These lucky travelers are about to earn American Airlines elite status without leaving home

Jul 9, 2020

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.

One of the best ways to fast track to elite status is by participating in a challenge.

Once you’ve enrolled in a status challenge, you’ll typically be given status for a few months. During this time you’re required to fly a prorated number of flights (and spend a fraction of the normal amount) to secure status throughout the rest of the year.

Travelers who were in the midst of participating in a status challenge when coronavirus halted travel faced an issue: They couldn’t complete their challenges due to the myriad of stay-at-home and quarantine orders.

Each U.S. airline approached this situation differently. Today, we’re the first to exclusively report that American Airlines will become the most generous of the big three U.S. carriers in how they’re handling status challenges.

For more travel tips and news, sign up for our daily newsletter.

For those who got close to earning status

If you were enrolled in an active challenge on March 31, with an end date of April 1 or later, there’s a good chance that your AAdvantage account was updated with elite status through Jan. 31, 2022.

If you completed at least 80% of the elite qualifying dollar (EQD) requirement of your eligible challenge, your account will be automatically updated with the full status that you were working toward. That’s great news for those who were close to completing a challenge but couldn’t cross the finish line.

This is by far more generous than both Delta and United. Both airlines are requiring that customers restart their challenges when they’re ready to travel again, assuming they weren’t fully completed.

Of the major U.S. carriers, Alaska Airlines was the most generous since it granted full elite status through Dec. 31, 2021 for anyone enrolled in a challenge, regardless of how much flying they’d done.

Only time will tell if any of the other carriers decide to match American’s move.

An American Boeing 737 in Miami (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

A fresh start for everyone else

American is also welcoming back members who didn’t meet 80% of the EQD requirement. These members will be given a new challenge opportunity. Sadly, none of the original progress will roll over, so you’ll need to start from scratch. The updated challenge opportunities will be communicated “soon.”

An American Airlines spokesperson confirms that many of the challenges will have lower thresholds than the ones before the pandemic. Additionally, a majority of the offers will be reverse challenges, so members can enjoy the benefits of temporary status while working toward their goals.

Either way, it certainly stings if you were really close to the 80% threshold and just missed it by a few dollars.

Related: Complete guide to coronavirus and airline elite status 

Details of the new status challenge offer

Each affected customer will have a new, unique challenge offer, which will be communicated directly from the AAdvantage team. Depending on when the new offers are released, travel will have hopefully resumed across the board, making it easier to earn towards the goals.

American Flagship First (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

This is the latest move in a string of updates to the AAdvantage program. It all started when the carrier extended all currently valid elite status through Jan. 31, 2022. As part of the news, AA also introduced an offer for booking a Vacations package, as well as a promotion to earn lifetime Million Miler status through credit card spend. Additionally, the carrier debuted an automatic mileage reinstatement feature, which makes it easy to cancel awards online and get your miles back instantly.

Though these are primarily customer-friendly adjustments, American made some negative changes too. It removed its beloved legacy award search tool. The Fort Worth, TX-based carrier also updated its award fee structure, which removed some of the flexibility of Saver and AAnytime awards.

Nonetheless, for those who were in the midst of completing a status challenge, this new policy will likely bring good news, depending on how much money you spent with the carrier through Mar. 31. If you were at 80% or more of the way through your EQD requirement, you’ll be elite through next year. If not, you’ll have reduced thresholds to hit in a new challenge.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, 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 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.