What is American Airlines Platinum Status Really Worth?

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In the American Airlines’ AAdvantage® program, there are 4 levels of elite status:

Platinum status is the second lowest tier in the program and offers complimentary auto-requested upgraded, 48-hour upgrade window, 60% elite mileage bonus, complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred Seats, and 2 free checked bags.

Platinum is a relatively easy status to earn, only requiring 50,000 miles flown a year and $6,000 spending. While this may seem like a lot of miles or money for some, this amount of travel is not uncommon for a business traveler or even a heavy leisure traveler.

In addition, Platinum status is offered to those who have flown 2 million miles or more on American Airlines, or Oneworld partners. With the status being relatively easy to earn, that means a lot of people have Platinum status. It’s important to look at the benefits of this level and what’s the average value for each of the perks.

The more value you can extract from this elite level, the more overall savings you’ll get, so it’s really important to take a deep-dive inside. 

In this article, you’ll find all the important information about Platinum status including a brief overview of the level, the perks, the value of those perks, and how you can maximize every mile flown.

How to Earn AAdvantage® Platinum Status

There are two ways of earning Platinum status on American:

  1. Spend $6,000 and fly 50,000 miles
  2. Spend $6,000 and fly 60 segments, great for short haul flyers

Earning Platinum status also comes with Oneworld Sapphire. If you fly 2 million miles on American or partners, you can earn Platinum status for life and won’t have to qualify every year.

AAdvantage Platinum Card
All AAdvantage Platinum members will receive a membership card upon qualification. Image courtesy of American Airlines.

Hot Tip: Did you know that having the right credit card in your wallet can help you fast track to elite status? Read more about it in our guide to the best credit cards for airline elite status.

The Benefits of AAdvantage® Platinum Status

Complimentary Upgrades on Flights 500 Miles or Less ($400 Value)

One of the biggest perks of Platinum status is getting unlimited upgrades on flights 500 miles or less. These flights aren’t going to be the fanciest, and none of them will offer a full-fledged meal, but an upgrade is always nice even if it’s a short flight. The upgrade is even better when it’s free.

Typical 500-mile or less flights are Miami to Tampa, or Milwaukee to Chicago. You’ll find that many of these flights are operated by regional jets. To maximize this benefit, there are a few things you can do:

  • Plan for multiple connections. If you’re flying to two cities that are more than 500 miles apart, try to connect in a city that is less than 500 miles from both your starting point and ending point. Your status will grant you upgrades on both legs since both flights are 500 miles or less.
  • Choose aircraft and cabins that have more seats. Try to pick a 737 over a CRJ-700 since more first class seats mean more seats for upgrades. 

During a year, you’d likely fly several flights of 500 miles, and each upgrade is worth at least $50. Assuming you fly 8 flights of 500 miles in length, you’ll have earned about $400 in value.

As a recommendation, there’s several under 500-mile routes that are easier than others for upgrades, even for Platinum status members:

  • The daily 737 departure from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Select DCA flights to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) or LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  • Select JFK flights to BOS
  • Mid-day non-peak hour DCA flights to O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • 767/wide-body flights from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Tampa International Airport (TPA)
  • 767/wide-body flights from MIA to Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN) flights to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) flights to Tucson International Airport (TUS)
  • PHX flights to Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG)

Hot Tip: For more information on snagging that upgrade, see our in-depth guide on how you can get upgraded to business or first class on American Airlines. 

4 500-mile Upgrades for Every 12,500 Miles Flown ($800 Value)

For every 12,500 paid miles flown, you’ll receive 4 500-mile upgrades in your account. You can then use these upgrades on any domestic flight to upgrade.

If you have a flight that is 900 miles, ordinarily you wouldn’t be eligible for a complimentary upgrade given it’s more than 500 miles. However, you can use 2 of your 500-mile upgrades. If your flight is 1,001 miles, for example, you’ll need 3 upgrades. If you need more, you can always purchase them individually or in bulk for $35 a piece. 

Keep in mind, even if you have enough upgrades for your trip, you’ll still be behind 3 other status levels. Upgrades go in this order:

  • Concierge Key at 120 hours out (invite-only status)
  • Executive Platinum at 100 hours out
  • Platinum Pro at 72 hours out
  • Platinum at 48 hours out
  • Followed by Gold at 24 hours out

If the route is super busy, don’t expect an upgrade. Routes like LGA to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), DCA to LAX, or Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to DFW are notorious routes for long upgrade lists. On many of those routes, even Executive Platinum’s don’t clear the waitlist for an update. That said, you can maximize the value from these upgrades by:

  • Choosing off-peak times to fly. You’re more likely to clear an upgrade on a Wednesday or Saturday, for example.
  • Choose larger planes, especially wide-body planes, that contain more seats.
  • Avoid upgrading a companion with you that will require more 500-mile stickers. Often, only 1 seat at a time is released for an upgrade and you may not get it.

If you fly 50,000 miles to qualify for Platinum status, you will have earned 16 500-mile upgrades. The value of these upgrades is around $50 each, totaling an $800 value.

American Airlines Flagship Business
As a Platinum status member, you may receive upgrades to business class or first class depending on availability. Image courtesy of American Airlines.

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60% Mileage Bonus ($300 Value)

Platinum members get a 60% mileage bonus, so for every dollar spent, you get 6 miles. Golden members earn 40%, so over the course of the year, you’ll accumulate more miles that gives you an opportunity to spend them on more trips.

It’s tough to put a value on these miles. If you’re constantly redeeming them for short-haul economy class flights, then you’ll get minimal value. However, if you’re looking to use them on business class flights to Europe, for example, it’s a much better value.

You have to spend a minimum of $6,000 to reach Platinum status, so that spending will earn you 36,000 miles at a minimum. You generally need 25,000 miles for a one-way domestic first class ticket, so 25,000 miles needed with the difficulty in finding awards available, this is an estimated $300 value.

500 Mile Guarantee ($25 Value)

This is a benefit that is awarded to all elite status members, but it’s worth noting. For every flight you take, you’re guaranteed 500 miles towards elite status, even if the flight is shorter than 500 miles.

So, if you fly from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) Baltimore to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), which is is well under the 500 miles, you will still earn 500 miles toward elite status. Remember, these are the miles you earn for status, not the miles you redeem for a free ticket; those are two different things.

You probably won’t be on too many shorter flights throughout the year, but assuming you’re on 1 or 2, the $25 valuation here is certainly worth the 500 mile minimum towards status re-qualification.

Priority Check-In, Priority Security, and Priority Boarding ($150 Value)

Platinum status members receive the same airport amenities as both lower and higher tier elites of priority check-in, priority security, and priority boarding.

In airports where there is a priority check-in counter, you’re able to use it. In airports with both a Business and First Class Check-In counter, you’ll use the Business Class desk. Dropping your bags off generally takes little to no time, but it’s nice to have an expedited path to doing so.

Once you’ve checked-in, you can use priority screening lanes equipped at most, but not all airports. These lanes will generally be shorter, but the screening process is the same. If you have TSA PreCheck or CLEAR, you’ll want to use those lanes since many times the priority lanes don’t necessarily grant you TSA PreCheck expedition.

Once at the gate, you’ll have priority boarding to board the plane but you won’t be the first. Here’s a list of the priority order:

  • ConciergeKey members will pre-board the aircraft prior to normal groups
  • Group 1 will be First Class and uniformed military personnel 
  • Group 2 will be Executive Platinum members
  • Group 3 will be Platinum Pro and Platinum members
  • Group 4 will be Gold members

Here’s the downside; since you board with both Platinum Pro and Platinum members, depending on the flight, Group 3 can be a giant rush of people. Platinum members don’t receive their own group but are combined with the Platinum Pro members for boarding priority.

Since most Platinum members will be seated in a Main Cabin Extra seating section, due to this being a complimentary benefit, there still should be plenty of room overhead to store bags.

It’s hard to put a value on this benefit since it’s fairly ambiguous, but because you’re probably needing to see an agent a few times a year, and it’s great to board the plane early to stow bags before others, it’s an estimated $150 value.

Checked Bag Fee Waived ($175 Value)

As a Platinum member, you’ll get 2 free checked bags on every flight. Since most times you’ll probably be carrying on bags, coming up with a valuation is difficult, though I’ve accounted for a few times throughout the year where you might need to check bags, such as when traveling with family, or carrying work equipment.

When you check your 2 free bags, you get this for both yourself and up to 8 companions. There’s no reason not to bring all that stuff your kids want you to bring since you now have a lot of room to check it.

I’ll assume you check your bags or several bags a few times a year, like many travelers do, especially when you’re carrying liquids or other non carry-on objects. Let’s assume 7 checked bags over the course of a year, whether for you or others, valued at $25 a bag.

American Airlines Baggage
Platinum AAdvantage members get their checked bag fees waived as an elite benefit. Image courtesy of American Airlines.

Priority Bag Delivery ($25 Value)

This benefit is honestly hit or miss. Not because it isn’t valuable, but rather because it doesn’t occur as often as it should.

