Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. Citi is an advertising partner.
For avid American Airlines flyers, AAdvantage elite status is now easier than ever to earn, keep, and elevate.
As a result of COVID-19, American Airlines has made changes to its AAdvantage program so travelers have more ways to earn elite status in 2022. They've also introduced easier requirements for earning, maintaining and elevating your elite status. For example, starting in 2022, there will be three ways to earn elite status:
- By flying
- Using an AAdvantage® credit card
- Spending with an AAdvantage® partner
They'll also be doing away with complicated elite status metrics in favor of more streamlined "loyalty points," which we will touch on more later.
Is it worth reaching for AAdvantage elite status? For frequent American Airlines flyers, AAdvantage elite status can certainly be worth it. Benefits include things like free checked bags, priority upgrades, complimentary preferred seats and more. Our comprehensive guide can help you understand the main benefits of AAdvantage elite status, how you can earn it and steps you can take to get there faster.
American Airlines elite status: Are the benefits worth it?
The elite status program at American Airlines AAdvantage is similar to programs offered by rival airlines; it offers standard perks like:
- Free checked bags
- Priority boarding
- Bonus rewards
- Lounge access for elite status members
- Complimentary same-day flight changes
- Standby travel
If you don't currently have elite status on any airline and are looking to join a program, you should first find out which airline has the best flight options for you. If you frequently travel abroad or are hoping to earn rewards for free international flights, it's important to consider whether a U.S. airline has favorable international partners. American Airlines, for example, is part of the oneworld alliance, whose 14 member airlines offer more than 1,000 destinations in 170 territories.
The following chart highlights the main perks you’ll get for being a status member with American:
|Minimum EQM guarantee|
|Priority through the airport at check-in, security and boarding|
|Free checked bags||1||2||3||3|
|Same-day standby priority|
American AAdvantage elite status levels
As you’ll see from the benefits described in the chart above, you get access to more elite benefits with American’s frequent-flyer program as you move up the elite status ladder. However, you’ll also have to fly an increasing number of miles or segments to achieve the highest tiers of elite status, as we’ll outline.
Before we do that, let’s look at the four main levels of elite status you may be able to achieve with the AAdvantage program in 2022, as well as the highlights and qualifications you’ll need to reach each level.
How to qualify: 30,000 Loyalty Points
Base earnings: 7 award miles/$1 (versus 5 award miles/$1 for standard AAdvantage members)
Is American Airlines Gold status worth it?
If you travel infrequently (perhaps just for leisure), or less than 20 times per year, it's not worth going for Gold status. Instead, you might be better off bargain hunting for the most affordable fares offered by all available airlines, and paying for the trip with a rewards credit card. However, if you’ve already met the 20 trip segment requirement and also have at least $2,000 in EQD flight dollars, Gold status can be a decent perk that might occasionally provide some added travel comfort.
One example is at the airport, where Gold members receive free same-day standby, as well as priority check-in and boarding. Gold members also get one free checked bag, which can lead to considerable savings the more you fly. Another perk: Gold members get 40% more bonus miles than non-elite AAdvantage travelers. Free flight upgrades are also available at the Gold tier. However, it’s likely your upgrade request won’t be granted because higher status elite travelers generally get upgrades first.
How to qualify: 75,000 Loyalty Points
Base earnings: 8 award miles/$1
Is American Airlines Platinum status worth it?
Elite status at the Platinum level can be well worth it for travelers who fly at least 45 segments per year with American, and who can also afford to spend at least $4,500 on airfare. At this tier, members have access to the oneworld alliance's business class and frequent flyer airport lounges, which is helpful for international travelers. Members also get two free checked bags, priority bag delivery and free same-day flight changes.
Platinum members get the same airport perks as Gold members, but also 60% more bonus miles, versus 40%.
How to qualify: 125,000 Loyalty Points
Base earnings: 9 award miles/$1
Is American Airlines Platinum Pro status worth it?
Platinum Pro status is worth it for the heavy traveler. Benefits at this level are similar to those for Platinum travelers, but with a few bonuses. For example, Platinum Pro members receive an 80% mileage bonus (9 award miles/$1). Flight upgrades are likelier at this status level, as Platinum Pro members are second in line behind Executive Platinum members. Also, you'll get three checked bags and complimentary same-day flight changes.
