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There are three elite levels, Gold (GLD), Platinum (PLT), and Executive Platinum (EXP), with increasing benefits at each level, including preferred seating, check-in, security lines, and boarding; bonus miles; and various free upgrade instruments, discounts, and fee waivers.
AAdvantage members can qualify for elite status annually based on calendar year butt-in-seat elite-qualifying miles (25K / 50K / 100K), elite-qualifying points (25K / 50K / 100K), or elite-qualifying segments (30 / 60 / 100). All fares on AA earn 100% elite-qualifying miles, 50–150% elite-qualifying points, and 100% elite-qualifying segments (including previously excluded O fares between North America and Latin America as of May 1, 2012). Flights on oneworld partner airlines and Alaska Airlines also earn elite-qualifying miles, points, and segments, but may be subject to various fare restrictions and multipliers. Flights on other partner airlines do not earn elite-qualifying miles, points, or segments. Non-flying miles (credit card, dining, etc.) do not count toward annual elite status qualification and, as of Dec 1, 2011, no longer count toward Lifetime / Million Miler Status.
N.B.: On Jul 18, 2011, AA launched a new Citi Executive / AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard that awards 10,000 elite-qualifying miles after $40,000 in calendar year spending. All miles earned from purchases also count toward Lifetime / Million Miler Status through at least Dec 31, 2012.
AA is currently running a Double Elite-Qualifying Miles promotion for Elite Members only:
AATHX - Double EQM/EQP/RDM systemwide from Nov 1, 2012 – Dec 31, 2012.
DEQ11 - Double EQM for residents of CA, TX, and IL on DFW-LAX, DFW-SFO, ORD-LAX, and ORD-SFO segments in roundtrip itineraries from Oct 27, 2011 – Mar 31, 2012. [Extended through June 30, 2012]
DFLGA - Double EQM on DFW-LGA segments in roundtrip itineraries (open jaws eligible) from Mar 26, 2012 – Jun 30, 2012. This promotion was targeted by email but was also released on DealFinder.
BOSEQ - Double EQM on DFW-BOS roundtrip flights (same fare class both directions; open jaws eligible) from Apr 3, 2012 – Jun 30, 2012. Routing rules have been confirmed by AmericanAirlines.
DEQAA - Double EQM systemwide from Dec 13, 2011 – Jan 31, 2012.
DEQSL - Double EQM for residents of CA and TX, on roundtrip flights between DFW-LAX and DFW-SFO from Apr 7, 2011 – Aug 31, 2011.
DECSL - Double EQM for residents of CA and IL, on roundtrip flights between ORD-LAX and ORD-SFO from May 6, 2011 – Aug 31, 2011.
LHREQ - Double EQM on roundtrip flights between BOS-LHR and MIA-LHR in full fare Economy Class or above on AA and BA flights from Mar 29, 2011 – Aug 15, 2011.
LASF2 - Double EQM on roundtrip flights between DFW-SFO or DFW-LAX from Nov 29, 2010 – Feb 28, 2011.
BNATD, PITTD, RDUTD, STLTD - Double EQM on itineraries originating and terminating at BNA, PIT, RDU, and STL from Jul 2–Dec 31, 2010.
NYTPL - Triple EQM for LGA-ORD, ORD-LGA, LGA-BOS, and BOS-LGA flight segments ONLY (NYTPL) from Jun 14 – Aug 31, 2010.
DBLEQ - Double EQM systemwide from Sep 2 – Dec 15, 2009.
DBEQM - Double EQM systemwide from Mar 18 – Jun 15, 2009, following fleetwide MD80 groundings due to maintenance issues.
AA offers unpublished Challenges to obtain GLD or PLT status more quickly. Note that these 3-month Challenges are subject to enrollment fees, have defined start and end dates that can affect how long your status lasts, and are based on elite-qualifying points (5K / 10K), not miles. Status is conferred upon successful completion of a Challenge. (It has been reported that, as of late 2009, participants with elite status on another airline may be conferred GLD status immediately for the duration of their Challenge.)
