How to Status Challenge With American Airlines [In-Depth Guide]

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Ah, the joys of airline elite status. Who doesn’t enjoy the benefits of complimentary upgrades, free checked bags, early boarding, fee waivers, and priority assistance when things go wrong?

But what if you need or want to change airlines? No one looks forward to giving up that VIP treatment and starting over again from scratch with a new airline.

Fortunately, it may not be necessary to start from scratch — another airline just might want your business and be willing to match your existing elite status, or offer you an opportunity for a “shortcut” to elite status.

Several airlines such as AlaskaDelta, United, and others, have programs where they match your current elite status for a short period of time and offer you an opportunity to extend that temporary status. You just have to complete a “challenge,” in which you need to fly a specific number of miles/segments.

There may also be a requirement to generate a specific level of revenue for the airline during the status challenge.

But American Airlines handles their fast path to elite status quite differently. In fact, you don’t even need elite status with another airline to participate in their status challenge — it’s a “pay to play” shortcut offered to meet qualifications for their AAdvantage Gold or Platinum status levels.

Unlike other airlines who offer status matches, American does not publish the specific requirements for these challenges. In fact, different flyers may even receive different offers.

To help you sift through the maze of the American AAdvantage status challenge, in this article we’ll provide you with:

  • An overview of American’s AAdvantage status challenge
  • How much you should be paying for your status challenge
  • Tips on how to complete the challenge
  • Everything else you need to know

Let’s get started and see if an American Airlines status challenge is right for you.

What Is a Status Match/Challenge and How Does It Work?

If you have elite status with an airline, you can request that another airline you don’t have status with match your current status for a limited period of time.

Most airlines will match your current status and then require you to complete a “challenge.” This challenge consists of flying a specific number of miles or flight segments in order to extend your granted status beyond the length of the challenge, which usually lasts 90 days.

American Airlines does not status match at all — it offers only a status challenge. And it requires you to pay a fee up front for participating in that status challenge.

You might wonder who would pay for such an opportunity. But because the challenge offers immediate status (for a price), anyone who has American Airlines flights coming up might want to make their travels a bit more comfortable and ante up.

Think about it this way: for the cost of 1 trip, a traveler may be able to parlay the challenge into a year or more of elite status while they work on qualifying for future status.

Let’s learn more about how the AAdvantage status challenge program works.

American Airlines seats legroom
Having airline status can result in a seat with a little more legroom. Image courtesy of news.aa.com.

American Airlines AAdvantage Status Challenge Program

Who Is Eligible for an American Airlines AAdvantage Status Challenge?

Anyone who wants to obtain status with American Airlines can request to participate in a status challenge. Having status with another airline’s frequent flyer program or having upcoming flights booked with American is not required.

In order to participate in a status challenge with American, you cannot currently hold status you’ve earned from a previous AAdvantage challenge.

For example, if you completed a Gold status challenge last year and are still holding Gold status as a result of completing that challenge, you cannot participate in another challenge. The status must be expired.

What Are the Advantages of Gold or Platinum Status?

If you have upcoming trips planned on American, signing up for a status challenge can make sense, since you’ll receive plenty of benefits:

AAdvantage Platinum

  • OneWorld business class lounge access internationally
  • Award processing charge waived
  • Complimentary same-day standby
  • Complimentary upgrades on flights 500 miles or less
  • 48-hour upgrade window
  • 60% elite mileage bonus
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats
  • 2 free checked bags

AAdvantage Gold

  • Award processing charge waived
  • Complimentary same-day standby
  • Complimentary upgrades on flights 500 miles or less
  • 24-hour upgrade window
  • 40% elite mileage bonus
  • 50% off Main Cabin Extra seats, complimentary at check-in
  • Complimentary Preferred seats
  • 1 free checked bag

Additional benefits include priority airport check-in and security, priority boarding, and discounted Admirals Club membership. You can view all the benefits of AAdvantage elite status in this program summary.

How the American Airlines Advantage Status Challenge Works

American Airlines does not publish a formal status challenge program. With that said, we know a lot about the program from data points of flyers who have requested and/or completed a status challenge.

You will have to pay a fee to participate in the status challenge, and then incur an additional cost if you want to enjoy status during the challenge.

Subsequently, you’ll need to fly the required number of Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) and generate Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) within a 90-day period.

