HomeAirline LoyaltyBig News: American Airlines Lowers Elite Status Requirements In 2021, Introduces New...

Big News: American Airlines Lowers Elite Status Requirements In 2021, Introduces New Rewards & More

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American Airlines has today announced a series of steps its AAdvantage program is taking in an effort to keep flyers happy and to keep them engaged with the program as the current travel crisis continues. Elite status will be easier to earn in 2021 (as long as you are prepared to fly!), new rewards are being introduced, a promised improvement to Basic Economy bookings is now here, and there’s more good news too.

Lower elite thresholds for 2021

American Airlines is obviously seeing very little appetite for travel in 2021 because the AAdvantage program has just announced that the number of elite qualifying, miles, dollars, and segments needed to earn elite status in 2021 has been reduced. These are the new thresholds:

a screenshot of a computerThe new thresholds see the number of Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) required for status reduced by 20% and the number of Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS) and the number of Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD) reduced between 20% and 33% (depending on the status tier).

Earn credits towards 2021 elite status qualification in 2020

Not only has the AAdvantage program reduced the thresholds for earning elite status in 2021, but it has also announced that all base EQM, EQS, and EQD earned on flights taken between 1 October and 31 December 2020 will count toward the 2021 requirements.

All elite credit earnings from flying in the last 3 months of 2020 will be automatically rolled over, but elite qualifying credits earned from spending made on an American Airlines co-branded credit card (e.g. the card_name) will not be rolled over.

Get the EQD requirement for select status levels waived via credit card spending

In what will be seen as good news by anyone that’s in a position to put a lot of spending on to an American Airlines credit card, the AAdvantage program has announced that the holders of “eligible AAdvantage credit cards” can have the EQD requirements for Gold, Platinum & Platinum Pro Status waived if they spend $30,000 on their card between 1 January and 31 December 2021.

All Citi-issued AAdvantage cards, all Barclays-issued AAdvantage cards, and all AAdvantage credit cards issued outside the United States will qualify to earn this waiver.

Thresholds for Executive Platinum rewards lowered

Executive Platinum elites usually receive the option to choose a single additional reward when they earn 150,000, 200,000, and 250,000 Elite Qualifying Miles in a qualification year. For 2021, those requirements are being lowered to 120,000, 160,000, and 200,000 Elite Qualifying Miles. If by some chance you can still do a lot of flying in 2021, it just got a lot easier to earn more valuable Systemwide upgrades.

New rewards & more flexible rewards

From “early 2021”, flyers who earn Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum status will be given the choice of rewards that suit their needs best. Executive Platinum elites will see be able to choose the 4 Systemwide Upgrades that they currently receive but they will also be able to forgo those upgrades in favor of a number of other options that American Airlines has not yet announced.

Platinum Pro elites who up until now have not been offered any kind of reward for earning status (other than the status benefits themselves), will be offered a menu of rewards from which they’ll be able to choose an additional reward to supplement their elite benefits. The reward options will include, amongst other things, systemwide upgrade, Admirals Club day passes, and bonus AAdvantage miles.

Elite benefits are now valid on basic economy fares

Basic Economy fares may be cheaper than the other available options (although that’s not always the case) but, historically, booking Basic Economy fares saw AAdvantage elites unable to use a number of the benefits that their status usually gives them. It has been a way for American Airlines to “encourage” its flyers to pay more.

This has now changed (this news was originally announced last month).

As of 1 October, elite members purchasing a Basic Economy fare can now use their benefits to upgrade, reserve a Preferred or Main Cabin Extra seat, or use a same-day confirmed flight change.

Note: As previously announced, for travel starting 1 January 2021, Basic Economy fares will no longer earn Elite Qualifying Miles, Elite Qualifying Segments, or Elite Qualifying Dollars.

Bottom line

The AAdvantage program has lowered the elite status qualification thresholds for 2021, flyers can start earning elite credits for the 2021 qualification year straight away (effectively they now have a 15-month qualification window), the 2021 EQD requirements for three of the four elite status tiers can now be waived via credit card spending, Platinum Pro elites will get a new reward when they earn their status, Executive Platinum elites are being given more reward choices and basic Economy fares are no longer an obstacle to elites making the most of their benefits. It’s a good news day for American Airlines flyers.

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