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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!
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees