American Airlines AAdvantage Elite Status Guide for 2021

Airline elite status can unlock many valuable perks such as upgrades to first-class, extra AAdvantage miles, benefits on partner airlines, free checked bags, and priority check-in and boarding.

You will learn everything you need to know about American Airlines elite status in this ultimate guide, including how to earn each status level, the benefits, free upgrades, and lifetime elite status.

Let’s dive right in.

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    AAdvantage Cards Stacked

    The Basics of AAdvantage Elite Status

    Before we jump into each elite status level, it is important to understand the basics of how to earn elite status.

    American Airlines uses three criteria for elite status:

    • Elite Qualifying Miles
    • Elite Qualifying Segments
    • Elite Qualifying Dollars

    Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)

    EQMs are calculated based on a combination of miles flown and the fare class purchased.

    On American-marketed flights, EQMs are calculated this way:

    • Full first and business class tickets earn 3 EQMs per mile flown.
    • Discounted first/business fare tickets earn 2 EQMs per mile flown.
    • Full fare economy earns 1.5 EQMs per mile flown.
    • Discounted economy earns 1 EQM per mile flown.
     The above rates also apply to partner flights marketed by American Airlines, which are bookable on AA.com. For example, the flight below from Tokyo to New York is bookable on AA.com but operated by Japan Airlines.
    American Airlines marketed flights

    There is also a minimum of 500 EQMs for flights on American Airlines and OneWorld airlines.

    EQMs with OneWorld Airlines

    Calculating EQMs with OneWorld airlines is overly complicated.

    Each partner has their own chart, and each fare class earns EQMs at different rates. You also have to calculate the distance of the flight.

    For example, below is the chart for British Airways. 

    For a one-way flight from New York (JFK) to London (LHR), which covers a distance of 3,451 miles, you would earn:

    • Cheap Economy Ticket (G, O, Q) = 1,726 EQMs, $173 EQDs, and 1 EQS.
    • Premium Economy Ticket (E, T) = 5,177 EQMs, $690 EQDs, and 1 EQS.
    • Business Class (C, D, I, R)= 6,902 EQMs, 863 EQDs, and 1 EQS.
    American Airlines EQMs British Airways

    For the other OneWorld partners, click the links to each page below.

    * Alaska Airlines is joining OneWorld in 2021.

    Unfortunately, you cannot earn EQMs with American’s non-OneWorld partners such as Etihad, Hawaiian Airlines, or China Southern unless the flight has an American Airlines flight number.

    If you can book it on AA.com, you will earn EQMs for that partner flight at American Airlines’ rates.

    Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs)

    Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) are very straightforward. One segment equals one EQS.

    If you fly from New York to Los Angeles, that equals one EQS. But if you connect in Chicago, that equals two EQSs.

    Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs)

    Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) are based on the ticket price, including carrier-imposed fees, but excluding government-imposed taxes and fees on American Airlines marketed flights.

    You can calculate EQDs easily by clicking “Price and tax information” on the final payment screen on AA.com. 

    In the example below, $1,510 out of $1,609.95 is based on the ticket price, so you would earn $1,510 EQDs.

    American Airlines EQDs

    Partner flights that are not bookable on AA.com earn EQDs based on the partner charts above, which take into account the fare class and distance.

    COVID-19 Updates

    American Airlines introduced several changes to the AAdvantage elite program in light of COVID-19:

    • Reduced requirements to earn elite status (detailed below).
    • Extension of the elite status of customers who earned status for 2020 to January 31, 2022. 
    • Extension of systemwide upgrades that expired on January 31, 2021, to July 31, 2021.
    • EQD waiver for Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Pro by spending $30,000 on purchases with eligible AAdvantage credit cards.
    • Any EQMs, EQDs, and EQSs, earned between October 1 to December 31, 2020, are rolled over into the 2021 status year.

    Timing of Elite Status

    There are two timelines you need to know for American Airlines elite status:

    Qualification Period: Your EQMs, EQSs, and EQDs earned from January 1 to December 31st determine your AAdvantage elite status.

    Membership Year: Your elite status is valid from February 1 or the day you qualify, through January 31st of the following membership year.

