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When does airline elite status expire?

Oct. 05, 2022
8 min read
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Unless you have lifetime elite status, the process of qualifying for and maintaining airline elite status is often a yearly endeavor. As we approach the end of 2022, it’s worth checking that your status qualification requirements are squared away.

But, since it’s possible to earn status at any point throughout the year, one question you might have as the year comes to a close is, “When does my airline status actually expire?”

In this guide, I’ll discuss when airline elite status expires for each of the major U.S. airline loyalty programs.

Airline elite status basics

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To fully understand when your airline elite status expires, you should consider two sets of dates:

  • Qualification period: How long you have to earn the elite status.
  • Membership term: How long you keep elite status once you earn it.

Most of the major U.S. airlines used a calendar year as their qualification period. However, there is one notable exception. With American’s switch to Loyalty Points in March 2022, the qualification period for AAdvantage is March 1 through Feb. 28 (or Feb. 29) of the following year.

Most airlines provide multiple ways — or have more than one requirement — to earn elite status. For example, to earn Gold status with Delta Air Lines this year, you’d need to accrue 50,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or 60 Medallion Qualification Segments between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022. But, if you’re U.S. based, you’d also need to earn $6,000 Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) during the same period.

Once you’ve qualified, the other set of dates to understand is the membership term. This varies slightly from airline to airline but describes the period during which your elite status is valid. Often, your membership starts when you qualify, runs through the rest of that calendar year and continues for the entire following calendar year. But, as mentioned above, some carriers don’t use a calendar-year qualification period.

If you’re starting from scratch, you may want to try to qualify early within your qualification period. By doing so, you can maximize how long you’ll enjoy your elite benefits.

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Now let’s take a more detailed look at the elite status expiration policies of several U.S. airline loyalty programs.

Related: Credit cards that can help you earn airline elite status

Alaska Airlines

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Your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan elite status typically expires on Dec. 31 of the year following the year in which you earned your status.

For example, if you reach your 2023 MVP Gold qualification in October of 2022, your status will be valid through Dec. 31, 2023.

Related: 6 ways Alaska Mileage Plan can improve and stay one of the best frequent flyer programs

American Airlines

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

As mentioned above, American Airlines AAdvantage switched to Loyalty Points in March 2022. This is the new way to reach AAdvantage status. Your status is determined by the Loyalty Points posted to your account for the 12-month period starting on March 1 of each year.

The status qualification year starts on March 1 and runs through the last day of February. This means that in 2023, your status counter will reset on March 1, 2023, and will run through Feb. 29, 2024.

Also as of this year, you can qualify for American elite status from credit card spending alone. As such, some of the best American Airlines cards, including the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® and American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card, will become increasingly important for American Airlines loyalists.

Related: How to double dip your 2022 elite bonuses with an American Airlines credit card

Delta Air Lines

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Delta Medallion elite status is typically valid through Jan. 31 of the year following the calendar year in which you earned the status. However, in the past Delta extended elite status.

For those who earned status in the 2020 or 2021 status years, your status is set to expire on Jan. 31, 2023.

It’s important to note that Delta Platinum and Diamond Medallion travelers also have deadlines for selecting Choice Benefits. Usually, these deadlines are the same as when your status expires.

Delta also has a program called Reclaim My Status, a Delta Medallion Benefit that helps you return to status. However, some basic requirements must be met to qualify.

Related: No miles for you! Beware as Delta changes its basic economy rules again

JetBlue

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

JetBlue only has one true tier of elite status: Mosaic. JetBlue Mosaic status is valid through the end of the calendar year after which you qualify.

JetBlue did introduce a temporary tier for 2022, called Mosaic+. If you were able to achieve Mosaic+ in 2022, you will only have these benefits until Dec. 31, 2022. This program is still temporary but there could be a chance that JetBlue will roll out more permanent changes.

Additionally, JetBlue is one of the few airlines that allows you to earn its top status without flying at all. With enough spending on your JetBlue Plus Card or JetBlue Business Card, you could earn Mosaic status from home.

The information for the JetBlue Plus and JetBlue Business Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Is airline elite status still worth it?

Southwest Airlines

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Southwest offers the famed Companion Pass, but this perk isn’t an elite status. However, Southwest does offer two elite tiers: A-List and A-List Preferred.

A-List, A-List Preferred and the Companion Pass are generally valid for the year in which you earn them as well as one full calendar year afterward.

If you have your eye set on the Companion Pass, you should try to qualify as early in the year as possible to get close to two full years of free companion flights. However, note that Southwest occasionally offers promotional Companion Passes or promotional elite status with different expiration dates.

Related: 3 TPG staffers reveal their favorite elite status perks

United Airlines

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

United uses the term “program year” to refer to the timeline in which your United MileagePlus elite status is valid. The program year with United Airlines runs through Jan. 31 of the following year. Thus, your status is good for the year you earn it, all of the following year and a month into the next year.

United also has PlusPoints, which are awarded at the United Platinum status level and above and used to confirm upgrades. All PlusPoints expiring on Jan. 31, 2023, will automatically be extended for an additional six months.

Related: I just earned airline elite status for the first time — and I’m never going back

Bottom line

Earning airline elite status can unlock many perks. To enjoy the benefits from the hard work required to achieve status with an airline, you want to make sure you know when your status is valid and when it is set to expire.

This, in turn, will help you prepare for the next year of qualifying for status.

But it’s essential to understand how long you’ll keep your status. It's important to log in to your account and read any notices from the airline to ensure you have the most up-to-date information.

Additional reporting by Ehsan Haque, Ryan Smith and Katie Genter.

Featured image by FOTOLIZA/SHUTTERSTOCK
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

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