American AAdvantage Makes 2021 Elite Status Easier To Earn, Introducing New Elite Choice Benefits

American Airlines announced that earning next year’s status – normally from travel in 2021 for status valid the rest of the year and all of the following year (through January 2023) – will have lower requirements to earn, and members can get started earning now. Travel in October 2020 through December 2020 will count twice: towards earning status this year, and towards earning status next year.

In addition, American will waive the reduced spending requirements for elite status up to Platinum Pro for members spending $30,000 on cobrand cards next years. Members earning Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum status will get new choice benefits. And as previously announced elite members now receive all of their benefits on Basic Economy fares, although starting next year those fares won’t count towards earning status at all.

Starting Earning Next Year’s Elite Status Early

Delta has ‘rollover miles’ which lets a member fly this year and apply the credit towards next year’s status if they don’t need the miles to re-earn their current status. In a world where all of the airlines have extended status, that’s an especially useful feature. It ensures that any flying a member does now isn’t ‘wasted’.

American doesn’t have that as a feature of the program however they’re going to count all “base EQMs, EQSs, and EQDs earned” from flights between October 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 towards status this year (as normal) and also towards earning status in 2021. That means 3 extra months to earn status, so any flight activity now isn’t ‘wasted’. Moreover these flights count towards next year’s requirements that have been lowered (though not lowered as much as 2020 requirements).


American Airlines Domestic First Class

2021 Has Reduced Elite Status Requirements

American is reducing elite status requirements for next year. As a customer I like this approach better than running promotions like double elite qualifying miles or qualifying dollars. The number of required miles or segments for each tier is reduced, and the amount of spending required is reduced too (though since the average fare is lower, requiring less flying should require even less spending than this in order to tie together).

An Executive Platinum member used to need 100,000 miles and $15,000 spend. Instead they’ll need just 80,000 flown miles and $12,000 spend ($12,000 was the spend requirement until last year).

  Gold Platinum Platinum Pro Executive Platinum
Elite qualifying dollars (EQD) 2,000 4,500 7,000 12,000
Elite qualifying segments (EQS) 20 45 70 95
Elite qualifying miles (EQM) 20,000 40,000 60,000 80,000

It’s good to see the lower thresholds, and lets members plan for the year ahead and see what’s achievable for them. I don’t think the requirements are quite low enough based on my expectation for limited business travel especially in the first half of 2021. On the other hand by not lowering requirements more now there’s also room for promotions later.

2021 Will Also Have A Spending Requirement Waiver

Customers who spend $30,000 or more on AAdvantage co-brand cards in 2021 will have the elite qualifying dollars requirement waived for earning status up to Platinum Pro. The spend requirement waiver will not apply to Executive Platinum, however the Barclays Aviator Silver and Barclays co-brand business card still let you earn qualifying dollars towards status based on spend (though you cannot double dip on this using both cards).

The offer is specific to spend “that post[s] to your account between January 1 – December 31, 2021” rather than spend on statements that close in 2021. And all AAdvantage co-brand cards are eligible, not just U.S. co-brand cards.

New Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum Choice Benefits

Executive Platinums who ‘overperform’ already get additional benefits (‘choice reward’). That threshold is being lowered,

Previously, members who qualified for Executive Platinum status received a choice of 1 reward upon reaching 150,000, 200,000 and 250,000 EQMs.

For 2021, we’ll adjust the levels required to earn these rewards to 120,000, 160,000 and 200,000 EQMs.

Platinum Pros will receive a choice benefit upon qualification. All American is saying now about this is that the list will include:

  • a systemwide upgrade
  • Admirals Club day passes
  • bonus miles
  • “and more”


Upgrade To International Business Class

Executive Platinums will receive choices that they can opt for in lieu of systemwide upgrades. I wrote that this was coming about six weeks ago. Members will still be able to pick 4 systemwide upgrades (the current benefit) but they will offer “the flexibility to select from a list of additional rewards.”

Based on member surveys these additional rewards might be 10,000 elite qualifying miles; a pair of headphones; giving Gold elite status to a friend; carbon offsets; a discount on mileage redemption (such as a percentage of redeemed miles rebated); travel voucher; Admirals Club membership. American hasn’t yet said what the final list of choices looks like.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Hopefully this puts pressure on Delta to count all or a portion of 2020 MQDs (dollars spent) in 2021 for 2022 status. With ZERO service in first-class or transcontinental business-class, there is ZERO reason to buy premium airfares and rack up MQDs.

  2. This is amazing, I’m a few carbon offsets short this year and with the new choice benefit I can finally have all of the carbon offsets I need.

