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Does Alliance Elite Status Give Me Status with Each Airline?

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TPG reader Creighton sent me a message on Facebook to ask about airline elite benefits:

“I have Cathay Pacific Silver status, which earns me Oneworld Ruby status. Since AAdvantage Gold also corresponds to Oneworld Ruby, can I use my Cathay Pacific status to get AAdvantage Gold?”

Airline alliances can help you maximize travel by giving you access to rewards across a global network of carriers. You can earn miles and elite credits for flights on member airlines, and even receive some reciprocal elite benefits if you have status with an alliance partner. However, having elite status with one airline doesn’t entitle you to status with other airlines in the same alliance.

Each of the three major airline alliances offers its own version of elite status. You can qualify by earning status with a member airline, and your status level with that airline is what determines your status level with the alliance. For example, AAdvantage Gold, Platinum and Executive Platinum status translate to Oneworld Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald status, respectively.

Unfortunately, the status transfer doesn’t work in the other direction. That is, having Oneworld Ruby status doesn’t grant you AAdvantage Gold, it just gives you certain benefits (like preferred seating) when you fly on other Oneworld airlines. The same goes for Creighton’s status with Cathay Pacific; Silver status in Cathay’s Marco Polo Club qualifies you for Oneworld Ruby, so you’ll get low-level Oneworld benefits when flying on American Airlines. However, you won’t be able to leverage that into AAdvantage status — at least not directly.

Holding elite status with one airline gets you select benefits (but not actual status) with others in the same alliance.

If you want to earn AAdvantage status specifically, you could take a shortcut by initiating a status challenge. Your existing status with other airlines won’t really come into play; you’ll just have to complete a certain amount of travel over a set period (typically 7,000 elite miles over 90 days to earn AAdvantage Gold). American Airlines is less likely to offer a status match with no qualification requirements, but you could always call and ask.

For more on alliance status and other ways to earn elite benefits, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

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