How to qualify: 200,000 Loyalty Points
Base earnings: 11 award miles/$1
Is American Airlines Executive Platinum status worth it?
If you fly frequently enough with American to qualify for Executive Platinum status, you'll get a variety of benefits that may prompt you to stay loyal to the airline. Executive Platinum members get three free checked bags, and a 120% elite mileage bonus. In addition, Executive Platinum members are first in line for upgrades.
As an Executive Platinum member, you’ll also receive some exclusive benefits. These include guaranteed availability in the main cabin, waitlist priority for purchased First or Business Class, a complimentary alcoholic beverage and snack in the main cabin and more.
Benefits of American Airlines elite status
If you’re already an elite status member, you should know American Airlines is automatically extending your status level through March 31, 2022.
Note that your activity in January and February 2022 will also count towards earning both 2022 and 2023 status, which means you'll get two additional months to earn status for both years. Also, moving forward, members will be able to qualify for elite status from March through February, with status valid through March 31 of the following year.
Elite status benefits are aimed at making travel more comfortable and more affordable, but these perks can only be realized if you fly often enough to reach tier status within a calendar year. If you decide elite status is worth pursuing, you can expect the following benefits:
All AAdvantage elite status members receive *unlimited upgrades on flights 500 miles and less that are automatically requested when they make a reservation. For flights longer than 500 miles, only elite status members in the top two tiers, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum, are eligible for auto-requested upgrades. However, status members in the two lower tiers can still earn 500-mile upgrades by accumulating Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs), which are calculated based on the miles flown. For every 12,500 EQMs you earn, you can expect four 500-mile upgrades.
Executive Platinum members also receive the benefit of four systemwide upgrades. These are guaranteed upgrades that can be used to upgrade an economy ticket to business-class ticket, or a business-class ticket to a first-class ticket. Systemwide upgrades can be transferred to friends and family, and the only exception is that they can't be used with a basic economy ticket.
Here’s more about the flight upgrades available for each AA elite status level:
When flying with American Airlines
|Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades on flights of 500 miles or less||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Flights over 500 miles||Yes||Yes||Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades||Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades|
|Complimentary upgrades on award tickets||No||No||No||Yes|
|Ability to upgrade the ticket of one companion traveling with you on same flight with 500-mile upgrades||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Timeline for upgrades confirmed before departure||24 hours||48 hours||72 hours||100 hours|
All AAdvantage elite status members get a free checked bag benefit, but the benefit will vary according to the status level, as you’ll see below. By contrast, if you don’t have elite flying status, the first checked bag fee on American Airlines domestic flights will set you back $30, the second bag will cost $40 and the fee for the third bag will be $150.
|How many free checked bags do you get?||1||2||3||3|
AAdvantage members with Platinum status and above get complimentary access to oneworld lounges when they fly on an eligible flight. The oneworld alliance has over 650 lounges across the globe, so this perk is useful for frequent international travelers. Also, all elite status members receive a discounted membership to American's lounge network, the Admirals Club. The airport lounges differ in quality depending upon the airport.
Annual cost for new Admirals Club membership
Elite members of American's AAdvantage program earn bonus miles on flight purchases. Miles can be redeemed for award travel, upgrades, membership to the Admirals Club lounges, and also for vacation expenses like rental cars and hotels. Regular AAdvantage members earn five points for every dollar spent with American and on flights with partner airlines, and elite members earn more based on their status level, as you’ll see below.
Award miles per dollar
At American, award flights can be redeemed for as few as 7,500 miles; these are MileSAAver tickets for flights of less than 500 miles within the contiguous U.S. During the off-peak travel season, trips to Hawaii from the contiguous 48 states can be redeemed for 20,000 miles, and trips to Europe can be redeemed for 22,500 miles. Depending on the type of award ticket you redeem, one-way flights require between 7,500 miles and 90,000 miles.
If you earn elite status with the AAdvantage program, you’ll also qualify as an elite member of the oneworld alliance, which means some of your benefits will still apply when you fly with partner airlines like British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines. From the following table, you’ll see that reciprocal benefits are best for travelers who have Platinum status or better.
oneworld Ruby (American Gold)
oneworld Sapphire (American Platinum)
oneworld Emerald (American Platinum Pro)
oneworld Emerald (American Executive Platinum)
|Priority check-in and standby||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Partner lounge access||No||Business class and frequent flyer lounges||First and Business Class and frequent flyer lounges||First and Business Class and frequent flyer lounges|
|Extra bag allowance||No||No||Total of three bags on American||Total of three bags on American|
How to earn American Airlines elite status in 2022
While previously, American Airlines elite status required members to meet a spending requirement as well as a requirement for either miles or flight segments flown, in 2022 they are streamlining the process into a single metric: Loyalty Points.
For every AAdvantage mile earned, members will receive 1 Loyalty Point.
Here's what you need to qualify for each elite status level in 2022:
|Gold||30,000 Loyalty Points|
|Platinum||75,000 Loyalty Points|
|Platinum Pro||125,000 Loyalty Points|
|Executive Platinum||200,000 Loyalty Points|
Shortcuts to elite status with American Airlines
It’s possible to speed up the process for achieving elite status with American. Consider the shortcuts below. They can help you climb the tiers of elite status — and earn miles towards free flights along the way.
Co-branded credit cards and rewards credit cards help travelers earn airline points faster, and many also come with airline-specific perks. If you care more about earning rewards points than flying on American, however, your best option is a general rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Citi Premier® Card. These cards can help you earn points you can apply toward travel expenses like plane tickets and hotel rooms.
Other co-branded credit cards from American Airlines can help you rack up miles faster and secure some of the benefits that come with elite status, even if they won’t actually move you into an elite status category. If you’re eager to rack up as many miles as possible — including a generous sign-up bonus — check out these top offers:
New cardmember offer
Free checked bag
|American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card||$0||Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services. Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.||Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening||No||No|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®||$450||Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases & 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases||Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening||Yes, for you and up to eight traveling companions||Yes|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®||$99, waived for first 12 months||Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases||Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening||Yes, for you and up to four traveling companions||Yes|
|CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®||$99, waived for first 12 months||Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations. 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.||Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.||Yes, for you and up to four traveling companions||No|
|AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®||$99||Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on all other purchases||Earn 60,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days.||Yes, for you and up to four traveling companions||Yes|
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
If you're looking to achieve elite status with American faster, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® can help. It comes with a $450 annual fee, but you’ll get automatic Admirals Club membership as a cardholder perk. You’ll also Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
For $0 annual fee, the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card is a great option for earning American Airlines points commitment-free. You can earn unlimited miles and you'll save 25% on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you fly American and use your card. The chance to Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening is a nice perk, too.
If you currently have elite status with another airline, you may be able to participate in a status match to receive similar status at American. Status match programs let you temporarily receive the same status level you have with another airline. If you’re interested in a status match, contact American directly.
If you don't currently have elite status at American or any other carrier, you may be able to participate in a status challenge. For a fee of a few hundred dollars, these challenges let you qualify for status by meeting the requirements of a given status level over a prorated period. For example, if you're looking to qualify for Gold status at American, you may be asked to pay a fee of around $200, and also spend a certain amount and fly a certain number of segments within a certain period of time.
Should you get American Airlines elite status?
Elite status may — or may not — be worth the effort depending on how often you travel. If you don’t travel often enough to achieve elite status with an airline easily, you might be better off using a general travel rewards credit card. After all, you will almost always spend less on travel over time if you shop around among all airlines to find the best price before booking a flight.
If you're a frequent flyer who can easily reach the elite status requirements and can benefit from perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, and a discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases, elite status can definitely be worth it. There are also several ways to shortcut your way to elite status, like through co-branded credit cards and elite status match which can be helpful.
American elite status FAQs
How to get elite status on American Airlines?
There are several ways to get elite status on American Airlines: by flying, using an AAdvantage® credit card, or spending with an AAdvantage® partner.
Can I share my American Airlines elite status with family?
No, unfortunately, you can't share American Airlines elite status with family.
Can you buy American Airlines elite status?
While you can't directly "buy" American Airlines elite status, there are shortcuts to earning status that involve spending extra money to earn status quickly. Some of these shortcuts include things like status challenge and signing up for co-branded credit cards.
The information related to Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, CitiBusiness®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® and AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® hasbeen independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.