American Airlines Brings Back Elite Status Challenges, Based On Loyalty Points Not Flights

American Airlines hasn’t had an ongoing status match or challenge program since launching Loyalty Points as the new way to earn status, where most AAdvantage activity counts and no longer just flights.

However they’ve brought back status challenges, called Instant Status Pass, and these will now be based on how many Loyalty Points you earn (whether from credit card spend, online shopping etc.) and not just how many trips you take.

  • Receive instant elite status good for 4 months

  • Earn enough Loyalty Points in those 4 months to keep it for another 4 months

  • Then earn enough Loyalty Points in those next 4 months to keep it not just for the following 4 months, but for the rest of the following member year.

Some members will have offers in the Promotions tab of their account automatically (with 30 days to register), this week or at times in the future. However challenges can be requested by calling AAdvantage Customer Service at 800-882-8880.

Here’s what earning during the first four months of the challenge will mean for the status you can generate. Basically, it’s the annual Loyalty Points requirement divided by three.

• Members can only aim for a higher status at the end of Phase 1, but not following phases.
• If a member is on a challenge for a higher tier, say Platinum Pro, and they don’t quite reach the requirements in one phase, but they do for the tier below, say Gold, they will have a ‘soft fall’ in place to still help them achieve Gold status through the rest of the challenge.

The second four month requirement may vary by member, but it also sounds like going above and beyond what’s required in one period will roll over to help meet the requirements during the next period. So someone enrolled in a Gold challenge that earns more than 10,000 Loyalty Points in the first four months would have a head start on requirements during the second four months.

After completing each four month milestone members will receive an email describing the next four-month challenge.

Some members will receive fee-free offers to register, but fees won’t be waived for everyone. This mirrors how status challenges have worked at American in the past, since these were often fee-based.

American has occasionally still targeted flight-based status challenges and intermittently offers status challenge opportunities to Hyatt elites.

Status matches ultimately drive a profitability strategy. They aren’t just a way to make it easier for profitable customers to switch brands. After a status match the program is focal, and the customer highly motivated. Status matches generate incremental business for American Airlines.

And while I find the process of earning the second four months of status during the first four, and the third four months of status during the second four, to be somewhat convoluted I also get the impetus. They’re trying to keep people engaged so that engagement by high value customers becomes the norm and carries forward past the status period. It will be interesting to see whether the level of complexity is too clever by half, but it will also be a good opportunity for many to earn American AAdvantage status (note: it’s no longer called ‘elite’ status).American Airlines hasn’t had an ongoing status match or challenge program since launching Loyalty Points as the new way to earn status, where most AAdvantage activity counts and no longer just flights.

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, 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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Will the awards for reaching platinum or Exec platinum be given w/o the 30 flight threshold? As an Exec platinum through 100+ flights plus discretionary spending I am not overjoyed of seeing more Exec platinums which may reduce my 90%+ upgrades I have enjoyed this calendar year. Yes, I am selfish, and would like to see American give more incentives to those who earn Exec. plat the traditional way. Right now the only additional benefit one can receive after earning Exec. platinum is to stay near the top of upgrade lists by flying on more and more AA flights. Reaching the 300,000 or 400,000 Loyalty Point thresholds to earn an additional reward is not very doable for non-business flyers. Further, the value of system-wide upgrades, which only make sense to use them on long-haul flights (with lie down seat) is reduced when there are fewer SWU’s granted due to fewer seats available.

  2. So… me understand, if I’m aiming for PlatPro only, so how many flights for the first 4 months and times how many loyalty points to achieve as a pretty much de facto PlatPro???

  3. This seems highly complicated. There are also relatively significant upfront monetary costs and a lot of downside risk of losing status if you stumble during a phase. Add on that you have to call to activate and I’m not sure how many folks will actually go after this. Which as a PPro on the verge of ExecPlat I’m totally fine with.

  4. Is this targeted, or can anyone call and receive the challenge? What fees have been charged if the challenge is not provided free?

  5. The fees as explained to me by the online agent are the following,

    Gold – $200 or 20k miles
    Platinum – $450 or 50k miles
    Plat Pro – $700 or 80k miles
    Exe Plat – $975 or 120k miles

  6. Can someone with lifetime Gold do a higher status challenge? Former EXP but have not flown much the last few years so status was lost.

  7. Gary – I am a 4-million miler and was presumably a “Platinum for life” under the old strictures. Has that status given way to AA’ complicated formula??

  8. Confusing. I think Bask miles will not count as they are NOT loyalty miles.

    But as Platinum for Life, do I have the same $700 fee for Plat Pro as someone who is Gold now? And if I am flying on flights in international business class that I “purchased” by using my miles, am I eligilble for Upgrade to First with the Plat Pro status?

    I have a return trip from London scheduled in Dec and an RT to Argentina in Jan.

  9. Hmmmm will they retro a start date? Today is Oct 18th and if they retro to August 18th then I’d be well on my way with a status challenge landing at PLAT from lifetime gold.

  10. There’s no Status Pass for CK, still invite-only as always.

    Any more DPs on offers at different status levels? Wondering if the Gold200/Plat450/etc. are with no status or also with status. e.g. what does a Gold get offered for Platinum?

    Anyone have an idea on how fast the skip-level happens if you qualify for a higher level? For example if you register for Gold but hit 25K LP, it seems clear that you get upgraded to Platinum. But does that upgrade hit when your 25K post or does it have to wait until 4 months is up and Phase 2 starts?

  11. Absolutely the most confusing program I have ever seen but I am upset that with 67000 miles you can get executive platinum whereas it just cost me 200000 points or miles in the recent 6 months. Once again they do anything to dilute your miles.

Comments are closed.