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The Pacific Northwest is the place to be based these days. Flyers in Seattle and Portland have been benefiting from the battle between partners-turned-rivals Delta and Alaska, and it looks like American is muscling in on the territory now as well. Portland-based TPG reader Edwin got a targeted offer from American this week, and Tweeted me with a question:
“@thepointsguy: I am Platinum Medallion with Delta. PDX is home. AA offered me Platinum status in a targeted mailing. Any reason not to accept?”
So it sounds like Edwin has been offered a status challenge to Platinum status with American Airlines. Normally that means you have to earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Points, not elite-qualifying miles, within 3 months of accepting. American’s Elite Qualifying Points system is based on the fare classes of the tickets you purchase and the miles you fly. Basically, you earn between 0.5-1.5 EQP’s per mile flown based on your fare class. You can read the details here, but below is American’s table that breaks down the number of EQP’s you earn by fare class:
Is there a downside to status challenging? In general, when you want to do a status challenge, you have to contact the airline you’re interested in and demonstrate your current status, pay a co-pay (in the case of American, between $100-$250 depending on the tier you’re going for), and fly a certain amount within 90 days. You’re usually granted the benefits of your challenged status immediately, though, so you can enjoy it while completing the challenge. In the case of a status match, an airline will just give you the status outright, usually through the end of the current elite year (February 28, 2015 in this case). You can read more about status matches and challenges in this post.
If you do decide to undertake one of these challenges or accept a status match, airlines will usually only let you do so once every five years, or even just once in a lifetime in some cases! You can’t just continuously play the airlines off one another and status match year after year in a rotating fashion. So keep in mind that if you do take this challenge but don’t meet the earning requirements in the allotted time, then you won’t get the status and you won’t be able to challenge again for several years.
One other consideration is that if you challenge/match after July 1, airlines will generally grant you status through the rest of the current elite status year and the following one (in this case through February 2016), whereas if you complete your challenge before July 1, your status will usually only be good through the current elite year. Airlines will then expect you to complete the normal requirements for the following year. Also, if you want to qualify for a tier beyond Platinum, you’ll have to complete all those requirements as usual within the calendar year as well.
Status matches and challenges can be a great way to test out another airline and its elite benefits, and I’ve personally done it with United, but you need to make sure you have enough qualifying travel upcoming to meet the requirements. While American Executive Platinum status – the top tier which I’ve enjoyed for 3 years at this point – is amazing with valuable perks like Systemwide Upgrades and 100% mileage bonuses, mid-tier Platinum status (which you usually earn at 50,000 EQM’s or 60 segments) is decent but not amazing. You get benefits like Priority AAccess, free seating selection, 100% bonus miles and more, but you must use 500-mile upgrades for upgrades (not complimentary), and you compete with a lot of other elites since there’s no high mid-tier like Delta and US Airways have at 75,000 miles.
Still, if you’re interested in switching allegiance and have the qualifying travel coming up, you might want to give American a shot.