Status race is on: How 6 TPG staffers are already earning American Airlines Loyalty Points
This March, American Airlines will completely revamp how you earn elite status.
Gone will be the days of earning status through a combination of enough elite qualifying miles, segments and dollars. Instead, you'll just need to earn enough Loyalty Points to earn your desired elite status tier.
Loyalty Points are earned by flying, spending on an American cobranded credit card or spending with other partners.
When flying on American Airlines-ticketed flights, you'll earn Loyalty Points based on the number of redeemable miles you earn, which increases the further up the elite status tiers you go. Further, you'll earn 1 Loyalty Point per dollar you spend on a co-branded American Airlines card and on base miles earned with the American shopping portal, dining program and hotel partners, among others.
While we are in a time period that allows you to start earning toward the future program, since it hasn't actually launched, there is still a lot we don't know about Loyalty Points. While it's still impossible to know exactly what qualifies as base miles in some situations since the new program doesn't fully take effect until March, many TPG staffers have started to earn these new points anyway both 'for research' and because the new program has the potential to actually be a little fun.
Let's take a closer look at some of the ways our staff has earned Loyalty Points thus far, and their goals for American status in 2022.
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Chris Dong, credit cards writer
I've been an American Airlines loyalist for several years now, and have held Executive Platinum status since 2017.
As a New York City-based American frequent flyer, I've managed to score dozens of complimentary upgrades on domestic routes, including the on the ultra-premium New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX) route. Besides the other Executive Platinum perks, to me, this alone is more than worth the price of admission for status.
While my game plan was to originally switch my Oneworld loyalty from American to Alaska this year, that changed with the introduction of Loyalty Points.
Now, I'm all in on this new earning scheme from American. Currently, I'm in the early stages of formulating a plan to reach Executive Platinum status in 2022. Here's what I've earned thus far, mostly from butt-in-seat flying:
- New York (JFK) to Stockholm (ARN) flights on Oneworld partner Finnair, for 7,655 miles
- New York (JFK) to Montego Bay (MBJ) flights on American for 1,277 miles
- New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) flight on American for 4,136 miles
- $871 of spending on a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® (see rates and fees) for 871 miles
- Dual accrual on a $128 Hyatt stay in New York, NY for 128 miles
- Dual accrual Hyatt and American bonus for 1,000 miles
- Crediting Hyatt stay in New York, NY to AAdvantage for 500 miles
While I fully acknowledge that I've had a slower start than many of my fellow colleagues, I already have several upcoming reservations in February through Loyalty Points-earning partners.
This includes hotel bookings through Rocketmiles, car rental reservations through Avis. In addition, I made sure to link my credit cards for AAdvantage Dining and eShopping. Let the countdown to 200,000 points begin.
Related: American Airlines unveils its list of Loyalty Point-qualifying partners
Clint Henderson, senior news editor
I had a long, torrid affair with American Airlines, but it ended several years ago as the airline made it increasingly difficult to make top-tier status. I just couldn't justify spending $15,000 on American Airlines to make it to Executive Platinum status again. As a result, I decided to do status challenges to Delta Air Lines and Alaska.
Well, the coronavirus pandemic changed everything -- again — including my airline loyalty strategy and those pesky spending requirements.
I mostly give up on American, but because of the pandemic, my 2019 Platinum Pro status has stuck around long past its original expiration date. It's finally coming to an end at the end of February, but in the meantime, the program has me intrigued once more with the introduction of Loyalty Points.
Related: I'm ending 2021 with top-tier Alaska and Hyatt status
I'm not formally going for any status with American this year because my Alaska 100K status will "carry over" to the top tier with Oneworld and with AA. At the same time, I am trying a few ways to earn Loyalty Points, just to see what all the fuss is about.
I'm going to try to maximize Loyalty Points earnings with two separate bookings in New York City. I booked two nights at the Kimpton Muse hotel for when I finally move back to NYC next week. In the end, I decided to try two separate bookings to see what counts as eligible spend for Loyalty Points.
