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The Ultimate American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program Guide

American Airlines AAdvantage is the loyalty program of American Airlines. AAdvantage is amongst the largest and most popular frequent flyer program in the world, and is highly regarded amongst the frequent flyer community. In my opinion, the best perk is the complimentary upgrades, but this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the perks and benefits this program offers.

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of the American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program, how to earn miles and status, the perks and benefits of each loyalty tier, strategies to boost your mile and loyalty point earn, and all the best tips and tricks to take advantage of to get the most out of this valuable program. So buckle up and get ready to take flight with American Airlines AAdvantage.

The perks and benefits of American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program

American Airlines AAdvantage is one of the most rewarding and best loyalty programs available today. As a member, you can earn miles every time you fly on American Airlines or any of their partner airlines, within the oneworld airline alliance, as well as credit cards and other miles earning opportunities. You can redeem these miles for a variety of travel rewards, including free flights, confirmed upgrades, and hotel stays.

One of the best things about American Airlines AAdvantage Miles is the availability of booking options available. Because American Airlines is part of the oneworld alliance, you can use your miles to book flights on American Airlines and any of their oneworld alliance partners, which includes more than 900 destinations worldwide. The advantage of this is often having multiple flight redemption opportunities on some routes served by multiple oneworld carriers. Additionally, there are no blackout dates on award travel with American Airlines unlike some frequent flyer programs, so you have greater availability of flight redemption opportunities.

If you are a frequent traveler, loyalty points with American Airlines can quickly add up, leading to additional perks and benefits as you move up the American Airlines AAdvantage tiers. I will go into depth below on each of the individual AAdvantage tiers, and what they mean.

American Airlines Plane

How to get started with the American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program

Getting started with the American Airlines AAdvantage Frequent Flyer Program is easy. Simply visit the American Airlines website and click on Join at the top of the page, or click the direct link here. You will be prompted to enter your personal information, including your name, address, and email address. Once you have submitted your information, you will receive a confirmation email with your AAdvantage number. It is really that easy to get started.

With an AAdvantage number, you can begin earning miles immediately with American Airlines flights, oneworld partner airlines, the AAdvantage eShopping portal, or earn through an AAdvantage co-branded credit card, to name a few methods.

Earning AAdvantage Miles and Loyalty Points on flights is really easy. Just make sure your AAdvantage number is added as your frequent flyer number on your American Airlines or oneworld airline flight booking. You can update this right up until check-in, It is worth double checking if your American Airlines AAdvantage number is loaded especially if you are travelling on a oneworld partner airline or if a third-party such as a travel agent has booked the flight for you.

Opening an American Airlines co-branded credit card such as the Citi/AAdvantage Executive Mastercard Plus or Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard and adding your AAdvantage number through the sign-up process is another easy way to earn miles on every dollar you spend. These cards come with other great perks too, so take a look and see if these cards suit your financial situation and AAdvantage Mile earning goals.

How to Earn AAdvantage Miles with American Airlines

As I mentioned above, earning AAdvantage miles with American Airlines is really easy. The program offers several ways to accumulate miles that can be redeemed for flights, upgrades, and other rewards. One of the simplest ways to earn miles is by taking flights with American Airlines or its partner airlines.

Miles are awarded based on the distance traveled and the fare class of the ticket purchased. Business and first-class tickets typically earn more miles than economy class tickets as a proportion of dollars spent, so if you can afford to fly in premium cabins, this will skyrocket your AAdvantage Mile earning ability. In addition to flight earnings, AAdvantage members can also earn miles through hotel stays, car rentals, shopping, dining, credit card purchases, and other promotions offered by American Airlines and its partners.

It’s essential to keep track of all everyday activities that can accrue AAdvantage miles as they can add up quickly. One great tip is to open an American Airlines AAdvantage co-branded credit card for your everyday spending as you will earn AAdvantage Miles which adds up over time. For any everyday online shopping, buying through the American Airlines eShopping portal significantly boosts your mile earning ability. AAdvantage Members should also check the American Airlines website for any current promotions or bonus offers that may help them earn even more miles, and reach their redemption goals (such as a free flight or confirmed flight upgrade) faster.

American Airlines Plane

Strategies to Earn American Airlines AAdvantage Miles fast

If you’re looking for ways to earn American Airlines AAdvantage Miles quickly for an upcoming vacation or trip in mind, you have several options to explore.

Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses

Firstly, credit card sign-up bonuses are super valuable. We discussed above signing up for an American Airlines AAdvantage co-branded credit card such as the Citi/AAdvantage Executive Mastercard Plus or Citi® / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, which currently have large sign-up bonus offers if you qualify.

Broadening this, there are several other credit card companies and banks that partner with American Airlines including Chase and American Express. Take the American Express Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve. Both American Express and Chase Rewards partner with American Airlines. This means your sign-up bonus can be converted into AAdvantage miles, as well as any ongoing points earned through spending on your new credit card. Sign-up bonuses may require a minimum spending requirement within a certain time frame, and cards generally have an annual fee, so it is worth weighing up your spending habits and income, and whether the benefits outweigh the annual fee for you.

eShopping Portal

My supercharged AAdvantage mile earning strategy however utilises the eShopping portal. By buying goods and services (including travel and hotels) through the eShopping portal, you get bonus AAdvantage miles which in conjunction with a co-branded credit card or reward point-earning credit card (from a bank that partners with American Airlines), maximise your mile earning ability. By stacking your spending on the eShopping portal with a AAdvantage Mile earning credit card, you are double-dipping on Miles. This strategy has served me well in acquiring hundreds of thousands of miles over the last few years.

Hotel Partners

Lastly, if you travel regularly for leisure or work, some hotel chains offer the ability to earn AAdvantage Miles when booking direct by simply adding your AAdvantage number in the frequent flyer number field. Check out this page on the American Airlines website for more information about what hotels offer this and how many Miles you can earn.

American Airlines Domestic US First Class

AAdvantage Loyalty Points

One of the most important features you need to know about the American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program is Loyalty Points. This is your key to unlocking frequent flyer status tiers with American Airlines, which give you perks and benefits every time you fly with American Airlines or oneworld partners.

Earning Loyalty Points

You earn Loyalty Points through flying on American Airlines, oneworld partners or other American Airlines partners, AAdvantage co-branded credit card purchases and shopping with American Airlines retail partners. AAdvantage Loyalty Points are earned at a rate of 1 eligible AAdvantage Mile = 1 Loyalty Point. This is a huge improvement on the complicated AAdvantage system of years past. However, this means credit card sign-up bonuses, transferring points from another program to AAdvantage, and any bonus point or miles promotions with partners are excluded from earning loyalty points.

Earning AAdvantage Loyalty Points when Flying

The easiest way to earn loyalty points is flying, so you will need to put in the hard graft of actually flying and paying with cash (Redemption flights are ineligible for loyalty point earn). Flying in premium cabins such as Premium Economy, Business, First, Flagship Business or Flagship First will earn more Loyalty Points per dollar (cabin bonus), so it is worth flying in those cabins if you can afford to or if there are special deals on certain routes. You will also get bonus loyalty points when you fly based on your existing AAdvantage status (status bonus). For a goal of renewing your existing AAdvantage status, these bonus loyalty points count towards meeting your renewal threshold, so it is easier to renew your AAdvantage status than to earn the next tier.

Below are the individual loyalty point thresholds for each tier of AAdvantage status:

 AAdvantage GoldAAdvantage PlatinumAAdvantage Platinum ProAAdvantage Executive PlatinumAAdvantage ConciergeKey
Loyalty Points Required40,00075,000125,000200,000Invite-only

Check out my other article here on mileage runs, which can help you with strategies to earn more Loyalty Points if you are looking to gain the next tier of AAdvantage status or are just short of the renewal threshold to keep your current AAdvantage status. It is really important to highlight that your Loyalty Points total resets on March 1st each year. Below I will cover the perks and benefits of each of the AAdvantage status levels in detail.

AAdvantage Loyalty Program Status Levels

Basic AAdvantage Member

This is the entry-level AAdvantage membership tier that you will hold when you sign-up for the AAdvantage Loyalty Program. There are no perks here, but you do have the ability to earn AAdvantage Miles and Loyalty Points.

AAdvantage Gold

AAdvantage Gold is the second tier of American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer program. This level is perfect for frequent flyers who fly moderately, want more benefits, but don’t quite meet the requirements or have the budget to strive for Platinum, Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum.