Officially, there is no corresponding EXP Challenge, although a very small number of targeted fliers may be invited to participate in an analogous offer. A broader program was available to top-tier elites of certain competing airlines for a brief period in Jan–Mar 2011, but that program is currently inactive.
In general, outright status matches are offered only by invitation for a very small number of top fliers. However, employees of certain companies with status on certain airlines may be able to apply for a status match.
Yes, AA offers lifetime ‘Million Miler’ GLD status at 1 million miles and lifetime PLT status at 2 million miles from all sources. At 1 million miles, members also receive 35,000 AAdvantage miles. At each million mile increment thereafter, members receive four additional systemwide upgrades. There is no lifetime EXP status. The required miles may be accumulated over any period of time and do not need to be accumulated in a single year. Note that lifetime status does not give a ‘head-start’ on achieving the next higher elite level annually.
In the previous, unpublished lifetime status program, miles from all sources (flying and non-flying) counted toward lifetime status qualification. However, as of December 1, 2011, only base flight miles on AA and other AAdvantage participating airlines count toward million miler status. Except for a 13-month exception for Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite card holders as of December 1, 2011, no other miles count toward lifetime status (e.g., miles from elite minimums, bonuses, promotions, credit cards, dining, shopping, banking, hotels, rental cars, etc.). During the previous program, U.S.-based members reaching 1 million miles received eight 500-mile electronic / sticker upgrades while non U.S.-based members received 4 systemwide upgrades, instead of the 35,000 AAdvantage miles that all members now receive at that milestone.
These mileage earning changes are NOT retroactive, and Program-to-Date mileage balances as of November 30, 2011 were carried forward to the new Million Miler Balance without change. Members who already attained a lifetime status level retained that status.
In general, no, the only way to earn Elite Qualifying Miles (and Points and Segments) toward annual elite status qualification is by flying on AA and certain partner airlines. However, on Jul 18, 2011, AA launched a new Citi Executive / AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard that awards 10,000 elite-qualifying miles after $40,000 in calendar year spending.
Very occasionally, status matches in conjunction with a Challenge or targeted to specific high-revenue customers have been reported.
A previous exception to this statement was Lifetime Gold and Lifetime Platinum (Million Miler) Status, which were based on redeemable miles earned from all sources, including flight bonus miles, credit cards, hotels, rental cars, dining, shopping partners, etc. However, that program will changed to count only base flight miles as of December 1, 2011, with a 13-month exception for Citi Executive / AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard holders as of that date.
• I will just miss requalifying, will AA make any exceptions or can I buy back status?
Unofficially, AA has provided automatic exceptions for elites who come close to requalifying on points or miles (24,500 GLD / 49,000 PLT / 99,000 EXP), however, this exception is unpublished and may change at anytime. Exceptions are not offered before the end of the requalification (calendar) year, by which time it is too late to requalify via the normal methods should the exceptions be discontinued. Officially, in each year since 2003, AA has offered a status buyback / repurchase program for elites who did not requalify; again, this offer is not available until after the end of the requalification (calendar) year. Finally, AA has an unpublished ‘soft landing’ policy, whereby elites never drop by more than one level per year, regardless of miles flown.
ConciergeKey Services are provided to a select group of VIPs to facilitate travel on AA. The program is by-invitation only and is targeted at customers who control travel policy for large organizations. Services provided include airport escorts and assistance with reroutes, flight changes, seat changes, and upgrade requests. ConciergeKey status is reportedly not linked to elite status.
AAirpass is a prepaid, fixed-rate travel account program, valid for one or more years, typically for individual or corporate flyers who book high fare tickets. AA has also offered lifetime AAirpass accounts in the past, although they are not currently available. AAirpass does not confer elite status directly, but does come with certain benefits, such as preferred check-in and boarding and complimentary Admirals Club membership.
