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

Dec. 11, 2019
7 min read
American Airlines Flagship First Class 777-300ER
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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 levelElite Qualifying Dollars (EQD)Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM)Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS)
AAdvantage Gold3,000and either25,000or30
AAdvantage Platinum6,000and either50,000or60
AAdvantage Platinum Pro9,000and either75,000or90
AAdvantage Executive Platinum15,000and either100,000or120

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:

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  • 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.