American Airlines Elite Status
Just over a year ago, American Airlines announced their overhauled elite program. Loyalty Points took center stage, and changes came from all different directions. For active points and travel hobbyists like us, the most notable change was how we could earn elite status – spend, among other angles. Seemingly overnight, many, including this writer, started paying more attention to American Airlines elite status. My timing was fortuitous. A number of other factors coalesced, and I reached Executive Platinum status last fall. Ever since, I’ve enjoyed the status even more than I expected. And many eyes are now on the new American Airlines elite status qualification year, which just started on 1 March. But I’m not chasing it this year. Here’s why.
Big spend opportunities are dynamic. I’m not proclaiming anything huge here – new methods emerge, reliable ones disappear, and others devalue. While solid options still exist, I’m not in a position to scale as much as I did last year. Not right now, at least. The opportunity cost of choosing spend on an AA card versus others is much higher for me this year than last. (It’s a long story, but there was no opportunity cost for me last year at all.) Instead, I’m purely focusing on other card spend at this point. My Aviator Blue is sock-drawered for now.
Previous to the Loyalty Points system, I had never earned any American Airlines elite status. As I mentioned earlier, I hit 200k Loyalty Points and Executive Platinum status last fall in the 2022 qualification period. By doing so, I would hold the status for the remainder of 2022, all of 2023, and the first quarter of 2024. That’s about 18 months of Executive Platinum status I earned in one qualification period.
Now, let’s hypothetically say I decided to chase the same status in the 2023 qualification period. And, magically, I get there! I earned the same 200k Loyalty Points, but I only receive 12 additional months of Executive Platinum status through the following March. The similar effort I put forth in 2023 would earn me 33% less status, in terms of time at that level.
Long story short, earning status in a second consecutive year can be substantially less lucrative. Instead, I’m planning to earn AA status again in the 2024 qualification period at the earliest, and that’s only if the stars align where it makes sense otherwise.
Once I hit Executive Platinum last fall, I stopped to enjoy what I had just accomplished. I’m still enjoying it, and I plan to do so through the end of March 2024. I’m primarily flying American on sensible routings, with a dash of other airlines when logic wins out there. In the process, I’m not cluttering my mind with requalification minutiae. I’ll go hard on my AA travel while I have the status and love everything that comes my way. Knock on wood, I’ve been upgraded on the majority of my American flights so far, all of which were award flights.
I’m not a multi-tasker. If I was overly concerned about requalifying, I probably wouldn’t enjoy the now as much. Bravo to the many of you out there who can do both.
I’ll Need AA Break
After 18 months of rose smelling, I’ll probably be ready for a break from AA starting in April 2024. While I’m experimenting with the other legacy and newer carriers now (hello, Breeze), I’ll be ripe for more of that in 2024.
After all, the AA lifestyle creep will set in eventually. It’s safe to say I won’t be as excited about my status in month 18 as I was in month 1. Knowing that is key, and doing something to correct it is just as important. That change for me will be not holding AA status on 1 April 2024.
Been There, Done That
A big part of the Loyalty Points fun is the chase. What’s my Loyalty Points balance now? How close am I to the next elite level? How much time is left to qualify? Have I tried all the different earning angles? All this is overwhelming to some, but a delight for others.
I enjoyed the journey to the apex of Mount Executive Platinum, including the sometimes bumpy or surprisingly smooth routes. In my view, the satisfaction decreases with every additional year of qualifying for that same level. I’d rather look for another awards mountain to summit, achieving that high in a different way.
For now, that’s how I feel about reaching American Airlines elite status again. As with anything in our hobby, changes happen quickly and often. We must adapt and overcome to do better. With that in mind, my AA status plan could change in the future, but I don’t expect it. The unknown future is just one angle that makes our hobby so intriguing. Did you qualify for American Airlines elite status last year? Are you doing so again this year? Why or why not?
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