American Airlines Extends Elite Status, Gives $400 Credit and Makes Million Mile Status Easier To Get

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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
EQD $3,000 $1,500 $6,000 $4,000 $9,000 $6,000 $15,000 $9,000
EQM 25,000 15,000 50,000 30,000 75,000 45,000 100,000 60,000
EQS 30 15 60 30 90 45 120 60

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.

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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Comments

  1. Gary, do you know if the award redeposit fee waiver applies to AA’s web special award fares as well?

  2. This is good news.

    Related question: What happens to SWUs that have now expired but were confirmed on flights that have been cancelled? I had some SWUs that expired January 31, 2020 but I confirmed them for flights in April (so was able to use them). Those flights have now been cancelled. I haven’t called to refund yet because I’m not sure what will happen to the SWU (and I’d like to be able to use it still).

  3. If an EP requalifies under the reduced chart this year, would their status be extended until January of 2022?

  4. I look forward to reading how the airlines returned 100% of grants/loans/tax credits, etc to the federal government since the airlines have the financial strength to offer credits to their elite members.

  5. The status extension was assumed after Delta and United did so. The SWU extension of only six months (not aligning with the status extension) is an intentional, annoying limitation. If anyone can tell me as an Executive Platinum member (no need to chase higher status this year) as well as a Two Million Miler dual AA credit card holder (no need to chase Million Miler spend) one positive thing in here for me, I’m all ears. Credit cards are going in the drawer until January, and I see little need not to buy on price alone for whatever 2020 flying I end up doing.

  6. While we’re not awarding new systemwide upgrades with the extension of Executive Platinum status, members who qualify or re-qualify for Executive Platinum status in 2020 will receive 4 systemwide upgrades valid through January 31, 2022.

    This seems like a great deal… I already have 60,000 miles flown this year… so I have the 4 SWU from last year (extended), will get 4 more (when I reach the EQD) and if I reach 90,000 miles can get another 2? That would be 10 SWU. Am I doing the math wrong?

  7. For awards, free changes and redeposits if made at least 60 days in advance, or only free changes (language for within 60 days references both, but outside language does not).

  8. @Andrew – let’s wait until I hear back on systemwide expiration but my guess is those that were slated to expire prior to Feb 2020, and applied to future travel, will be out of luck. just a guess!

  9. @Paul – A current EP has their status extended to January 2022, regardless. And if they earn it this year it is similarly going to still expire January 2022. There’s no ‘extra year’ of status earned that way.

  10. @Kevin – I am against bailouts, but I do not see the connection, they aren’t spending new dollars on elites here and marketing is something they’ll need to do to sell tickets regardless

  11. So, as someone who flew 88,000 EQMs and got downgraded from EXP to PLT this year, because I missed the EQDs for PLT PRO by $600, what do Lifetime Platinums get? While the incentives to get on a plane again are appreciated, AA is not exactly exciting this 20-year EXP and PLT member.

  12. @Andrew, @GaryLeff: I had an SWU that expired 1/31/20 that I applied in Dec to a trans-Atlantic flight later this month. The flight cancelled a few weeks ago. I called to get refund and also asked about redepositing the SWU — I was told not a problem, and it showed up in my account the next day. I THINK I was told the new expiration date is now 1/31/21 but the expire date doesn’t show up online.

  13. @Andrew, @GaryLeff : Correction — when the SWU was redeposited I was given 3 month extension. Now expires 6/24/20. I suspect if flights aren’t fairly reestablished by then that they might extend the expire date further.

  14. All these changes do nothing to get me on an AA flight. I quit AA last year and got BA Silver instead. No AA status any longer, downgraded my card to the no-fee Citibank Aadvantage. Good luck AA – you’re gonna need it!

  15. I wonder if credit card bonus categories (2X for flights, telecommunications, etc.) will trump the $1 spend per 1 MM earning. In other words, if I spend $750 on a flight, will it equate to 1,500 towards MM status.

  16. Definitely a step in the right direction. Now, if they cancel Oasis they will keep me as a customer versus switching to Delta.

    Longtime EXP and Lifetime PLT 2M Miler

  17. This is really great news. Thanks Gary for posting. I knew that American had to match the other airlines that already mentioned that they were doing this. I really wish they would have given clarity around the 4 SWU’s that I haven’t been able to use. I was planning on using all 4 of them on flights to South America and Europe this summer and Fall but it’s VERY unlikely I’ll do any International travel this summer or even fall this year. I hope they also extend these SWU’s until January 2022.

    If they do, this would be the best program considering all the things they are adding into the mix.

  18. I am 2020EXP currently sitting on >3K EQDs and 35K EQMS
    Travel in Q1 2020 commensurate with my annual demand for work and non-work
    Now that we have COVID19, my work travel is non -existent.
    My personal travel is equally as non-existent.
    Work trips aside, why would i spend another cent for personal travel in 2020?

  19. all SWU that were set to Expire 01/31/21 will now expire 07/31/2021. I am not sure about redeposited SWUs that were expiring in 01/31/2020 that had to be reinstated due to cancelled flights.

    Also, there is no incentive for an EXP to fly the rest of the year unless extra EQDs and 4 SWUs. Wish AA got more creative here…

  20. Stopping oasis will make more likely to chose American Than any of these as former multi year ExPlat getting another year as Plat Pro on my way to to lifetime platinum. I started booking away from American prior to all this.

  21. American focused on operations first and then got to the “fluff” around status. This by far was the best plan I’ve seen and pleased with it.

    BTW. . .just flow rt to PHL from PHX. The crews were wonderful, the airports and a ghost town, but felt safe. Planes were very clean.

  22. Re: “Until December 1, 2011 all miles earned in the American AAdvantage program counted towards lifetime elite status.” Some people made Million Miler status prior to December 20111 based (mainly, solely) on BankDirect miles.

    Gary, perhaps you could use your pulpit and influence to lobby American to allow BankDirect and Bask Bank miles to once again count toward lifetime elite status. Thank you.

  23. So if you cancel an award ticket 7-60 days ahead, do you pay $125 per ticket or $125 for the first and $25 for the second (if booking multiple tickets in one PNR)? If it’s the latter, that’s a very negative change.

  24. Gary, do you think the post-June 1 change fees apply to date/time changes, that have always been free, even for non-elites?

  25. @swag – I think unfortunately it does. I’m reaching this conclusion by the language used in the statement : “a NEW variable fee structure…”

    Assuming that’s correct, very not nice of them to say the least to be applying this change in these times (even though it starts only on June 1st).

  26. Nice to AA join the party, though fashionably late. The resumption of counting all miles toward lifetime status is a nice carrot, however it should be noted that AA 1MM status (Gold) is far less valuable than UA 1MM status (Gold). No OW lounge access, no MCE at time of booking and many of the benefits are available by carrying a low AF credit card. So is it really worth increasing spend on an AA card for the MM qualification when you could get far more valuable transferable points from Chase, Amex, Citi etc? I think not.

  27. As a former EP for many years: still a joke. Suppose I fly from NYC-SFO regularly, but I am spending my own money, so I am flying coach, at above medium price, say $500. 12 round trip flights x 5,000 approximate miles = 60,000 (the EP miles requirement). However, 12 x $500 is only $6,000. Still significantly sort of Executive Platinum requirement of $9,000. In fact, I would barely qualify for Platinum Pro at $6,000.

    AA has made it clear there is no reason to fly the airline, unless you have no other choice. I am proud to say that I have not spent a dime on AA since they implemented minimum spend requirements.

  28. United charged me full freight for redepositing United miles after cancelling a flight. When will they change their policy.

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