    For example, if you earned 25,000 EQMs on July 31, 2021, your AAdvantage Gold status is valid through January 31, 2023. 

    Elite Benefits with Basic Economy

    Elite members can enjoy many of their elite benefits when booking the cheaper basic economy fares, including:

    • Upgrade privileges
    • Complimentary Preferred and Main Cabin Extra seat benefits
    • Complimentary confirmed same-day flight changes for Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro members
    • Priority or preferred boarding privileges
    • Checked bag benefits
    • Ability to apply systemwide upgrades.

    However, basic economy tickets will not help you earn elite status.

    Starting in 2021, Basic Economy fares won’t earn EQMs, EQDs, or EQSs

    AAdvantage Gold

    The lowest tier in American’s elite program is AAdvantage Gold status.

    How to Earn Gold Elite Status

    You can earn American Airlines Gold elite status in 2021 by earning:

    • 20,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)
    • 20 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs)
    • $2,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs)

    The rates for 2022 are expected to be 25,000 EQMs, 30 EQSs, and $3,000 EQDs

    Gold Elite Status Benefits

    Gold elite status comes with some nice benefits such as 500-mile upgrades, complimentary main cabin extra seats, priority check-in, priority check-in, and a 40% mileage bonus.

    Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades Under 500 Miles

    All elite members receive unlimited complimentary upgrades on flights that cover a distance of fewer than 500 miles, and upgrades for Gold members start to clear 24 hours before departure.

    500 Mile Upgrades

    Gold and Platinum members don’t receive unlimited complimentary upgrades, unlike United and Delta.  

    Instead, they receive four 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 EQMs you earn during each membership year. These upgrades can also be used to upgrade a companion.

    For example, a transcontinental flight from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) requires five 500-mile upgrades because it covers 2,475 miles.

    If you don’t have enough 500-mile upgrades, you can also buy them for $40 each.

    Complimentary Preferred Seats

    All elite members receive access to preferred seats for you and up to eight passengers on the same reservation at booking.

    Preferred seats have the same legroom as other economy seats but are in more favorable locations. Typically, the seats are closer to the front or window and aisles seats.

    Complimentary Main Cabin Extra Seats (24 Hours)

    Gold members get complimentary access to Main Cabin Extra seats within 24 hours of departure for you and up to eight passengers traveling with you in the same reservation.

    The benefits of Main Cabin Extra are extra legroom and free alcoholic drinks.

    American airlines Main Cabin Extra
    Photo: American Airlines

    One Free Checked Bag

    Gold members receive one free checked bag for you and all of your travel companions on the same reservation.

    This saves you $30 per person each way, which can save you a lot of money. 

    But this is also the benefit of several American Airlines credit cards, including the Citi AAdvantage Platinum or the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator card.

    Priority Check-In and Security

    Elite members can check-in at the Priority check-in area reserved for business and first-class customers.

    Members can also use the priority security screening lanes, but the TSA Pre-Check line is typically more convenient. 

    Group 4 Early Boarding

    Gold members board in Group 4 of the boarding process, which is the same as OneWorld Ruby members and Citi AAdvantage Executive credit card members.

    40% Mileage Bonus

    Gold members earn 7 AAdvantage miles per dollar after taxes and fees when flying American Airlines or a partner flight booked on AA.com.

    A $500 flight after taxes and fees would net you 3,500 AAdvantage miles.

    Gold members also earn a 40% mileage bonus when traveling on British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, and Royal Jordanian. 

    Same-day Standby Priority

    Elite members receive a higher priority when standing by for a different flight on the same day of travel when flying to/from:

    • The United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands
    • Puerto Rico
    • Canada
    • Caribbean (select destinations)

    Elite Service Desk

    All elite members get faster access to customer service representatives, so you don’t have to wait on hold for as long as non-elite members.

    Discounted Admirals Club Membership

    Elite members receive a discount when purchasing an Admirals Club Membership. 

    However, the discount isn’t that great: Gold ($25 off), Platinum ($50 off), Platinum Pro ($75 off), and Executive Platinum ($100 off).

