How To Request An American AAdvantage Status Challenge (2019)

Filed Under: AAdvantage, Airline Rewards

For years American has offered a status challenge for Gold and Platinum status, which provided a fast track opportunity to earn status. You’d have to pay a certain amount and then earn a certain number of elite qualifying miles within a 90 day period in order to maintain that status beyond the challenge period.

They also occasionally offer targeted promotions to people with lapsed AAdvantage status, or as part of their new partnership with Hyatt. Here’s everything you need to know about how these challenges work, and whether or not they are worth it.

Status Challenge to Gold or Platinum Status

These challenges are slightly more complex than they used to be, which has pros and cons. It’s good news because you have the possibility of receiving status upfront, while it’s bad news because there’s a revenue requirement, which reflects the direction of the AAdvantage program after the 2017 changes.

American has tweaked the requirements for these challenges several times over the years; this information is current as of November 2019.

What is required for a Gold or Platinum challenge?

No matter which challenge you choose, you’ll have to meet certain EQM requirements, along with the revenue requirement within 90 days from starting the challenge.

  • For Gold you’ll need to earn 7,000 EQMs or 8 EQSs, along with $1,000 EQD
  • For Platinum you’ll need to earn 12,500 EQMs or 16 EQSs, along with $2,000 EQD

To give some context, ordinarily Platinum status requires 6,000 elite qualifying dollars per year, so you’re having to earn a third of the required annual elite qualifying dollars during a quarter of the year.

You earn elite qualifying miles at the following rate under the new AAdvantage program:

Beyond that, flights for the challenge must be marketed by American or designated partner airlines:

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Qantas Airways

Flights on other oneworld carriers, or American partners like Etihad, won’t count towards the challenge.

How much does an AAdvantage status challenge cost?

American doesn’t technically publish the cost for status challenges, but there are enough data points to provide ranges. In general, the cost for the status challenge will vary based on the following:

  • When you’re starting the challenge (I recommend starting after June 15, as that will typically give you status for the remainder of the current year, and all of the following year)
  • Whether you are aiming for Gold or Platinum status (in general I only think this makes sense for Platinum status, as I’ll get into below)
  • If you want status during the challenge (which is a nice option, but not always necessary)

Breaking down the costs further, here’s what you can expect to pay for each option:

  • Gold challenge (without status advance) — $100-$180
  • Gold challenge (with Gold status advance) — $280-$340
  • Platinum challenge (without status advance) — $180-$240
  • Platinum challenge (with Gold status advance) — $380-$440
  • Platinum challenge (with Platinum status advance) — $480-$540

The best way to qualify for a challenge is typically by flying discounted business class tickets on partner airlines, like British Airways. You’ll earn EQMs more quickly, and will be able to enjoy airport lounges, priority security and boarding, etc. If you’re able to find business class tickets for your challenge, the premium for the status advance may not be worth it, as the main benefit otherwise would be the extra redeemable miles you’d earn based on having the status.

In any case, I don’t suggest either challenging or paying for advance Gold status. AAdvantage Gold offers minimal benefits, so this is really only worthwhile for having Platinum while you work towards Executive Platinum.

Keep in mind that if you wanted to earn Executive Platinum status, you’d still need the full 100,000 EQMs over the course of the elite qualification year; while your status is upgraded through the challenge, you don’t receive the corresponding EQMs.

Enrolling in an AAdvantage challenge

To start either an AAdvantage Gold or Platinum status challenge, start by phoning American AAdvantage at 800-882-8880.

Make sure to have your AAdvantage number, and ideally the PNRs of any upcoming travel you have booked on American and relevant partners.  Let them know when you want to start the challenge (it doesn’t have to be on the day you call), which status level you’re trying for, and whether or not you want the status to be advanced.

Note that you can’t sign-up for a challenge as a way of requalifying for your current status level, though you can use it to bump up from Gold to Platinum. Similarly, you can pay to upgrade from a Gold challenge to a Platinum challenge, and you can also downgrade from a Platinum challenge to a Gold challenge, though in the latter instance you wouldn’t be refunded the difference.

Targeted AAdvantage Status Challenges

In addition to the “normal” status challenges, American will occasionally send out a round of targeted status challenge offers. American seems to send these out a couple of times per year.

We’ll never know exactly what targeting techniques they use, though I imagine:

  • In some cases they’re probably going after former elite members who now fly American less
  • In other cases they’re probably going after non-elite members who have purchased full fare tickets on American in the past

American’s latest targeted status challenge

These offers are typically fairly widely targeted, and this one seems to be no exception. If you want to see if you were targeted, check your email for something from American with the subject line “Free Platinum status for you” or “Free Gold status for you.”

You can also follow this link to see if you were targeted, though if you didn’t get the email it’s unlikely you’ll be able to register.

With this offer, you:

  • Need to register by January 25, 2019
  • Receive complimentary status through May 15, 2019
  • If you were targeted for the Gold challenge you receive 10 free 500 mile upgrades, if you were targeted for the Platinum challenge you receive 20 free 500 mile upgrades (these don’t expire)

Then to earn the status through January 31, 2020, you need to earn a certain number of elite qualifying miles and elite qualifying dollars. There seem to be three versions of the offer for Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Pro.

For the Gold version of the offer you can earn Gold with 7,000 elite qualifying miles and 850 elite qualifying dollars.

Then with the Platinum version of the offer you can either earn Platinum with 12,500 elite qualifying miles and 1,500 elite qualifying dollars, or Platinum Pro with 20,000 elite qualifying miles and 2,400 elite qualifying dollars.

Then for the Platinum Pro version of the offer you can earn Platinum Pro with 20,000 elite qualifying miles and 2,400 elite qualifying dollars.

In order to qualify for the offer you need to register before flying (though it’s fine if your ticket was previously booked). Furthermore, eligible flights only include those operated by American Airlines or marketed by American Airlines for travel on British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, and Japan Airlines.

Why I’m conflicted about these targeted challenges

I find the logic of these challenges to be interesting. Anecdotally it sure seems to me like the number of offers they’ve sent out the past couple of years has increased, which is interesting, because it’s at the same time that they’ve increased elite requirements.

I get the concept of trying to target new customers in order to create loyalty, and sometimes it works. There are some reports of people who haven’t flown American in years receiving this offer, which does make me wonder, though.

But what I question most about this is the logic of increasing elite requirements and alienating existing customers while also giving huge shortcuts to status with these challenges.

American Status Challenges for Hyatt Elites

In May 2019, American and Hyatt launched an exciting new partnership. With this new cooperation:

  • Hyatt elite members can earn bonus points for American flights, and American elite members can earn bonus miles for Hyatt stays
  • American Concierge Key members can get Globalist status, and other American elite members can participate in Hyatt status challenges
  • Select Hyatt elite members can participate in American status challenges

When it comes to this cooperation, that last point seems to be the least consistent so far. When members registered to link their accounts, many American elite members reported seeing Hyatt status fast track promotions.

Similarly, many Hyatt elite members are now eligible for American status challenges. First make sure that your American and Hyatt accounts are linked, and then go to the American Airlines promotions page.

Not everyone will be targeted, though quite a few people are reporting seeing offers even though they haven’t been emailed about them. It seems that in general we’re seeing the most offers for Hyatt Globalist members who don’t have American status.

For those members, the most common promotion seems to be as follows:

  • Get free AAdvantage Platinum status when you register; you need to register no later than September 30, 2019
  • If you fly enough over a 90 day period you can earn AAdvantage elite status valid through January 2021, and the status is based on how much flying you do over a three month period:
    • Gold status requires 1,000 EQDs plus 7,000 EQMs or 8 EQSs
    • Platinum status requires 2,000 EQDs plus 12,500 EQMs or 16 EQSs
    • Platinum Pro status requires 3,000 EQDs plus 20,000 EQMs or 24 EQSs
    • Executive Platinum status requires 5,000 EQDs plus 35,000 EQMs or 40 EQSs

Being able to get a status challenge that can potentially earn you Executive Platinum status is pretty awesome.

Not surprisingly it seems like most of the Globalist members being targeted for this promotion are those without any American status, while those of us who are Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro seem to be getting nothing.

If you’ve linked your AAdvantage and World of Hyatt account, please report back on whether you’ve been targeted for an American status challenge, and what the terms are!

Bottom line

While tempting, status challenges aren’t necessarily a no-brainer. Be sure to consider how much you’ll be flying American in the coming year (and everything that goes along with doing so), and whether or not you’d organically earn the same status without paying a fee.

In general, I don’t think challenging to Gold makes any sense, though a Platinum challenge could be lucrative for someone who could take advantage of the enhanced earnings rates on their way to Executive Platinum.

Do you plan on doing an AAdvantage status challenge this year?

Comments
  1. Thanks for this! Where can I go to sign up? I have a 22K+ mile trip coming up this week that would be perfect for this. One question: do AA codeshares count as well (i.e. AA flight number on the partner airline, in my case, CX Y)?

  2. I still kick myself for not doing the one at end of last year – would have easily made Platinum it turns out. Of course AA customer support could do nothing to “retro it”. With an upcoming trip to SYD (among others) I will be taking full “AA”dvantage this time around.

  3. Your post never actually answers the question of how to request a challenge – it just lays out the terms of the challenge.

  4. @ Lucky – Do you know if I complete the challenge on the first half than reach 50k EQMs on the second half, would my platinum status be bumped to 2018 or would it still expires on early 2017?

  5. Figured it out! Just had to call AA at (800)-882-8880 and sign up for the Platinum challenge! A couple data points:

    – Codeshares w/AA flight #s do count, even if the flight is operated by a partner
    – The agent proactively offered temporary Gold status (when I mentioned offhand that I was glad to be switching my business from UA), so I’d be getting the mileage bonus on the trip!
    – Paid the $200 fee using my Amex Plat. Hadn’t used the $200 credit yet, so hopefully this charge will count!

    Thanks Lucky!!

  6. Lucky – the title of your article is “How to Request an Amerilcan AAdvantage Status Challenge” but no where do you actually explain where to go to do this?? Go to website, call them, is there a link, or what??

  7. I’m sorry to ask a specific, personal question, but if I request a status challenge on June 1st and complete it in August, that will count for all of 2017, right?

  8. “Only flights on American, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, and Qantas count”

    Very curious with so many partners (OW), how these are the ONLY airlines which count towards status challenges. No MH/QR/CX etc.

  9. Saw this yesterday and already signed up. I have my flight today through the great avios/aarp business class deal and will reach the platinum at the end of this one flight. I tossed around waiting until later half but hopefully will fly enough with extra mileage boost to get me over any humps.

  10. it’s so interesting that the challenge is so generous, it literally went from 10000 EQP to 6250 “EQP” for platinum. maybe AA lost/expecting to lose many FF members due to the devaluation and try to get some back this way?

  11. Just signed up for the Platinum challenge. The agent said they offer a temporary status match for United frequent flyers but not for Delta Medallions.

  12. when you mention completing this challenge in second half of the year, does that mean you call AA after June 1st to request the challenge? i can’t find any official date that this offer expires on so i worry that might mean i’d miss out. along the same lines of thinking, does the 90 day period start immediately? or can you specify a start day in the future?

  13. @Lucky – so my 2015 status as Platinum (which I did not re-qualify for) will end on Feb 28, 2016, correct ? at which time I will be bumped back to Gold

    So should I apply for the challenge on March 1st and aim for Platinum by doing one long haul flight to get 12,500 EQM ?

    Would appreciate your feedback !
    Andrew

  14. Any tips on getting the temporary bump to Gold while pursuing the Platinum challenge? “Hey I saw it on boardingarea.com”?

    Was just quoted $120 for the Gold challenge, not $100 as per the article. Platinum was $200.

  15. The reason Platinum is cheaper to get is that it isn’t worth as much after the upcoming changes. Double miles is going away, the new benefit is much smaller.

  16. Wow this is easy to get. Worth getting platinum for lounge access on international itineraries. Free MCE is useful too.

  17. Hi Lucky,

    On a slightly unrelated note, is there anyway to work around the AA Metal segments required for normal elite qualification. I had enough EQP last year but flew none on AA

  18. I got a little over 16k EQMs of travel between the beginning of March and the end of April. I wonder if it’s worth signing up for the challenge.

  19. I called yesterday only to find out I’m not eligible. I have Gold status and wanted to do the Platinum challenge….she told me to call back in a week or two?

  20. I am a Delta PM and my company is forcing me to fly AA for a trip next week. Is there any way to leverage my Delta status for a match of some kind at AA before my flight? Even if it’s at a lower tier?? Sign up for a CC tonight?? Any help? I’m desperate!!!!

