Spend your way to status: AA waives mileage, segment requirements for some flyers in 2020

Dec 11, 2019

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To earn American Airlines elite status, flyers generally need to hit a spending threshold (EQD) and either a mileage (EQM) or segment (EQS) threshold. But, in 2020, targeted American Airlines flyers will be able to earn elite status solely by earning enough Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD).

In addition to earning status the classic way, AAdvantage members targeted for this offer will be able to earn elite status solely by earning the following amount of EQDs:

  • 5,000 EQDs for Gold
  • 10,000 EQDs for Platinum
  • 15,000 EQDs for Platinum Pro
  • 22,000 or 24,000 EQDs for Executive Platinum — depending on the offer

For reference, American Airlines standard elite qualifying requirements are:

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

That means flyers will need to earn up to 9,000 additional Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD) to be able to get the same status without hitting the Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) or Elite Qualifying Segment (EQS) requirements. As government taxes and fees don’t count toward EQD earnings, that could necessitate spending in additional $10,000 on American Airlines flights.

To check if you’re targeted for this offer, log into your American Airlines account and check the Promotions tab for an offer entitled “reach elite status by earning EQDs only”:

The promotion terms and conditions require registration by 11:59 p.m. CT on December 30, 2019. So, you’ll need to decide whether or not to register before the qualifying year starts.

However, you might not necessarily want to register for this offer just because you’re targeted. The T&C specifies that “you can only participate in 1 alternate method of elite qualification in the 2020 calendar year.” So, flyers that aren’t high spenders may want to pass on this offer in hopes of another “alternate method of elite qualification” offer.

Another interesting bit in the T&C: “Bonus EQDs don’t count toward EQD thresholds for this promotion.” That indicates that there could be a mismatch between the number of EQD that you earn toward standard elite status qualification and the EQD earned toward this promotion. However, the good news is that the EQD earnings on partner airlines will count toward this promotion.

This promotion is a win for high-spending short-haul flyers who can now earn a higher tier of status than otherwise. I met one of these flyers in first class on a recent American Airlines flight into Charlotte (CLT). The traveler had already far surpassed the 15,000 Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD) requirement necessary for top-tier Executive Platinum elite status. However, his mileage (~68,000) and segment earnings weren’t high enough to even hit mid-high-tier Platinum Pro.

This move by American Airlines is likely a reaction to United’s elite qualification changes for 2020. United is ditching the spending+mileage or spending+segment earning requirements for earning elite status for a system that allows flyers to earn elite status from spending alone or by achieving both spending and segment requirements.

Featured image by JT Genter / The Points Guy.

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