In 2016, I earned American Airlines Executive Platinum status for the first time. I’ve planned my travel to requalify for Executive Platinum status each qualification period since — and I’ve certainly gotten significant value from the American Airlines miles I’ve earned and from the perks of American Airlines elite status.
But I’m finding it difficult to earn Loyalty Points this qualification period, and American Airlines has slowly chipped away at benefits for Executive Platinum members. So, I found myself questioning whether it’s worth requalifying for American Airlines Executive Platinum status during this qualification period.
Here’s a look at my thoughts and reasoning.
Decreased perks for Executive Platinum elite members
The must-have perks of American Airlines elite status have changed over the years for me. And unfortunately, AAdvantage has removed or changed many of the benefits that made me strive for Executive Platinum status, without adding any new “must-have” ones.
For example, I used to value the ability to cancel award flights and redeposit my miles free of charge (all other elites and general members had to pay a $150 fee per ticket). But in 2020, American Airlines began letting everyone cancel awards until departure for free.
And I used to enjoy earning systemwide upgrades at a fast enough rate that I booked travel specifically to use them. But now, American AAdvantage gives fewer systemwide upgrades to members who reach Executive Platinum. For example, last year, I could have picked up to five systemwide upgrades as Loyalty Choice Rewards by the time I earned Executive Platinum. But this qualification period, I’d only earn up to two systemwide upgrades as Loyalty Point Rewards by the time I earned Executive Platinum status.
However, the final straw came on June 6 when American Airlines announced all AAdvantage elites would be eligible for complimentary upgrades on award tickets. Previously, this was only available to Executive Platinum members. I really valued the ability to get upgraded on domestic and short-haul international flights booked with AAdvantage miles, but that’s no longer an incentive to strive for Executive Platinum.
Of course, top-tier elite members will still be prioritized above lower elite tiers — but this change removes my primary reason to go for Executive Platinum instead of stopping at Platinum or Platinum Pro.
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Difficulty in earning Loyalty Points
Some travelers love AAdvantage’s switch to Loyalty Points as the sole elite qualification metric. My coworker, Kyle Olsen, even qualified for Executive Platinum status without plans to fly American. But I’m growing rather disenchanted with Loyalty Points.
SimplyMiles and the AAdvantage shopping portal are two ways many AAdvantage loyalists pick up easy Loyalty Points. But as a digital nomad, I don’t buy much online through these programs. And although Bask Bank is a good way to earn American miles, these miles aren’t Loyalty Point eligible. American Airlines Vacations also isn’t a good way to earn Loyalty Points.
While Delta and United members earn miles on award flights they operate, that’s not the case when redeeming American Airlines miles. And since I usually book award flights or inexpensive fares, I don’t earn many Loyalty Points on flights unless I find a lucrative partner-operated premium-cabin fare.
You can earn Loyalty Points through credit card spending. I used my AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite Mastercard to make a large tax payment earlier this year and work toward earning 15,000 additional Loyalty Points after spending $50,000 with my card during my current status qualification period. But my Aviator Silver doesn’t offer compelling bonus spending opportunities, so I earn just 1 mile per dollar spent on most purchases with the card. As such, I accept a huge opportunity cost when I use my cobranded American Airlines credit card for purchases instead of a higher-earning rewards card.
The information for the AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Finally, although some people rack up massive amounts of Loyalty Points through Rocketmiles and the American Airlines Hotels portal, I value earning and using hotel elite status on most of my stays. And although I do earn Loyalty Point-eligible miles on Hyatt stays as an American Airlines elite member, these earnings are modest, since I often redeem Hyatt points for my stays.
Considering what I value in AAdvantage elite status
As some AAdvantage benefits that were once reserved for Executive Platinum elite members — such as free award cancellation, miles deposit and upgrades on domestic and short-haul international awards operated by American — are now available to more members, let’s consider what remaining benefits are important to me (and which AAdvantage elite status tiers provide these benefits).
Oneworld lounge access
I love getting lounge access when traveling on most international Oneworld flights. After all, with AAdvantage Platinum status or higher, you can access Oneworld lounges on most same-day international itineraries.
