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American Airlines is extending current elite status through January 31, 2022. They’re also making elite status easier to earn this year. They’re extending Admirals Club memberships, and they’re making Million Miler status easier to earn through the end of this year, too.
Many members were getting frustrated not hearing anything about American’s plans to extend their elite status. They earned the benefits through flying last year, and won’t have the full opportunity to use those benefits in 2020, and want to know what their travel with American will be like going forward. American has answered those concerns.
Overall I like the direction the airline has gone here, but there are still unanswered questions.
Extending Elite Status
Current elite members will have their status extended through January 31, 2022. The change will take “a few weeks” to appear in member accounts. This even includes Concierge Key members.
I assume that this extension does not mean that Executive Platinum and Concierge Key members will be granted additional systemwide upgrades if they do not earn status in 2020. I have not seen anything yet about extending the systemwide upgrades that have already been earned, and will be expiring at the beginning of 2021. I’ve asked about this and will update.
Admirals Club Memberships Extended
American has extended memberships and Admirals Club passes for six months beyond their current expiration date.
This applies both to memberships active as of March 1, and to new memberships purchased March 1 – May 31, 2020. That means a club membership purchased now would last 18 months. One day passes with an expiration date between March 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021 will receive the six month extension.
However we do not yet know anything about what Citibank will do for customers who receive their Admirals Club membership via premium co-brand credit card. That still remains to be addressed (just as American Express and Chase need to address this with Delta and United, respectively).
We also still don’t know about extensions of companion tickets earned via credit card spend as well.
$400 AA Vacations Credit
AAdvantage elites will receive “up to $400 to use toward an American Airlines Vacations package” that can be used “when they call American Airlines Vacations to book a trip.” It seems as though this will have to be redeemed by phone.
AA Vacations has been an excellent source of discounted business class airfares in the past. There will be inexpensive ways to use a credit as well, such as quick West Coast – Las Vegas trips.
Undoubtedly there will be terms and conditions that make this offer less valuable than the headline number would appear. So far we know only that this is limited to U.S. point of origin bookings and that “terms and conditions apply” just not what those are.
Reduced Elite Qualifying Rules For 2020
If you are working to earn elite status for the first time, or to earn a higher status than you already have, American has reduced the miles and spend required for status this year.
|Gold||Platinum||Plat Pro||Executive Platinum|
In addition ‘overperforming’ Executive Platinum members who continue to fly after achieving that status continue to earn rewards at 150,000, 200,000, and 250,000 qualifying miles. Those thresholds are being lowered to 90,000, 120,000 and 150,000 qualifying miles for 2020.
- 90,000 mile award choice: 2 systemwide upgrades, 40,000 bonus miles, or gifting Gold status
- 120,000 and 150,000 mile award choice: 2 systemwide upgrades, 40,000 bonus miles, or gifting Platinum status
United’s new spending requirements were much higher than American’s, and they dropped theirs by 50%. It appears that American took United’s previously announced $2000; $4000; $6000; and $9000 spend requirements for 2020 and copied it, making Gold a little easier to qualify for ($1500).
Earning Million Mile Status Easier
Until December 1, 2011 all miles earned in the American AAdvantage program counted towards lifetime elite status. There was then a brief window where spending on American’s premium co-brand Executive card counted. However they’ve since transitioned to only counting actual flight miles towards million miler status.
American is going to give you a reason to spend on their co-brand cards now. Through the end of the year every net dollar spent will count ern a mile towrds Million Miler status. You’ll be able to spend towards lifetime Gold and lifetime Platinum.
Million milers receive:
- 1 Million Miles: Lifetime Gold and 35,000 bonus miles
- 2 Million Miles: Lifetime Platinum and 4 one-way systemwide upgrades
- Each addition Million Mile Threshold: 4 one-way systemwide upgrades
This applies to both Citibank and Barclays co-brand cards as well as “select” American co-brand cards issued outside the U.S.
I assume the offer means what it says “every dollar spent on net purchases that post to your AAdvantage account between May and December 2020” will count, and that this language has been vetted, but I’ll be following up to make sure this doesn’t refer to statement close dates between May and December and instead to actual purchase dates for spending.
Historically miles from an initial bonus offer have been treated the same as miles earned via spend for most purposes. The language here doesn’t explicitly include these bonus miles counting towards million miler status. I’ve inquired.
Waived Award Redeposit Fees Extended
Awards booked by May 31, 2020 for travel through September 30, 2020 have no redeposit fees. Starting with tickets issued June 1, 2020 onward members will receive free changes if made at least 60 days in advance. For awards changed or redeposited less than 60 days prior to departure, fees will be based on elite status.
American’s normal $150 change/redeposit fee will be:
- General member: $125 seven to 60 days in advance ($150 within 7 days)
- Gold: $100 seven to 60 days in advance ($125 within 7 days)
- Platinum: $75 seven to 60 days in advance ($100 within 7 days)
- Platinum Pro: $50 seven to 60 days in advance ($75 within 7 days)
Executive Platinum and Concierge Key members already do not pay a fee for award ticket changes and mileage redeposits.