AA Extends Elite Status, Lowers Elite Requirements for 2020, Waiving Mileage Redeposit Fees

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American Airlines has finally announced the extension of elite status in response to COVID-19. When we covered Delta's elite status extension more than a week ago, we expected that the other major U.S. airlines would likely follow suit over the coming days and weeks. United announced its updated policy later that same day,

While AA took more than a week, it was worth the wait.

Elite Status Extension

First—and most importantly to many elites—current AA elite status is being extended to January 31, 2022. That gives elite members a 12-month extension on their current elite status. This extension applies to anyone who earned or received elite status with an original expiration date of January 21, 2021. That includes status earned by completing a challenge and status gifted as part of a promotion.

Additionally, it appears that Concierge Key members—AA's top-tier, invite-only status—will be receiving status extensions as well. This is notable considering Delta and United have not made an official announcement about corresponding Delta 360 or Global Services Members yet.

American Airlines will not be including any additional Systemwide Upgrades (SWUs) for current Executive Platinum (EP) members. EP members typically receive 4 SWUs for reaching the status. However, unlike Delta—who is gifting current Platinum and Diamond Medallion members additional Choice Benefits for 2021—Executive Platinum members will have to earn additional SWUs.

Other Extensions

  • Admirals Club Memberships — All Admirals Club memberships purchased directly from the airline will automatically be extended an additional 6-months past the original expiration date. This applies to all active memberships as of March 1, 2020, as well as any new memberships purchased between March 1 and May 31, 2020.
  • Admirals Club One-Day Passes In addition, Admirals Club one-day passes with an expiration date between March 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021 will also be extended 6-months past the stated expiration date.
  • Systemwide Upgrades — SWUs earned in 2019 will be extended 6-months past the original expiration date of January 31, 2021. The new expiration date of July 31, 2021 will be updated in member's accounts by May 15, 2020.
  • Status Challenges We've seen recent reports that the announced elite status extension does not apply to AAdvantage members currently participating in a status challenge. However, AA has instructed affected members to reach out to AAdvantage customer service once their challenge is over.
  • Mileage expiration pause On April 2, 2020, American Airlines announced a pause on mileage expiration through June 30, 2020. Currently, any miles scheduled to expire by June 30 will expire on July 1, 2020 unless you've generated qualifying activity in the past 18 months. Remember, you can easily extend your AA mileage expiration just by commenting on an AwardWallet post to earn 5 bonus AAdvantage miles.

All of these extensions are addressed directly at AA's AAdvantage Program Updates Page.

Earning Elite Status in 2020

American has lowered the requirements necessary to earn status in 2020. Once it's safe to travel again, earning AAdvantage elite status will only require the following:

Table showing the reduced American Airlines elite status requirements for 2020

That's a reduction between 33% and 50% from the standard requirements for American Airlines elite status.

Table showing the standard American Airlines elite status requirements

While on the surface this certainly makes elite status seem much easier to earn, it's hard to determine just how attainable these requirements will be until we get a better idea of when we'll be able to travel again.

Executive Platinum Awards

To incentivize Executive Platinum members to continue flying American, AA's has lowed its mileage thresholds for earning additional awards in 2020:

Table showing American Airlines mileage threshold benefits

Between earning 4 SWUs for requalifying for EP status and these threshold bonuses, EPs can earn up to a total of 10 SWUs for earning 150,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) in 2020.

Waived Mileage Redeposit Fees

Aside from the elite status extension, the biggest news from AAdvantage is the announcement that it will waive all redeposit and change fees on award bookings booked before May 31, 2020, for travel through September 30, 2020. Considering United and Delta have been allowing this for weeks now, this was long overdue.

Even more importantly, AA has announced what appears to be a new, long-term policy on award booking change fees. Any award booking made June 1, 2020, or later, will now include free changes and cancellations if made at least 60 days in advance, regardless of your AAdvantage status level. Award changes/cancellations made less than 60 days in advance will incur charges according to this table:

Table showing new American Airlines award redeposit fees by elite status and date of change.

While Executive Platinum members have always had the ability to change or cancel award itineraries for free, this is a huge development for lower tiers and non-elites. The previous policy allowed routing and date changes to MileSAAver and AAnytime award tickets, provided the origin and destination airports stayed the same. Having the ability to change or cancel for free is a huge improvement, especially if you like to plan far in advance.

