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How To Status Challenge With American Airlines [In-depth Guide]

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Christine Krzyszton
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Christine Krzyszton

Senior Finance Contributor

310 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 98U.S. States Visited: 45

Christine ran her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services. This stoked a passion for points and miles and she now has over 2 dozen credit cards and creates in-depth, deta...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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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.

You don’t even need elite status with another airline to participate in American’s “Instant Status Pass” challenge — it’s a “pay to play” shortcut offered to meet qualifications for its AAdvantage Gold or Platinum status levels.

Unlike other airlines that 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 the challenge, how much you should be paying, tips on how to complete the challenge, and just about 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, such as AlaskaDelta, and United, will match your current status and then require you to complete a “challenge.” This challenge may consist 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, however, there are different variations of what a status challenge consists of, and American’s version is very unique.

American Airlines does not status match at all — it offers only a status challenge. And it requires you to pay a fee upfront 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.

Hot Tip: For more clarification on this general topic, you can check out our piece — The Ultimate Guide to Airline Status Matches/Challenges.

American Airlines seats legroom
Having airline status can result in a seat with a little more legroom. Image Credit: American Airlines

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.

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. For example, here are the benefits of the middle and lowest tier:

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AAdvantage Gold AAdvantage Platinum
  • Award processing charge waived
  • Complimentary same-day standby
  • Complimentary upgrades on flights 500 miles or less
  • 24-hour upgrade window
  • 40% elite mileage bonus
  • Complimentary Preferred seats
  • 1 free checked bag
  • Award processing charge waived
  • Complimentary same-day standby
  • Complimentary upgrades on flights 500 miles or less
  • Oneworld business class lounge access internationally
  • 48-hour upgrade window
  • 60% elite mileage bonus
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats
  • 2 free checked bags

Additional benefits include priority airport check-in and security, priority boarding, and discounted Admirals Club membership.

How the American Airlines Advantage Status Challenge Works

American Airlines does not publish a formal status challenge program — it changes based on the person enrolling. 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. Some flyers may be targeted for a free status match.

Subsequently, you’ll need to earn enough Loyalty Points within a 4-month period.

What status you’re striving for all depends on how many Loyalty Points you earn in the first part of this promotion. Once you enroll, you’re given 4 months to earn as many Loyalty Points as you can, either by flying, spending on an eligible credit card, or any other means.

When you enroll, you’ll be given whatever tier you enroll under upfront, meaning you can enjoy the benefits immediately. To keep that status for an additional 4 months (so, 8 in total) you need to earn as follows:

If you earn the required amount of points, you’ll be allowed to keep that status for 4 additional months. During that second 4-month period, you’ll need to earn a second amount of Loyalty Points, similar to the amount in the first phase. Do that, and you’ll be allowed to keep your status for an additional 4 months (a total of 1 year). To keep status for the following year, you’ll need to earn the third phase of Loyalty Points, likely equal to those in the first 2 phases.

If you want a high tier of status, you need to earn that amount of Loyalty Points during the first phase, as you won’t be able to “increase” your status during the second or third phases, however, you will be given a soft landing to a lower tier if you don’t quite make the Loyalty Points of the status you’re aiming for.

The status challenge is all based on Loyalty Points, so theoretically you never need to step foot on a plane to complete this challenge. For Gold, you could spend $10,000 on an eligible American Airlines co-brand credit card and still complete the challenge that way. Of course, you can also fly to earn Loyalty Points as well.

How To Submit a Status Challenge Request

The easiest way to enroll will be to call AAdvantage customer service at 800-882-8880. Your American app may also show an enrollment option under the promotions section, though certain flyers will be targeted for various things, so you may want to call AAdvantage to see your full offerings.

There may be a cost to enroll, and typically in years past, this was around $200. This time around, American hasn’t published any specific costs, and this will vary greatly on your history, what status you’re going for, and other demographics.

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.

Enhancing Your New Elite Status

Admirals Club food and beverage
Complimentary Admirals Club lounge access can be a lifesaver during a hectic trip. Image Credit: American Airlines

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, such as the Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
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The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

Access to Admirals Clubs, tons of added benefits, and a way to spend towards elite status make this a great option for American Airlines loyalists.

Learn More(at our partner's secure site)
Access to Admirals Clubs, tons of added benefits, and a way to spend towards elite status make this a great option for American Airlines loyalists.
Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
70,000 miles
$980
$595
21.24% - 29.99% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is a go-to card thanks to its exclusive perks and benefits for people who love to fly American Airlines. With a complimentary Admirals Club membership, free checked bags, inflight discounts, and the ability to earn Loyalty Points for every $1 you spend, there is plenty to love about the card.

Pros
  • Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 10 miles per $1 spent on eligible car rentals booked through aa.com/cars
  • Earn 10 miles per $1 spent on eligible hotels booked through aa.com/hotels
Cons
  • $595 annual fee
  • Doesn’t earn many miles on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.24% - 29.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees:
Rewards Center

American Airlines AAdvantage Frequent Flyer Program

With the AAdvantage Executive World Elite card, you’ll enjoy VIP treatment and benefits, 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
  • $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit every 5 years
  • 25% off inflight food and 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.

This Citi card serves as a perfect compliment to having elite status, but you’ll want to review all the best American Airlines 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 AAdvantage Executive World Elite card 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 higher tier status challenge but only earn the requirements for a lower tier, you’ll be soft-landed to the lower tier.
  • If you sign up for a lower-tier status challenge, but along the way earn a higher amount of Loyalty Points that would normally qualify you for a higher tier, you won’t be able to enjoy a higher status, so it’s important you enroll in the correct challenge up front and then immediately earn the required points for that higher tier right away.
  • AAdvantage Customer Service is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST Monday through Friday and can be reached at 800-882-8880.
  • 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.
  • American Airlines AAdvantage partners with the World of Hyatt hotel loyalty program, offering targeted elite status challenges. Check your email or call AAdvantage/World of Hyatt to find out if you have been targeted.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a status challenge?

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

The American Airline’s AAdvantage program status challenge is set for a 4-month period, and you must achieve Loyalty Points requirements during that time. Following this 4-month period, you’ll be required to earn additional Loyalty Points in additional 4-month chunks.

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 can 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 your desired tier level, and various demographic data.

Does American Airlines have a free status challenge?

American Airlines does not normally offer a free elite status challenge.

However, it has 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.

It has also offered free challenges for some AAdvantage credit cardholders.

Some flyers may be targeted for a free challenge and do not need to pay, though you will find out if you are targeted by calling AAdvantage customer service.

Christine Krzyszton's image

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine ran her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services. This stoked a passion for points and miles and she now has over 2 dozen credit cards and creates in-depth, detailed content for UP.

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