    Elite members are way better off holding a Citi AAdvantage Executive credit card, which gives you and up to 10 authorized users Admirals Club access for $450 per year, which is $200 off a new membership.

    Admirals Club
    Photo: American Airlines

    OneWorld Ruby Status

    AAdvantage Gold member receive OneWorld Ruby status, which gets you:

    • Access to Business Class priority check-in.
    • Access to preferred or pre-reserved seating.
    • Priority waitlist and standby.
    Gold American Airlines elite status

    AAdvantage Platinum

    The second tier in American’s elite program is AAdvantage Platinum status.

    How to Earn Platinum Elite Status

    You can earn American Airlines Platinum elite status in 2021 by earning:

    • 40,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)
    • 45 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs)
    • $4,500 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs)

    The rates for 2022 are expected to be 50,000 EQMs, 60 EQSs, and $6,000 EQDs.

    Platinum Elite Benefits

    AAdvantage Platinum members receive the elite benefits below, plus the Gold benefits above, including:

    • 500-mile upgrades
    • Same-day standby priority
    • Complimentary preferred seats
    • Priority check-in and security
    • Elite service desk

    Complimentary Upgrades (48 Hours)

    Complimentary Upgrades for Platinum members start to clear within 48 hours of departure.

    But Platinum members still need to use their 500-mile upgrades for first class, which they earn four 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 EQMs.

    Main Cabin Extra at Booking

    Platinum members and above can select Main Cabin Extra at booking for you and up to eight passengers.

    This is one of my favorite perks because Main Cabin Extra is usually at least $50 and makes traveling much better than standard economy.

    Two Free Checked Bags

    Platinum and Platinum Pro members receive two free checked bags for you and everyone in your reservation.

    Group 3 Early Boarding

    Platinum and Platinum Pro members board early in Group 3, along with OneWorld Sapphire members.

    Priority Bag Delivery

    Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Platinum members’ checked bags will be tagged as priority and be among the first bags delivered to American flights’ baggage claim area.

    This benefit also applies to any guests traveling on the same reservation.

    OneWorld Sapphire Status

    AAdvantage Platinum and Platinum Pro members receive OneWorld Sapphire status, which gets you:

    • Access to Business Class lounges.
    • Access to Business Class priority check-in.
    • Priority boarding.
    • Access to preferred or pre-reserved seating.
    • Priority waitlist and standby.
    • Extra baggage allowance.
    • Priority baggage handling.
    oneworld 2 OneWorld Alliance Airlines
    Alaska Airlines Alaska Airlines (3/31/2021) American Airlines American Airlines
    British Airways British Airways Cathay Pacific Cathay Pacific
    Finnair logo Finnair Iberia logo Iberia
    Japan Airlines Japan Airlines Malaysia Airlines logo Malaysia Airlines
    Qantas Logo Qantas Qatar Airways logo Qatar Airways
    Royal Air Maroc Royal Air Maroc Royal Jordanian Royal Jordanian
    S7 Airlines S7 Airlines Sri Lankan Airlines logo SriLankan Airlines

    60% Mileage Bonus

    Platinum members earn 8 AAdvantage miles per dollar after taxes and fees when flying American Airlines or a partner flight booked on AA.com.

    For example, a $500 flight after taxes and fees would net you 4,000 AAdvantage miles.

    Platinum members also earn a 60% mileage bonus when traveling on British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, and Royal Jordanian. 

    AAdvantage Platinum Card

    AAdvantage Platinum Pro

    The third tier in American’s elite program is AAdvantage Platinum Pro status.

    How to Earn Platinum Pro Elite Status

    You can earn American Airlines Platinum Pro elite status in 2021 by earning:

    • 60,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)
    • 70 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs)
    • $7,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs)

    The rates for 2022 are expected to be 75,000 EQMs, 90 EQSs, and $9,000 EQDs.

