How to get airline elite status
For air travelers, airline status makes trips more comfortable, rewarding and enjoyable.
In the last decade, airlines have redesigned their elite status programs to give status to high spenders. Previously, airline elite status was largely earned based on the distance you flew and the number of flights you took.
But whether you're a high spender or frequent budget traveler, airline status could be within reach.
Let's go through the major U.S. airline programs and see how to earn elite status. And since this is TPG, we'll also share some of the lesser-known ways to earn elite status.
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Before we jump in, it's worth checking out the current status matches and challenges. Multiple airlines offer you status if you hold status with another travel company. It's a great way to start with airline status on day one.
How to earn MVP status on Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines is the only major legacy carrier with a mileage program where both the elite-qualifying and redeemable miles you earn are based on how far you fly rather than on how much you spend.
Here’s what it takes to qualify for MVP status:
- MVP: 20,000 miles or 30 segments on Alaska and partners plus at least two segments marketed and operated by Alaska.
- MVP Gold: 40,000 miles or 60 segments on Alaska and partners plus at least six segments marketed and operated by Alaska.
- MVP Gold 75K: 75,000 miles or 90 segments on Alaska and partners plus at least 12 segments marketed and operated by Alaska.
- MVP Gold 100K: 100,000 miles or 140 segments on Alaska and partners plus at least 24 segments marketed and operated by Alaska.
If you hold status with another airline, check and see if you're eligible for an Alaska Airlines status match. Alaska has a designated status match landing page. As an upper elite member of another program, you could be status matched all the way up to MVP Gold 75K, which provides Oneworld Emerald status. That means that you'd have access to Oneworld first class lounges like Japan Airlines First Class lounge in Tokyo's Narita International Airport (NRT).
How to earn AAdvantage status on American Airlines
Earlier this year, American Airlines made significant changes to how its members qualify for AAdvantage status by introducing Loyalty Points. American also changed the annual cycle of its elite program. Members now earn status between March 1 and Feb. 28 each year rather than Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.
Here's how many Loyalty Points are required for each status tier:
- Gold: 30,000 Loyalty Points.
- Platinum: 75,000 Loyalty Points.
- Platinum Pro: 125,000 Loyalty Points.
- Executive Platinum: 200,000 Loyalty Points.
With a few notable exclusions, you earn one Loyalty Point for every AAdvantage mile. There are some sweet spots for earning Loyalty Points quickly on long-haul, non-AA-issued partner tickets.
You can also earn one Loyalty Point per dollar spent on a cobranded AAdvantage credit card. In other words, you could earn top-tier Executive Platinum status by spending $200,000 on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® without even stepping on an American flight.
How to earn Medallion status on Delta Air Lines
Unlike the other major U.S. carriers, the Delta Air Lines Medallion program remains largely unchanged in the last several years.
Here’s how what it takes for the various Medallion tiers:
- Silver: 25,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) (or 30 segments) and $3,000 in Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs).
- Gold: 50,0000 MQMs (or 60 segments) and $6,000 in MQDs.
- Platinum: 75,000 MQMs (or 100 segments) and $9,000 in MQDs.
- Diamond: 125,000 MQMs (or 140 segments) and $15,000 in MQDs.
One of the most appealing parts of the Delta Medallion program is that you can be exempt from the MQD requirement through credit card spending on a Delta cobranded card. For Silver, Gold and Platinum status, you're exempt from the MQD requirement if you spend $25,000 per year on your Delta card. To be exempt from the MQD requirement for Diamond status, you'll have to charge $250,000 per year on your Delta card.
But even if you don't spend a lot on a credit card, you can earn lots of MQDs from Delta's partners. Thanks to Delta's extensive list of partners, that "secret" can get you to Medallion status by spending far less than what you'd have to spend on Delta.
You can also earn MQMs through credit card spending. For example, you can earn 10,000 MQMs for every $25,000 you spend on the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card up to two times yearly.
Similar to Alaska, Delta offers a status match. If you hold status on another airline and want elite status on Delta, you can apply for a status match here.