  3. Fascinating and finally the chickens are coming home to roost. There are some great features of these changes which have taken a pandemic for AA to wake up to. I have been Exec Plat since 86, am approaching 9 million miles since when it was introduced, so long in the tooth now and I pay for my own tickets as I am self employed – not an employee of a huge organisation which can buy discounted tickets at the front end because of long term contracts – there are none of those for the likes of loyal me. I have watched comprehensive devaluation of loyalty for years. I have also watched degradation of service levels at the front of the plane where decent service and pleasant behaviour is a rarity these days. Now, apparently, the new kid on the block who is now running the program tells us he is astonished that so many SWUs go unused!. Get real. For years this most valuable of rewards for loyalty has only become available on the day of travel. Most of us EPs can afford to pay to ride at the front of the bus and we want upgrade certainty. With the last minute policy AA have succeeded in their aim of getting us to pay all the time for a decent seat. AA needs to recognise that you reap what you sew. Business travel as was will not come back. AA needs to find their mojo again. They need to make their loyalty program work again to keep their very loyal and older customer base who make the airline profitable and to achieve that their loyalty program needs to get real and make SWUs what they used to be many years ago – a real incentive to qualify through the tiers to the top and most rewarding level.

  4. Good information to know however there still is limited flights to and from to even get to these amounts to reach status. Most companies have even suspended business travel. This seems difficult to do given this post COVID environment.

  5. You are right in that they haven’t reduced the EQD to reflect the lower costs of tickets right now, which from what I am seeing, are about 1 third of the price of pre-Covid prices. Although its nice for my company not to pay as much for my flights, it will prevent me from reaching EXP next year at a $12,000 EQD spend. They should bring this down to $9000 or less.

  6. Another great addition of this change is elite benefits apply to basic economy tickets, so upgrades are available as well as selecting preferred seats or using same day changes on BE fares.

    Making SWUs available to Platinum pPto one up Delta. Its Platinums only have access to regional upgrades not globals.

    I hope relaxing the requirements for status does not lead to too many elites competing for things like upgrades and SWU use.

  7. So we awake this morning to learn that the UK Hedge Fund Marshall Wace has taken a 3% stake in BA Owner IAG Group. BA in play? This story has a way to run. I rest my case.

  8. For Exec Plats like me who treasure SWUs, the best thing about these modifications is the extra SWU that is now available. We get four when meeting minimum Exec Plat requirements plus the SWU that is available when qualifying for Plat Pro.

  9. Chasing airline miles has reached the point of absurd. All about seeking status. “I am more privillledged than you.” Sickening.

  10. Hello Fellow AA Travelers,
    First, I agree with every word that @WilliamQJones says. I, too, have been a very, very long time loyal AA traveler, and Executive Platinum for so many years (at least 20-25), and am a 6 Million Miler. For many years, the benefits of flying AA were very nice. Similarly to @WilliamQJones, I own my own company here in the U.S., and purchase my own tickets (they are deductible as business expenses). I have over 20 U.S. employees (some in Dallas, others scattered around the U.S.), and 17 employees in my office in Southeast Asia (SEA). I had been traveling to SEA about every 6-8 weeks before the pandemic. And I desperately need to get back over to my office over there once borders re-open. But, as others have said, the “Executive Platinum brand” has been badly tarnished. Several years back, I woke up one morning and found that instead of being a “valued top tier” flyer (that year was about $55,000 spent and about 360,000 miles), I was a “mostly nothing” because they created a new category of “Concierge Key” (and goodness knows how one is selected for that). And there were fewer and fewer upgrades (although for all of my international travel I always purchased Business Class), fewer and fewer perks, and not a lot of respect for Executive Platinums. So I began to fly other carriers across the Pacific. And Lordy Lordy I discovered how truly nice the Asian-based carriers are (I especially like EVA Air, but other great ones include Korean Air, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, ANA, and even Japan Airlines and Philippine Airlines). As long as American tells me that I am “second rate”, I will use other carriers when I choose (last year I had about 50% on AA, 50% on the others). Last year (2019), I think that I was about $55,000 or $60,000 on AA (about 350,000 miles). As a business owner, I have to “earn my stripes” each day. I have to delight the customer. I have to show each of them, big or small, how much they matter to me. How dedicated I am to their success. And for the people who contract for me (not my regular employees), I must treat them as valued team members and important contributors. And until AA recognizes this, they will only get the “table scraps” from me. Come on, AA. You made many of your most loyal customers feel second rate !! How do you expect them to react???
    EdSparks58

  11. Same song different band!
    Like last year, I hit the EXP level on segments but not in dollars. So it looks like I am stuck at Platinum Pro, Again!
    I don’t buy the tickets my companies travel agent does.
    I have minimal control over dollar amounts but have control over carriers.
    As AA dominates my home airport, DAY, my choices are minimal.
    I have 1.2 million miles with Continental United but they reduced their flights from DAY, no it’s the closest airport I can fly out of.
    I had to switch to AA as Delta deleted 600K flight miles out of my account after their acquisition of Northwest.

  12. Blowing away the 60,000 miles but won’t get to EP because even with $3,000 from Barclays Silver spend. The problem is the flights are so cheap I’m only just over $7K.

    I wonder what the cost will be at the end of the year if they offer the upgrade for a fee like in the past? Usually the offer is a joke.

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