Thinking Through American Airline Status Challenges

I’ve really been thinking through whether to do a status challenge with American Airlines, largely prompted by my upcoming trip in paid business class to Easter Island. Accounting for class of service bonus points, I’d net around 20K points, almost enough to hit Gold status without any other flights. I’ve been further enticed by the various status challenges American is offering that could make it a no brainer to go for status. After researching, it looked like I had 3 options:

  • Pay $120 for a Gold or $240 for a Platinum Challenge. Upon closer examination, it turned out only flights on American metal or select codeshares would count. And, only the base miles, so the class of service  bonus wouldn’t apply to my totals.This meant my flight from Santiago to Easter Island (2300 miles each way) wouldn’t count.To make Gold I’d need to fly 5,000 base miles in 3 months. Done. But I already have the Citi card, so the priority boarding and free checked bags it would get me wouldn’t really be worth the $120 in fees.

    The Platinum challenge required 10,000 base points and my qualifying flights would come in just under the requirement (9700).

    As a Plat I still wouldn’t get complimentary upgrades which meant I’d be sitting in American coach on at least one more flight just to get Platinum. With no other American flights in my near future, it didn’t seem worth it.

  • Targeted status challenge. Yesterday I saw The Points Guy’s post on the recent targeted status challenge offers from American. It was targeted, but free, and there’s a chance my account would qualify. If I did the challenge, I’d need to fly 12,000 miles by August 31, even more than the paid challenge, but I’d get 20 500 mile upgrades when I registered, making it possible to upgrade the other flights I’d need to hit my goal.I went through the link and typed in the the promotion code HVLP1. The confirmation page indicated that I was registered, but said to go to www.aa.com/offers to see the details of the promotion. When I hit that page, the status challenge wasn’t listed anywhere. So this was a potential problem, since I wouldn’t know if I was actually registered until I hit 12,000 miles or until they deposited the 500 mile upgrade

AA targeted status challengeSince I was already taking the Easter Island trip there was no downside to registering and I figured I would use the deposit of the 500 mile upgrades or lack thereof  as an indication of my eligibility.

  • Executive Platinum status challenge for United 1Ks. I’d also been following the thread on Flyertalk (thanks Points Guy!) to see what success others had had getting a status match to Executive Platinum based on their United 1K status.The beauty of this option is it’s free and they front you top status, which means complimentary upgrades and a 100% mileage bonus as I attempt to hit the target.It would be hard to fly the 30K base miles that people were mentioning, but there was no downside to trying.Within the last week, another 1K had successfully requested a status challenge, so I decided to call and try. With great success. Within 2 hours of requesting it, and several emails, I was in. Now to see if can actually do it :)

The hardest part about this whole process was trying to understand American’s use of points, segments, or qualifying miles to achieve status. Especially since some heavily discounted fares only earned half the points. Which didn’t seem particularly fair to me since business class travel wouldn’t earn 1.5 points, but there you have it.

If you’re considering going for a challenge, here are some of the sites I found most helpful:

http://www.flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php/Challenge_(AA)
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/american-aadvantage/1340221-aa-doing-free-ua-elite-status-matches-27-apr-2012-ltd-1k-gs-215.html
http://thepointsguy.com/2013/04/targeted-american-status-match-and-challenge-promo-gold-platinum-and-executive-platinum-offers/

Wish me luck! :)

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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

 

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