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American Airlines Aadvantage Platinum Challenge—3 Months to Platinum Status

Updated on July 19, 2014

The Secret to Fast Tracking Aadvantage Platinum (or Gold) Status

Like many airlines, American Airlines awards perks to those passengers who travel the most—their frequent flyers.  The Aadvantage frequent flyer program has 3 levels or tiers:  Gold, Platinum and Executive Platinum.  Advancement to each of these frequent flyer tiers is by miles travelled, or sectors flown.  The standard table for earning Aadvantage Elite Status is shown below. 

AAdvantage Frequent Flyer Tier Qualification

Elite Status Tier 
Qualifying Miles 
Qualifying Segments 
Executive Platinum 

American Airlines, however, also has another, lesser known method for achieving Gold or Platinum status.  One that doesn’t involve nearly as many miles flown as the above tables suggest.  American Airlines allows travelers to sign up for the Aadvantage Platinum Challenge which awards Platinum status on a fast tracked basis flying considerably less qualifying miles than those depicted on the table above.

Keep reading for details!

Why fast track status? AAdvantage Elite Status Perks

Frequent Flyer status affords travelers privileges and perks.  Some are simple niceties, such as accelerated TSA security clearance (hub airlines often have an expedited queue for their frequent fliers with elite status) and preferential boarding and seating on aircraft, including booking exit row seating. 

Other benefits can save the frequent flyer real dollars.  American Airlines for example waives checked baggage charges for its elite status, that is, Gold, Platinum, and Executive Platinum Aadvantage frequent fliers.  Given that checked baggage charges had increased many times in the last 2 years, this perk alone can make signing up for the Platinum Challenge well worthwhile.

Who should sign up for the Aadvantage Platinum Challenge?

Travelers who are about to undergo significant travel over a 90 day period can sign up for the Aadvantage Platinum Challenge , or Aadvantage Gold Challenge.

Those who sign up, are often planning a vacation entailing long haul or around the world travel. For example a return itinerary with a US mainland departure to Sydney, Australia will generally fulfill the requirements for the Platinum Challenge, as would most around the world itineraries.

Business Travelers about to undertake significant business travel, either long haul or multiple domestic routes in a short period will find they also qualify for Platinum status under the Aadvantage Platinum Challenge rules.

Given that the American Airlines Aadvantage Platinum Challenge carries a $150 sign up fee, travelers do want to be reasonably certain to be undertaking consistent travel after qualification. Elite Status perks are only of use if you fly!

Not enough Miles for the Aadvantage Platinum Challenge?

If your itinerary does not include enough miles/qPoints for the Aadvantage Platinum Challenge, then sign up for the AAdvantage Gold Challenge. The Gold Challenge requires fewer points/miles, and the registration fee is only $80.

Be aware though, whether you sign up for the Platinum or Gold Challenge, this is a onetime challenge. Travelers cannot re-qualify for elite status in a subsequent year on a challenge. Re-qualification is by the standard method, as documented in the table at the beginning of this article.

How does the American Airlines Aadvantage Gold Challenge Work?

The American Airlines Aadvantage Gold challenge rewards travelers achieving 5,000 qPoints with Aadvantage Gold Status (oneworld Ruby).  All travel must be completed within a 3 month period from sign-up.

How does the American Airlines Aadvantage Platinum Challenge Work?

The American Airlines Aadvantage Platinum challenge rewards travelers achieving 10,000 qPoints with Aadvantage Gold Status (oneworld Sapphire).  All travel must be completed within a 3 month period from sign-up.

QPoints – What are they?

The most important thing to note about the American Airlines Aadvantage Platinum or Gold Challenges is that qPoints are not equivalent to miles.

QPoints are awarded to flight segments based on fare basis and miles flown. For example a first class leg between New York and Los Angeles would earn more qPoints than a heavily discounted economy class fare, which depending on it fare class may not earn any qPoints at all.

For this reason, it is important to plan your itinerary carefully before signing up for either the Platinum Challenge or Gold Challenge.

Flight segments for deep discount tickets will generally earn 0.5 qpoints per mile or up to 1.5 qpoints per mile for premium classes such as Business and First class.  Of course there are also exclusions, and segments and fare basis that do not qualify for qPoints.

Go over your itinerary with an American Airlines representative before making your bookings to avoid disappointment. 

How to sign up for the American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum (or Gold) Challenge

1. Sign up for an American Airlines Aadvantage account if you don’t already have one.

2. Sign up for the American Airlines Aadvantage Platinum (or Gold) Challenge.

3. Book your American Airlines and codeshare flights (in the right fare class)

4. Enjoy your vacation.

Note about Aadvantage Challenges

The terms and condtions of American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum and Gold Challenges are subject to change. For example, fees were not always charged for undertaking a challenge but are now.

The information above should be used as a guide only and all details confirmed with American Airlines before making bookings and paying AAdvantage Platinum or Gold Challenge fees.


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