Earning American Elite Status
25,000 EQMs, 30 EQSs, and $3,000 EQDs (OneWorld Ruby)
50,000 EQMs, 60 EQSs, and $6,000 EQDs (OneWorld Sapphire)
75,000 EQMs, 90 EQSs, and $9,000 EQDs (OneWorld Sapphire)
100,000 EQMs, 120 EQSs, and $15,000 EQDs (OneWorld Emerald)
- At 150,000 EQMs, you can choose either 2 system-wide upgrades, 40,000 points, or gift of Gold Status.
- At both 200,000 and 250,000 EQMs, you can choose either 2 system-wide upgrades, 40,000 points, or gift of Platinum Status.
Elite Status Match
American sometimes offers the ability to do a status challenge for a fee. You can call 888-697-5636 to find your specific details. (e.g., pay $280 for the Gold Challenge with Gold Status during the challenge or $100 for Gold challenge without status; must fly 7,000 miles and spend at least $1,000 to retain/get gold status).
American Airlines Elite Status Benefits
Waived Award Fees
American Airlines normally charges a $75 fee if you want to use your American miles within 21 days of departure. This fee is waived for all elite members.
Elite members earn more points when they fly with American Airlines or one of their partners.
- Gold members earn a 40% bonus (7x points on American)
- Platinum members earn a 60% bonus (8x points on American)
- Platinum Pro members earn an 80% bonus (9x points on American)
- Executive Platinum members earn a 120% bonus 11x points on American).
American Airlines has several OneWorld and other partner airlines that you can that you can earn American Airlines miles when flying with them. The amount of points you earn does vary by each airline and the fare class you book.
- OneWorld Partners
- Other Airline Partners
All elite levels get access to preferred seats at booking, which are normal economy seats that non-elite members have to pay a fee to book. Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Platinum elite members can book “Main Cabin Extra” seats at booking. However, Gold members cannot select Main Cabin Extra until 24 hours before departure. The main advantages of Main Cabin Extra seats are free snacks, free alcoholic drinks, and extra legroom.
For upgrades to first class, American uses the following system:
500- Mile Upgrades
All elite members get free unlimited upgrades to first class for flights under 500 miles. For flights longer than 500-miles, you need one “500-mile upgrade” for every 500 miles you fly (e.g., if you fly 1,200 miles, you have to use three upgrades).
- Platinum and Gold elite members earn four 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 EQMs they fly.
- You can also use these upgrades to upgrade one companion traveling with you.
- Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro members earn unlimited upgrades.
- Eligible Routes: Within and between the 50 United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Bermuda as well as between the United States and Central America (Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama)
Executive Platinum members also get four Systemwide Upgrades (SWUs) when they qualify or requalify for that status, and two more at 150,000 EQMs and two more at 200,000 EQMs. SWUs allow you to upgrade to the next class of service (e.g., Economy to Business, Business to first, Premium Economy to Business). Additionally, you may gift an SWU to anyone, even if they are not traveling with you.
- Booking– You should call and request to use an SWU as soon as you buy your flight, to make sure there is space. You can subscribe to ExpertFlyer ($10 a month) to see if there is a C Fare if you want to upgrade from Economy to Business, or an “A” Fare if you want to upgrade from business to first class. Expert Flyer will display the number of upgrades available next to the letter C or A (e.g. C0= no upgrades; C3= 3 upgrades). If there is not space, you will be waitlisted. If that happens, set an instant alert in ExpertFlyer for the upgrade.
- Recommended Routes- Don’t use a SWU to upgrade to domestic first class. American’s domestic first class is fairly lackluster, whereas their international long-haul flights offer lie-flat seats, great food, and better wine. Some recommended routes are Los Angeles to Sydney, Auckland, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bejing, Tokyo, or London; Dallas to Asia or Europe; Chicago to Asia; New York to Buenos Aires or Rio. (New York or Chicago to Europe is a pretty good use of SWUs, but those flights are generally less than 8 hours. Whereas Chicago to Asia is about 14 hours)
- Stingy Upgrade Space- Over the past few years, American Airlines has been very stingy at opening up upgrade space so that Executive Platinum members can use their SWUs, so many of SWUs go to waste. This is one of many areas where American Airlines’ management team needs to improve the experience for the heavy frequent fliers to retain their loyalty.
Elite Benefits Flying on American Airlines
Elite Benefits Flying on a OneWorld Airlines
If you have American Airlines Elite Status, you also qualify for OneWorld elite status when flying: British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia, Qantas, Qatar, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, and SriLankan Airlines.