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TPG reader Tobey tweeted me @thepointsguy to ask:

“I have 70K American Airlines elite qualifying points and am currently AAdvantage Platinum and need advice on how to reach Executive Platinum this year, other than just traveling more. Can you help?”

It seems like Tobey is trying to get to Executive Platinum status through points, not miles, and he would need 100,000 points to qualify. AA lets you qualify for elite status on miles and segments, but also on points, which are based on the kinds of fares you purchase – the more expensive the fare class, the more points you earn from 0.5-1.5 points per mile flown. It is kind of a convoluted system, but those who qualify on points kind of have to go all out for it and fly more and pay the fares.

The tricky thing about AA is if you are qualifying on points, then your elite qualifying miles (EQM’s) and elite qualifying segments don’t help, so even if there is a double EQM promo – which I doubt there will be – then you won’t benefit.

American Airlines made an announcement today regarding changes to acquiring elite status.
American Airlines lets you qualify as an elite through points or miles.

Likewise, a credit card promo from Citi, such as the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard which will give you 10,000 elite qualifying miles per calendar year you spend $40,000, does not give you the equivalent points. However, that card is now offering a 60,000 mile bonus, which outweighs the $450 fee in my opinion, and could be a good way to rack up Elite Qualifying Miles if you can swing $40,000 in spend.

For those of you who aren’t aware, with American elite status is earned via miles, segments or elite qualification points earned on eligible fares purchased for travel on American Airlines, American Eagle and American Connection, as well as oneworld member airlines and their affiliates, Alaska Airlines (including Horizon Air), and American Airlines codeshare flights an AA-coded flight number is included on the ticket at the following levels:

Elite Status                           Miles/Points Required       Segments Required

Executive Platinum                 100,000                                        100

Platinum                                    50,000                                          60

Gold                                            25,000                                          30

So since the numbers you need are the same, initially it might look like elite-qualifying miles and elite-qualifying points are the same thing, but that in fact is not true at all.

Flyers earn elite-qualifying points for flights on American Airlines, American Eagle, American Connection and American Airlines marketed codeshare flights (info for other participants can be found at the links above) in the following ratios:

American’s elite points system is a little convoluted.

So the higher the fare code or class of service you buy, the more elite-qualifying points you earn, ranging from 0.5-1.5 points per mile flown on deeply discounted economy tickets (like most of us buy) all the way up to 1.5 points per mile on full-fare economy, business and first class fares. For more information on miles vs. points, read my post here.

American did just announce that they will let some people who are close to elite status buy up to status or to requalify. As of January 2014 through May 31, 2014, you have two options if you fall short of the miles that you need.

  • Boost: If you end the year close to AAdvantage Executive Platinum, Platinum, or Gold status but don’t quite make it, you can boost to the next level.
  • Renew: If you are an elite status member in 2013 but aren’t able to retain your status by the end of the year, you are eligible for a status renewal.

Here is how the new program breaks down:

  • If you are 5,000 miles or 5 segments short of reaching Gold status, you can boost to the status for the cost of $399.  If you are you already Gold and are way off from retaining it and out of “boost” range, you can buy it back for $649. Gold normally requires 25,000 miles or 30 segments.
  • If you are up to 10,000 miles or 10 segments short of achieving Platinum, you can boost to the status for the cost of $899. If you are only 5,000 miles or 5 segments short of achieving Platinum, you can boost for $699. If you are you already Platinum and are way off from retaining it and out of “boost” range, you can buy it back for $1,199. Platinum normally requires 50,000 miles or 60 segments.
  • If you are up to 10,000 miles or 10 segments short of achieving Executive Platinum, you can boost to the status for the cost of $1,799. If you are only 5,000 miles or 5 segments short of achieving Platinum, you can boost for $1,199. Unfortunately there is not a renewal option for Executive Platinum, which usually requires 100,000 miles or 100 segments.

Unfortunately the bottom line is you will have to fly more to reach the next level with points, or look into buying a “boost” as detailed above if you’re withing the mileage/segment thresholds. I hope this helps!

For more information on American Airlines Elite Status, read my prior posts below:

American Airlines Discontinuing Soft Landings For AAdvantage Members

Airline Status Match And Challenge Information For 2013

American Airlines Qualifying For Status With Elite Qualifying Points

American Announces New Options For Elites to Pay For Requalification

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