We’ll dive further into how to generate these EQMs, EQSs, and EQDs shortly, but here’s an overview of the program:

Elite Status Challenge LevelCost to ParticipateCost With Gold StatusCost With Platinum StatusEQM or EQS RequirementEQD Requirement
Gold$100-$180$280-$340————7,000 EQMs or 8 EQSs$1,000 EQD
Platinum$180-$240$380-$440$480-$54012,500 EQMs or 16 EQSs$2,000 EQD

The price you pay for the challenge will depend on when you request the challenge and whether you want to have elite status while you are completing it.

This information was gathered by searching through hundreds of posts on FlyerTalk (kudos to JDiver), reviewing posts on the Australian Frequent Flyer, calling American Airlines AAdvantage customer service, and gathering information from those I know who have completed American status challenges.

Bottom Line: While we know the general parameters of the status challenge with American Airlines, you’ll need to contact AAdvantage customer service to confirm your personal offer.

How and When to Submit a Status Challenge Request

How to Complete a Status Challenge Request

You can send an email to request a status challenge with American Airlines, but we recommend calling AAdvantage customer service at 888-697-5636.

Have your AAdvantage frequent flyer number and any record locators for upcoming trips with American on hand, as you will be asked for this information.

The representative will answer your questions, let you know which challenge you’re eligible for, inform you of the cost, and then sign you up for the appropriate status challenge.

You will have 90 days to complete the requirements of the challenge for which you have registered.

The customer service representative will also send you a confirmation email reiterating all of the terms/conditions of the status challenge.

The Importance of Timing

If you have upcoming American or American partner airline flights booked, you will of course want to sign up for the status challenge before you fly.

However, the timing of your status challenge will determine the length of your granted status — so choosing to complete your challenge at certain times of the year can maximize this period.

Here’s how it has been known to work:

  • Challenges that begin prior to June 15 normally earn status through the end of the current status year, which is January 31 of the following year.
    • For example, if you complete a challenge in May 2019, your status will continue through January 31, 2020.
  • If you complete a status challenge after June 15, your status could be valid for the remainder of the year and throughout the next year.
    • For example, if you sign up and complete a challenge in July 2019, your status would normally continue through January 31, 2021.

Keep in mind that there are no publicly published status challenge guidelines. As a result, this information has been derived from actual travelers who have been offered and have completed American Airlines AAdvantage status challenges.

Although these status periods are in alignment with other airline’s status matches/challenges, your actual status challenge offer could vary.

Bottom Line: Completing your challenge as soon as possible after June 15 should result in having granted status for the longest period of time. 

Completing the Flying and Revenue Requirements

So you’ve signed up for a status challenge, and now you’re ready to complete the flying and revenue requirements.

Let’s take a look at those flying and revenue levels you’ll need to meet, the parameters you’ll need to work within, and how to accomplish the task effectively.

Status ChallengeFlying RequirementsEQD Revenue Requirements
AAdvantage Gold7,000 EQMs or 8 EQSs$1,000
AAdvantage Platinum12,500 EQMs or 16 EQSs$2,000

Here are some of the guidelines you’ll need to work with.

First, flights must be marketed by American or partner airlines including: American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, and Qantas Airways.

EQMs are calculated based on a combination of miles flown and the fare class you purchase. On American-marketed flights, they’re calculated like this:

  • Full first and business class tickets earn 3 EQMs per mile flown
  • Discounted first/business fare tickets earn 2 EQMs per mile flown
  • Full fare economy earns 1.5 EQMs per mile flown
  • Discounted economy earns 1 EQM per mile flown

On flights marketed by the American-eligible partner airlines listed above, EQMs may earn more or less depending on the fare class.

You can determine how many EQMs you’ll receive by referencing the applicable partner airline charts on AA.com. The airline you book the ticket with is the airline chart you would use.

EQDs you earn are calculated differently on AA-marketed flights than on partner airline flights.

  • On American-marketed flights, the EQDs are calculated on the base fare plus the carrier-imposed fees. Government imposed taxes/fees are not included.
  • On other eligible airline flights, the EQDs are calculated on a percentage of miles flown and fare class purchased.

When you book a flight on aa.com, you’ll be able to see the amount of EQMs, EQSs, and EQDs you’ll earn displayed on the review and pay page. You’ll need to be signed into your account to view these stats.

For all other eligible airlines, you can determine the amount of EQMs, EQSs, and EQDs you’ll earn by referencing the corresponding charts.

The calculations may seem confusing, but we’ll share some examples below in an attempt to clarify the process.