As an AAdvantage Gold member, you will be eligible for complimentary upgrades within North America on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines subject to availability. The key here is “subject to availability”. Whilst it is entirely possible to be upgraded, American Airlines AAdvantage is the largest frequent flyer program in the world. There is huge competition from Platinum, Platinum Pro, Executive Pro and ConciergeKey members for a finite amount of first or business class seats. As for other Gold benefits, you will receive free preferred seat selection, 40% bonus on base miles (and loyalty points), one free checked bag and priority check in, security and boarding lines.

AAdvantage Gold is equivalent to oneworld Ruby status, meaning that you will receive those specific perks when travelling with oneworld carriers. Note, this level does not include lounge access so if that is important for you, it may be worth striving for AAdvantage Platinum or higher.

AAdvantage Gold provides a fairly comprehensive set of perks that improve the travel experience of a moderate traveller, without the budget and flying requirements required for AAdvantage Platinum, Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum. If lounge access is important to you, but you do not have the budget or time to strive for AAdvantage Platinum, it may be worth either investing in a Priority Pass membership or opening a credit card with Priority Pass or Dragon Pass access such as the American Express Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

American Airlines Flagship Dining

AAdvantage Platinum

If you are a frequent flier with American Airlines or oneworld partner airlines, the AAdvantage Platinum membership may represent the best value option for you.

As a Platinum member, you will enjoy earlier confirmation of complimentary upgrades (up to 48 hours prior to departure), two free checked bags with priority baggage handling, priority check in, security and boarding lines, and access to business class lounges when flying internationally with American Airlines and oneworld airline partners. In addition to that, as an AAdvantage Platinum member, you can earn a 60% bonus on eligible base miles, which includes loyalty points too.

AAdvantage Platinum is equivalent to oneworld Sapphire, which is helpful when travelling with other oneworld partner airlines. However, it is still disappointing that unless you are flying first class within North America, lounge access is not provided and you still need to purchase an Admirals Club membership of lounge day pass separately. If your itinerary includes an international segment, then you can use Admirals Club lounges. Other oneworld carriers such as British Airways provide lounge access when flying domestically, however this isn’t the norm amongst North American carriers. A recent update is that AAdvantage Platinum members who are flying to/from North America to/from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean now do receive lounge access.

If you are in this status level of frequent flyer and often fly domestically (as many people do), it may be worth considering opening the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, as you get complimentary Admirals Club status, saving you $650 per year, with other great benefits such as a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre, saving precious time in security lines at the airport.

AAdvantage Platinum Pro

As the third highest elite status tier offered by American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program, AAdvantage Platinum Pro, offers a wide range of perks and benefits to its members. These include complimentary North American upgrades (confirmed up to 72 hours prior to departure), three free checked bags with priority handling, priority check in, security and boarding lines and coveted oneworld Emerald status, granting access to First Class lounges where available (when flying internationally). Another great perk is free same-day flight changes in case you wish to move to an earlier or later flight, as well as dedicated phone line for Platinum Pro members to help with flight bookings, modifications or travel arrangements.

AAdvantage Platinum Pro members also earn 80% bonus miles per dollar spent, helping members to reach the threshold to renew their elite status faster.

For frequent travelers who travel internationally and value first-class lounge access, greater chance of complimentary upgrades (within North America) and the free three-checked bag baggage allowance, Platinum Pro may be the American Airlines elite status tier to aspire for. There is a hefty 125,000 loyalty point threshold to hit, but if you fly frequently enough or can plan mileage runs to hit this threshold, this status might work for you. It is disappointing to see that even at this level, American Airlines still does not provide Admirals Club access for domestic US flights, so this is just something to be conscious of. Additionally, there are few first-class lounges within the US for international travel, but American Airlines does provide access to the fantastic and brand new Chelsea Lounge at JFK Terminal 8 and awesome Flagship First Dining at MIA and DFW when flying internationally.

AAdvantage Executive Platinum

AAdvantage Executive Platinum is the second highest American Airlines elite status tier but top that is publically-available. Unparalleled benefits include a 100-hour upgrade window ensuring you will get first pick of a complimentary upgrade within North America if space is available, including on award tickets (behind ConciergeKey members), three free checked bags with priority handing, free same-day flight change and standby priority, free food and drink in main cabin if seated in Economy, priority check in, security and boarding lines, and a dedicated Executive Platinum service desk to assist with all travel bookings and modifications.

