Like most frequent flyer programs, AAdvantage offers the chance to earn elite status. This is separate from mileage earning and gives benefits when traveling with American Airlines and other oneworld airlines. There are four different status levels, with progression between them based on the number of Loyalty Points earned during each year (from flying, credit card spending, or other activities).
AAdvantage and oneworld tiers and benefits
The AAdvantage program has four tiers. These each correspond to an equivalent tier within the oneworld alliance, offering defined benefits common on all oneworld airlines (but not other AAdvantage miles partner airlines such as JetBlue and Etihad Airways). These tiers are:
- AAdvantage Gold – equivalent to oneworld Ruby – earned with 30,000 Loyalty Points
- AAdvantage Platinum – equivalent to oneworld Sapphire – earned with 75,000 Loyalty Points
- AAdvantage Platinum Pro – equivalent to oneworld Emerald – earned with 125,000 Loyalty Points
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum – equivalent to oneworld Emerald – earned with 200,000 Loyalty Points
Status has benefits on all oneworld member airlines. Photo: Getty Images
AAdvantage tier benefits
Each level brings increasing benefits when traveling with American Airlines or any oneworld airline. The main ones at each level include the following. For a full list of all benefits, see the AAdvantage website.
AAdvantage Gold offers:
- Complimentary upgrades on domestic American Airlines flights.
- One free checked bag.
- 40% status mileage bonus.
- Complimentary preferred seats.
Complimentary upgrades to domestic first class are a big advantage of elite status. Photo: American Airlines
AAdvantage Platinum benefits include those of Gold and also:
- Complimentary main cabin extra seats.
- Two free checked bags.
- 60% status mileage bonus.
- oneworld Sapphire status allows business class lounge access when flying with all other oneworld airlines (not including American Airlines).
AAdvantage Platinum Pro is a new enhancement to Platinum. It adds the following to the benefits of Platinum:
- Complimentary upgrades on domestic Alaska Airlines flights
- Three free checked bags.
- 80% status mileage bonus.
- One Loyalty Choice Reward (see the next section for details of this).
Top level AAdvantage Executive Platinum adds:
- 120% status mileage bonus.
- Two Loyalty Choice Rewards (and the chance to earn more as you continue to earn Loyalty Points).
- oneworld Emerald status now allows first class lounge access with other airlines.
Access to international lounges is possible from Platinum level (this is BA lounge at Gatwick). Photo: British Airways
There are other benefits from the oneworld equivalent status. These include lounge access on all flights with other oneworld partners regardless of class of travel (as described above). There are also tangible benefits with:
- Additional luggage allowance.
- Priority luggage handling.
- Free seat reservation. This varies by airline, and may include exit row seating for Emerald members.
- Use of business class check-in for Sapphire members and first class check-in for Emerald members.
There are also specific benefits offered on JetBlue flights. These include free checked bags (from one to three), priority baggage, priority security and boarding, and complimentary same-day ticket change (for Platinum Pro and above). For full details, see the AAdvantage website.
Loyalty Choice Rewards
Loyalty Choice Rewards are a new system of offering benefits to higher-tier members. Offering a choice is a good move from AAdvantage to cater to different member requirements. Free international upgrades are great (Executive Platinum members used to get eight of these each year), but not every member could use these.
AAdvantage Platinum Pro members can choose one reward, AAdvantage Executive Platinum two rewards, and further Loyalty Point earning can give you up to nine rewards in total if you reach 750,000 Loyalty Points. These rewards are just for those flying a lot, though – to be eligible for any rewards, you must fly at least 30 qualifying flight segments in a year.
Rewards choices include (again, for a full list and terms, see the AAdvantage website):
- A Systemwide Upgrade. This can be used to upgrade any American Airlines flight by one cabin (one upgrade can be used for up to three sectors in the same direction). As a new benefit in 2022, these can also be used on British Airways transatlantic flights and connections (giving access to the excellent new Club Suite product on some routes).
- 20,000 AAdvantage miles, increasing to 25,000 miles from the fourth reward.
- Six Admirals Club day passes.
- $200 American Airlines trip credit (from Executive Platinum level).