I booked one night through AAdvantgeeShopping.com, and another night with Rocketmiles.
American was offering 3 miles per dollar spent directly at IHG Hotels at the time I booked, so the first night was booked via the AA shopping portal. I'll be curious if I end up getting 3x the nightly rate of $227. That should also trigger earning IHG points as I still booked the room direct, despite going through the American portal first.
American Airlines is also offering 4,000 bonus AAdvantage miles for first-time clients on Rocket Miles. I was a first-timer, so that's how I booked a second night. Those miles are in addition to what I will earn for the stay (in this case, another 4,000 miles). We don't believe those bonus miles will show up as Loyalty Points, but it will be interesting to see what does post. I'll give up my IHG earnings on night two, but it's worth it for those bonus miles.
If I end up getting more Loyalty Points than expected, or lucrative ways to earn in the future present themselves, I may get hooked on this potentially fun, new loyalty game with American Airlines.
Related: Promotions that will make your next hotel stay more rewarding
David Slotnick, senior aviation business reporter
This is my first year holding AAdvantage elite status. When I lived in New York, I was entirely focused on Delta status, but between the fact that I fly more for work here at TPG than before, and the fact that I moved to Boston, AAdvantage status has become much more valuable to me. In fact, I even hit Platinum Pro last year.
As for what I'm doing to earn status next year through loyalty points, the answer is: not much... yet.
I'm poking around for options to earn more points, but I'm not necessarily looking to book hotels through third parties to get a few more AAdvantage miles, or focusing my spending entirely on my AAdvantage credit cards for the sake of Loyalty Points.
Here's what I have done so far, though, and plan to keep doing:
- I ordered flowers from FTD.com through the AAdvantage shopping portal for 20 miles per dollar spent. I'm planning to buy a lot of flowers as gifts, this year.
- I've made sure all of my linked programs are in order — I'm a Hyatt Globalist and plan to focus my stays on Hyatt this year, so that's a chance to earn a few extra miles. I'm also trying to favor Shell gas stations, when possible since I can earn AAdvantage miles through the fuel rewards program.
- I placed a $40 order with Naked Wines and earned 3,700 miles going through the AAdvantage shopping portal. I'm also keeping my eyes on the portal for various bonuses.
- I signed up for SimplyMiles, which I hadn't used before, and plan to use my AAdvantage credit card when there's a chance to earn bonus miles, and likely more heavily later in the year when I have a better sense of how many Loyalty Points I'll need for the next year.
- I'm considering an American Airlines Vacations package for later this year, but only if it also represents a good cash price in addition to the progress toward status.
Of course, I'm flying too. My year is starting off fairly light, but I have a few international trips and flights on partners coming up later this year, and I'm planning to maximize the AAdvantage miles I can earn whenever possible.
Related: How to redeem miles with the American Airlines AAdvantage program
Katie Genter, senior points and miles writer
I first earned Executive Platinum elite status with American Airlines back in 2016. I've requalified for Executive Platinum each year since and certainly have interest in qualifying for at least Platinum Pro elite status this year.
That said, I haven't yet made a requalification plan for American Airlines elite status.
As I discussed in my article, some members are getting ahead of themselves trying to earn Loyalty Points with partner promotions in Jan. and Feb. 2022. After all, it's unclear if and how purchases with many on-the-ground partners will earn Loyalty Points. In particular, American Airlines' Loyalty Points website isn't clear which miles earned through most partners are Loyalty Points-eligible miles.
And since you won't see any indication of the Loyalty Points earned from activity in Jan. and Feb. until early March 2022, it seems ill-advised to go all-in on Loyalty Points earning through partners right now.
