How I plan to earn American status for 2022 and 2023 with this double-dipping opportunity
Oh, how quickly things can change in the new year. You may recall that just last month I wrote about how some of my TPG colleagues (myself included) weren't into chasing airline elite status.
Fast forward to 2022, and here I am about to embark on a journey to obtain American Airlines AAdvantage Gold status. I'm taking advantage of a one-time opportunity to double dip on elite status qualification in January and February of 2022, where my activity will count toward both my 2021 stats and those I rack up in 2022 for status in 2023. It's all part of American Airlines' recent elite status revamp as it shifts the qualification and benefits year by two months.
Before you judge my sudden turnabout, let me tell you why I'm making this a part of my New Year's resolutions and why you might want to do the same — or, at the very least, remember to check your own elite status progress to see if you're close to reaching an elite milestone and can leverage this same opportunity to boost your 2021 elite qualification or get a head start for 2022-2023.
Want more travel news and advice from TPG? Sign up for our daily newsletter.
Why I'm pursuing AAdvantage Gold status
For context, American Airlines has a strong hub presence at Miami International Airport (MIA), my home airport. Since my family and I have flown American Airlines more than any other carrier in the last decade, my wife and I have been lucky enough to hold at least some level of American Airlines elite status with little to no extra effort throughout the years.
While the elite perks with American can vary greatly depending on the level you achieve, I can attest that even at the lowest tier, AAdvantage Gold benefits, such as being able to select complimentary preferred seats (also complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats 24 hours before departure), free checked bags, an elite status help line (extremely useful when regular phone support lines are jammed) and priority check-in and boarding, have been tremendously valuable — especially when traveling with kids.
And with a growing family to boot, in my mind it will be even more imperative to hold airline elite status of some kind if I can do it without needing to jump through many hoops.
While some of my TPG colleagues live by the "top-tier airline elite status or bust" mantra in the pursuit of complimentary upgrades on flights, lounge access and those highly coveted systemwide upgrades for Executive Platinum AAdvantage members, I'm perfectly fine with entry-level Gold for the value-added benefits it affords me and my family.
Related: What is American Airlines elite status worth?
Qualifying for AAdvantage Gold status in 2022 and beyond
Before American declared a complete overhaul of its elite status program last October, the time period to earn status reset on Jan. 1 each year, and you’d have until Dec. 31 to qualify for the following year’s status. That's changing this year, though. Rather than tracking elite qualifying activity in a Jan. 1-Dec. 31 calendar year, American is adjusting its elite qualification period so it runs from March 1 through Feb. 28 of the following year.
The other major development from American’s AAdvantage loyalty program refresh was the announcement of a new metric — Loyalty Points — to replace the previous elite qualifying metrics: elite qualifying miles, elite qualifying segments and elite qualifying dollars.
With the new program's launch and qualification timing shift, American announced that flyers would have two additional months to earn 2022 elite status and double dip toward next year's status.
TPG’s Zach Griff detailed this favorable double-dipping opportunity with American, but the short version is: American flyers will receive a two-month extension in January and February 2022 to supplement their elite qualification metrics from 2021 that will also count toward qualifying in 2022 toward 2023 status.
So if you, like me, weren't able to hit the qualification thresholds during the 2021 calendar year, you've got an extra two months to do so now while also qualifying toward your 2023 status.
Prior to the program changes, the latest requirements an American flyer needed to achieve for entry-level AAdvantage Gold status were 2,000 EQDs plus 20,000 EQMs or 20 EQSs.
I fell about 3,500 EQMs and 800 EQDs short of the elite status threshold for earning AAdvantage Gold in 2021. However, with the program's newest modifications came a second chance for elites and would-be elites like me to shore up their EQMs and EQDs by taking into account any qualifying activity in January and February 2022 and crediting it toward both the 2022 and 2023 membership years.
I plan to get back to Gold with just a single well-priced, well-timed family trip.
Related: American completely revamps how you earn elite status with new ‘Loyalty Points’
How I plan to earn AAdvantage Gold status with one trip
Without fail, the summer months during my childhood consisted of an annual monthlong solo trip to Colombia. I'd pack my own suitcase as a carefree whippersnapper and eagerly look forward to the nearly four-hour solo flight as an unaccompanied minor to visit my grandma and other relatives.
It's been 14 years since I've been back to Bogota. With the extra two months that AAdvantage members have right now to accrue more EQMs and EQDs, this could be an opportune time to visit my family in South America.
As of today, I have two domestic round-trips planned (not calculated yet into my current elite status progress), but I would still need an EQD boost to reach AAdvantage Gold elite status — 658 EQDs or $658, to be exact. On the EQM side, I am covered with the flights I've booked and hope to take in January and February, assuming they go off without a hitch in these uncertain times.
When looking at flight options to visit family in Colombia in February, I noticed the round-trip fare differences between Main Cabin, premium economy and business were minor. A disparity of just $200 to fly business instead of economy had me seriously considering booking the premium cabin.
Because I need 658 EQDs by the end of February to lock down AAdvantage Gold status for 2022, I clicked through the business-class fare to see how many EQDs I'd earn with the $787 fare since EQDs are based on the ticket price (excluding taxes and fees). I wanted to make sure I'd accrue the necessary EQDs before booking.
To my elation, the round-trip business-class itinerary between Miami (MIA) and Bogota, Colombia (BOG), would earn 664 EQDs, just barely exceeding the 658 EQDs I need to reclaim my Gold status with American AAdvantage.
Even better, I wouldn't have to pay that much more to fly business than I would to fly in coach, which felt like a relative bargain.
Plus, it'll get me ahead on my 2023 elite status metrics thanks to the double-dipping period that is in effect. All in all, I'll be earning 3,320 EQMs for the 2022 elite year and getting a jump-start on status in 2023 with 3,320 Loyalty Points. This one flight's earnings will help me make notable headway toward requalifying for elite status with American in 2023, accounting for 10% of the Loyalty Points I'll need for another year of Gold.
Although the airfare isn't cheap by any calculation, I still estimate that I'll be able to get a lot more value from my AAdvantage Gold status than I'm paying to reattain it, especially with a whole family in tow and all the extra costs that Gold status saves me on seat selection (so we can all sit together), checked bags and more. It's a win-win. Talk about a double dip!
Related: 13 ways to earn Loyalty Points toward American Airlines elite status
When American announced the launch of the new AAdvantage program last year, it also gave prospective elites like me two additional months — January and February 2022 — to qualify for elite status in 2022 and a jump-start on racking up elite qualifying activity for 2023 status. Even if that status is only first-rung Gold, it can still be worthwhile to achieve thanks to all the time- and money-saving benefits that it confers, especially for family travelers like myself.
Even if you haven't been pursuing airline elite status, you may still want to check your airline accounts to explore your elite qualifying activity since you may discover that you're much closer to reaching an airline elite status milestone than you had originally thought.
Related: How to double dip your 2022 elite bonuses with an American Airlines credit card