How to earn JetBlue Mosaic status
JetBlue has long offered its Mosaic tier, but it recently introduced Mosaic+. The higher elite status tier is only available in 2022 while JetBlue works to rework its status offerings.
Here are the current JetBlue status requirements:
- Mosaic (one of the following):
- 15,000 Mosaic Qualifying points.
- 30 segments and 12,000 Mosaic Qualifying points.
- Spend $50,000 on eligible purchases with your JetBlue Plus Card or JetBlue Business Card.
- Mosaic+ (either of the following):
- 45,000 Mosaic Qualifying points.
- Spend $150,000 on eligible purchases with your JetBlue Plus Card or JetBlue Business Card.
Similar to American's Loyalty Points, you can earn JetBlue Mosaic or Mosaic+ status exclusively through credit card spending. That means that you can be an elite member without even flying on JetBlue.
The information for the JetBlue Plus and JetBlue Business cards have been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
How to earn Rapid Rewards status on Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines offers three status tiers A-List, A-List Preferred and Companion Pass.
Here are the requirements for each tier:
- A-List: 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) or 25 flights.
- A-List Preferred: 70,000 TQPs or 50 flights.
- Companion Pass: 135,000 Companion Pass Qualifying Points or 100 flights.
I've written a guide on earning the Southwest Companion Pass. Most travelers will probably earn the Companion Pass through qualifying points. You can earn these qualifying points through Rapid Rewards activities including:
- Flying on Southwest.
- Doing business with travel partners like hotels and car rental agencies.
- Dining through the Rapid Rewards Dining program.
- Opening and/or using a Southwest credit card (like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card), including sign-up bonuses.
Of these activities, the latter three earn points toward the Companion Pass but not toward A-List or A-List Preferred status.
As with some of the other airlines listed here, Southwest offers a status match. You can apply for a Southwest status match to A-List here.
How to earn Premier status on United Airlines
United Airlines changed its Premier program in 2019 by introducing Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) and Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs).
Here are the current requirements:
- Premier Silver: 8 PQFs and 3,000 PQPs or 3,500 PQPs.
- Premier Gold: 16 PQFs and 6,000 PQPs or 7,000 PQPs.
- Premier Platinum: 24 PQFs and 9,000 PQPs or 10,000 PQPs.
- Premier 1K: 36 PQFs and 13,500 PQPs or 15,000 PQPs.
In 2023, we expect United to bring back its pre-pandemic status requirements which are:
- Premier Silver: 12 PQFs and 4,000 PQPs or 5,000 PQPs.
- Premier Gold: 24 PQFs and 8,000 PQPs or 10,000 PQPs.
- Premier Platinum: 36 PQFs and 12,000 PQPs or 15,000 PQPs.
- Premier 1K: 54 PQFs and 18,000 PQPs or 24,000 PQPs.
If you book your flight with United, you earn one PQP for roughly every dollar spent on United and partner flights. You earn one PQF for every takeoff on a United or eligible Star Alliance partner flight.
In my opinion, one of the best-kept secrets of the Premier program is to earn PQPs on non-United-issued, long-haul, premium cabin partner flights. By strategically planning your trip, you can earn up to three PQPs for each dollar spent on a partner — or put differently, you can earn status three times faster than on United.
You can also earn PQPs through MileagePlus cobranded credit card spending, but it's generally not a great deal. For every $12,000 you spend, you earn 500 PQPs.
You can earn up to 1,000 PQPs per year on the United℠ Explorer Card and United℠ Business Card, up to 3,000 PQPs per year on the United Quest℠ Card and up to 4,000 PQPs per year on the United Club℠ Infinite Card.
Lastly, United also offers status matches. For more information and to apply, visit this webpage.
With status matches or challenges, credit card spending and other options, there are plenty of ways to get you to your airline status of choice in no time this year. Just make sure to evaluate your options before spending thousands of dollars on a cobranded airline credit card and double-check to see that you’re meeting requirements by the due date to enjoy status for as much time as possible.
Additional reporting by Eric Rosen.