As such, I have mostly been interacting with American Airlines AAdvantage as I usually would. Here's a quick summary of what I've done so far this year:
- Earned AAdvantage miles on a $72 intra-South Africa British Airways flight for 141 miles and 170 bonus miles
- Bought four bottles of wine through Winc for $32 for 1,000 base miles through SimplyMiles and 1,500 miles through AAdvantage eShopping)
- Changed my earning preference to AAdvantage miles for a $88 IHG stay in Johannesburg for 153 miles
- Duel accrual on a $262 Hyatt stay in Johannesburg for 234 miles
- Duel accrual on a $402 Hyatt stay in Cape Town for 359 miles
- Made a $10 purchase on my American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® on Jan. 8, 2022 for 10 miles
- Booked an AAVacations package for mid-February, which should earn 21,000 miles based on special fares for flights
I've also already booked several paid Oneworld flights for later in 2022, including some that I'd booked before American announced the new Loyalty Points scheme. Although I expect that many, if not all, of the activities I mentioned above will earn Loyalty Point-qualifying miles, it's impossible to know exactly how many Loyalty Points I'll earn until early March.
Related: We tested earning American Airlines miles for 3 different hotel stays — here's what we found
Kyle Olsen, points and miles reporter
Even though I hold no status with American Airlines, I will be on my way to earning AAdvantage Gold elite status by taking just one trip between Singapore (SIN) and London (LHR) in Qatar Airways business class. According to American's partnership with Qatar, flights booked in the "R" fare class, like this one, accrual miles and loyalty points at the following rates:
- Singapore (SIN) to Doha (DOH): 3,848 miles (3,848 Loyalty Points)
- Doha (DOH) to London-Heathrow (LHR): 3,261 miles (3,261 Loyalty Points)
This means I should 6,709 miles in total, which should translate to 6,709 Loyalty Points.
Based on just this one trip, I will be over a fifth of the way to AAdvantage Gold elite status. Additionally, the one-way cash prices on this route are relatively low at around $1,300. To my surprise, this fare is fully refundable without penalty. If travel restrictions change, I can cancel with a full refund back to my credit card, or keep a credit with Qatar Airways and receive a 10% bonus.
The Qsuite is one of our favorite products in the sky now, and you can fly it and earn American AAdvantage elite status very quickly, especially on long-haul flights.
Related: The ultimate guide to Qatar Qsuite
Scott Mayerowitz, executive editor
Like many on the TPG team, I'm an Executive Platinum member with American Airlines. I plan to keep top-tier status by supplementing my usual American flights with spending on both the American shopping portal and SimplyMiles, including taking advantage of some limited-time promotions.
Here's how I earned Loyalty Points this month:
- Subscribed to the New Yorker and paid with a card linked to SimplyMiles for 465 miles
- Subscribed to the Wall Street Journal through the American shopping portal for 1,500 miles
- Bought $30 worth of gas at BP using a card linked to Simply Miles for 465 miles
- Bought flowers at FD through the American shopping portal for 20 miles per dollar
- Booked a stay Homes & Villas by Marriott stay for 1 mile per dollar, but points haven't yet posted
The shared vacation home rental wasn't inexpensive, so all-in I should have a nice haul of Loyalty Points if everything credits correctly. By the time the program fully launches in March, I should be well on my way to keeping Executive Platinum status for another year via a variety of activities.
Related: Ordering flowers online? Use a shopping portal to earn more rewards
The race to qualify or requalify for American elite status is on, and this year looks far different than others. While some who are sued to earning status solely on flights may find the new earning structure distracting or unnecessary, others are viewing it as a new way to get into the status game. And for some, maximizing status earning while minimizing dollars spent is indeed an entertaining game.
Here at TPG, some staffers are so far just earning Loyalty Points the traditional route and earning by flying, while others are taking advantage of partners like SimplyMiles, RocketMiles and the American shopping portal.
Of course, you should remember that there's a lot we still don't know about Loyalty Points. As TPG senior writer Katie Genter notes, it's still unclear if and how some purchases and bonuses with some on-the-ground partners will earn points. And while this isn't to say you should avoid earning Loyalty Points until March, you should remain cautious and know that things may not pan out as you expect until we see the actual postings as the program launches.
Feature photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy