The Loyalty Program Guide to American Airlines

By Amanda Wowk

September 24, 2019

Travel enough and you start to notice the difference between the haves and the have-nots. That is, those travelers who have elite status (and the perks that come along with it) and those that don’t. If you’re in the latter part of that passenger profile, you might be asking yourself questions like: What are the perks of signing up for a frequent flyer program? How can I receive complimentary upgrades? Is there a secret password for accessing an airline’s lounge? Is it really worth it to pursue the top-tier status?

With these questions in mind, our team set out to better understand not only what it means to have elite status with a US-based airline, but what we could be missing having say, Gold status versus Platinum. In this multi-part series, we answer these questions—and more—about domestic carriers’ loyalty programs.

American Airlines

How to earn miles with American Airlines

Travelers part of American’s frequent flyer program are known as AAdvantage members. As a basic (read: non-elite) member of this loyalty program, you earn five miles per dollar spent on airfare. The number of miles you can earn increases when you achieve elite status. You can also earn miles when you shop, dine, rent a car, stay in a hotel, and more. There are so many ways to earn miles, both in the air and on the ground. AAdvantage miles expire after 18 months of account inactivity, so be sure to earn or redeem miles on American or a partner at least once every 18 months.

AAdvantage miles can be used for award travel and other redemptions. For example, you can fly round-trip in economy from JFK to SFO; from DTW to LAX; and from BOS to MIA all for 25,000 miles. Want to make the most of your miles? American maintains an Award Map to help you plan a getaway within your mileage budget.  

As a basic (read: non-elite) member of this loyalty program, you earn five miles per dollar spent on airfare. The number of miles you can earn increases when you achieve elite status.

How to achieve elite status with American Airlines

There are two ways to qualify for elite status based on your activity during the calendar year:

  • Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) + Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs), or
  • Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) + Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) 

Travelers can earn EQDs, EQMs, and EQSs on eligible-fare tickets when they fly:

  • American Airlines or American Eagle®
  • OneWorld® member airlines 
  • Codeshare flights with an American Airlines flight number

Plus, full-fare economy, business and first class tickets on American-marketed flights earn EQMs at a higher rate, helping travelers to earn elite status faster.

Here’s what it takes to achieve each elite status tier:  

TierGold | OneWorld RubyPlatinum | OneWorld SapphirePlatinum Pro | OneWorld SapphireExecutive Platinum | OneWorld Emerald
Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)25,00050,00075,000100,000
Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs)306090120
Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) $3,000$6,000$9,000$15,000

Here for the benefits

You’ve flown the miles, now it’s time to cash in on the perks. Each tier yields its own benefits—and perks like earning more miles from your flights and upgrades depend on your AAdvantage status. Here’s a sampling of the perks you’re eligible for at each tier:

AAdvantage® Gold

  • Complimentary auto-requested upgrades on flights 500 miles or less
  • 24-hour upgrade window
  • 40% elite mileage bonus
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra Seats at check-in
  • Complimentary Preferred Seats
  • 1 free checked bag

AAdvantage® Platinum

  • Complimentary auto-requested upgrades on flights 500 miles or less
  • 48-hour upgrade window
  • 60% elite mileage bonus
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred Seats
  • 2 free checked bags

AAdvantage® Platinum Pro

  • Complimentary auto-requested upgrades
  • 72-hour upgrade window
  • 80% elite mileage bonus
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred Seats
  • 2 free checked bags

AAdvantage® Executive Platinum

  • 4 one-way system-wide upgrades
  • Complimentary auto-requested upgrades
  • 100-hour upgrade window
  • 120% elite mileage bonus
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred Seats
  • 3 free checked bags
  • Additional rewards starting at 150,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)

For a full list of benefits and their terms, head to American’s elite status benefits page

Partner airlines

American Airlines is a OneWorld Alliance™ member airline, which means you can earn and redeem miles on 13 partner airlines worldwide.

OneWorld partner airlines include: 

British AirwaysMalaysia Airlines
Cathay PacificQantas
FinnairQatar Airways
IberiaRoyal Jordanian Airlines
Japan AirlinesS7 Airlines
LATAM AirlinesSri Lankan Airlines

Other worldwide partner airlines include: 

Air Tahiti NuiFiji Airways
 Alaska Airlines/Horizon AirHawaiian Airlines
Cape AirInterjet
China Southern AirlinesSeaborne Virgin Islands
Etihad Airways

Hubs and lounges

While based at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), American has several hubs across the US, including: 

Looking to put your lounge access to use? You can currently find a variety of club and lounge locations available based on your membership status or fare class, as well as 650 OneWorld lounges worldwide.

Pro tip: Use the TripIt app’s interactive airport maps to locate lounges in the airport(s) you’re traveling through. You’ll have everything you need to navigate your way with estimated walk times and step-by-step directions.

Ready to join? You can sign up for an AAdvantage membership here. We’ve also created loyalty program guides for Delta, Alaska, JetBlue, Southwest, and United