Here’s How American Airlines Is Making It Easier To Earn Elite Status In 2021

For those looking to earn status in 2021, American Airlines is making it easier to do so. The airline is cutting not just status requirements, but even giving members a head start on earning status in 2021. Note that status achieved in 2021 will be valid through January 31st, 2023.

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American Airlines is making status a little easier to earn in 2021. Photo: Getty Images

Easier to attain elite status

Today, American Airlines announced that AAdvantage members can start earning elite status in 2021 from now. All elite-qualifying flight activity flown from October through December 2020 will count toward a member’s 2021 qualification requirements.

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In addition, American Airlines is also making it easier to attain status. To earn AAdvantage tiers in 2021, here is what you need to accomplish:

 GoldPlatinumPlatinum ProExecutive Platinum
Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD)$2,000$4,500$7,000$12,000
Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS)20457095
Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM)20,00040,00060,00080,000

For reference, here are standard elite qualification requirements within the AAdvantage program:

 GoldPlatinumPlatinum ProExecutive Platinum

Traditionally, members have to earn elite status between January 1st and December 31st of a calendar year to earn status through the next year by fulfilling either the EQS or EQM requirement and the EQD requirement.

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Most passengers right now are not flying long-haul international routes. Photo: Getty Images

Now, with reduced flying across the board and the lack of long-haul international travel due to closed borders, most passengers are trying to earn status domestically.  Domestic itineraries are usually cheaper and shorter, therefore netting fewer EQMs and EQDs. These new elite status requirements help create a balance between building a more exclusive travel program while taking into consideration the global crisis that has devastated the travel industry.

Another thing to note is that American Airlines is waiving elite dollar requirements for Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Pro levels if members spend $30,000 on their eligible AAdvantage credit cards. This means loyalty members can bypass the airfare spend requirements through other purchases. If you are a new loyalty member looking to take advantage of this waiver, you can sign up for an eligible AAdvantage credit card.

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American Eagle flights also qualify towards earning status with AAdvantage. Photo. Getty Images

A new “menu” for top-tier elites

Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members will get a curated menu of rewards. This includes items like systemwide upgrades, Admirals Club day passes, bonus AAdvantage miles, and more.

The idea behind this menu is to give passengers a choice of which rewards they find valuable. For example, some members may want advantages other than systemwide upgrades because there is less long-haul international flying on their agendas for 2021. More details are coming soon. Do note that menus will be available for Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members. Menus are standardized for each of these two tier levels, meaning all passengers in a specific tier get the same options.

Hitting multiple birds with one stone

Simple Flying got an opportunity to speak with Rick Elieson, President of the AAdvantage program. In terms of understanding the rationale behind these changes, Mr. Elieson stated the following:

“The changes we are announcing today are really focused on enriching the experience for Platinum Pros, in particular, and Executive Platinums. That’s where more of the flexibility of the rewards system comes in. But having an EQD waiver, lower thresholds, and a fourth quarter head start towards meeting those qualifications, that benefits everybody.”

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Status earned on American Airlines also confers benefits when traveling on a oneworld alliance carrier. Photo: Getty Images

Over the last few months, American’s travelers have also changed. While the airline did fly leisure passengers beforehand, in September and October 2019, business travelers were helping keep American’s planes filled. Now American’s travelers are under-40s who are new to the airline and hold no status. Mr. Elieson is excited about this:

“We have a great opportunity in front of us to speak to people who are not top flyers, who are new to the program and American Airlines. That is one of the silver linings of this pandemic. This is our chance to convince them why we are a great company and why this is a great program to be a part of.”

Other actions American has taken

For existing members, American has already extended their current status through January 31st, 2022. AAdvantage members can also take advantage of their status to access upgrade privileges, elite seat privileges, and same-day confirmed flight changes when they book a basic economy fare.

American Airlines further reduces schedule due to coronavirus
American Airlines has already extended elite status and removed change fees. Photo: Getty Images

All customers can now fly standby on flights on the same day as their original departure to the same destination for no additional charge. This is true for both domestic and international travel regardless of the ticket class a person has purchased. Also, passengers can take advantage of no change fees for all domestic and short-haul international flying in most fare classes.

If you are looking at taking advantage of this promotion and planning to earn status on American, make sure you double-check the ticket you are flying. From January 1st, 2021, basic economy tickets will no longer earn elite status qualifying miles, dollars, or segments. Main cabin fares will continue to net passengers elite status qualification miles, dollars, or segments.

What do you make of these new AAdvantage changes? Are you going to go for status on American in 2021? Let us know in the comments!