I particularly enjoy using my Oneworld Emerald status — a perk of AAdvantage Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum — to access most Oneworld first-class lounges. For example, even when I’m traveling in economy on a qualifying Oneworld flight, I can enjoy the Malaysia Airlines First Class Golden Lounge, the Qantas International First Lounge, the Japan Airlines First Class Lounge and Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge as a Oneworld Emerald member.
Meanwhile, Oneworld Sapphire — a perk of AAdvantage Platinum — gives access to most Oneworld business-class lounges on most same-day international itineraries regardless of your cabin of service.
Complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats on American flights
All AAdvantage elite members get complimentary Preferred seats at booking. AAdvantage Platinum elite members and higher also get complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats (seats with more legroom) at booking.
I value this perk highly, since I find the extra pitch useful for working on a laptop in flight. So, I want to maintain at least AAdvantage Platinum to select complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats at booking.
Related: How to get airline elite status
Complimentary checked bag
I almost always check a bag, so I appreciate knowing I won’t have to pay baggage fees when flying with Oneworld airlines.
On itineraries marketed and operated by American Airlines, AAdvantage elite members and guests traveling on the same reservation get the following checked baggage allowance:
- Gold: 1 free checked bag up to 50 pounds.
- Platinum: 2 free checked bags up to 50 pounds.
- Platinum Pro: 3 free checked bags up to 70 pounds.
- Executive Platinum: 3 free checked bags up to 70 pounds.
And on other Oneworld airlines, excluding British Airways’ hand baggage only and basic fares, Oneworld elite members get the following luggage perks:
- Ruby (AAdvantage Gold): no extra baggage allowance.
- Sapphire (AAdvantage Platinum): 15 kilograms (about 33 pounds) in addition to the economy class baggage allowance (on itineraries that provide a weight allowance for luggage) or one additional bag weighing up to 23 kilograms (about 51 pounds, up to two bags, on itineraries that allow a specific number of luggage pieces).
- Emerald (AAdvantage Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum): 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds) in addition to the ticketed-cabin allowance (on itineraries that provide a weight allowance for luggage) or one additional bag for free in addition to your ticketed baggage allowance (on itineraries that allow a specific number of luggage pieces).
So once again, I need to earn at least AAdvantage Platinum to get the baggage allowance I want when flying Oneworld airlines.
Priority check-in at airports
You might not think priority check-in at airports is all that important. But I’ve seen some very long standard check-in lines recently. So, having access to a priority check-in line can occasionally save you significant time. At some airports, having higher tiers of Oneworld status may even unlock an entirely different check-in and security area.
AAdvantage Platinum members and above can check in using any first-class lane when traveling on American Airlines. Meanwhile, AAdvantage Gold members can use any business class lane (or the first-class lane at airports without business-class check-in) when flying on American Airlines.
When traveling on other Oneworld airlines, Emerald members (AAdvantage Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro) can use first-class priority check-in lanes. And Sapphire (AAdvantage Platinum) and Ruby (AAdvantage Gold) members can use business-class priority check-in lanes.
I enjoy — and get significant value from — systemwide upgrades. But, AAdvantage members won’t be able to select any systemwide upgrades as Loyalty Point Rewards until reaching 175,000 Loyalty Points during the current qualification period. At the 175,000 Loyalty Points tier, you can select only one of the following:
- Two systemwide upgrades.
- 20,000 bonus miles (25,000 for AAdvantage credit cardholders).
- Six Admirals Club one-day passes.
- $200 trip credit ($250 for AAdvantage credit cardholders).
- Carbon offset.
- $250 donation to select nonprofit organizations.
- 15% award rebate.
- Two gifts of AAdvantage Gold status.
- 35,000 AAdvantage® miles toward a Mastercard Priceless Experience (coming soon, only for AAdvantage credit cardholders).
Systemwide upgrades will be my choice if I reach 175,000 Loyalty Points during this qualification period. However, that’s likely not enough of an incentive to push for that threshold instead of stopping at the 125,000 Loyalty Points needed for Platinum Pro.
Complimentary upgrade priority
As mentioned above, all AAdvantage elite members can now enjoy complimentary upgrades on domestic and short-haul international flights marketed and operated by American Airlines. Upgrade priority is now determined by:
- Status level.
- Upgrade type (systemwide upgrades and mileage upgrade awards are prioritized above complimentary upgrades).
- 12-month rolling Loyalty Point balance.