However, this change comes with a downside. AAdvantage members will lose the ability to make changes to award tickets for free as long as the origin and destination were the same. This has been helpful for members that booked a less-than-ideal date or itinerary at first with the hopes of changing it later. Now, these members will have to pay a fee for changing the date or routing within 60 days of departure.

Spend Towards Million Miler

In a creative move, American has brought back the ability to earn Million Miler qualifying miles through spending on a co-branded credit card. Every dollar spent on net purchases that post to your AAdvantage account between May and December 2020 will count as one mile towards Million Miler status.

This applies to both Citi/AAdvantage and AAdvantage Aviator products, as well as ‘select' American co-branded cards issued outside of the U.S.

Several of these co-branded products—such as the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® and the AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®—are offering particularly lucrative sign-up bonuses at the moment. With that said, it's important to note that the miles earned through sign-up bonuses and spending category multipliers (probably) won't qualify towards Million Miler.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
Annual Fee$99, waived for first 12 months
Welcome Offer Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
The AA Business Card is a great card to hold for any business owner that travels at least a few times per year with American Airlines. Get a free checked bag on domestic itineraries, priority boarding and a 25% discount on in-flight purchases. Even better, this card gives you access to Reduced Mileage Awards, which can save you up to 30% on the miles required for domestic awards. With these perks, it's easy to justify the annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months.
  • Free checked bags for you and up to 4 companions on domestic itineraries
  • Priority boarding to help you win the race for overhead bin space
  • A 25% discount on inflight food, beverage, and Wi-Fi purchases
  • Reduced Mileage Awards can save you 7,500 miles on roundtrip MileSAAver Awards
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on cable and satellite providers
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent at gas stations
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on select telecommunications merchants
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on car rentals
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1X mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases

AA's Million Miler program awards lifetime Gold status plus 35,000 bonus miles for reaching one million miles and lifetime Platinum status plus 4 SWUs for reaching two million miles. Members earn four additional SWUs for each additional million miles. Needless to say, this won't be a worthwhile endeavor unless you happen to find yourself within reach of any of those thresholds.

American Airlines Vacations Credit for Elites

In another creative move, American has decided to offer a credit for elite members to use towards an AA Vacation Package.

  • Gold members will receive a $300 credit.
  • Platinum and Platinum Pro members will receive a $350 credit.
  • Executive Platinum Members will receive a $400 credit.

Packages must include round trip flights, hotels, and must cost $2,500 minimum. Some travelers may find this credit valuable. However, the minimum spending and hotel requirement limits the freedom that award travelers like to have, making this an unattractive offer to others of us.

Unanswered Questions

There are at least two issues not addressed in American's program updates:

Bottom Line

As we expected, American Airlines has finally followed the example set by Delta and United. To AA's credit, it managed to produce some genuinely innovative and positive responses to this situation. With elite status extensions, lowered elite requirements, waived redeposit fees, and the ability to make up the loss on your Million Miler journey through spend, it's an impressive wave of updates that will make a lot of people happy.

This post has been updated since publication to add AA's mileage expiration pause.

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  • Regarding the award no more free date changes, Can’t we just cancel and rebook?

    • Yes, it will be free to cancel and rebook outside 60 days. Within 60 days, everyone except Executive Platinum members will need to pay.

  • David Martus says:

    Are Web Special mileage tickets included in the chart that you listed? As in no fee for putting miles back if 60+ days?

    • Patrick Stouffer says:

      Yes, this is meant to apply to all award bookings, including Web Specials!

      • Really? I would be surprised… Previously, AFAIK web specials could never be refunded.

        • Patrick Stouffer says:

          You’re right, previously web specials couldn’t be changed at all, and AA would charge a hefty fee to redeposit your miles. But in several reports, AA has confirmed that this new policy will affect ALL award bookings, including Web Specials.

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    Consumers need good deals like this to entice us back. The colossal over reaction to the Wuhan virus has resulted in near empty flights. This deal looks good.

  • 3 questions:

    1. Does the recent 25% bonus miles offer on the AA Citicard (connected to a minimum savings act balance of $10k) count towards the Million Miler spend?

    2. I have 800k towards the Million Miler program. What would you recommend as a way to get to the MM goal?

    3. Do miles flown include First Class EQM bonuses, as counting towards the MMP?

    • Patrick Stouffer says:

      1. While I’m not entirely sure, my first instinct is that it will NOT count towards Million Miler, as the wording is pretty clear that it’s limited to one mile for every $1 spent on purchases.

