How To Get American Airlines Elite Status (and Is It Worth It?)

American Airlines lie flat bed
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Having elite status with an airline is a great way to earn benefits and perks that make travel more rewarding. American Airlines is one of the main players in the industry and an airline that many of us use often. Its AAdvantage loyalty program has 4 main levels of elite status available — Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum. Earning elite status can be confusing, so we’re going to break it down for you so it’s easy to understand.

In this post, we’ll go over how to earn elite status with American Airlines and discuss whether or not it’s a valuable thing to have.

American Airlines AAdvantage Elite Status

Before we talk about how to get American Airlines AAdvantage elite status, you’ll need to understand some specific terms, so let’s have a quick vocabulary lesson.

Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)

Elite Qualifying Miles, or EQMs, are based on a percentage of the actual miles flown and can vary based on airline and booking code (Basic Economy is excluded).

The good news is that you’ll earn a minimum of 500 EQMs on each flight (flights under 500 miles will earn 500 EQMs).

Class of service bonus miles, elite bonuses, purchased miles, or any other AAdvantage bonus mileage does not count toward your Elite Qualifying Miles.

EQMs can, however, be earned on credit cards. The following cards will earn EQMs in addition to helping you earn AAdvantage miles:

Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs)

Elite Qualifying Segments, or EQSs, are flight segments you earn on eligible purchased tickets on American Airlines or its partners.

Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs)

Elite Qualifying Dollars, or EQDs, are earned based on the cost of the ticket purchased (base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, excluding government taxes and fees) on American Airlines-marketed flights.

EQDs earned on Oneworld alliance flights are based on the flight distance and fare class purchased, not the actual cost.

Hot Tip: As of January 1, 2021, Basic Economy tickets do not earn EQMs, EQSs, or EQDs.

Earning EQMs, EQSs, and EQDs

Here’s a handy chart to show you how many EQMs, EQSs, and EQDs you can earn on your flights.

CabinBooking CodeEQMs per mile flownEQDsEQSs
Full Fare First and Business ClassF, J3Yes1
Discounted First and Business ClassA, C, D, I, R2Yes1
Premium EconomyW, P1.5Yes1
EconomyY, H, K, M, L, V, G, S, N, Q, O1Yes1
Basic EconomyB0No0

Not sure what a booking code is? Check out our guide explaining everything you need to know about airline booking codes.

How To Earn AAdvantage Elite Status

To earn elite status with American Airlines, you’ll need to meet the EQD requirement plus either the EQM or EQS requirement.

American Airlines Elite Status benefits
After earning American Airlines elite status, you’ll enjoy benefits like upgrades, that can make your flights more comfortable. Image Credit: American Airlines

Elite Status Qualifications for 2021

There are reduced requirements to earn American Airlines elite status in 2021:

QualificationExecutive PlatinumPlatinum ProPlatinum Gold
EQMs80,00060,00040,00020,000
EQSs95704520
EQDs$12,000$7,000*$4,500*$2,000*

For 2021, the EQD requirement for Platinum Pro, Platinum, and Gold status will be waived if you spend at least $30,000 on net purchases (that post to your account within 2021) with a qualifying AAdvantage credit card.

Hot Tip: As a response to COVID-19, all base EQMs, EQSs, and EQDs earned on flights from October 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, were counted towards 2021 requirements.

Standard Elite Status Qualifications

After 2021, here are the standard requirements you’ll need to meet to earn American Airlines elite status:

QualificationExecutive PlatinumPlatinum ProPlatinum Gold
EQMs100,00075,00050,00025,000
EQSs120906030
EQDs$15,000$9,000$6,000$3,000

How To Check Your Progress Toward American Airlines Elite Status

To check your progress toward American Airlines elite status, log on to your AAdvantage account. Then you’ll be able to quickly see your progress in the Account Summary section.

AAdvantage elite status account summary
You can easily check your progress toward American Airlines elite status in your online account. Image Credit: American Airlines

Qualification Period vs. Membership Period

When you’re trying to earn American Airlines elite status, you’ll want to understand the qualification period and the membership period.

The qualification period is January 1 to December 31 of each year. This is the time period you have to earn enough EQDs and EQMs or EQSs. As soon as you qualify for elite status by meeting the requirements, your benefits will be active and they’ll remain active through the next membership year.