    Platinum Pro Elite Status Benefits

    AAdvantage Platinum Pro members receive the elite benefits below, plus the Platinum benefits above, including:

    • Two free checked bags
    • Group 3 early boarding
    • Priority bag delivery
    • Same-day standby priority
    • Complimentary preferred seats
    • Priority check-in and security
    • Elite service desk

    Elite Choice Rewards

    Members can choose one of the following rewards:

    • One systemwide upgrade
    • 20,000 AAdvantage miles (or 25,000 miles for AAdvantage credit card members)
    • One-time 15% off award discount
    • Carbon emissions offset
    • $200 donation to one of 10 partner charities
    • Six Admirals Club one-day passes
    • $200 American Airlines travel voucher

    Complimentary Upgrades (72 Hours)

    Platinum Pro members receive unlimited complimentary upgrades starting 72-hours before departure.

    The ability to receive unlimited upgrades is a big step-up from Gold and Platinum, which require members to utilize 500-mile upgrades for first class.

    80% Mileage Bonus

    Platinum Pro members earn 9 AAdvantage miles per dollar after taxes and fees when flying American Airlines or a partner flight booked on AA.com.

    For example, a $500 flight after taxes and fees would net you 4,500 AAdvantage miles.

    Platinum Pro members also earn an 80% mileage bonus when traveling on British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, and Royal Jordanian. 

    OneWorld Emerald Status

    New for 2021, AAdvantage Platinum Pro members, in addition to Executive Platinum members, receive OneWorld Emerald status, which gets you:

    • Access to First Class and Business Class lounges.
    • Access to First Class priority check-in.
    • Priority boarding.
    • Fast track at select security lanes.
    • Access to preferred or pre-reserved seating.
    • Priority waitlist and standby.
    • Extra baggage allowance.
    • Priority baggage handling.
    OneWorld Priority

    Complimentary Same-Day Flight Changes

    Platinum Pro members and above receive complimentary same-day flight changes, a savings of $75 to $150 depending on your destination.

    The biggest disadvantage of American’s same-day change rules is that it has to be the same routing. You cannot change a connecting flight to a non-stop flight.

    AAdvantage Platinum Pro Card

    AAdvantage Executive Platinum

    The top tier in American’s elite program is AAdvantage Executive Platinum status.

    How to Earn Executive Platinum Status

    You can earn American Airlines Executive Platinum elite status in 2021 by earning:

    • 80,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)
    • 95 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs)
    • $12,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs)

    The rates for 2022 are expected to be 100,000 EQMs, 120 EQSs, and $15,000 EQDs.

    Executive Platinum Elite Benefits

    AAdvantage Executive Platinum members receive the elite benefits below, plus the Platinum Pro benefits above, including:

    • OneWorld Emerald Status
    • Priority bag delivery
    • Same-day standby priority
    • Complimentary preferred seats
    • Priority check-in and security
    • Elite service desk
    • Complimentary same-day flight changes

    Elite Choice Rewards

    Executive Platinum members choose two of the following:

    • Two systemwide upgrades
    • 25,000 AAdvantage miles (30,000 miles for AAdvantage credit card members)
    • Carbon emissions offset
    • $200 donation to one of ten partner charities
    • $200 American Airlines travel voucher
    • Individual Admirals Club Membership (requires two choices)
    • 10,000 bonus Elite Qualifying Miles (can be only selected once)
    • Choice of one Bang & Olufsen products
    Members can also choose the same item twice, except for the Admirals Club membership and extra EQMs. The most popular choice is likely to choose two systemwide upgrades twice because Executive Platinum members used to get four systemwide upgrades each year.

    Beyond Executive Platinum Rewards

    Executive Platinum members can earn extra rewards for meeting certain Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) milestones in an elite year, including extra upgrades, AAdvantage miles, and a gift of elite status.

    120,000 EQMs (normally 150,000)

    • Two systemwide upgrades
    • 40,000 AAdvantage bonus miles
    • Gift of AAdvantage Gold status

    160,000 EQMs (normally 200,000)

    • Two systemwide upgrades
    • 40,000 AAdvantage bonus miles
    • Gift of AAdvantage Platinum status

    200,000 EQMs (normally 250,000)

    • Two systemwide upgrades
    • 40,000 AAdvantage bonus miles
    • Gift of AAdvantage Platinum status

    Complimentary Upgrades (100 Hours)

    Executive Platinum members receive unlimited complimentary upgrades starting at 100 hours before departure.

