Last week, American Airlines (AA) sent me an email with the following subject line: “Elevate your 2019 elite status.” I was happy to see it so early because I’d been wondering how much the airline would charge me to retain my elite status without any more flights in 2018. The same email came in late 2017, and it got me pondering, but it was sent in mid-December instead of early November.
American has four published elite status levels, listed below with their 2018 requirements:
- Gold: 25,000 EQMs or 30 EQSs and $3,000 EQDs
- Platinum: 50,000 EQMs or 60 EQSs and $6,000 EQDs
- Platinum Pro: 75,000 EQMs or 90 EQSs and $9,000 EQDs
- Executive Platinum: 100,000 EQMs or 120 EQSs and $12,000 EQDs
Key, via AA’s elite status homepage:
EQMs (Elite Qualifying Miles) represent a percentage of the actual miles flown (including applicable minimum mileage guarantees) based on the airline and the booking code purchased. EQSs (Elite Qualifying Segments) are segments you earn on eligible purchased tickets for flights on American or partner airlines. EQDs (Elite Qualifying Dollars) are awarded based on ticket price (includes base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, but excludes government-imposed taxes and fees) on American Airlines-marketed flights.
AA also has one unpublished elite level called Concierge Key, the requirements for which aren’t made public. I know, however, that it’s reserved for the highest-spending customers. Supposedly, you have to spend at least $50,000/year or be in charge of a large corporate account to qualify. It obviously comes with a ton of perks—most visibly the chance to board before first class.
Back to my situation: I’m an Executive Platinum (EP) and to date in 2018 I’ve flown 90,474 miles but spent “only” $8,792 (see screenshot below). Sadly, last year American began measuring their customers’ value by how much they spend instead of how many miles they fly. It was a smart business decision, but it still sucks for anyone that doesn’t have deep pockets or a large corporation funding their travels.
I have almost a dozen AA flights on the books between now and December 31, so I’ll easily cross the 100,000 EQM mark (the Executive Platinum requirement). The problem is that they’re all cheap fares, which means that I’ll end up a couple thousand dollars short of the Executive Platinum spend mark. Unless I get lucky and have a large corporation buy me a last-minute, expensive ticket, I won’t be retaining my Executive Platinum status in 2019.
I won’t be buying it either, because from American’s initial offer (you can see your own offer by logging in here) it appears that it’s now charging the amount that you’re short in EQDs (or around there). I’ve spent $8,792 so far in 2018, and as you can see from the screenshot below, the airline is offering me Platinum Pro for $495 or Executive Platinum for $3,465. I was hoping that my Executive Platinum offer would be a lot better, but obviously that’s not the case.
2020 is going to be even more difficult for anyone seeking status, as American is increasing the spend requirement for Executive Platinum status to $15,000 and getting rid of a great perk: the ability to use the Barclays Aviator card to get up to $6,000 EQDs taken off, which was huge for big-spending users. If you ask me, that card is now garbage.
I’ve already started booking away from American, even though it’s difficult to give up the EP status, which gives me free domestic upgrades, four system-wide upgrades, three checked bags with up to 70lbs each (I never cared about checking heavy bags until I started traveling with my son), and other perks.
How about you? Do you have status with AA, and if so are you sticking with them next year? Let me know in the comments below.