American Airlines drastically changed AAdvantage in 2015, with revisions that would come up in stages. AAdvantage is making a transition to a partially revenue-based earning scheme, but unlike Delta, American Airlines is introducing the changes gradually.
That means you can still earn the elite status without having to worry about the cost of the ticket. For now.
The AAdvantage redemption part gets much worse on March 22. Award levels will increase dramatically, especially for business and first class travel. That means, earning more miles will become a crucial task, and elite status is a powerful way to get them. The earning component will be introduced to AAdvantage sometime in the second part of 2016.
- EQM: Elite Qualifying Miles.
- EQS: Elite Qualifying Segments.
- RDM: Redeemable Miles.
Earning the Status
- For Gold you need to fly 25,000 EQMs or 30 EQSs.
- For Platinum — 50,000 EQMs or 60 EQSs.
- For Executive Platinum — 100,000 EQMs or 120 EQSs.
Gold and Platinum members earn four 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 EQMs accrued during the previous membership year. Current Executive Platinum members who qualified in 2015 still receive eight systemwide upgrades. However, going forward, you will receive four systemwide upgrades with an opportunity to earn four more, for a total of eight upgrades during the membership year. The upgrades are valid for flights within North America (including Hawaii), the Caribbean, and Central America.
- Gold: 25%
- Platinum and Executive Platinum: 100%
When the earning component comes into effect, the Elite members will earn more miles (regular AAdvantage members will earn 5 miles per dollar).
- Gold — 7 miles per dollar.
- Platinum elites — 8 miles.
- Executive Platinum elites — 11 miles.
In addition, Elite members still receive 500 miles for flights under 500 miles on American and participating partners.
- Gold and above: Free bag (1), same-day standby.
- Platinum and above: Free bag (2), preferred and main cabin extra seat.
- Executive Platinum: Free bag (3), same-day flight change, award change and reinstatement charge, alcoholic beverage and snack in coach.
- Gold and above: Priority Check In, Security, and Boarding.
- Platinum and above: Priority Baggage Delivery.
- Executive Platinum: Waitlist priority for purchased First or Business Class ticket.
- Platinum and above: Discounted Admirals Club membership, Access to Partners Business Class and FF lounges.
- Executive platinum: First Class lounges.
- Gold — Ruby
- Platinum — Sapphire
- Executive platinum — Emerald
Earning EQMs with credit cards
If you don’t fly enough to qualify for the status, you can earn some extra EQMs with AA-branded Citibank credit cards.
Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Silver MasterCard (former US Air, not available to new applicants):
- 5,000 EQMs after spending $20,000 up to 10,000 EQMs a year
Citi AAdvantage Executive MasterCard:
- 10,000 EQMs after spending $40,000 on eligible purchases during the calendar year
Note, that you may only earn up to 10,000 EQMs a year with the Citi AAdvantage Executive MasterCard, even if you have more than one.
Earning Miles on Partner Airlines
You can earn AAdvantage miles by flying on American partner airlines and crediting your miles back to AAdvantage. When you fly on a partner airline not marketed by AA, you’ll always earn miles based on the distance and class of service, even after AA turns on its revenue-based component on its own flights. For more information, check this page.