    Complimentary Upgrades on Award Tickets

    One of the best benefits of Executive Platinum status is receiving complimentary upgrades on award tickets in addition to paid tickets.

    But American prioritizes Executive Platinums traveling on purchased tickets over Executive Platinums traveling on award tickets.

    Three Free Checked Bags

    Executive Platinum members receive three free checked bags for you and everyone in your reservation.

    Group 2 Boarding

    Executive Platinum members enjoy Group 2 Boarding, the same boarding group as OneWorld Emerald members and business class on a 3-class plane.

    120% Mileage Bonus

    Executive Platinum members earn 11 AAdvantage miles per dollar after taxes and fees when flying American Airlines or a partner flight booked on AA.com.

    For example, a $500 flight after taxes and fees would net you 5,500 AAdvantage miles.

    Executive Platinum members also earn a 120% mileage bonus when traveling on British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, and Royal Jordanian. 

    Extra Award Space on American

    Executive Platinum members and one companion have exclusive access to additional MileSAAver award space when traveling on American Airlines.

    Members need to call the Executive Platinum service desk to access this benefit.

    Complimentary Beverage and Snack in Main Cabin

    Executive Platinum members who are not upgraded to first-class can enjoy a free alcoholic beverage and one food item from the menu.

    This includes menu items that typically cost between $7-10, such as sandwiches, fruit and cheese trays, and breakfast platters.

    All you need to do is show your Executive Platinum or Concierge Key membership card to get the free menu item.

    American Airlines Food
    Photo: American Airlines

    Guaranteed Avaliability for Main Cabin

    Executive Platinum members and one companion can book a full-fare ticket in the Main Cabin on sold-out American Airlines flights when you make your reservation at least 24 hours in advance.

    Executive Platinum Card

    American Airlines Concierge Key

    Concierge Key is American Airline’s invitation-only status for their super-elite members.

    Members receive all of the Executive Platinum benefits plus some other nice benefits, including:

    • The highest upgrade priority
    • Special customer support
    • An Admirals’ Club membership
    • Access to Flagship Lounges
    • Hyatt Globalist status
    • Additional systemwide upgrades

    Concierge Key was also featured in the George Clooney movie Up in the Air.

    How to Get Invited to Concierge Key

    American Airlines does not publish exact criteria for getting invited to the Concierge Key level, but you generally need to be a very profitable customer.

    There are estimated to be between 12,000 to 18,000 Concierge Key members worldwide.

    Most Concierge Key customers spend at least $50,000 per year with American Airlines.

    It is also targeted at customers who control travel policy for large companies and some celebrities.

    An alternative way to obtain Concierge Key status is to buy a $50,000 AirPass, but that is a unique program designed for business travelers who frequently fly at the last minute.

    Concierge Key Benefits

    Concierge Key members enjoy all of the benefits of Executive Platinum status listed above and all of the benefits below.

    Highest Upgrade Priority

    Concierge Key members get upgrade priority over all other AAdvantage elite tiers. Upgrades will start to clear within 120 hours of departure.

    Admirals Club Membership

    Concierge Key members receive a complimentary Admirals Club membership, which allows you and two guests or immediate family to access over 100 lounges.

    Access to Flagship Lounges

    Members also enjoy access to Flagship Lounges and International First Class lounges when departing or connecting on international flights between the U.S. and Europe, Asia, Central, and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico City (MEX).

    This benefit also allows you to bring in two guests or immediate family. 

    Flagship Lounge American
    Photo: American Airlines

    Two Additional Systemwide Upgrades

    Concierge Key members receive two additional systemwide upgrades in addition to the Elite Choice Rewards option for reaching Executive Platinum status.

    First to Board Aircraft

    Concierge Key members board before everyone on American Airlines flights, including before first class and active military. 

