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As the Elite Status year ends and renews on March 1, many frequent flyers are scrambling to maintain status on a variety of airlines. Today, TPG’s COO Leigh Rowan explains how he’s gunning for American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum status—even though he hasn’t stepped on an AA plane in over a year.
Like many faithful TPG readers, I’m addicted to status. I’ve held lots of status levels on airlines before: Delta Diamond/Platinum, AA Platinum/Gold, United Gold, Cathay Silver, Emirates Silver and many others. I’m in the midst of switching my alliances from Delta (boo SkyMiles devaluation!) to American (yay for a Frequent Flier Program that still makes sense!), and as such, I want to fast-track my renewal of status with AA, even though I haven’t flown AA in a little over a year.
Since I want to get status as quickly as possible, I have a few avenues at my disposal to work with:
- Boost or Renew status: as TPG has written about before, American offers its elite frequent flyers an opportunity to buy up to (boost) or flat out renew status if they haven’t hit the mark in previous years. I barely even flew AA in 2014, so, this option isn’t available to me.
- Challenge: the topic of today’s post, which is a more nuanced but exciting approach to getting status with American Airlines (and others). Today I’ll focus on how I’m getting AA Platinum status through FoundersCard, though there are other options available throughout the year.
An Overview of the Status Challenge
Usually airlines will offer some sort of paid status challenge or match, sometimes with a co-pay and a challenge period. In the past, American has had a paid status challenge where AAdvantage members without status (like yours truly) can pay between $120-200 to initiate a challenge period of 90 days, during which they have to obtain between 5,000 and 10,000 elite qualification points (EQPs) to be granted Gold or Platinum status.
Other airlines offer similar status matches and challenges, and the handy website StatusMatcher details the variety of ways you can obtain status on other airlines. (In a forthcoming post, I’ll discuss how I used StatusMatcher and my Delta Platinum status to obtain Emirates Skywards Silver).
Since American isn’t offering a status challenge or match right now, the only “public” way to get status (without earning it the hard way) is via FoundersCard. Last month, AA offered FoundersCard members access to an expedited status challenge (the registration for this promotion ended on January 30th); all I had to do was register and obtain 10,000 EQPs before May 12, 2015. No co-pay necessary! I registered and immediately went into flight planning mode.
My AA Platinum Challenge
As part of my American Platinum challenge, I’ll need to earn 10,000 elite qualifying points, which differ from elite qualifying miles, since points are based on the fare class. I’ll have between now and May 12, 2015 to complete this mission.
Here’s a look at my projected flights and how many elite qualifying points I’ll be earning on each.
San Francisco—New York (JFK) in V fare class will earn 2,580 points, since V fares earn 1 point per mile earned.
San Francisco—Dallas/Ft. Worth—LaGuardia in P fare class will earn 4,280 points, since P fares earn 1.5 points per mile earned. I’m choosing to go to LGA via Dallas (instead of flying direct) because it will earn me an additional 410 EQPs, and every bit helps!
LaGuardia—Dallas/Ft. Worth—Austin in A fare class will earn 2,361 points, since A fares earn 1.5 points per mile earned.
At this point, I’m almost to the total of 10,000 points, but I’m not quite there yet. Luckily, I’ve got a flight in late March from Austin to Vancouver (via Phoenix) on US Airways, and that will help push me over the top.
Austin—Phoenix—Vancouver in A/D fare classes on US Airways will earn 3,146 points, since both A and D fares earn 1.5 points per mile earned.
Grand Total: 12,367 elite qualifying points!
I’m excited to be achieving Platinum status on American, since it’s a frequent flyer program that makes sense. I’m excited to be leaving Delta and not looking back. But now the question will be whether I go for Executive Platinum status this year with AA … to be continued!
I would love to hear your thoughts on whether I should go for Executive Platinum status once I complete this challenge. After all, I only have another 87,000 points to go. Please share your thoughts below!
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees