It’s common for airlines to offer some sort of status challenge or status match program, in order to lure frequent flyers who are loyal to competing airlines, but are considering a switch. In the United States, most major airlines offer some sort of a status match challenge opportunity, including Alaska, Delta, Southwest, and United. In this post I wanted to take a look at the program offered by American.
American AAdvantage refreshed its status challenge program in late 2022, coinciding with the new Loyalty Points system for elite status qualification, which makes it possible to earn elite status through credit card spending. The new program is called “Instant Status Pass,” so let’s go over the details.
AAdvantage Instant Status Pass program
American AAdvantage’s Instant Status Pass program isn’t particularly straightforward. The first thing to understand is how you’re eligible for this:
- You may see an offer in the promotions tab of your AAdvantage account to enroll in this offer
- You can call AAdvantage customer service at 800-882-8880 in order to enroll
- If you’re enrolled in the American AAdvantage & World of Hyatt partnership and have elite status with Hyatt, you may be eligible for a special challenge
- There will typically be a cost to participate in the Instant Status Pass program, and the cost will vary by person, depending on your existing status, the status you’re going for, etc.; some people may even be targeted for a free status challenge
Ordinarily a status challenge requires completing some activity during a limited window (usually a few months), and then you receive the status for an entire year. American wants to make sure people stay more engaged, so the airline requires members to complete challenges in three consecutive phases (each four months), in order to maintain status for an additional year.
When you enroll in Instant Status Pass:
- In phase one, you’ll receive elite status for four months, and during those first four months you have to earn a certain number of Loyalty Points in order to maintain the status for another four months
- In phase two, you’ll receive the status for another four months, and have to earn a certain number of Loyalty Points to maintain the status for an additional four months
- In phase three, you’ll receive the status for another four months, and have to earn a certain number of Loyalty Points to maintain the status for an entire additional year
In phase one, each elite tier requires earning the following number of Loyalty Points (this is roughly one third of the normal annual requirements, which makes sense):
- The AAdvantage Gold status challenge requires earning 10,000 Loyalty Points in the first four months
- The AAdvantage Platinum status challenge requires earning 25,000 Loyalty Points in the first four months
- The AAdvantage Platinum Pro status challenge requires earning 42,000 Loyalty Points in the first four months
- The AAdvantage Executive Platinum status challenge requires earning 67,000 Loyalty Points in the first four months
After completing the first phase, you’ll receive an email with instructions for the second phase. Then after completing the second phase, you’ll receive an email with instructions for the third phase. You can generally expect that the second and third phases have similar Loyalty Points requirements, and that this essentially requires you to just earn the same number of Loyalty Points as you’d usually need over the course of a year, just in smaller, four month chunks.
Loyalty Points can be earned in a variety of ways (including through non-flying means), so in theory you could complete this challenge with credit card spending, for example.
My take on American’s Instant Status Pass concept
I have mixed feelings about American’s Instant Status Pass concept. On the plus side, I think most would agree that this won’t do much to dilute status, since it takes a lot of effort to maintain status, and it’s only awarded in four month increments.
Furthermore, I’m impressed by the thought that went into this status challenge concept. The issue with some challenges is that members will be really active in the program for a few months (during the trial period), until they earn their status for a year, and then they drop off.
What American is doing here is a smart way to engage prospective customers, and offer them something upfront while still making sure they stay on the “hamster wheel,” even after the first trial period. That’s smart.
All that being said, I can’t help but feel like all of this sounds a bit complicated for the average consumer, and lacks transparency. In many cases people will be paying a significant amount of money upfront in order to be able to participate:
- Understanding this concept is complicated to begin with
- On top of that, American won’t tell people what the second and third challenges are, so you don’t fully know what you’re signing up for
Now, I imagine over time we’ll get lots of data points, and will be able to determine what’s required during phases two and three. But for now I’d say this program is a bit confusing.
If you’re looking for a status match challenge with American Airlines, then the Instant Status Pass promotion is for you. While different members will be eligible for different offers, the idea is essentially that you have an initial four month period during which you need to earn roughly one-third of the standard Loyalty Points requirements.
You then have two more four month periods where you need to complete certain activity in order to earn status for an additional year. This program seems both complicated, and a good way to engage members beyond an initial trial period.
What do you make of American’s Instant Status Pass program?
So, do all the elite/service level bonus’s count towards your Loyalty Points earn requirements during the instant pass time frame? Is there any benefit to asking for a higher level due to the elite bonus/multiplier? Do partner airlines count? i.e. could I make the requirements solely off business class international travel on Qatar or something like that?
So I want to reach platinum before my flight to Australia in OCT-NOV/ I am 35,794 ;loyalty points away. I don't think I will be spending that much between now and then. I will maybe be able to spend $25,000 in the first trail period; so I am thinking to ask for it in August so that I am covered during my trip. Or do you have to get the offer initialed in July to get covered for August, Sept, Oct, & Nov?
@Lucky (or others) - Does the status granted during the first four months of the challenge convert immediately to Oneworld benefits? I am Delta gold taking an economy JAL flight in March and will sign-up for the challenge if I can be matched to Sapphire and get lounge access on that itinerary.
Yes, it does get granted immediately. I’m a United loyalist and did this prior to a JAL flight last week and I had One World Sapphire status. Was helpful!
I wonder whether American is allowing status-matching with other oneworld carriers? Generally speaking, it has been a fairly established routine that oneworld carriers are discouraged (or outright not permitted) from status-matching from other carrier-members in the oneworld alliance.
I have the platinum pro challenge and phase one is 42K loyalty points, my question is if I get 67K loyalty points in phase 1, could I get Exec Platinum?
They gave me Platinum Pro for free (via Hyatt Globalist).
I read about loyalty points and the requirement for about 10 minutes and gave up on trying to understand it. So I’ll enjoy plat pro for four months and then move on.
If they said “spend $x by May 1” then I would have considered it. As is, too complicated.
The American status challenge for Hyatt members is actually pretty great. I earned Explorist under the reduced terms in 2021 (I am primarily a Marriott person). I was given the offer to status match to American Platinum late last year. Took it, already benefiting from enhanced earnings and upgrades (was upgraded on my first revenue flight under the promotion). Will pretty easily maintain Platinum until at least summer. Will also still be able to maintain...
The American status challenge for Hyatt members is actually pretty great. I earned Explorist under the reduced terms in 2021 (I am primarily a Marriott person). I was given the offer to status match to American Platinum late last year. Took it, already benefiting from enhanced earnings and upgrades (was upgraded on my first revenue flight under the promotion). Will pretty easily maintain Platinum until at least summer. Will also still be able to maintain at least Delta Platinum through rollover/card spend.
Going from earning 5 points per $ spent on flights to 8 points is a huge bump in retaining status.
What is the cost?
$200 for Instant Status Pass