I often get upgraded as an Executive Platinum member, since I usually travel during off-peak times and on routes without many high-tier AAdvantage elite members. Even so, having lower upgrade priority and hence getting fewer upgrades would certainly be a major downside of qualifying for a lower AAdvantage status. Complimentary upgrade priority is perhaps the most compelling reason for me to strive to requalify for Executive Platinum status.
Bonus miles and Loyalty Points on flights
AAdvantage elite members earn bonus miles on Oneworld flights. In particular, Gold members get a 40% bonus, Platinum members get a 60% bonus, Platinum Pro members get an 80% bonus and Executive Platinum members get a 120% bonus.
These bonuses let you earn more redeemable miles and Loyalty Points on flights. Thus, earning Loyalty Points from flights will become even more difficult if I drop to a lower AAdvantage status.
Getting Oneworld status from another program
Some TPG readers may remember that I earned Malaysia Enrich Gold status in 2019 and then bought miles to extend my Enrich status through March 2024. I’ve enjoyed my Malaysia Enrich status and will consider paying to extend it again if given the opportunity. But, most U.S.-based travelers will consider two programs — British Airways Executive Club or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan — if they want Oneworld status but don’t want to earn it through American AAdvantage.
Earning status through either of these programs would provide perks when flying with the airline and its Oneworld partners, although you wouldn’t get most of the AAdvantage-specific perks discussed above. Before chasing status with a new airline, consider what you want from your status, how you’d earn status with the new program, whether you’d get value from the points or miles you’d earn with the new program and whether the status is a good fit for you.
In the Alaska Mileage Plan program, MVP Gold (which gives Oneworld Sapphire status) requires flying six segments marketed and operated by Alaska and 40,000 miles or 60 segments in total. Meanwhile, MVP Gold 75K (which gives Oneworld Emerald) requires 12 segments marketed and operated by Alaska and 75,000 miles or 90 segments in total. My biggest concerns with earning Alaska Airlines status are the segments marketed and operated by Alaska (since I rarely fly on routes Alaska operates). In addition, Alaska recently simplified its partner award chart and has devalued partner awards several times since.
Meanwhile, in the British Airways Executive Club, Silver status (which provides Oneworld Sapphire status) requires four flights marketed or operated by British Airways (or marketed and operated by Iberia) and 600 Tier Points. Meanwhile, Gold (which gives Oneworld Emerald) requires four flights marketed or operated by British Airways (or marketed and operated by Iberia) and 1,500 Tier Points. I’d get access to Admirals Clubs and Flagship Lounges when flying American Airlines domestically if I earned Silver or higher since Executive Club is a non-U.S. program. However, Tier Points can be confusing to maximize, especially coming from the world of AAdvantage Loyalty Points.
Those are my thoughts surrounding whether I should requalify for AAdvantage elite status — and if so, at what tier.
I could aim for AAdvantage Platinum at 75,000 Loyalty Points. But one of the major draws of Oneworld status for me is access to some of my favorite first-class lounges. So if I strive for AAdvantage status, I need to earn at least Platinum Pro.
The primary downsides of earning Platinum Pro instead of requalifying for Executive Platinum status are a smaller bonus on flights, lower priority for complimentary upgrades and no opportunities to select systemwide upgrades through the Loyalty Point Rewards program. That said, 125,000 Loyalty Points this qualification period for Platinum Pro seems much more feasible than 200,000 for Executive Platinum.
If I were to switch to another Oneworld program, British Airways is more appealing to me than Alaska for the reasons I outlined above. But understanding how to maximize Tier Points would take some research. And since I fly American Airlines frequently, I appreciate getting complimentary upgrades and Main Cabin Extra seats when flying American as a high-tier AAdvantage elite member.
So, my current plan is to stick with American Airlines AAdvantage and its Loyalty Points program. However, I may not reach Executive Platinum and instead stop at Platinum Pro. Meanwhile, my husband will likely make the jump from AAdvantage Platinum Pro to British Airways Silver by the time my Malaysia Enrich status expires at the end of March 2024. This way, we’ll get Main Cabin Extra seats, complimentary checked bags and potential upgrades based on my AAdvantage status, plus access to Admirals Clubs and Flagship Lounges from his Executive Club status when we fly American Airlines together domestically.