Don’t lose your perks: Here’s your American Airlines year-end checklist

Dec 11, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

There are two major dates when it comes to earning and redeeming perks with American Airlines: December 31 and January 31. As we draw ever closer to these dates, there are several things to keep in mind to make sure that you don’t lose valuable perks — or just miss out on earning even more.

Let’s dive right into your American Airlines year-end checklist:

Earn American Airlines elite status

Deadline: December 31

You only have a few more weeks to earn elite status for 2020. To check your progress, log into your AAdvantage Account Summary. For reference, here are the requirements for each elite status level:

Elite status level Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD) Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS)
AAdvantage Gold 3,000 and either 25,000 or 30
AAdvantage Platinum 6,000 and either 50,000 or 60
AAdvantage Platinum Pro 9,000 and either 75,000 or 90
AAdvantage Executive Platinum 15,000 and either 100,000 or 120

If you’re just short, here are TPG’s last-minute elite status strategies for American Airlines AAdvantage.

Earn additional perks by reaching mileage thresholds

Deadline: December 31

Near the end of 2018, AA announced several changes to its AAdvantage program. One of the improvements was to give American Airlines frequent flyers a reason to continue flying with the airline beyond the 100,000 Elite Qualifying Mile (EQM) threshold needed to earn Executive Platinum status. Very-frequent flyers that qualify for Executive Platinum status will get additional threshold benefits when reaching 150,000 EQM; 200,000 EQM and 250,000 EQM.

At 150,000 EQM, elites will have the choice between:

At both 200,000 and 250,000 EQM, elites will have the choice between:

  • Two additional systemwide upgrades (giving flyers the potential to earn up to 10 for the year)
  • 40,000 bonus award miles
  • Gift Platinum elite status (valued at $2,185 assuming 60,000 miles flown with the status)

So, if you’re just short of one of these thresholds, it might be worth fitting in an additional trip before the end of the year to earn some of these valuable benefits. And, that’s just what I did. I just surpassed the 150,000 EQM threshold just this week:

Spend expiring Business Extra points

Deadline: December 31

American Airlines’ Business Extra program is designed to help reward small businesses for employee travel. In addition to the traveler earning AAdvantage miles, the business will earn Business Extra points that can be redeemed for free flights, upgrades, elite status and an Admirals Club membership or day pass.

Points are valid until the end of the second year after earned. That means that points earned in 2017 which haven’t been redeemed yet will expire on Dec. 31, 2019. To check if your account has expiring points, log into your Account Summary and see if there’s a message about points expiring. As you can see, I’ll need to redeem 2,380 points in the next few weeks:

Thankfully, the process to redeem points got easier this year. Business Extra travel managers can now book American Airlines flights and process upgrades online — instead of needing to call in.

If you haven’t done so already, make sure to add your Business Extra number to each traveler’s AA profile. That will ensure points post automatically and keep you from having to manually request points after travel.

Spend expiring Systemwide Upgrades

Deadline: January 31

American Airlines Executive Platinum elites earn four systemwide upgrades each year. These certificates can be utilized to upgrade an economy or premium economy ticket to business class or a business class ticket to first class on any American Airlines flight with available upgrade space.

These systemwide upgrades are good through Jan. 31 on the second year after earned. That means flyers that earned Executive Platinum elite status in 2018 need to use their systemwide upgrades by Jan. 31, 2020. The good news this year is that American Airlines is allowing members to use their expiring systemwide upgrades on flights beyond the expiration date. However, you’ll still need to successfully apply the upgrade to a ticket by the Jan. 31 deadline.

Figuring out if you have expiring systemwide upgrades isn’t very straight-forward. In your American Airlines account Wallet, you’ll see how many systemwide upgrades you have available:

However, the details don’t make the expiration date of these very clear. Flyers that have requalified for Executive Platinum status in 2019 may have a mixture of upgrades expiring on Jan. 31, 2020 and Jan. 31, 2021. You’re going to have to click “view details” and cross-reference the Deposited and Redeemed sections to see how many you have expiring on each date.

If you have expiring upgrades and are looking to maximize them, there’s been some incredible upgrade space on some of AA’s longest flights.

Earn additional 500-mile Upgrades

Deadline: January 31

American Airlines Gold and Platinum elites earn 500-mile Upgrades which can be redeemed on flights within North America. Elites earn a batch of four upgrades for every 12,500 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) earned between February 1 and January 31 of the next year.

If your travels are going to leave you just shy of earning the next batch of upgrades, it might be worth adding another flight to push you over the threshold. Just keep in mind that many Gold and Platinum elites struggle to get upgrades on many US routes, so you should only add an extra trip if it makes sense for your situation.

Confirm AAdvantage mileage expiration

Deadline: varies

Last, but certainly not least, infrequent American Airlines flyers should check their mileage expiration. Although many U.S. airlines have eliminated mileage expiration — including Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United — American Airlines AAdvantage miles still expire after 18 months of inactivity.

To check your expiration date, log in to your American Airlines Wallet and check the expiration date under “award miles.” If your miles are set to expire soon, here are some tips for how to keep your points and miles from expiring.

Featured image by JT Genter / The Points Guy

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.