American Airlines elite status: What it is and how to earn it – The Points Guy

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If you fly with American Airlines and its partners, you may have — or be interested in earning — American Airlines elite status.

In early 2022, American AAdvantage revamped how you earn American elite status. Loyalty Points are the sole metric you must focus on when striving for a specific American Airlines AAdvantage elite status tier. Here’s what you need to know about American Airlines elite status and how to earn it.

What is American Airlines elite status?

American Airlines elite status gives extra perks and benefits to AAdvantage members who interact with the program frequently. These elite perks and benefits when flying American Airlines range from free checked bags to complimentary upgrades.

Unlike airline loyalty programs in which flying is the primary activity needed to earn status, American AAdvantage lets you earn Loyalty Points toward elite status through many activities unrelated to travel, including online shopping, dining and spending on cobranded American Airlines credit cards.

You can earn different American Airlines elite status tiers by accumulating set amounts of Loyalty Points each elite-qualification year, which runs for 12 months from March 1 through the end of February. The status you’ve earned based on the Loyalty Points accumulated by the end of each February will be valid through the end of the following March. Then, your Loyalty Points balance resets and you have 12 more months to earn Loyalty Points and requalify for status.

Related: Last-minute strategies for earning American AAdvantage elite status

American Airlines elite status tiers

You’ll find four published tiers of American Airlines elite status that you can earn via accumulating Loyalty Points during the 12 months starting each March 1:

  • Gold: 40,000 Loyalty Points
  • Platinum: 75,000 Loyalty Points
  • Platinum Pro: 125,000 Loyalty Points
  • Executive Platinum: 200,000 Loyalty Points

In addition to these tiers, there’s also the exclusive, invite-only Concierge Key status. However, American AAdvantage doesn’t publish any specific requirements for this status.

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You’ll also earn Loyalty Point Rewards as you reach specific Loyalty Point thresholds. You’ll earn your first Loyalty Point Rewards choice after earning just 15,000 Loyalty Points within the 12-month qualification period following March 1.

Related: Your guide to American Airlines lifetime elite status

How to qualify for American Airlines elite status

American Airlines Boeing 737. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

To qualify for American Airlines elite status, you must earn the required number of Loyalty Points during each 12-month qualification period following March 1. As discussed above, you’ll need to earn 40,000 Loyalty Points for Gold status, 75,000 for Platinum, 125,000 for Platinum Pro and 200,000 for Executive Platinum.

We have a full guide to earning Loyalty Points. But, in short, you can earn two types of American Airlines miles: base and bonus. And while both base and bonus miles are redeemable, base miles also give you Loyalty Points. So, each time you earn a base mile with American AAdvantage, you’ll also earn a Loyalty Point.

You can earn American AAdvantage base miles through many different activities. Here’s a non-comprehensive list of some ways you can earn base miles (and hence Loyalty Points):

  • Flights sold by American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia: Earn base miles based on your ticket’s base fare and carrier-imposed fees.
  • Flights sold and operated by other American AAdvantage partners: Earn base miles based on flight distance and the fare class of your ticket.
  • AAdvantage eShopping portal: Earn base miles when you click through the AAdvantage eShopping portal before making purchases with select merchants.
  • SimplyMiles: Earn base miles when you enroll in SimplyMiles offers with participating merchants and then make eligible purchases.
  • AAdvantage Dining: Earn base miles when you use an enrolled card to pay at participating AAdvantage Dining restaurants, bars and clubs.
  • Rocketmiles and AAdvantage Hotels: Earn base miles when you book hotels through AAdvantage Hotels or Rocketmiles.

There are many other ways to earn American Airlines miles. However, check whether you’re earning base or bonus miles before you get too excited about how many Loyalty Points you’ll earn. Bask Bank mileage accounts are one example of an activity that earns only bonus miles — and hence no Loyalty Points.

Related: Times you won’t earn American Airlines Loyalty Points, even if you earn miles

American Airlines elite status benefits

American Airlines elite status comes with some valuable benefits. Here’s a look at some of the most noteworthy benefits, including how they differ by status tier.

Upgrades and better seats

Exit-row seating on an American Airlines Boeing 737. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

American Airlines elite members get complimentary upgrades from Main Cabin to the next class of service on select American-marketed and -operated flights. These upgrades are unlimited and automatically requested but are based on availability and only apply to flights within the U.S. and between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Central America. The upgrades include award tickets and can also apply to a companion traveling with you on the same flight.

