A Run-through of American AAdvantage Loyalty Points


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January 2022 saw how American Airlines made radical changes to its loyalty programme and completely reimagined how elite status is earned.

The carrier is ridding itself of the complicated elite qualifying metrics for a simple singular metric.

American Airlines really leaned into its “simplicity.” In an initial email to AAdvantage members, AA introduced the “new, simpler AAdvantage program” and highlighted that members “earn 1 Loyalty Point for every eligible AAdvantage mile earned”.

However, American Airlines hasn’t kept the programme that simple. There’s a significant list of non-qualifying mileage earnings. So, unfortunately, not every AAdvantage mile generates a Loyalty Point. And these exceptions keep the programme from truly being simple.

Why Is American Airlines Rethinking its Loyalty Programme

The carrier is ridding itself of the complicated elite qualifying metrics for a simple singular metric.

Going up the ranks of AAdvantage is no longer counted by how much you fly with American, rather, it focuses now on how much you engage with American and its partners.

Why is it doing this, well according to Forbes, In 2019 and into early 2020, American Airlines lost money on passenger operations. In most quarters before the pandemic, the airline spent more on operating costs than it received in passenger revenue. Yet, the carrier still made billions of dollars in profits thanks to generating billions of dollars in loyalty revenue through its AAdvantage loyalty program.

Earning Elite Status With Loyalty Points

American AAdvantage elite status is earned exclusively based on how many Loyalty Points you rack up. Every qualifying AAdvantage mile accrued earns you one Loyalty Point. For 2022, AAdvantage elite status requirements are as follows:

  • AAdvantage Gold status requires 30,000 Loyalty Points
  • AAdvantage Platinum status requires 75,000 Loyalty Points
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro status requires 125,000 Loyalty Points
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum status requires 200,000 Loyalty Points

American’s invitation-only Concierge Key status continues to have unpublished qualification requirements.

One thing to note also is that American has shifted away from counting the validity of elite status on a traditional calendar year as Loyalty Points are calculated from the beginning of March of a particular year to the end of February of the following year, and is then valid through March 31 of the year after that.

How To Earn Loyalty Points

The Carrier has opened up multiple routes to earn elite status with their recent update.

Earning Loyalty Points with American Airlines

The most rewarding way to earn Loyalty Points is by (unsurprisingly) flying with American Airlines. When flying American Airlines you earn 5x base miles per dollar spent, and increases by 40% to 120% depending on your elite status. All of which qualify as Loyalty Points.

In an interesting twist, Basic Economy tickets are now eligible for Loyalty Points.

However, there is a hard cap and you can earn up to 75,000 Loyalty Points per ticket.

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Earning Loyalty Points With Partner Airlines

You’ll earn Loyalty Points at the same rate as American AAdvantage miles when you fly on Oneworld airlines, but how many miles you earn depends on the distance and the fare class of your flight.

There is no change to Elite Status bonuses and Cabin Bonuses (where it is offered).

Earning Loyalty Points With AAdvantage Partners

Yes, spending $200,000 on a credit card would earn you Executive Platinum status, contrary to the traditional way of earning elite status.

You earn one Loyalty Point for every base mile earned on the card, which would generally be the rate of one Loyalty Point per dollar spent. Welcome bonuses don’t count as Loyalty Points and if you’re spending in a category that’s bonused, you only earn Loyalty Points for the “base” spending.

As far as non-flying activities go, there are some other partners beyond credit cards that allow you to earn qualifying Loyalty Points like AAdvantage Dining; hotels like Hyatt and Marriot; Cars including Avis and Hertz; Cruise Packages; as well as select retailers.

What Activity Doesn’t Earn Loyalty Points?

There are several types of activities that don’t earn Loyalty Points, including:

  • Buying, gifting or transferring miles
  • Government taxes, fees, and other charges associated with buying airline tickets
  • Conversion of another program currency to AAdvantage miles (for example, converting Marriott Bonvoy points, rather than selecting Bonvoy points as your earnings preference for stays)
  • For AAdvantage credit cards, welcome bonuses don’t qualify, and neither do “accelerators” or “multipliers” (like extra miles for each dollar spent in certain categories)
  • Miles earned with Bask Bank, which offers AAdvantage miles based on how much money you have deposited

American AAdvantage Loyalty Choice Rewards

American AAdvantage offers Loyalty Choice Rewards, whereby Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members can choose rewards when earning Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum status. These rewards can include perks like systemwide upgrades, though the intent is that this program gives people the flexibility to choose the rewards that matter most to them.

It rings similar to Mid-Tier Bonus’ that is found on Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club

There’s one major catch, though. In order to be able to earn Loyalty Choice Rewards, you need to log 30 segments on American or a qualifying partner airline during your membership year. American Airlines marketed award flights even counting toward that requirement.

In other words, this is a way to avoid giving those perks to people who don’t actually fly American frequently.

American AAdvantage Loyalty Points Determines Upgrade Priority

Complimentary upgrades are one of the best perks of airline elite status. Loyalty Points can play into your odds of getting upgrades. American Airlines upgrades are prioritized first by elite status, and then by your rolling 12-month total of Loyalty Points.

In other words, the more Loyalty Points you rack up on an ongoing basis, the higher your upgrade priority will be within your elite tier. Nowadays all AAdvantage elites are eligible for complimentary upgrades within North America, and upgrades even extend to companions.

However, there are lots of people eligible for upgrades and limited seats to upgrade to, so higher elite status and a higher Loyalty Points total really makes a difference for clearing into an available seat.

How to earn American AAdvantage Million Miler lifetime status

American AAdvantage has lifetime elite status, whereby you can earn AAdvantage Gold or Platinum status for life, for passing one million or two million lifetime miles (respectively). The requirements to earn that are remaining unchanged and are unrelated to Loyalty Points.

Instead, miles toward Million Miler are calculated based on the distance flown for American-marketed flights, or base miles earned for travel on eligible partner-marketed flights. 

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