  21. I got an email last week “Fast Track to AAdvantage Elite Status.” No need to pay for this challenge. The EQMs requirement looks the same, “Only flights on American, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, and Qantas count”

    Earn the required Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) between the date you register and May 31, 2016, and you’ll receive status through February 28, 2017.

    Elite status level Elite Qualifying Miles needed
    Executive Platinum 35,000
    Platinum 10,000
    Gold 7,000
    Once you qualify, you’ll enjoy the wide range of elite benefits that come with status.

    Sign up before you travel and no later than February 22, 2016. Use promotion code HVC1B.

    Some of you might have gotten it too. Check you email.

  22. Just called today for the challenge. The program cost $120 (Gold) and $240 (Platinum) and will get you elite status until the end of January 2017. The program cost goes up by $20 (for both) on June 16. However, the elite status earned will be valid until the end of January 2018. So I am going to wait until then.

  23. Just signed up this morning, quoted 120 for gold and 200 for platinum, I mentioned that I was switching my companies travel over to American from United and got instant Gold status. Traveling 30,000 EQMs in the next 4 weeks.

  24. Great post. What happens if you purchased the flight before you register for the challenge? Does it impact the challenge in anyway? Or do the flight dates only matter?

    Cheers,
    Edward

  25. I have trip coming up next week in Y as follows

    HKG-DFW-LIM – 11,480 miles
    SCL-DFW-HKG – 12,992 miles
    Total – 24,472 miles

    Unfortunately the outbound flight is 1020 miles short of the required for Platinum and while I was considering on being creative with the routing and going through LAX and MIA that would still only get me to 12,210 miles and that’s already extending the travel time quite a bit.

    I figure since I am going for the challenge now I am only going to get Platinum which will be valid till next year only and I don’t have much oneworld travel planned for the rest of the year. Whereas I could just go for the Gold challenge and get status by the time I touch down in Lima and that status would be more useful at that time for intra-south america flights I have booked on LAN and also on the return flight.

    Something is better than nothing I guess

  26. Thanks for this great news! It’s really good to have it. But I wonder if this opens to non-US residents because I am Hong Kong-based. Would appreciated if you may help me to find it out.

  27. I have an upcoming long trip in J on BA (JFK-LHR-MAD-LHR-SFO) and am tempted to do a platinum challenge. I am also tempted to try and upgrade the LHR-SFO sector from J to F (on the A380) with Avios. Does anyone known if it would be possible to do the upgrade with Avios and then change my frequent flier number on the ticket to AA to facilitate the challenge?

  28. I did not know about the challenge and I already have 18K miles. Im a gold member and soon to have a 7K mile trip which will make me re earn gold and possibly another 36K miles trip.
    Can i call and sign up and use my current mileage for Platinum? That way I can have more miles for my next trips.

  29. Can anyone confirm if 4 AA segments are required during the challenge period or if that is only for requalification of status??

    Thanks!!

  30. Another data point – called on 6/14 for challenge, offered standard $240 90-day platinum for 12,500EQM, starting a day before my next flight date (end of June). Asked for exec platinum challenge (I flew almost half million miles on AA in 2012-2014), couldn’t do it. The rep did offer immediate gold status till the end of challenge when asked. Very easy two minute call, rep was friendly and helpful.

  31. Lucky, is there a way to reuse the Miles ALREADY added to Finnair program? I took a Flight 2 days ago and added to My Finnair loyalty program. After some research i have decided to switch to AAdvantage. As it was a transatlantic business class flight I could get fast track qualifications done with it.
    Obviously I would not count them twice, just “cancel” the finnair ones if possible
    Thanks

  32. An update I called 4/16/18 and they would not let me back date the challenge to start very far ago, the max was 2 weeks, but they said policy is 5 days, i even spoke with a supervisor.. I was offered the challenge for $180 for platinum, i was also offered to jump immediately to platinum while traveling for about another $300, which i said no, I’ll live..

    I missed the Free Enrollment challenge which really kills me… pay attention to your email kids.

  33. Does anyone know “when the challenge is complete?”
    I ask this because I have 4 AA flights from Feb to May. It will total 18000 miles or more.
    I know if you complete the challenge after June 15th you qualify to have status through the next year. But if I finish the miles by May 15 does that mean it has been completed and I won’t be able to roll it into the next year? Can someone advise?

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