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Last night, American Airlines sent out a new elite status fast track offer. This new offer allows qualifying AAdvantage members to fast track to any status — including the top-tier Executive Platinum status — starting at just 7,000 elite-qualifying miles (EQM) and $1,000 elite-qualifying dollars (EQD):

AA status challenge June 2017

If you’re targeted, you’ll need to register by June 30 and complete the flight requirements between the date you registered and September 22. If you do, you’ll keep to keep the elite status through January 31, 2019.

In order to see if you’re targeted:

If you aren’t targeted, you’ll get an error that “the AAdvantage account you entered isn’t eligible for this promotion. Please read the promotion rules for details on qualifying.” What do those rules say? “This is an exclusive offer only for members who received a letter directly from American Airlines.”

Important terms to keep in mind:

  • EQMs & EQDs can only be earned on American Airlines flights or on certain partners: British Airways, Finnair, Iberia and Japan Airlines. These include codeshare flights. Just make sure that your flight number is for one of these five airlines.
  • Upon reaching the EQM & EQD thresholds, your status will be effective immediately.
  • The terms do not require you to purchase the flights after registration; you just need to earn the EQMs & EQDs between the date registered and September 22, 2017.

What Is AA Status Worth?

The value of status is always going to be subjective. If you fly domestic economy often, getting Executive Platinum status would allow you unlimited free upgrades to first class. Or, if you routinely travel with checked bags, Platinum status allows two free checked bags. In these cases, status might be worth a lot.

However, if you only book first/business class fares, the added perks of status might not be worth very much. We try to boil the value of AA status down once a year in an annual valuation. As of January, here’s our take:

  • AAdvantage Gold: $1,005
  • AAdvantage Platinum: $2,460
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro: $3,435
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum: $7,420

However, there are changes through the year that might make status more or less valuable. For example, AA recently added free upgrades on award flights for Executive Platinum members. In doing so, the value of Executive Platinum for us miles and points gurus went up. However, Gold, Platinum and Platinum Pro members all we effectively devalued — as it just got even harder for these elites to get an upgrade.

Back to the Basics

This promotion requires you to hit both elite-qualifying miles (EQM) and elite-qualifying dollar (EQD) thresholds. This offer is likely only being sent to AA members without current elite status. So, let’s do a quick briefer of how and where you can earn EQMs and EQDs.

First, elite-qualifying miles (EQMs) can be earned through:

  • AA basic economy flights: 0.5 EQM per mile flown
  • AA economy flights: 1 EQM per mile flown (1.5 for full-fare)
  • AA business/first class: 2 EQMs per mile flown (3 for full-fare)
  • Oneworld partner economy flights: 0.5 EQM per mile flown (1 for full-fare)
  • Oneworld partner premium economy/business/first flights: 1.5 EQMs per mile flown

These are based on the airline flight number — not the operating carrier. For example, American Airlines’ flight #50 from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to London Heathrow (LHR) will earn based on the AA chart if your ticket shows flight AA50 and based on the Oneworld partner chart if it says British Airways flight #1505, Finnair flight #5780 or Iberia flight #4192.

Note that this offer only counts EQMs and EQDs earned on certain partners: British Airways, Finnair, Iberia and Japan Airlines.

The Elite-qualifying dollars (EQDs) requirement is a new wrinkle for 2017 and can be very confusing. Basically, you only get EQDs from spending money with AA that the airline gets to keep: the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges (generally fuel surcharges). Taxes and fees collected by AA for the government don’t count toward EQDs. So, it’s not as easy as assuming you’ll get 600 EQDs for spending $600.

It gets more complicated… If you book AA flights through a travel agency (including Chase, Citi and Amex travel portals), you’re going to earn EQDs based on a percentage (10-30%) of the flight miles. These are considered “Special Fares.” (Here’s a full breakdown of how you book these and when it can make sense to book these instead of standard fares.)

For partner flight numbers, AA also credits EQDs based on a percentage of the flight miles. These range even further, going as low as 5% for some discount economy fares up to 60% for full-fare first class fares (on airlines that don’t have first class cabins). Note that this offer only counts EQMs and EQDs earned on certain partners: British Airways, Finnair, Iberia and Japan Airlines.

You can also earn EQDs through credit card spending. You can earn 3,000 EQD after spending $25,000 with the AAdvantage Aviator Red, Aviator Blue and Aviator Business MasterCard. Or, you can earn 3,000 EQD after spending $25,000 and an additional 3,000 EQDs after spending a total of $50,000 with the AAdvantage Aviator Silver MasterCard.

However, the terms and conditions for this offer state:

Qualification is based on AAdvantage Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) and Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) earned on eligible, purchased, published fare tickets on American Airlines, American Eagle service, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia and Japan Airlines, as well as codeshare flights, between the date you register and September 22, 2017.

It’s very unlikely that any EQDs earned through credit card spending will count toward this offer’s EQD threshold. However, if you’re able to put in the EQMs but can’t scrape together the EQDs, you can try to spend your way to the threshold via $25,000 of credit card spending. If you attempt this, make sure that your credit card spending is completed in time for your statement to close and AA to add the bonus before the September 22 cutoff.

Update 6/9/2017: American Airlines spokesperson confirmed that EQDs earned through credit card spend won’t count toward the requirements for this promotion.

Were you targeted for this fast track offer?

Know before you go.

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