    Hyatt Globalist Status

    Concierge Key members receive Hyatt’s top-tier Globalist elite status, which gets you very nice benefits, including:

    • Room upgrades including suites
    • Complimentary breakfast and club lounge access
    • Waived resort fees on paid and award stays
    • Free parking on award stays
    • 4:00 p.m. late checkout and early check-in
    • Guest of Honor (allows someone else to utilize your benefits)
    • Access to Hyatt Concierge
    Park Hyatt Bangkok
    Photo: Park Hyatt Bangkok

    Flagship First Check-In

    Concierge Key members can utilize the Flagship First check-in area when flying on any American Airlines flight (regardless of the cabin). 

    The Flagship First locations are below:

    Flagship First Check-in

    Special Customer Support

    Concierge Key members receive the best customer service of all AAdvantage members.

    This includes assistance during irregular operations. The customer service team typically monitors members’ flights and proactively rebooks flights when delayed or canceled.

    Next Flight Guarantee

    American Airlines also offers a next flight guarantee. If your flight is canceled or delayed more than 3 hours, American will guarantee that you and one companion will have a Main Cabin seat on the next available flight, if requested at least one hour before departure.

    Plane to Plane Ramp Transfers

    American Airlines and Cadillac teamed up to offer Concierge Key members plane-to-plane ramp transfers to assist with tight connections at:

    • Charlotte (CLT)
    • Chicago (ORD)
    • Dallas (DFW)
    • Los Angeles (LAX)
    • New York (JFK)
    • Philadelphia (PHL)

    This service cannot be requested in advance, but if you are selected, an agent will meet you planeside upon arrival to escort you to the Cadillac.

    Concierge Key Cadillac Transfers
    Photo: American Airlines

    Waived Cash Co-Pay on Upgrades

    American waived the cash co-pay for you and one companion when redeeming your miles for an upgrade award on American Airlines flights.

    This saves Concierge Key members up to $350 and allows you to upgrade on long-haul flights for only 25,000 AAdvantage miles.

    Million Miler Lifetime Elite Status

    American Airlines award their most loyal customers lifetime elite status upon reaching at least one million miles:

    One Million Miles = Lifetime AAdvantage Gold and 35,000 AAdvantage miles. 

    Two Million Miles = Lifetime Platinum and four one-way systemwide upgrades.

    Each Additional Million Miles = Four additional one-way systemwide upgrades. 

    Unfortunately, there is no way to receive Lifetime elite status for Platinum Pro, Executive Platinum, or Concierge Key.

    This is where American Airlines could improve its program.

    United Airlines gives members who reach four-million miles their invitation-only Global Services status.

    What Miles Count Towards Lifetime Status?

    You earn one mile towards your Million Miles number for every actual mile flown on American Airlines marketed flights. 

    You also earn lifetime miles on eligible-partner flights. You will earn 1 mile for each “base mile” earned depending on the partner’s specific award chart.

    Status Match Challenge

    American Airlines doesn’t offer a traditional status match like most other elite programs. 

    Instead, American allows anyone, including those without elite status with another airline, to request an elite status challenge for a fee.

    Cost of American's Status Challenge

    American Airlines does not publish the cost for their status challenges, but you can expect the price ranges below.

    The cost is also dependent on whether you want elite status immediately or whether you want to wait until you complete your challenge:

    • Gold challenge (without status advance) — $100-$180
    • Gold challenge (with Gold status advance) — $280-$340
    • Platinum challenge (without status advance) — $180-$240
    • Platinum challenge (with Gold status advance) — $380-$440
    • Platinum challenge (with Platinum status advance) — $480-$540

    American Airlines also sends out free targeted status challenges a few times per year via email or by mail, but there is no exact formula to get targeted.

    Additionally, if you have Hyatt elite status, you should link your accounts and then visit the American Airlines promotions page.

    American previously offered free elite challenges or even elite status without a challenge for Hyatt elite members.

    How to Keep Your Elite Status

    To keep your American Airlines elite status after the 90-day period you need to meet certain thresholds of Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs), Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs), and Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs).

    For AAdvantage Gold, you need to earn 7,000 EQMs or 8 EQSs, plus earn $1,000 EQDs.

    For AAdvantage Platinum, you need to earn 12,500 EQMs or 16 EQSs, plus earn $2,000 EQDs.

    How to Submit a Status Challenge Request

    You can request a status challenge by emailing American Airlines or calling customer service at 888-697-5636. 