AAdvantage Executive Platinum members also earn 120% bonus miles and loyalty points on base miles, making it super easy to earn enough miles and loyalty points to use for free flights and achieve renewal of Executive Platinum status in the next status membership year. 

For frequent travelers wanting the best of the best, AAdvantage Executive Platinum is it. Whilst there is still no lounge access for domestic itineraries, the ability to confirm domestic and international upgrades up to 100 hours out means that more often than not, it is likely you will have a first-class seat when paying for an economy fare on flights within the US. For domestic transcontinental flights, if upgraded to Flagship Business or Flagship First, then you will have access to the American Airlines Flagship lounges. Additionally, oneworld Emerald status will provide access to first-class lounges when travelling internationally on oneworld carriers.

To hit the 200,000 loyalty point threshold within 12 months to March 1st, significant travel and spend is required in order to achieve AAdvantage Executive Platinum status. This will come with substantial cost and likely require paid premium cabin travel to achieve, so do consider whether this is an attainable goal for you.

AAdvantage Concierge Key

The AAdvantage Concierge Key is the ultimate VIP elite status in the American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program, and the top-tier available. George Clooney made it famous in the 2009 movie, Up in the Air. ConciergeKey is an AAdvantage status by invitation-only. This tier is reserved for the airline’s most valued customers and frequent flyers. Typically, those customers who spend a significant amount of money on flights or have control over organizations with large travel budgets that fly with American Airlines regularly.

Whilst perks and benefits of ConciergeKey are kept fairly secret, we do know that Admirals Club membership is complimentary, members have a dedicated phone line for all bookings and modifications, co-payments are waived on all upgrades and unmatched service benefits, making the whole travel experience smoother. Once again, ConciergeKey includes oneworld Emerald status for top-tier perks including first-class lounge access when flying with other oneworld airlines.

This is the very best of the best that American Airlines offers, but as it is an invite-only program, this is unobtainable for most. It is clear that extensive flying and spend is required to even be considered for this program, in excess of the requirements for Executive Platinum elite status.

American Airlines Flagship Business

American Airlines AAdvantage Upgrade Program

In my opinion, the most valuable perk of the American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program is the complimentary upgrades program.

If you hold any elite status with American Airlines, that is from Gold through to ConciergeKey, you are eligible for a complimentary upgrade to the next cabin up, dependent on availability.

Whilst this is a great perk, the reality is AAdvantage is the largest frequent flyer program in the world and so it is highly likely that someone on the upgrade list will have higher status than you. People do also pay for business or first class with cash. People do also use their AAdvantage miles for confirmed upgrades too. This means the availability of complimentary upgrades is often fairly limited. Whilst this is a negative, if you are a frequent flyer, this should incentivise you to work towards Platinum, Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum to have the best chance of a complimentary cabin upgrade. Utilising mileage runs is a great strategy you can use to have the best chance of unlocking these top elite status tiers with American Airlines.

With all this competition, in order to guarantee sitting in a premium cabin, do consider paying for a seat in premium economy, business, first, Flagship Business or Flagship First. Paying for a seat in the premium cabin helps you gain more AAdvantage miles and loyalty points, helping you towards going up an elite status tier or qualifying for renewal. You can also use your hard-earned AAdvantage miles to pay for confirmed upgrades as well, which is especially helpful when the cost to upgrade during the booking process is prohibitively expensive and you want some extra comfort, especially on long-haul flights.

American Airlines 737

Conclusion: Your Ticket to a World of Possibilities with American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program

In conclusion, the American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program is a good choice for US-based frequent flyers, especially those who mainly fly American Airlines or oneworld carriers internationally. Because this is a dollar-based loyalty points system, it may not be suitable for international flyers who won’t be eligible for co-branded credit cards, and may struggle to move up the elite status ranks without the loyalty point earn from credit cards.

To highlight, other oneworld frequent flyer programs generally provide access to domestic American Airlines lounges within the US. Another oneworld frequent flyer program such as British Airways Executive Club may be better suited to your needs if you are a regular domestic US-flyer but are not based in the US.

For US-based frequent flyers, the ability to earn loyalty points on co-branded credit card spend is hugely advantageous, and a perk not many other airlines in the world offer. The ability to use your elite status tier bonus loyalty points towards meeting your loyalty point threshold is another point I like about the program, as it makes it easier to meet the threshold criteria for renewing the same status for another year. If American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program is for you, you can sign up here.