so by either earning a set amount of Status Miles in the first year or a more significant amount over two years.
Status Miles needed to re-qualify for elite status
Elite status tier
Earned in first year
Earned in two years
17,000 status miles.
35,000 status miles.
30,000 status miles.
45,000 status miles.
40,000 status miles.
60,000 status miles.
For example, say you live in Turkey and want to earn and maintain Star Alliance Gold elite status through Miles&Smiles. You'll need to earn 40,000 Status Miles in one year to earn Elite status. Then, as shown in the table above, you'll only need to earn 30,000 Status Miles in the next year — or 45,000 Status Miles across the next two years — to extend your elite status for another two years.
Based on our most recent analysis, NerdWallet values Turkish Airlines miles at 1.4 cents each.
It's even easier for members living outside Turkey to requalify for elite status. For "members living abroad," you'll only need to earn 25,000 Status Miles in the first year or 37,500 Status Miles across two years to requalify for elite status.
Flying Blue is the loyalty program for Air France-KLM and a few smaller airlines. But this program can be relevant to U.S.-based flyers, as Flying Blue elite status grants you SkyTeam elite status — which you can earn and enjoy on Delta flights.
To earn Flying Blue elite status, you need to acquire "Experience Points" — abbreviated XP.
For the first tier, Silver status, you need to earn 100 XP in 12 months. At the end of the 12 months, Flying Blue subtracts 100 XP from your balance and you start a new 12-month qualification period with the remaining XP. Then, if you want to be upgraded to Gold — which grants you SkyTeam Elite Plus status — you need to reach 180 XP within the next 12 months.
That means you need to earn a total of 280 XP to earn Flying Blue Gold status in the first place.
However, you only need to earn 180 XP in the next 12 months to maintain Gold elite status. If you don't hold that level, you'll still keep Flying Blue Silver status. That gives you another year to try to earn 180 XP to regain Flying Blue Gold elite status.
5. Aegean Airlines Miles+Bonus
Like Flying Blue, Aegean Miles+Bonus uses a 12-month rolling window, progressive tiers of elite status and a reduced requirement for requalifying. However, Aegean Miles+Bonus earns Star Alliance elite status, and you can shortcut earning status by flying on Aegean.
To earn Silver status, you need to earn 24,000 Tier Miles — or 12,000 Tier Miles plus two flights on Aegean — within 12 months. To maintain Silver, you have 12 months to earn 16,000 Tier Miles or just 8,000 Tier Miles plus two flights on Aegean.
To upgrade to Gold status, you'll need first to earn Silver and then earn another 48,000 Tier Points within 12 months. You can reduce that requirement to 24,000 Tier Points by flying Aegean four times. Without flying Aegean, you'll need to earn 72,000 Tier Points (24,000 for Silver and 48,000 for the upgrade) to reach Gold elite status.
Once you've reached Gold, it's comparatively easy to maintain. You only need to earn 24,000 Tier Points — or 12,000 Tier Points plus four Aegean flights — within 12 months to requalify.
If you want to avoid elite status expiration
Not many U.S. airlines have crafted their loyalty program to make it easier to requalify for elite status. In 2023, American Airlines AAdvantage will be the only program to help current elite status members requalify faster than non-elite members.
However, many international loyalty programs offer reduced elite status requirements for current elite members. The right program for you depends on which domestic airline you want to fly. If you want perks on United, you can earn Star Alliance status through Asiana Club, Turkish Miles&Smiles or Aegean Miles+Bonus. For elite status perks on Delta, focus on Flying Blue.
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