      2. Flying One World and (now) spending on AA co-branded cards are the only ways to get there. Since the first currently isn’t an option, we’re left with just the second. You just have to ask yourself: is lifetime AAdvantage Gold + 35k bonus miles worth it?

      3. Unfortunately, they do not. The Million Miler program only counts miles based on the distance flown on AA-marketed flights (butt-in-seat miles) or the base mileage earned on eligible partner-marketed flights.

  • The card spend million-miler incentive should be kept for good.

  • These are good promotions for loyal airline users and their benefit programs.
    All the airlines in the world are taking measures and generating promotions to alleviate the drop in sales lost due to the action of COVID-19.
    Either way it seems like a good promotion to A.A.

  • What is AA’s policy on canceled flights? I canceled through Orbitz who then told me AA is requiring that I keep the same origin and destination when I rebook by this September. I thought I was supposed to get a generic flight credit?

    • I think you’re right. I believe AA is refunding cancellations as generic flight credits, without such restrictions. I’d certainly confirm before accepting those limitations.

  • I will take it…. qualified for AA Gold earlier this year. If I am reading this correctly it means I should get bumped up to Plat and extended retroactively

  • I have very mixed feelings about miles that aren’t actually flown counting towards Million Miler status…

  • james garten says:

    Why don,t they also change the miles expiration policy?? This is also long overdue since UA and DL have no expiration policies.

  • Glad AA finally woke up and figured out what to do. Interesting twist by them on the CC spend counting toward million miler (like it did years ago), but will be hard to MS it too hard while quarantined. Nice perk for someone near it if they can put some spend on it.

  • As many issues we have with various airlines, we should all hope they all come back so competition is maintained.

  • The only innovative thing done here is that they are letting miles earned thru co branded credit cards count towards the million miles threshold. Although they screwed a lot of people by closing accounts for people who “gamed” the system by applying for credit card bonuses from account opening. The sad part is they closed the accounts years after the event happened.

  • Just received a mail from them that my miles about to expire in 90 days, they should also extend miles from expiring!

  • odd, my gold status still says expiring end of April

  • It seems like a good deal from AA. Everyone in the world needs incentives to fly a lot again. The unprecedented reaction to the Wuhan virus will soon disappear, we all hope.

  • I wish all airlines would extend status for at least one year, Aegean did it only for half a year…

  • Definitely worth the wait. The extension of elite status and the waived mile deposit fees are key for me.

  • One other downside is that the redeposit fee, when charged, is now per-ticket; previously, it was only $25 for additional passengers on the same booking. So that could be a downside for family/group travel.

  • Corey Hovanec says:

    Nice to see that airlines seem to be taking these things seriously. Meaning that, this is an all-encompassing plan to help customers, not just a token gesture to make it seem like they are doing something.

  • I wish there was a credit card in the UK that I could earn miles towards million miler status. Unfortunately the only way I can earn AA miles through credit card spend is by transferring via a hotel scheme like IHG or Marriott.

  • stephen whitehurst says:

    Good move by AA. All airlines need to keep their valued customers on board at this time. I think they have done well.

  • The expiration of the miles isn’t a great offer. My miles expire at the beginning of June, and they are only extending to July 1st. I wish AA would keep their miles forever like Delta, JetBlue, and United.

  • Great for AA, but still nothing from BA!

  • Sean Demers says:

    Sounds like a good plan. Thank you American Airlines!

  • Jon Lansing says:

    Why not extend the expiration of miles? Or eliminate it? Delta and United miles don’t expire. AA could generate a lot of goodwill by changing their policy at this point in time.

  • Miss Kitty says:

    Got an email from Aeroplan yesterday (April 28) about miles expiration pause to June 29
    https://www.aeroplan.com/covid-19.do#/

    On March 20, they had communicated extension to May 14, so depending how things go, there may be further extension(s).

  • Robin Hunsberger says:

    My American miles expire Aug 2020. I have a flight booked in July 2020, but intend to change that as a tour has been cancelled. If the flight is not cancelled by the airline and I cancel and accept a credit, will that extend the expiration date on my miles?

  • What exactly will happen to the expiration pause after June 30?

  • Aster Meert says:

    The extension of exploration miles for a year would have been a good move… 3 months is just laughable. Thank god for awardwallet 👍

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