In theory, as a Platinum member, your bag will be tagged with an orange priority tag, and be amongst the first bags delivered to the baggage carousel.

Keep in mind that Executive Platinum, Platinum Pros, Platinum members, along with other Oneworld elite status members also receive this priority, so you may be waiting a while for your bag even with this benefit. 

This benefit is marginal of value since American isn’t great about delivering priority tagged bags ahead of other non-tagged bags. Since it’s very hit or miss, don’t place a ton of value here. Since this benefit isn’t really something that’s consistent, it’s estimated at a $25 value.

Complimentary Same Day Standby ($225 Value)

As a Platinum status member, you’re allowed to fly standby for any flight on the same day and the same routing as your current flight. So, if you are booked on DCA-DFW flight, you must stick with the exact same routing for any other flight you wish to fly standby for. Further, you need to use the exact same starting and ending airport, so, in this example, you couldn’t fly out of another airport in DC. 

Platinum status members, like most other scenarios listed, come 4th in priority order. On the flight’s PALL list, which is the list you see at the gate displaying standbys and upgrades, you’re listed as an RV4. RV4 stands for Revenue Voluntary 4. Other statuses are listed as:

  • Concierge Key is listed as an RV1
  • Executive Platinum is listed as an RV2
  • Platinum Pro is listed as an RV3
  • Platinum is listed as an RV4
  • Gold is listed as an RV5

Since Platinum members are 4th priority, if you’re trying to fly standby for a flight and there are Executive Platinums or Platinum Pros ahead of you, they’ll get the seat first. It’s recommended that you try to fly standby in non-hub airports since it’s less likely there will be outranking status members ahead of you in smaller markets.

If you’re booked on an earlier flight and are standing by for a later flight, you must list for the later flight and call in to ensure you aren’t marked as a no-show for the earlier flight. If you don’t notify American, you risk your reservation being canceled and receiving a penalty.

Flying standby is difficult to value since sometimes you can fly standby and sometimes you can’t. Assuming that you’re able to fly standby 3 times a year, that’s a savings of $75 each time resulting in a $225 value.

Discounted Admirals Club® Membership ($50 Value)

Without status, an annual individual membership to the Admirals Club costs $650. You’re able to renew this membership at a rate of $600 annual. By being a Platinum member, you get to buy Admiral’s Club access for the first time at $600, and then renew every year thereafter at $550.

There are many credit cards that offer an Admirals Club membership as a benefit!

Admiral's Club Entry
You can receive a discounted Admirals Club membership as a Platinum member. Image courtesy of American Airlines.

Exclusive Service Desk ($25 Value)

The Platinum Service Desk is a phone line where an agent can help you with reservations. This line is useful in the case of weather or other irregular operations, though they’re not entirely useful when it comes to waiving fees, or other customer-friendly initiatives. Depending on the scenario, you may receive faster service by tweeting American at @AmericanAir.

It’s hard to put a value on this service desk, but assuming you get your call answered faster than others, it’s an estimated value of about $25.

Complimentary Preferred Seats and Main Cabin Extra Seats ($500 Value)

When you have Platinum status, you have access to both Main Cabin Extra and Preferred Seats at time of booking. This is a huge benefit since the general public has to pay extra for these seats. Main Cabin Extra seats can cost a pretty penny, upwards of close to $100 on a transcontinental flight one-way.

If you take even just a few longer flights a year, not to mention an international long-haul flight or 2, this benefit will be very noticeable in the savings you’ll realize by not paying these seating fees.

Hot Tip: You can’t receive Main Cabin Extra or Preferred Seating if you book a basic economy ticket, so you’ll need to buy a regular ticket to get the full benefits.

Secondly, anyone on your same reservation (up to 8 people) also receive complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats too. If you’re traveling from PHL to San Francisco International Airport with 8 friends, without this benefit, each of you would pay an extra $80+ to sit in Main Cabin Extra. This means this benefit would have the group $640.

In addition to the extra legroom and better location of seats, you’ll also receive a complimentary alcoholic beverage in all Main Cabin Extra seats, including exit rows. It’s a small benefit, but something that certainly enhances the experience.

This benefit value can vary depending on how much you use it, but if you fly at least 10 flights where the upgrade cost would be $50 each, that’s an overall savings of $500 in a year.

Main Cabin Extra Drink
When you’re seating in Main Cabin Extra, you’ll get a complimentary alcoholic beverage. Image courtesy of American Airlines.