Hot Tip: Premium fare flights on partner airlines can generate more EQMs and EQDs than American Airlines-marketed flights due to the difference in calculation methods. Discounted economy fares on partner airlines can yield fewer EQMs and EQDs than American Airlines-marketed flights. 

Creating an AAdvantage Status Challenge Itinerary

Since premium fares on partner airlines can yield more EQMs and EQDs, let’s take a look at 2 possible challenge itineraries that will fulfill the requirements of the status challenges in just 1 flight.

AAdvantage Gold Challenge Example: 7,000 EQMs and $1,000 EQDs Needed

British Airways Chicago O’Hare to London Gatwick round-trip in Premium Economy results in 7,948 miles flown.

At a factor of 1.50, this results in 11,922 EQMs and $1,590 EQDs (20% of flown miles). This is more than enough to accomplish the Gold Challenge.

British Airways fare class chart
The British Airways partner flight chart on aa.com indicates that my premium economy flight will earn 1.50 EQMs per mile flown and 20% EQDs. Image courtesy of aa.com.

AAdvantage Platinum Status Challenge Example: 12,500 EQMs and $2,000 EQDs Needed

Let’s take a look at an example of a flight I have booked currently. We’ll see how many EQMs/EQDs I’ll earn, and whether the itinerary would exceed the Platinum challenge requirements.

The flight I have booked is on Cathay Pacific in Premium Economy fare class E. As you can see by this Cathay Pacific chart found on aa.com, I will earn 1.50  EQMs per mile flown, and the EQDs will be calculated at 20% of the miles flown.

Cathay Pacific fare class chart
The Cathay Pacific partner chart on aa.com indicates that I will receive 1.50 EQMs per mile flown and 20% EQDs. Image courtesy of aa.com.

My flight is booked from Chicago to Singapore via Hong Kong, which is 18,740 miles round-trip. According to the chart, I will receive 1.50 EQMs for a total of 28,110. The EQDs are calculated at 20% of miles flown for this partner airline, which works out to a total of $3,748 EQDs.

This flight would be more than enough to complete the Platinum status challenge!

Hot Tip: To calculate the amount of flown miles for any flight itinerary, you can use a tool such as Milecalc.com. For partner flights, you can then calculate the EQMs and EQDs you’ll earn by referring to the partner charts on aa.com and using the corresponding factors/percentages. 

Admirals Club food and beverage
Complimentary Admiral’s Club lounge access can be a lifesaver during a hectic trip. Image courtesy of news.aa.com.

Enhancing Your New Elite Status

Once you’ve completed your status challenge and continue to fly on American Airlines, you may want to elevate your elite status to an even higher level with an American Airlines AAdvantage-branded credit card.

With the Citi® / AAvanatage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, you’ll enjoy VIP treatment including:

  • A free checked bag for you and up to 8 travel companions on domestic itineraries
  • Priority check-in, boarding, and security screening for the primary cardholder
  • Complimentary membership for up to 10 authorized users in the American Airlines Admiral’s Club
  • $100 Global Entry application fee credit every 5 years
  • 10,000 EQMs after spending $40,000 on the card
  • 25% off inflight food/beverage purchases

AAdvantage frequent flyer miles add up quickly because of the generous sign-up bonus and the fact you’ll be earning double miles on American Airlines purchases.

The Citi® / AAvanatage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® serves as a perfect compliment to having elite status, but you’ll want to review all the best American Airlines AAdvantage branded credit cards to see which is a fit for you.

Bottom Line: If you travel frequently on American Airlines and want valuable perks and lounge access, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® is an obvious choice for benefits far beyond elite status. 

Everything Else You Need to Know

Here are a few more details to be aware of before you get started on your status challenge:

  • There are no refunds once you’ve paid for an AAdvantage status challenge.
  • If you sign up for a Gold status challenge and complete Platinum level requirements, you can pay an extra $125 to convert your Gold challenge to a Platinum challenge.
  • It is possible to back-date the start of the challenge up to 5 days.
  • AAdvantage customer service is open from 8 AM to 7 PM central time Monday through Friday, and can be reached at 888-697-5636.
  • The American Airlines AAdvantage status challenge in this article is different from other challenge offers elite frequent flyers may receive at year end — and it’s also different from challenge offers received by those holding certain credit cards.

Final Thoughts

Before you jump into a status challenge, you’ll want to make sure the cost is worth it. There are some cases where it may make sense, including if:

  • You have upcoming flights with American Airlines and would like to enjoy better seating, priority boarding, free checked bags, etc.
  • You are switching airlines and plan to continue earning status in subsequent years.