Upgrading is a good use of miles with American Airlines. Photo: American Airlines
The Loyalty Points system
American Airlines and AAdvantage completely revised the membership system in 2022. Anyone flying before then will likely remember the old system of Elite Qualifying Dollars, Miles, and Segments. This is no more, and instead, status is based on the number of Loyalty Points earned. These can be earned through flying, spending on credit cards, and a few other methods.
It is important to be aware of collection dates as well. AAdvantage status is based on the number of Loyalty Points collected within each year from March 1st. Status is valid from the time that the points threshold is passed (or as soon as points are credited and updated) for the rest of that year and the next.
The new BA Club Suite can be accessed with SWUs. Photo: British Airways
Earning Loyalty Points from flying
The most obvious way to earn Loyalty Points is by flying. These are awarded very simply at the same rate as AAdvantage miles. This includes the base miles, cabin bonuses, and tier bonuses. Whatever number of miles you earn from a flight, the Loyalty Points will now be the same. For more detailed information on earning miles, see our guide to earning AAdvantage miles. The following is a quick summary.
American Airlines flights earn miles and Loyalty Points based on ticket cost. Photo: Getty Images
On American Airlines flights (with an American Airlines ticket), you will earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points based on the amount spent. Higher tier members earn more:
- Basic AAdvantage member: 5 miles / Loyalty Points per dollar
- AAdvantage Gold: 7 miles / Loyalty Points per dollar
- AAdvantage Platinum: 8 miles / Loyalty Points per dollar
- AAdvantage Platinum Pro: 9 miles / Loyalty Points per dollar
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum: 11 miles / Loyalty Points per dollar
On partner airlines, miles and Loyalty Points are awarded based on the distance flown and booking class of the ticket. There are also cabin bonuses and status bonuses. Earnings are different for each partner airline, and you can see full detailed earning tables on the AAdvantage website.
Earning rates from miles on British Airways – these earn Loyalty Points 1:1. Image: American Airlines
The only partner airline exemption to this is JetBlue. On JetBlue-operated flights or codeshares operated by American Airlines, miles and Loyalty Points are earned based on the dollar amount paid (the same as with American Airlines flights).
JetBlue flights also award Loyalty Points. Photo: Getty Images
Earning Loyalty Points from non-flying activities
Earning status through spending on credit cards is one of the major changes from the shift to the Loyalty Points system. It is now possible to earn elite status just through credit card use. This will give you all the elite benefits except Loyalty Choice Rewards (which require 30 flown segments).
All AAdvantage co-branded credit cards award Loyalty Points at a rate of one Loyalty Point per US$ spent. Any bonuses (including sign-up or spending category bonuses) do not equate to additional Loyalty Points.
There are other ways to earn Loyalty Points as well. The main ones include:
- Earning via hotel stays. Stays at many hotel chains can earn AAdvantage miles (usually instead of points in the hotel loyalty program). These are either a fixed amount per night or stay, or based on the dollar amount spent. Base miles earned here (excluding any promotions or bonuses) earn Loyalty Points at a 1:1 ratio.
- Earning via car hire. Likewise, most major car rental companies offer the possibility of earning AAdvantage miles with rentals. The base miles here (excluding any promotions or bonuses) earn Loyalty Points at a 1:1 ratio.
- AAdvantage miles earning through the AAdvantage shopping portal. Rates vary for each company, but earn Loyalty Points again at a 1:1 ratio.
AAdvantage operates a hotel and car hire booking portal, which awards miles and Loyalty Points. Image: American Airlines
Other things to know about Loyalty Points
Not all ways of earning miles also earn Loyalty Points. The most notable exception are purchases of AAdvantage miles or gifts and transfers of miles. These do not earn Loyalty Points. Also, you will not earn Loyalty Points from the government taxes and surcharges portion of any airfare – on cheap economy tickets; this can be a substantial part of the total fare.
Loyalty Points are also used to determine your priority in the queue for complimentary upgrades. This is simpler than the previous system and is important for those traveling domestically. All elite members now receive complimentary upgrades (the old 500-mile upgrade coupons system has been dropped), which means there is a lot more competition for places.
Upgrading to business class often represents great value. Photo: American Airlines
Do you have elite status with American Airlines, or are you working towards getting it? What stands out in the program for you? Feel free to discuss in the comments.