Award Processing Charge Waived ($150 Value)

When you book an award flight on American, you’re charged a $75 expedite fee for awards within 21 days of booking. As a Platinum member, this fee is waived. Assuming you book 2 awards a year within 21 days, at $75 an award, that’s a $150 savings. Of course, if you tend to book more awards, then you’ll obviously benefit more from this fee waiver.

Keep in mind, you’re still charged the $150 redeposit fee if you need to redeposit miles if you decide to cancel an itinerary. This fee is not waived for Platinum members.

Essentially, this fee serves one primary purpose: to deter people from using miles for what ordinarily would be higher priced tickets. Generally, within 21 days of departure, ticket prices go up naturally due to supply and demand, and thus the demand for mileage usage would also increase, as people seek to save money on what would ordinarily be one expense ticket.

By having a $75 expedite fee, people then have to factor this into their decision making on whether using an award is worth it.

Oneworld Benefits ($300)

Here’s where things really start to get beneficial and there’s a clear difference from the lower AAdvantage Gold status level. As a Platinum member, you receive Oneworld Sapphire privileges. Oneworld Sapphire is the mid-tier of the Oneworld alliance program.

As a Oneworld Sapphire member, you’ll get priority check-in and standby. For standby privileges, you’d come ahead of any Oneworld Ruby members. You’ll also get priority boarding, though that benefit depends on the airline you’re flying. In some capacity, you’ll board before most other passengers.

When going through security, you’ll get priority security benefits in select airports, saving you time.

Here’s the big benefit of Oneworld Sapphire status: access to business class and frequent flyer lounges part of the Oneworld network. These lounges include the Qantas Business lounge in Sydney Airport (SYD), or the British Airways Galleries Club lounge in Heathrow Airport (LHR), for example.

Keep in mind, you don’t get domestic access to these types of lounges on solely U.S. domestic itineraries; however, you’re fully entitled to lounge privileges on international flights, with a few exceptions on flights from the U.S. to Canada, Mexico, and some Caribbean destinations.

Flagship Lounge
One of the best perks of Platinum status is access to the Flagship Lounge on international itineraries. Image courtesy of American Airlines.

Access to these lounges is a tremendous perk. Anytime you’re on an international itinerary, you’ll have a quiet place to work, usually a nice buffet spread, complimentary drinks, and other freebies.

If you’re leaving from an American hub, you’ll also have access to the Flagship Lounges in select hub airports, which are American’s upgraded premium version of their Admiral’s Club for business class passengers and frequent flyers. 

Some of the best international lounges include:

  • The Oneworld Business Lounge at LAX
  • The Qantas Business Lounge at SYD
  • Cathay Pacific The Wing, First or The Wing, Business at Hong Kong International (HKG)
  • Finnair Premium Lounge at Helsinki Airport (HEL)
  • Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge at LHR
  • British Airways Galleries Club Lounge at LHR

This helps make international flying a bit more tolerable since you’ll have a nice place to wait. This benefit isn’t awarded to Gold status members.

For this benefit, if you fly 3 international flights a year and access a lounge, that’s a benefit of $100 a trip totaling $300 in value for the year.

Final Thoughts

Platinum status is where you start to see real substantive value in the AAdvantage program with free Main Cabin Extra seat selection, Flagship Lounge access on international itineraries, Oneworld Sapphire status, and other key elements complete the program.

Overall, you’re looking at about $3,125 of value.

This all varies on how much you utilize your status:

  • On the low end, you’re looking at a value of $2,000 if you use every benefit, but only to a minimum
  • If you are an average to a higher-than-average frequent flyer, the benefits would total to around $3,000
  • With extensive flying, especially international flying, your value would be north of $3,500 of value, as you start to use international partner lounges more.

FAQ

How do you earn AAdvantage Platinum status?

To earn American Airlines Platinum status, you must fly 50,000 miles during the year OR travel 60 segments, AND spend $6,000 on tickets.

What are the major benefits of AAdvantage Platinum status?

There’s a lot of benefits to Platinum status, but the biggest perks are:

  • Earning (4) 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 miles flown
  • Higher upgrade and standby priority over Gold elites
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats
  • oneworld Sapphire and associated lounge access
  • Checked baggage fees waived
  • Priority boarding
James Larounis

About James Larounis

Jamie first got his hook on miles and points during a high school choir trip to Europe, where he flew in Lufthansa First Class (thanks to his dad’s then US Airways miles) because economy was sold out.

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2 comments

  1. Dan Giacoletto · July 8, 2019 · Reply

    Thank you for writing one of the most comprehensive articles on a frequent flyer program. The details and plain English made it easy to follow.

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