    You will need to have handy your AAdvantage number and any record locators for any upcoming trips.

    When to Submit Your Challenge Request

    You will want to request a challenge a week or two before a period where you know you will be traveling on American Airlines frequently over the next few months.

    The best part of the year to request a challenge is after June 15th because your status will be good for the remainder of the current year plus the following year.

    Whereas, if you request the challenge before June 15th, your status is good until only the end of the current status year, which is January 31st of the following year.

    These dates are based on the typical challenge offered by American Airlines. Your offer’s dates could vary. 

    Complimentary Upgrades

    Complimentary upgrades to first class is the top benefit of airline elite status. 

    American has two ways to get upgraded for free: 500-mile upgrades and systemwide upgrades.

    500 Mile Upgrades

    American Airlines is different from most other elite programs because elite members don’t receive unlimited complimentary upgrades.

    Instead, Gold and Platinum members must manually apply a “500-Mile Upgrade” to get upgraded. For every 500-miles, an upgrade certificate is needed.

    Platinum Pro, Executive Platinum, and Concierge Key members receive unlimited auto-requested 500-mile upgrades for themselves, but they must use their 500-mile upgrades for a companion.

    For example, a 1,999-mile flight requires four 500-mile upgrades. In contrast, a 2,001-mile flight requires five 500-mile upgrades.

    But flights under 500 miles don’t require a 500-mile upgrade for the elite member, but a 500-mile upgrade is required for a companion.

    How to Earn 500 Mile Upgrades

    Gold and Platinum members earn four 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 Elite Qualifying Miles earned each membership year.

    Platinum Pro, Executive Platinum, and Concierge Key members don’t earn 500-mile upgrades, which puts them at a disadvantage when upgrading companions.

    500-mile upgrades never expire, but you need to have AAdvantage elite status to continue to use them.

    Elite members can also purchase 500-mile upgrades for $40 each.

    Where Can You Get Upgraded?

    AAdvantage elite members receive complimentary upgrades when flying to or from the following destinations.

    • The United States, including Hawaii and Alaska
    • Canada
    • Mexico
    • The Caribbean
    • Bermuda
    • Central America

    Complimentary upgrades are not available on flights to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, or New Zealand.

    Instead, Executive Platinum or Concierge Key members would need to use a systemwide upgrade certificate for those destinations.

    When Do Upgrades Clear?

    You can expect complimentary upgrades to start to clear in advance based on your elite status level:

    • AAdvantage Gold: 24 hours before departure.
    • AAdvantage Platinum: 48 hours before departure.
    • AAdvantage Platinum Pro: 72 hours before departure.
    • AAdvantage Executive Platinum: 100 hours before departure.
    • Concierge Key: 120 hours before departure.

    Upgrade Waitlist Priority

    Upgrades don’t always clear in advance and may clear slightly before departure based on the following priority.

    1. Concierge Key members using systemwide or mileage upgrades.
    2. Concierge Key Members on paid tickets.
    3. Concierge Key members on award tickets.
    4. Executive Platinum members using systemwide or mileage upgrades.
    5. Executive Platinum members on paid tickets.
    6. Executive Platinum members on award tickets.
    7. Platinum Pro using systemwide or mileage upgrades.
    8. Platinum Pro members using mileage upgrades.
    9. Platinum Pro members on paid tickets.
    10. Platinum members using mileage upgrades.
    11. Platinum members on paid tickets.
    12. Gold members using mileage upgrades.
    13. Gold members on paid tickets.

    If there is a tie at any level, American will use the last 12-months of Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) as the tiebreaker.

    For example, if two Executive Platinum members are on paid tickets, the member with more EQDs will get the upgrade.

    In the unlikely event that the members have the same EQDs, the fare class followed by the request’s timing will determine who gets the upgrade.

    Upgrades with Companions Without Status

    All AAdvantage elite members can upgrade one companion using 500-mile upgrades.

    The companion can be on the same reservation, or an American customer service agent can link their reservation.

    If more than one companion is on the reservation, you can call American, and they can assist in upgrading one of your companions.

    Upgrades with Companions With Status

    If you requested an upgrade for a companion who is also an AAdvantage elite member, the companion would clear at your elite status level. However, you will still need to use 500-mile upgrades for your companion.

    The advantage is that the companion has a higher chance of getting an upgrade.

    The disadvantage is that if the companion would have been upgraded at their status level, you just spent some of your 500-mile upgrades.

    Systemwide Upgrades on American

    Systemwide Upgrades (SWUs) are one of the most valuable benefits of the AAdvantage elite program. 

    SWUs can be used to upgrade members from economy to business class on any American Airlines flight, including lie-flat business class.

    Earning Systemwide Upgrades

    American Airlines previously awarded Executive Platinum members with four systemwide upgrades each year. However, that system was replaced with Elite Choice Rewards.

    Now, Executive Platinums have the choice of selecting either two or four systemwide upgrades or another item such as AAdvantage miles.

    Plus, can choose additional systemwide upgrade as “Beyond Executive Platinum Rewards” for reaching 120,000, 160,00, and 200,000 EQMs. 

    Concierge Key

    Concierge Key members receive two systemwide upgrades each year in addition to any systemwide upgrades chosen as Elite Choice Rewards and “Beyond Executive Platinum Rewards.”

    Platinum Pro

    Platinum Pro members now can also choose one systemwide upgrade for their Elite Choice Reward.

    Milion Miler

    Members who spend their lives on airplanes are eligible for extra systemwide upgrades:

    • Two million miles = Four systemwide upgrades
    • Three million miles = Four systemwide upgrades
    • Four million miles = Four systemwide upgrades

    How to Use a Systemwide Upgrade

    To use a systemwide upgrade, you first need to find upgrade inventory to use a systemwide upgrade on any flight.

    To upgrade from the main cabin to business class or “recliner” first class, you need to find the “C” fare class inventory.

    To upgrade from business class to Flagship First Class on three-class airplanes (Airbus A321T or Boeing 777-300), you need to find the “A” fare class inventory.

    If you are an Executive Platinum or Concierge Key member, you can see upgrade eligible flights when you search on AA.com.

    Still, you will either have to call or message American’s social media team to apply the SWU to your reservation.

    You can also use a paid service such as Expert Flyer to search for upgrade space.

    If upgrade space is not available, you can ask to be put on the waitlist.

    If it is a connecting itinerary, I suggest you only waitlist the long-haul segment. If you waitlist all the segments and the short flight clears but the long flight doesn’t you just wasted a valuable SWU.

    If your SWU does not clear, it will be redeposited into your account.

    Other Things to Know About SWUs

    A few other things to know about SWUs are:

    • SWUs expire one year from the selection of them as a benefit. Travel can be beyond the expiration date, but the SWU must be confirmed before expiration.
    • SWUs can only be used on a cash ticket, including basic economy.
    • SWUs cannot be used on award tickets, military or government fares, tickets booked via Priceline’s Express Deals or Hotwire’s Hot Rate, or an agency or industry discounted fare.
    • You can gift an SWU to someone, but American prohibits selling them. However, if you cannot confirm an SWU in advance, the SWU clears from the waitlist based on the elite status of the person you gifted it to. If they don’t have status, the SWU probably won’t clear.
    • SWUs cannot be used on codeshare flights (e.g., flights with an AA flight number but are operated by another airline).
    • You can apply an SWU for up to three legs of a one-way reservation.
    • If you use an SWU for a flight departing the United Kingdom, you will have to pay an additional £172 as an “Air Passenger Duty.”
    • You can track your SWUs on AA.com or the American Airlines app.

    The Verdict

    American Airlines elite status can unlock a lot of valuable benefits.

    American took a step in the right direction by adding Elite Choice Rewards, but a few improvements I would like to see are:

    • Improving the companion upgrade system.
    • Allowing members who reach 3 million miles to receive Lifetime Platinum Pro.
    • More partnerships with other travel companies. Both Delta and United have a partnership with Hertz, in addition to a large hotel chain.
    • Getting rid of the 500-mile upgrade system and replacing it with a standard upgrade system.