American’s Status Challenges Now Require Minimum Spending, Allow You to Buy Temporary Status

For a long time American AAdvantage has offered status ‘challenges’ that:

  • Do not require you to already have status with another airline
  • You pay for

These allow you to earn elite status more quickly with travel over a compressed period of time.

There have also been targeted offers or periods of time where American would extend status temporarily while completing a challenge. But challenges usually haven’t given status until the challenge was complete.

Now that American has introduced a revenue requirement for earning elite status in 2017, they’ve apparently revamped their elite status challenges. Here’s the apparent new details of the Platinum challenge:

There are three options:

Platinum Challenge with no bump in status while on the challenge = $200
Platinum Challenge with Gold during the challenge = $400
Platinum Challenge with Platinum during the challenge = $500

You must do 12,500 EQM or 16 Segments during the challenge, as well as $2000 EQD.

The interesting here is that the Platinum challenge was $200 before. Now there are more expensive options that include some elite status while undergoing the challenge.

And they’ve added a $2000 elite qualifying dollar requirement in addition to the 12,500 mile requirement for Platinum (the mileage requirement is the same as before).

Oddly both Delta’s and United’s status challenges do not have any revenue component.

And of course Platinum status is no longer as valuable as it used to be — it’s no longer one level below top tier (Platinum Pro 75,000 mile status has been introduced above it), domestic upgrades now begin to process 48 ours prior to travel rather than 72 hours, and bonus miles for flights have been reduced from 100% to 60%.

Here are the key benefits of American AAdvantage Platinum:

  • Complimentary upgrades on flights under 500 miles, subject to availability
  • 60% bonus on travel flown
  • Upgrades with 500 mile certificates, confirmed as much as 48 hours prior to departure
  • Priority check-in, security, baggage, and boarding
  • Two free checked bags
  • Complimentary standby
  • Complimentary main cabin extra
  • Waived close-in award booking fee
  • Lounge access when traveling internationally

(HT: @xJonNYC)

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. Gary, did you say how long a period of time does one have to complete the challenge? If so, I missed it.

  2. Two or three years ago, when Delta was leading the way with devaluations and so forth, I really, really contemplated switching my loyalty to American. I’m sure glad I didn’t.

    Sure, I could have enjoyed a good year or two as executive platinum — and taken advantage of extra certificates with the US Airways merger — but, in the grand scheme of things, I’m better off having stayed with Delta. I just don’t see any compelling reason to value American status anymore.

    Yes, there are things Delta could do to improve its diamond (top-level) status. While I appreciate the four global upgrade certificates, I flew 175,000 miles on Delta this year and, as a result, didn’t get a single added benefit for flying 50,000 miles past the 125,000 threshold for keeping diamond status.

  3. @FNT Delta Diamond

    One exception to your claim; You did receive one great benefit over UA and AA, and AS for that matter-

    You were able to rollover those additional 50,000 MQM’s.

    Worth their weight in diamonds we would say.

  4. @FNT Delta Diamond why are you better off having stayed with Delta, rather than receiving better benefits for many years and then changing back if you wish now?

  5. I believe it was in this blog I read about the formalization of 4 elite tiers with CK at the top, followed by EXP, superplat, plat light, and gold. So you’re spending and flying to get third tier down. I made lifetime plat about the same time I heard about the new tiers stacked on to the devaluation of former benefits. In 2016 as Plat I was upgraded on DFWSFO maybe one in ten flights (with 500 mile stickers). As EXP for 2017 I’m going to need to carefully consider how to maximize the benefits while being open to other airlines with more attractive premium fares. Is there a coach for this? 🙂

  6. @Gary, you say that Platinum gives you a 60% bonus on miles flown, but that’s not correct, is it? AA awards miles now based on $ spent, not miles flown.

  7. @Gary, I don’t know if I would have received better benefits since American started tinkering with things not long after many Delta top-level elites switched or considered switching. On Delta, I’ve been a diamond for three years and a platinum for two years. As a diamond, I’ve received upgrades about 98% of the time. As a platinum, it was in the 75-80% range, although on a few specific routes that I flew weekly it was 100%. Internationally, I’ll take Delta partner Air France over American partner British Airways. I wouldn’t miss KLM. KLM is glorified European train travel. At least Air France maintains some semblance of premium in its forward cabin.

  8. @laptoptravel, OK. I forgot about the rollover, but that’s a benefit that has been there for a while now. Giving an additional regional or global upgrade certificate for every 25,000 or 50,000 miles over the 125,000 threshold would be a good new benefit.

  9. What with one thing and another, I have a lot of AA miles, which gives that status some added appeal. Can the required $2,000 in AA spending, or any part of it, be met by purchasing AA gift cards? Is the merchant code used to collect the status challenge fees recognized as air travel by CSP?

  10. @Justin, you are reading it wrong. AA doesn’t award miles based on miles flown anymore (except EQMs, but these bonus miles are for RDMs), so it’s not a bonus on that. It says bonus on base miles EARNED, not flown. You earn miles based on what your ticket costs, not how far you fly. Looks like Gary edited his post, but he changed the wrong part, he changed it to “travel flown” from “miles flown”, it should says “miles earned”. Flown is not available for RDMs on AA anymore.

  11. @FNT Delta Diamond-I agree that additional MQM’s should come with some additional certificate (or another Medallion Choice Benefit.)This will be a pivotal year for Delta, and perhaps all of the Big 4, though I believe Alaska will pursue stability over change during the Virgin merger.For Delta flyers, We Think IF Delta Elite Medallions See MORE 1st Class Upgrades In 2017 It Is A Bad Thing!By the way, Gary, can the ‘purchases’ towards these challenges count as EQD’s towards American’s $2,000 spend requirement? 

  12. A few years ago this (now former) 1K sat back and cringed as a good number of smug AA EXPs smirked at us and showered praise on AA and AAdvantage as they trashed UA and MileagePlus, I remembered what happened to US Divident Miles after Dougie took over and thought ‘boy they’re going to be hit hard–really hard–when Dougie starts to ‘innovate’ at AAdvantage’. Well here we are now. AAdvantage is leading the pack in the race to the bottom and many would say that AA is an operational nightmare. The biggest AAdvantage elite perk is the reaccomodation that occurs among the many irrops and missed connections you’ll experience.

  13. Maybe this is just travel-for-work bias, but I can’t imagine that the spend requirement really does anything — I’ve never gone 12,500 EQM — let alone 16 segments — without spending well over $2k. And that’s flying coach/coach+.

  14. Any idea if all oneworld flights count toward the challenge? Or is it just AA and a limited few partners (BA/IB/AY )?

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