American Airlines extends all AAdvantage elite status by 12 months

American Airlines is the last of the major US carriers to roll out respite for grounded frequent flyers.

By Chris Chamberlin, April 14 2020
American Airlines extends all AAdvantage elite status by 12 months

Members of American Airlines’ AAdvantage frequent flyer program will have an extra year to enjoy their perks, as one of the world’s largest airlines unveils a raft of coronavirus concessions to assist grounded travellers.

Those who continue to fly will also find it easier to upgrade to the next status with elite qualification requirements lowered across the board: here’s what you need to know.

12-month status extension for AA elite members

All elite AAdvantage members will have their current tier extended by one year.

This pushes the current expiry date of elite status from January 31 2021 through to January 31 2022, which will be reflected in members’ accounts online within a few weeks, the airline says.

As status in the AAdvantage program is linked to the calendar year – plus one month at the end to allow all flights from that year to be credited and calculated – any flights taken throughout 2021 may assist in extending that status beyond January 2022, in line with the usual tier requirements.

AA status is easier to earn this year

AAdvantage members hoping to climb the status ladder in 2020 will find it easier to upgrade to the next tier level – or even higher – with the requirements for attaining Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum all eased.

The number of Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) members must earn for each tier is reduced by one third to one half.

Similarly, the number of Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) needed is reduced by 40% across the board, and Elite Qualifying Segment (EQS) requirements are halved. To unlock a certain tier, members must meet its EQD requirement plus either the EQM or EQS requirement, but not both.

Here’s how that looks across the board, comparing the normal and new requirements.

Status vs qualification

Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs)

Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)

Elite Qualifying Sectors (EQSs)

Gold

$3,000 $1,500

25,000 15,000

30 15

Platinum

$6,000 $4,000

50,000 30,000

60 30

Platinum Pro

$9,000 $6,000

75,000 45,000

90 45

Executive Platinum

$15,000 $9,000

100,000 60,000

120 60

These revised qualification requirements apply only to status earned in calendar year 2020. From 2021, the normal requirements will apply: including for those members hoping to extend their status beyond January 2022.

In Oneworld, AAdvantage Gold aligns to Oneworld Ruby – the equivalent of Qantas Silver – while both Platinum and Platinum Pro are Oneworld Sapphire, akin to Qantas Gold. Executive Platinum equals Oneworld Emerald, being on-par with Qantas Platinum.

Bonus perks for Executive Platinum members are easier to obtain

AAdvantage Executive Platinum members who regularly fly long distances are normally given extra rewards after notching up 150,000, 200,000 and 250,000 of Elite Qualifying Miles in a single year.

These thresholds will all be reduced by 40% for the 2020 membership year, coming into effect by May 15 2020.

Now, Executive Platinum members will be offered the choice of two systemwide upgrades, 40,000 bonus miles or AAdvantage Gold status for a friend after reaching 90,000 Elite Qualifying Miles, rather than the usual 150,000.

Similarly, members who reach 120,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (normally 200,000 EQMs) can again choose between two systemwide upgrades, 40,000 bonus miles or status for a friend, but which is instead AAdvantage Platinum, rather than AAdvantage Gold.

Those same options are again available after earning 150,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (normally 250,000 EQMs).

More flexibility on AAdvantage bookings using miles

AAdvantage members who booked – or who plan to book – flights using miles will now receive more flexibility on those reservations, depending on their travel dates.

Reward bookings made by May 31 2020 for travel until September 30 2020 will not be subjected to fees if they change their journey. Normal mileage reinstatement fees will also be waived if the ticket is cancelled.

New AAdvantage award bookings made from June 1 2020 will also offer free flight changes when made at least 60 days in advance of the booked departure date. Fees for changes closer to departure will be as follows, which vary based on the member’s elite tier at the time of the change.

Status vs change date

59-7 days to departure

6 days or less to departure

No AA status (entry-level)

$125

$150

Gold

$100

$125

Platinum

$75

$100

Platinum Pro

$50

$75

Executive Platinum

Waived

Waived

Figures are in US dollars. No fees apply to changes made 60+ days in advance.

Admirals Club lounge memberships extended

Paid American Airlines Admirals Club memberships – which provide access not just to AA’s own lounges, but also to Australian domestic Qantas Clubs and Qantas international business class lounges – will be extended by six months.

This extension will be given to all those who held an existing Admirals Club membership as of March 1 2020, as well as those who either purchase or have purchased a new Admirals Club membership between March 1 and May 31 2020.

One-day Admirals Club lounge passes will also be extended by six months, if they carried an expiry date between March 1 2020 and May 31 2021, inclusive.

Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines extend status

American Airlines’ news follows similar status extensions rolled out by Delta, United, and soon-to-be Oneworld member Alaska Airlines.

Like American, Delta is extending its elite members’ status by one year, but is also pooling all Medallion Qualification Miles earned throughout 2020 into the 2021 membership year, to help travellers retain their status once again for 2022. Sky Club lounge memberships are also extended by six months.

United is also extending all elite memberships by 12 months – now carrying the same January 31 2022 expiration date as with American Airlines – and adding six months onto paid services such as lounge access and inflight WiFi subscriptions.

Alaska Airlines instead began by increasing the number of elite qualifying miles earned on flights, but has since rolled out a full 12-month extension for elite members, who see their 2020 status extended until December 31 2021.

Read: These airline loyalty programs will extend your status and Not travelling? Your status is safe with these hotels

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


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