The membership year starts on February 1 and goes through the following January 31.

For example, if you complete your elite status qualifications on December 31, 2021, you’d enjoy your status through January 31, 2023.

Bottom Line: To earn American Airlines elite status, you’ll need to meet the Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD) requirement plus either the Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) requirement. In 2021, these thresholds have been lowered to help you earn status faster.

AAdvantage Gold Status Benefits

We’ve written at length about the benefits and value of AAdvantage Gold status so we’ll just touch on the highlights here:

  • Automatic upgrade requests on flights 500 miles or less
  • 24-hour upgrade window
  • 40% elite mileage bonus
  • Main Cabin Extra seats at check-in if available
  • Complimentary Preferred seats
  • 1 free checked bag
  • Oneworld Ruby status

AAdvantage Platinum Status Benefits

Our evaluation of the perks and value of AAdvantage Platinum status goes into more detail on the benefits and their worth, but this elite level includes:

  • Automatic upgrade requests 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
  • Oneworld Sapphire status

Hot Tip: Gold and Platinum elite members will receive 4 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 EQMs earned during each membership year (February 1 to January 31). American Airlines’ 500-mile upgrades can also be purchased for $40 per upgrade. These can be used for upgrades on flights shorter than 500 miles or as partial payment toward upgrades for flights that are longer than 500 miles. 500-mile upgrades are valid for upgrading from the Main Cabin to the next class of service.

AAdvantage Platinum Pro Status Benefits

We have guides covering Platinum Pro’s upgrade and seating benefits and perks at the airport, fee waivers, and alliance benefits, which include:

  • 1 elite choice award
  • Automatic upgrade requests on all flights
  • 72-hour upgrade window
  • 80% elite mileage bonus
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats
  • 2 free checked bags
  • Oneworld Emerald status

Hot Tip: Elite choice rewards are extra bonuses for the highest AAdvantage elite members. Platinum Pro members can choose 1 reward and Executive Platinum members can choose 2. Rewards include things like systemwide upgrades, bonus miles, Admirals Club passes, flight discounts, and more.

AAdvantage Executive Platinum Status Benefits

Executive Platinum is AAdvantage’s highest elite status and we have articles focused on upgrades and seating options and the airport benefits and alliance-wide perks. These benefits include:

  • 2 elite choice awards, including the ability to select systemwide upgrades
  • Automatic upgrade requests on all flights
  • 100-hour upgrade window
  • 120% elite mileage bonus
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats
  • 3 free checked bags
  • Additional rewards starting at 120,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)
  • Oneworld Emerald status
  • Ability to upgrade to first class on Alaska Airlines

Hot Tip: A fifth, unpublished, status level exists within the AAdvantage program called ConciergeKey. This invitation-only status doesn’t have published specific requirements and is reserved for the top-tier of spenders and influential travelers.

AAdvantage Million Miler Program

AAdvantage Million Miler status grants lifetime American Airlines Gold status plus other additional benefits like bonus miles and upgrades after reaching 1 million miles.

Miles for the Million Miler program are calculated based on 2 criteria:

  • The actual distance flown on American-marketed flights
  • Base miles earned for flights on eligible American Airlines partners

After reaching 1 million miles on American Airlines, you’ll earn lifetime Gold status and 35,000 bonus AAdvantage miles. When you reach 2 million miles flown on American Airlines, you’ll earn lifetime Platinum status and 4 one-way system upgrades. After that, you’ll earn an additional 4 one-way system upgrades for each additional million miles flown.

Bottom Line: There are 4 levels of elite status within the American Airlines AAdvantage program — Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum. A fifth level, ConciergeKey, is invitation-only and doesn’t publish membership requirements. In addition, if you fly at least 1 million miles, you’ll be a part of the Million Miler program, earning you Gold status for life.

Is American Airlines Elite Status Worth It?

Determining whether or not an airline’s elite status is worth it is somewhat subjective, but that’s not going to stop us from breaking it down to help you determine the value you can get from American Airlines status.

For this analysis, we’ve evaluated the minimum standards for Gold status only, since it’s the base-level tier. According to our extensive analysis of the value of American Airlines Gold status, you can get upwards of $1,000 in value if you’re a frequent flyer who knows how to use your benefits.