However, members with different American Airlines elite status tiers can confirm these complimentary upgrades at different times. Executive Platinum members may have their complimentary upgrade cleared as early as 100 hours before departure, Platinum Pro members as early as 72 hours, Platinum members as early as 48 hours and Gold members as early as 24 hours.

American Airlines prioritizes upgrades — including complimentary upgrades, mileage award upgrades and systemwide upgrades — in the following order:

  • AAdvantage status level (Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, Platinum and then Gold)
  • Type of upgrade (handled independently until at the airport, where systemwide upgrades and mileage award upgrades come before complimentary upgrades)
  • 12-month rolling Loyalty Points (updated daily)
  • Booking code (W, P, Y, H, K, M, L, V, G, S, N, Q, O and then T)
  • Date and time of the request

Members with American Airlines elite status — and up to eight passengers traveling with you on the same reservation — can select Preferred seats without any extra fees during booking or anytime after booking (based on availability). Preferred seats have standard legroom but are located in more desirable locations throughout the economy cabin.

Main Cabin Extra seats with up to 6 inches of additional legroom are also available to AAdvantage elite members for free (based on availability). However, AAdvantage Gold members will have to wait until 24 hours before check-in to select these seats free of charge (if available).

Mileage bonuses

American Airlines elite members get a mileage bonus when flying on American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Gol Airlines, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc and Royal Jordanian.

The bonus is calculated based on the base miles earned on the flight, with different elite tiers earning the mileage bonus as follows:

  • Gold: 40%
  • Platinum: 60%
  • Platinum Pro: 80%
  • Executive Platinum: 120%

The mileage bonus is treated as base miles, so you’ll also earn Loyalty Points. As such, it’s easier for higher-tier AAdvantage elite members to qualify for a specific American Airlines elite status tier based on flights than a traveler with lower-tier status or no AAdvantage status.

Benefits at the airport

Having elite status can save you time at the American Airlines check-in area. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

AAdvantage elite members enjoy — when available — Priority access at check-in, security and boarding. Specifically, Executive Platinum members board in Group 1, Platinum Pro in Group 2, Platinum in Group 3 and Gold in Group 4. Boarding with any of these groups usually means there’s still space in the overhead bin for your carry-on suitcase.

Elite members also get priority when standing by for a different flight on the same day of travel when flying to or from the United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro members can enjoy complimentary same-day flight changes on American when flying to or from the United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Canada and select destinations in the Caribbean.

AAdvantage elites also enjoy complimentary checked bags: Gold members get one checked bag, Platinum members get two checked bags and Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members get three checked bags. Plus, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members and others on the same reservation get their checked bags tagged as Priority, which means their bags should be among the first to reach the claim belt.

In addition, your free checked baggage allowance is based on the higher of their status at booking or check-in. In other words, if you book a flight and then lose your status (or drop to a lower tier) by your check-in date, you’ll still receive the allowance of your status at booking. Likewise, if you book a flight and then reach a higher tier of status, you’ll enjoy the higher baggage allowance.

Other benefits

American Airlines elite status offers a variety of other perks, including the following:

  • Perks on Alaska Airlines: Complimentary space-available upgrades, better seats and more
  • Oneworld status: Gold gets Oneworld Ruby, Platinum gets Sapphire, and Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum get Emerald
  • Earn American miles on Hyatt stays: AAdvantage elite members earn 1 base mile per dollar spent on eligible Hyatt stays
  • Executive Platinum perks in Main Cabin: Executive Platinum members traveling in the Main Cabin can enjoy a complimentary alcoholic beverage and a snack on American Airlines flights with full drink service

Loyalty Point Rewards

You could choose systemwide upgrades as Loyalty Point Rewards and use them to upgrade on a long-haul flight. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Finally, although Loyalty Point Rewards aren’t tied to American Airlines elite status, they are tied to specific Loyalty Point milestones that you’ll inherently meet as you progress toward AAdvantage elite status. Here’s a look at the Loyalty Point Rewards you could choose as you progress toward the 200,000 Loyalty Points required for Executive Platinum status:

  • 15,000 Loyalty Points: Group 5 boarding for the membership year plus a choice of Priority privileges and Group 4 boarding for one trip or five Preferred seat coupons. Starting with the new qualification year on March 1, 2024, 1,000 Loyalty Points will also be a choice.
  • 60,000 Loyalty Points: Avis Preferred Plus status and a 20% Loyalty Point bonus with select partners for six months.
  • 100,000 Loyalty Points: Avis President’s Club status and a 30% Loyalty Point bonus with select partners for six months.
  • 175,000 Loyalty Points: A choice of two systemwide upgrades, 20,000 bonus miles (25,000 if you have an AAdvantage credit card), six Admirals Club one-day passes, a $200 trip credit ($250 if you have an AAdvantage credit card), carbon offset, $250 donation to select nonprofit organization, 15% award rebate (not offered in new qualification year starting March 1, 2024), two gifts of AAdvantage Gold status or 35,000 AAdvantage miles toward a Mastercard Priceless Experience (only available if you have an AAdvantage credit card). Starting with the new qualification year on March 1, 2024, 5,000 Loyalty Points will also be a choice.

Remember that you must accrue all these Loyalty Points within the 12-month qualification period following March 1. But, for those who have no issues earning Loyalty Points, there are also more Loyalty Point Rewards you can earn at higher milestones. Check out the AAdvantage Loyalty Point Rewards page for more details on these high-threshold tiers.

Can a credit card help earn American Airlines elite status?

Having a cobranded American Airlines credit card is extremely helpful if you want to earn American Airlines elite status. Although the sign-up and category bonuses provide bonus miles — which won’t give you Loyalty Points — you’ll earn 1 Loyalty Point per dollar spent with most AAdvantage credit cards. This means you can boost your Loyalty Point balance as you use your card for purchases and even qualify for American elite status from credit card spending alone.

Here’s a look at some of the currently available American Airlines credit cards:

If you value getting Admirals Club access, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is an excellent choice. But I like the Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard — which I got by upgrading my AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard — since it gives me up to $25 per day in statement credits toward food and beverages purchased on American-operated flights and lets me earn up to 15,000 additional Loyalty Points when I meet specific spending thresholds within my status qualification period.

The information for the AAdvantage MileUp, Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select, CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select, Aviator Red and Aviator Silver cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: American Airlines credit card spending now earns Loyalty Points based on purchase date

Is American Airlines elite status worth it?

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

American Airlines elite status is worth it for some travelers. For example, I’ve valued having Executive Platinum status since 2016 due to the domestic upgrades, waived checked bag fees, Priority check-in lines, systemwide upgrades and Oneworld Emerald status it provides. But, after struggling to earn Loyalty Points and reconsidering what I value in American Airlines elite status, this qualification period I’ll likely only requalify for Platinum Pro. In short, I decided the incremental value of Executive Platinum over Platinum Pro didn’t justify the extra costs I’d incur to earn the higher status.

It’s important to consider how much you’ll use your AAdvantage perks and the cost of earning American Airlines status. If you’ll organically earn American Airlines status through flights, then it’s likely worth earning. But if you’ll have to earn a significant number of Loyalty Points through other means, such as using the AAdvantage eShopping portal or spending on an AAdvantage credit card, there’s an opportunity cost to doing so. After all, you could earn more valuable rewards on another credit card or through another online shopping portal for some purchases.

Finally, if you’ll only use your American Airlines elite status perks occasionally or only need a specific perk, consider whether you can get what you seek through booking premium-cabin fares or getting a credit card that provides perks such as lounge access, preferred boarding and your first checked bag free on domestic itineraries. The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard (see rates and fees) is a good option for Admirals Club access, while the AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard and Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard provide a first checked bag free on domestic flights.

Bottom line

American Airlines offers four elite status tiers you can earn by accumulating Loyalty Points: Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum. These tiers offer perks including Preferred seating, complimentary space-available upgrades on American Airlines and Oneworld perks on select partner airlines.

If you frequently fly with American Airlines, British Airways or Iberia on expensive paid fares or spend a significant amount on American Airlines credit cards or when shopping through the AAdvantage eShopping portal, you’ll likely find it easy and worthwhile to earn American Airlines elite status. However, even lower levels of American elite status can provide significant value via Priority boarding and waived checked baggage fees — especially since these perks can extend to other travelers on the same reservation.

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