American Airlines Is Cold Calling Elite Members To Sell Them Elite Qualifying Miles

American Airlines, like many other travel companies, has reduced requirements for earning elite status in 2021. However they haven’t done nearly enough considering that business travel won’t restart for some time.

  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

Airlines like American are going to need to do more, because they don’t want to lose their best customers. Even if the second half of 2021 were ‘normal’ – and for business travel it won’t be, at best we’d get a normal fourth quarter – a 20% reduction in flying to earn status isn’t nearly enough.

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 through 2018).

But even for someone who is traveling, how can you hit $12,000 in spend when it’s almost impossible to legally fly long haul international business class and cross-country flights are selling for $31?

It’s usually the end of the year before American starts selling elite qualifying miles and ‘buy ups’ for customers to retain their elite status. Now, though, they’re reportedly getting an early start – selling packages of qualifying miles, segments, and qualifying dollars at the beginning of the year.

I’ve gotten multiple reports, moreover, that American isn’t just doing direct marketing for this – they’re actually cold calling customers to offer them these packages, and following up on these phone calls with an email. Pricing may vary by customer – I do not know if each package is priced the same for everyone – but here’s a sample:

Thanks for speaking with me today!

As we discussed, we have a few options to help you get a head start on 2021 elite qualification requirements that will get you that much closer to the next level of status. For additional information or to purchase, please call us back at (888)225-0725. Our hours of operation are Monday – Friday, 8:00am to 7:00pm CT>

Below are the bundle of options you can choose from:

…Finally we just want to say thank you so much for your loyalty. We mean it when we say that the best flyers fly American, and we’re honored to be your chosen airline. We look forward to welcoming you aboard again soon.

Here’s a list of packages offered in one such email:

Qualifying Qualifying Qualifying
Miles Segments Dollars Price
            1,000 2             700 $475
            2,500 3             800 $525
            5,000 6          1,500 $995
            7,500 9          2,200 $1,425
         10,000 12          2,700 $1,795

While this offer may be targeted, if you’re interested it can’t hurt to call and ask about it. Personally I’m going to wait to see what else American does this year: reduce requirements further, offer promotions to earn status faster, or introduce further buy up or buy back opportunities.

I’ve been an American AAdvantage Executive Platinum member every year for the past decade. And with my own work travel on ice at least until September I simply don’t see a way that I will re-earn that status otherwise. I don’t value lower status, and I’m already a lifetime Platinum member. Unless American acts, they’ll make me a free agent again and I suspect that’s true for other customers and other airlines as well.

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 »

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  1. Kinda funny how things turn around. 12 months ago, Lifetime Platinum Status was nearly worthless. (I have it and thought it was useless.)
    Now, I can see it has a true value as most people are not flying for business and the patterns of the past have totally been upended.

  2. I just hit $13,750 in spend this year on United…and its only February! Both American and United need to not grant status to those that don’t earn the majority of it butt-in-seat.

  3. They would be foolish not to extend status again for another year, but they’d even more foolish to announce that this early in the year.

  4. This totally plays into what American wants. Like Gary I’m Lifetime Platinum and have been EXP for 17 years but all mine is US miles. AA wants me and everyone else to fly Internationally to make more money. I have zero value to them and am not spending $2,500 to get a possible upgrade.

  5. With long haul probably not happening this year and fares dirt cheap, EQD will be really hard to attain more so than EQM. They do have the EQD waiver if you put $30K on an AA card up to Plat Pro status but you still need the EQM. I am in the wait and see category myself and am hoping that with Covid numbers dropping and the vaccine rolling out to more people we will see things open up.

    Crazy time to be alive.

  6. Gary, usually it does not hurt to ask! This is what AA is doing nowadays – begging for $$. And we can always say “NO” or make a counteroffer.

  7. Ironically, literally 30 minutes before reading this post, I received a call on my cell phone (which I did not answer) from AA customer service followed by an email. Oh, they left a message on my cell phone asking for me to call back to learn more about elite qualifying packages.

    Like Gary, I’m going to wait this one out a little bit.

  8. “I just hit $13,750 in spend this year on United…and its only February! Both American and United need to not grant status to those that don’t earn the majority of it butt-in-seat.”

    awwwww aren’t you special! It’s well within the preview of AA or UA to determine the value of other revenue streams and to reward them accordingly.

  9. I’ve been Executive Platinum for five years, just barely making it each year, from paid flights to Asia.

    No way I’ll ever make it until International opens up again.

    If they don’t extend, or make me a realistic deal, I’ll have no reason to spend any new cash. I have a five years stash of AAdvantage miles to burn through if I’m not chasing EQM and EQD to maintain status.

    If it’s cash I’ll be a free agent shopping for the best price and experience.

    I will never endure a year of non-ExPlat travel to work towards getting there again, ever.

  10. I don’t understand the logic. Anyone who earned status in 2019 only received 3 months of benefits in 2020. Until it’s actually possible to get the benefits already earned, why would anyone pay for a small percentage of the earning needed to earn status with no guarantee you’ll be able to leverage it this year as well? Someone in AA marketing clearly doesn’t understand that status has almost no value until things are back to normal for at least 6-9 months.

  11. I am SO happy not to have the entitled “business” flyers, flying. They bitch and moan if they don’t get an upgrade, and line up 20 minutes early, clogging the boarding gates, all while having that all important phone conversation. Good riddance.

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