Here’s a quick look at the estimated value you can get from just some of the American Airlines Gold status benefits:

  • 40% mileage bonus: $90 (based on the minimum $3,000 yearly spend)
  • Free checked bag: $30 per flight (more if you’re traveling with companions on the same reservation)
  • Complimentary Preferred seats: $160 (based on 4 round trip flights per year)
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats: $116 (based on 2 cleared upgrades per year)

These numbers are a conservative estimate based on just a few benefits and can dramatically increase based on your flying habits.

Final Thoughts

If you fly American Airlines often, earning elite status is something you’ll definitely want to consider. Many benefits that come with American Airlines elite status are geared at making your flights more comfortable, like Preferred seating and upgrades. Plus you’ll earn points faster and save money with benefits like free checked bags.


The information regarding the Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® and AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.


Frequently asked questions

How do you get elite status on American Airlines?

To get elite status on American Airlines you’ll need to meet the EQD (Elite Qualifying Dollars) requirement plus either the EQM (Elite Qualifying Miles) or EQS (Elite Qualifying Segments) requirement.

In 2021, you’ll need to hit the following minimums to achieve the lowest tier of American Airlines Elite Status (Gold):

  • $2,000 EQDs
  • 20 EQSs
  • 20,000 EQMs

How long does American Airlines status last?

After earning American Airlines elite status, your status will be active through the end of the following membership year. A membership year runs from February 1 through January 31. So, if you earn elite status on December 31, 2021, your benefits would be good through January 31, 2023.

Does AA Platinum get lounge access?

AAdvantage Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum members can utilize Admirals Club lounges and other Oneworld lounges on qualifying international flights, regardless of class of service.

If you’d like greater access to Admirals Clubs, consider applying for an AAdvantage Executive World Elite card that comes with a complimentary membership.

What happens when you hit 1 million miles on American Airlines?

After flying 1 million miles on American Airlines, you’ll achieve Million Miler status. This grants you lifetime Gold status plus a few other benefits like bonus miles and upgrades.

Do AAdvantage 500-mile upgrades expire?

No, the good news is that American Airlines’ 500-mile upgrades do not expire. However, if you lose your status and still have 500-mile upgrades available, you’ll have to regain status before you can use them.

Can you buy elite status on American Airlines?

No, you can’t outright buy elite status on American Airlines. However, you can often find “buy up” promotions to help you achieve a higher elite level.

Does American Airlines status match?

American occasionally does status match to other airlines, but, mostly, it offers status challenges, open to anyone regardless of status on another airline.

You can request a status challenge to achieve AAdvantage Gold or Platinum elite levels. You don’t need to hold status with any other airline to request a status challenge, but you will have to pay an upfront fee.

Katie Seemann

About Katie Seemann

Katie is an Ohio native who caught the travel bug after spending a semester in college in Nottingham, England. In addition to exploring England, she visited Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands during that time and loved every minute of it (everything except the hostel in Scotland – that’s an experience she doesn’t intend on repeating!) In 2015, Katie discovered the world of points and miles, and since then she’s earned countless points and has an embarrassingly large number of credit cards in her wallet (which she needs a spreadsheet to keep track of!)

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3 comments

  1. Fran Rabuck July 12, 2021

    I’m currently about 31,000 miles short of AA Million Miler status. I still have Gold status extended from 2020. No miles this year yet.

    Million Miler℠ balance: 969,158
    Member since Apr 11, 1988
    Award miles:478,068 Expiring on Jan 26, 2022
    150,000 Miles to buy or gift
    200,000 Miles to transfer

    I also have about 23 – 500 mile upgrades.

    What’s the best way to get those last miles? I don’t have a AA credit card. I use the Chase Platinum.

    I expect to use these miles later in 2022 with wife and family for retirement.

    I also have 500 EQD from AA posted as a promo in my account.

    Reply

    • Hi Fran,

      Well, for the most part, the best/easiest way to earn the miles needed to reach AA Million Miler status is by flying with American or one of its Oneworld partners. I also highly recommend you either earn, or redeem, some of your AA miles prior to January 26th, 2022 so that they don’t expire on you, as you definitely don’t want to lose all of those AA miles.

      Reply

  2. If you buy 1,000 miles for a nominal amount your miles will not expire.

    Reply

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