Quick Points: Earn American AAdvantage status quickly with partner flights

Feb 21, 2022

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Starting next month, American Airlines will totally change the way to qualify for elite status.

With elite qualifying dollars, elite qualifying segments and elite qualifying miles on their way out, Loyalty Points will soon be the only way to qualify for elite status with American.

Although there are numerous ways to earn Loyalty Points, including ordering flowers and getting dental retainers, flying with American’s partners on tickets booked outside of aa.com is a clever way to maximize the accrual of Loyalty Points.

While you can book partner tickets on aa.com (indicated by an AA flight number/001 ticket number) and earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points as defined by the American mileage accrual chart, in most cases, you’ll accrue fewer miles and Loyalty Points than you would if you booked directly with the partner. This is especially true for inexpensive premium cabin fares.

As a result, booking partner flights through their websites can help you earn AAdvantage status faster.

Case in point: booking a modestly priced international business class trip with Finnair instead of American.

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The Finnair business-class sweet spot

(Photo by Daniel Bockwoldt/picture alliance via Getty Images)

As an airline that continues to develop its long-haul network, Finnair operates a solid international business-class product.

Whether you find yourself on Finnair’s older Airbus A330-300s or its newer Airbus A350-900s, you’ll enjoy comfortable lie-flat seats with direct access to an aisle. At TPG, we’re big fans of this simple yet elegant product, especially since Finnair has some of the lowest-priced long-haul business-class flights available.

Even though it’s quite a distance to schlep, traveling to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) by way of Helsinki Airport (HEL) for $2,964.41 per person round-trip (all taxes and fees included) can be a solid deal, especially if your goal is earning elite status.

Finnair from Los Angeles and Singapore via Helsinki
(Screenshot from google.com/flights)

Assuming all entry requirements are met, traveling on this itinerary could result in a quarantine-free visit to Singapore thanks to its Vaccinated Traveler Lane program.

Not to mention, the AAdvantage earnings are impressive. The final AAdvantage mileage total for this “I” fare-class route (including cabin bonuses) converts to Loyalty Points at a 1:1 ratio. This means pretty massive Loyalty Points earnings given Los Angeles to Singapore via Helsinki clocks in at 22,752 miles round-trip.

Finnair American AAdvantage earning chart
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

American has confirmed that cabin bonuses earn bonus points on partner flights, but has yet to explicitly confirm that elite status bonuses count on partner flights. That said, we assume that these bonuses will count as Loyalty Points, given elite status bonuses count as Loyalty Points for AA-ticketed flights. We will know for sure when American officially launches Loyalty Points in March 2022.

Depending on your elite status level, you’ll likely earn the following assuming elite status bonuses count as Loyalty Points:

  • AAdvantage member: 28,440 AAdvantage miles +  28,440 Loyalty Points (22,752 base miles [distance flown] + 5,688 miles [cabin bonus]).
  • AAdvantage Gold: 37,540 AAdvantage miles +  37,540 Loyalty Points (22,752 base miles [distance flown] + 5,688 miles [cabin bonus] + 9,100 miles [40% elite bonus]).
  • AAdvantage Platinum: 42,091 AAdvantage miles +  42,091 Loyalty Points (22,752 base miles [distance flown] + 5,688 miles [cabin bonus] + 13,651 miles [60% elite bonus]).
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro: 46,642 AAdvantage miles +  46,642 Loyalty Points (22,752 base miles [distance flown] + 5,688 miles [cabin bonus] + 18,202 miles [80% elite bonus]).
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum: 55,526 AAdvantage miles + 55,526 Loyalty Points (22,752 base miles [distance flown] + 5,688 miles [cabin bonus] + 27,086 miles [120% elite bonus]).

If you purchase your ticket with an American cobranded credit card, you’ll earn 1 additional Loyalty Point per dollar spent, which equals an extra 2,964 Loyalty Points for this itinerary.

As a reminder, here are the Loyalty Points thresholds you need to meet to qualify for elite status:

  • AAdvantage Gold: 30,000 Loyalty Points.
  • AAdvantage Platinum: 75,000 Loyalty Points.
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro: 125,000 Loyalty Points.
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum: 200,000 Loyalty Points.

With this itinerary, a current Executive Platinum member would earn 25% of their way back to Executive Platinum status by spending less than $3,000.

Plus, AAdvantage miles can be redeemed for other partner flights worth twice as much as the value you’d get from them for American-operated flights. For example, the 50,054 AAdvantage miles you’d earn for this Finnair route as an Executive Platinum member are worth $885.96 based on TPG’s AAdvantage miles valuation. But instead of cashing in those miles for an American flight, you could use 42,500 of them to travel from South Asia to Europe in Qatar’s new Qsuite business-class cabin, a journey that typically costs $2,000+.

Of course, you’re not limited to Finnair flights either. You can earn this way with many of American’s Oneworld partners, like British Airways, Iberia and Qantas.

Related: Status race is on: How 6 TPG staffers are already earning American Airlines Loyalty Points

Bottom line

By flying solely on American Airlines to requalify for Executive Platinum status, a current Executive Platinum member would need to spend at least $18,181 to earn 200,000 Loyalty Points. However, that dollar amount may drop if that same member chooses to fly with American’s partners on inexpensive premium cabin tickets they book outside of aa.com.

Loyalty Points are American’s way of awarding status to the highest of spenders, but there are clearly shortcuts available to earn status quickly without spending as much money as you may initially expect.

Feature photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy.

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