American Airlines offers the opportunity to earn AAdvantage status by completing a 90-day "challenge" that can be achieved by taking as little as one flight. Anyone can commence an American Airlines status challenge for a small fee. Unlike the status match challenges offered by United and Delta, you do not need to already hold status with another airline. Plus, now is the perfect time to get started.
This guide covers everything Australian frequent flyers need to know about the American Airlines AAdvantage status challenge.
AAdvantage Status Challenge Options
You can use the American Airlines status challenge to earn either Gold or Platinum AAdvantage status. Despite the name, AAdvantage Gold status is equivalent to Oneworld Ruby or Qantas Silver status. AAdvantage Platinum status is equivalent to Oneworld Sapphire or Qantas Gold status.
It is not possible to use a status challenge to earn Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum (equivalent to Qantas Platinum) status.
The fee for starting a Gold status challenge is generally between USD100 and USD180. The Platinum status challenge fee is USD180-240. The higher fee applies if you start a challenge in the second half of the year, but you'll also get to keep your status for longer.
Receive Immediate Status Benefits for a Fee
Normally you'll only receive the benefits of your new AAdvantage status after completing the challenge. But American Airlines lets you pay an additional fee to receive the benefits of Gold or Platinum status during the 90-day challenge period. This fee is generally around USD180 if you're doing a Gold status challenge, or USD300 with a Platinum challenge.
In the past, the interim status benefits only applied if you were flying on American Airlines. However, this may have changed and benefits could now be available on other Oneworld airlines during the challenge period. (Your mileage may vary...)
How to Request an American Airlines Status Challenge
To request an American Airlines status challenge, phone AAdvantage Customer Service in the United States on +1 888 697 5636.
Before calling, sign up to the AAdvantage frequent flyer program for free on the American Airlines website if you haven't already joined.
How to Complete a Status Challenge
Within 90 days of starting your status challenge, you'll need to earn a minimum amount of Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD), plus either Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS). Your status will be upgraded once you've met these requirements.
Here's what you'll need to earn within 90 days:
- AAdvantage Gold Challenge: Earn 1,000 EQD + 7,000 EQM or 8 EQS
- AAdvantage Platinum Challenge: Earn 2,000 EQD + 12,500 EQM or 16 EQS
Elite Qualifying Miles, Dollars and Segments earned on flights marketed by any of the following airlines are eligible:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Japan Airlines
- Qantas (note - this varies)
Elite Qualifying Miles are based on your fare class and the distance flown. Miles are earned at a higher rate if you fly in a higher class of travel or have a more expensive ticket.
For travel on American Airlines flights with an "AA" flight number, you'll earn one Elite Qualifying Dollar for every USD1 spent on your airfare. But for flights marketed by partner airlines, such as Qantas, EQDs are earned as a percentage of the distance flown. Higher fare classes earn EQDs at a higher rate.
Here's what you'll earn for American Airlines flights:
And here's a breakdown of the EQMs and EQDs you'll earn for Qantas flights:
There is no requirement to actually fly American Airlines in order to complete an AAdvantage status challenge!
When you call to sign up, check to see whether Qantas is included. Historically Qantas flights have counted for the AAdvantage status challenge, but the rules seem to vary. If Qantas is included for your challenge, you could easily complete a Platinum challenge by flying Qantas Premium Economy from Sydney to Los Angeles return. This flight has a distance of 7,488 miles so you would earn 22,464 EQMs and at least 2,995 EQDs for this trip.
A one-way flight from Sydney or Melbourne to London in Qantas or British Airways Premium Economy (or a higher class of travel) would also be sufficient to complete an AAdvantage Platinum Challenge.
Enjoying your AAdvantage Status
After completing the challenge, you'll receive all the benefits of your Gold or Platinum AAdvantage status. This includes complimentary auto-requested upgrades on some American Airlines flights. If you have Platinum AAdvantage status, you'll also receive Oneworld Sapphire benefits including lounge access when flying Qantas and other Oneworld airlines. See the benefits of AAdvantage status on the American Airlines website.
You'll have to meet the usual requirements to extend your AAdvantage status for a further year.
Start your American Airlines Status Challenge in July
If you started a challenge on or before 14 June 2019, you would only get to keep your status until 31 January 2020. But by starting an AAdvantage status challenge after 15 June 2019, you'll keep your benefits until 31 January 2021.
So, now is a great time to start a challenge! By starting in late June or July, you could enjoy Oneworld status for up to 19 months.
However, we advise you not to start a challenge unless you plan to complete it. You can only use the American Airlines status challenge once per 5 years, and there are no refunds if you don't successfully complete it.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: AA Challenges - Questions and General Discussion