If you do plan to continue flying with American Airlines and go on to qualify for elite status, you’ll want to review the annual requirements.

Interested in a status match challenge with either Delta Air Lines or United Airlines? Check out our in-depth guides on how to status match with the Delta Medallion Elite program and the United MileagePlus program.


*Featured image credit: news.aa.com

FAQ

What is a status challenge?

A status challenge, or status match, is an airline program whereby you can request a shortcut to qualifying for an airline’s elite status.

The American Airline’s AAdvantage program status challenge is set for a 90-day period, and you must achieve flying and revenue requirements during that time.

Once the requirements are met, your status is granted and usually valid until the end of the status year. American also requires you to pay a fee to participate in a status challenge.

Do I have to have elite status now to be approved for a status challenge?

American Airlines will consider you for a status challenge even if you do not have current elite status with another airline.

It does help to have an upcoming American Airlines itinerary booked, but flyers have been known to be approved without status or an itinerary booked.

How much does a status challenge with American cost?

How much you pay for a status challenge with American depends on when you apply and whether you want to purchase temporary status that will be valid during the challenge.

Status challenges start at $100 for a Gold status challenge with no status granted during the challenge.

Does American Airlines have a free status challenge?

American Airlines does not have a free elite status challenge.

However, they have been known to send out offers to AAdvantage elite members for free status challenges, mostly for year-end qualification purposes to boost the member to the next elite level.

They have also offered free challenges for some credit card holders.

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8 comments

  1. It’s very really great information for becoming a better Blog.You become a idol for me.You always change my the Way of thinking.Your way thinking is Really amazing.Thanks

  2. A question: If I sign up for a Platinum challenge that ends on June 16th, but actually complete the travel necessary to complete it before June 15th, will I get status for the actual date I complete (and an end to Plat status at end of Jan the next year), or at the end of the 90 day period (June 16th, and get status through Jan 31st two years from then)?

    • Christine Krzyszton · November 5, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Bob. If the status challenge you’re proposing ends on June 16th, you would have needed to sign up for the challenge 90 days before that, say in March. The email confirmation you would have received in March would dictate the terms of the challenge. For example, if you purchased status to be effective during the challenge, and you completed the requirements early, the status will of course continue for the term specified in the email confirmation. If you did not purchase status to be effective during the challenge, which it sounds like you’re asking about, the email will specify when status will kick in and how long it will be valid. Based on what you’re suggesting, status would generally be good through the remainder of the qualification year and not the following year.

  3. Great post! I just received an email from AA offering gold status for $395 cash for the rest of 2018 and all of 2019. I am 3,374 EQM miles away from 25k and have all my EQD dollars. I am not planning on traveling until March and then more in the summer. I feel like this may be a decent offer. Also, I have the platinum select CC so I get preferred boarding and bags checked for free. Do you think this a decent offer or should I just find a cheap multi-city flight? Thanks.

    • Christine Krzyszton · November 6, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Jesse and thanks for reading! Personally, I would not pay the $395 for Gold status. Depending on where you live, you could probably secure the miles needed for less than $200 and be earning redeemable miles in the process. With that said, if you do not have the time or desire to do this, that is another matter. For example, I am short of Platinum with AA and my offer was $895 to secure the status through next year. I was able to find a flight that earned the miles for a fraction of that. The trip can be completed in one day and I’ll have some fun doing it. So, that is the route I chose to take. In the end, it is a personal decision based on your situation.

  4. Chris Tran · November 6, 2018 · Reply

    Hi there,

    You have written an amazing article! Very clearly stated all the ins and outs of getting elite status. I am currently gold with American Airline and I am only 180 EQD and 18000 EQM away from Platinum. I felt like this could be achievable to Platinum status by flying from Phoenix to let’s say Singapore (I used the air mile calculator app). In your professional opinion, do you think this is a good idea? Or are there better ways to get from my current gold to platinum?

    Kind regards

    • Christine Krzyszton · November 7, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Chris! Thank you for your comment and question. First I would check your emails and see if you have an offer from AA for elevating status to Platinum. If you do not find one, you can write to American Airlines AAdvantage Program at loyalty@loyalty.ms.aa.com and ask if you have an offer to pay up to Platinum. If the offer is not appealing, the Singapore flight is definitely an option and should secure Platinum for you. We completed such a trip in September on partner airline Cathay Pacific in premium economy to get closer to Platinum as well. Partner airlines in premium classes work well for gaining EQMs and EQDs. Good luck with your quest!

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