Business ExtrAA is a separate rewards program for businesses, including small businesses. One Business ExtrAA point is credited to the company account for every $10 in base fare traveled. Business ExtrAA points can be redeemed for a variety of awards, including award travel, upgrades, Admirals Club membership and daypasses, and complimentary GLD status. Business ExtrAA awards are distinct from AAdvantage awards and carry additional restrictions regarding eligible fares. Business ExtrAA points expire on December 31 of the second year after the year in which they are earned. Individual travelers also receive their own AAdvantage miles for travel as usual.
• Does anyone have a discount or promotion code? / Are there any AAdvantage enrollment bonuses available?
Proprietary discount codes, including DealFinder codes, should not be requested or posted in the AA Forum, and such posts will be deleted by the moderators. However, purchasing a 2012 Entertainment Book will give you a fixed $10 discount, good for up to 6 passengers. Print editions for certain cities also provide $30, $20, and $10 discounts subject to various minimum ticket prices. The Entertainment Book offers a free 10-day online trial that provides online access to printable coupons for rental car agencies and other vendors. (Student Advantage has previously offered a discount for travel on AA in Aug–Dec 2010, but does not currently offer this discount.)
A current list of public bonus offers can always be found listed on AA.com.
Any current enrollment offers are discussed in the FlyerTalk thread below.
• Can I get a refund for a fare that has repriced to a lower amount?
This is called a "fare rollover". You may qualify for a refund of the difference between the fare you paid and the new, lower fare, if it is for the same fare class, minus any change fee associated with your fare. Your fare's detailed fare rules (which can be seen prior to purchase) can also be found if you enter the ticket number (starts with "001") at AA's refunds site (you can also find your ticket number if you have purchased the ticket within 13 months). There are significant restrictions, which should be read at the link below.
The AA Reservations line is the main point of contact for AA, at +1-800-433-7300 (other numbers can be found on AA.com and in the Wiki). While each elite level also has its own phone number, published in the corresponding elite guide, AA’s phone system recognizes each caller’s elite level based on their AAdvantage number. Only EXP members’ calls are routed to a specific desk with a subset of agents. All other calls are routed to the general agent pool, although PLT and GLD members reportedly receive priority in the call queue. EXP agents are the only agents who can process SWU / eVIP upgrades, and sometimes handle overflow from the general pool. AA does not outsource its U.S. call centers overseas, although foreign call centers are generally staffed by local agents.
From outside the U.S. and Canada, AA can be telephoned by one of three methods:
Direct dial the desired 800 number using Skype or other internet telephony service, toll free. Direct dialing 800 numbers from landlines or mobile phones overseas may or may not work, and will not be toll free.
Dial the desired 800 number via the AT&T World Traveler Service local access number. Long distance charges will apply and can be paid using an AT&T Calling Card, AT&T Prepaid Phone Card, credit card, or collect call. AAdvantage elite customers (GLD, PLT, EXP) can dial their elite 800 number using this service and AT&T will automatically recognize the number and bill the long distance charges to AA without asking the caller for a payment method.
Direct dial +1-817-963-1234 to contact AMR headquarters; an operator or the voice recognition system can then connect callers to the appropriate office or desk.
The AA Reservations line uses a voice recognition system that often has problems with short words (such as ‘no’, which needs to be elongated for the system to pick it up) and when the caller is in a noisy environment. Fortunately, when entering one’s AAdvantage number, the system does recognize the NATO alphabet, as well as certain common names, in place of letters. (All AA agents also know the NATO alphabet, which can be used to spell out PNRs). AAdvantage members can use AA’s Remember Me feature to associate specific phone numbers with their AAdvantage number automatically. Importantly, although this is an unpublished feature, menu selections can also be made using keypad numbers corresponding to the position of each menu option in the sequence presented. Dial 0 (zero) at any time to be connected to an agent.
All published fares are eligible for 500-mile electronic / sticker and EXP upgrades on AA flights within North America, the Caribbean, and Central America, with the exception of upgrades from Business to First on 3-class domestic flights.
As of October 6, 2009, all published fares (including I, O, and Q overseas) are also eligible for award (miles + copay) or systemwide (SWU / eVIP) upgrades!