AAdvantage Award Travel Fees Permanently Eliminated; Miles Expiration Extended, More Benefits and Flexibility in 2021 — Plus More

Many award travel fees are being eliminated by American Airlines effective immediately; and the further pausing of the expiration of miles has been announced in order to give you more flexibility and peace of mind — and those are only two of the changes to the AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty program which have been officially announced recently.

AAdvantage Award Travel Fees Permanently Eliminated; Miles Expiration Extended, More Benefits and Flexibility in 2021 — Plus More

American Airlines

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Details to updates to the elite status program for 2021 — which are designed to give you new rewards and more flexibility — will be shared in the coming months.

Other updates which have been announced for the American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty program include the:

  • Adjustment of elite qualification thresholds for 2021 by lowering them
  • Head start for you on the qualification for elite level status for 2021
  • Waiving of the Elite Qualifying Dollar requirement for members who have earned AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Pro elite level status if they spend a minimum of $30,000.00 on purchases with their eligible AAdvantage credit cards
  • Adjustment of Elite Qualifying Mile thresholds for Executive Platinum rewards by lowering them
  • Introduction of the flexibility to choose your reward for members who have earned Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum elite level status
  • Expansion of elite benefits to Basic Economy fares
  • Extension of AAdvantage elite level status through January 2022
  • Extension of the expiration date for systemwide upgrades
  • Introduction of a promotion to reach Million Miler status
  • Addition of a new American Airlines Vacations offer for AAdvantage elite status members
  • Elimination of award change fees
  • Pausing of AAdvantage mile expiration dates through June of 2021

Eliminating Award Travel Fees

Effective as of today, Wednesday, November 11, 2020, the following fees have been eliminated permanently:

  • Service fees for new award tickets issued by reservations at American Airlines
  • Award travel change fees to all remaining destinations
  • Award reinstatement fees
American Airlines Santiago to Miami

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

The elimination of these fees are in addition to the change fees on award travel within the United States — as well as between the United States and several international destinations — which were eliminated earlier this year.

If you cancel an eligible award trip on the official Internet web site of American Airlines, your miles will now be reinstated automatically into your AAdvantage membership account in many cases. AAdvantage miles which are redeemed for eligible upgrade awards, car and hotel awards, and American Airlines Vacations packages can also be reinstated at no charge by contacting reservations at American Airlines.

AAdvantage Mile Expiration Extended Through June 30, 2021

The expiration of AAdvantage miles has been paused through Wednesday, June 30, 2021. If your miles are scheduled to expire on or before Wednesday, June 30, 2021, they will now expire in July of 2021, if there is no additional activity in your membership account before then.

AAdvantage membership accounts will be updated with the new expiration date. Rest assured that if your AAdvantage miles expire before the adjustment is implemented, they will be reactivated.

Extension of Your AAdvantage Elite Level Status

Admirals Club Lounge Atlanta

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

All members whose elite level status was set to expire on Sunday, January 31, 2021 will have their elite level status extended until Monday, January 31, 2022.

You will continue to enjoy all the benefits that come with your elite level status — and you can earn a higher elite level status through lower elite qualification requirements this year.

Adjustment of Elite Status Qualification Requirements

AAdvantage members can start earning elite status in 2021 right now. American Airlines will count all flight activity flown in the fourth quarter of 2020 which qualifies for earning elite level status toward the qualifications for elite status of every member for 2021. You will be able to qualify for elite status in 2021 with adjusted requirements for earning Elite Qualifying Dollars, Elite Qualifying Miles, and Elite Qualifying Segments.

AAdvantage members who reach the adjusted thresholds in 2021 will receive their elite status immediately upon qualifying — and valid through Tuesday, January 31, 2023.

Qualifying Metric for Elite Status 2021 Executive Platinum — or oneworld Emerald Platinum Pro — or oneworld Sapphire Platinum —
or oneworld Sapphire
Gold —
or oneworld Ruby
Elite Qualifying Miles 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000
Elite Qualifying Segments 95 70 45 20
Elite Qualifying Dollars $12,000.00 $7,000.00 $4,500.00 $2,000.00

You will be able to qualify for a higher elite level status in 2020 with lower Elite Qualifying Dollar, Elite Qualifying Mile, and Elite Qualifying Segment requirements.

AAdvantage members who reach the adjusted thresholds in 2020 will receive their elite status immediately upon qualifying — and valid through Monday, January 31, 2022.

Qualifying Metric for Elite Status 2020 Executive Platinum — or oneworld Emerald Platinum Pro — or oneworld Sapphire Platinum —
or oneworld Sapphire
Gold —
or oneworld Ruby
Elite Qualifying Miles 60,000 45,000 30,000 15,000
Elite Qualifying Segments 60 45 30 15
Elite Qualifying Dollars $9,000.00 $6,000.00 $4,000.00 $1,500.00

To qualify for elite level status in either 2020 or 2021, you must meet the required level of Elite Qualifying Dollars — plus either the required level of Elite Qualifying Miles or Elite Qualifying Segments.

Standard elite status qualification levels

Head Start on Elite Status Qualification for 2021

Admirals Club Lounge Atlanta

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

All base Elite Qualifying Miles, Elite Qualifying Segments, and Elite Qualifying Dollars earned based on flights taken from Thursday, October 1, 2020 through Thursday, December 31, 2020, will also count toward your 2021 requirements. They will automatically be rolled over after Friday, January 1, 2021. Keep in mind that bonus credits for qualification for elite status — such as those earned from an AAdvantage credit card — will not roll over.

Waiving the Elite Qualifying Dollar Requirement for Select Elite Status Levels If You Spend $30,000.00 on Purchases With Your Eligible AAdvantage Credit Card

The Elite Qualifying Dollar requirement to qualify for Gold, Platinum, or Platinum Pro elite level status will be waived for 2021 if you spend a minimum of $30,000.00 on net purchases with an eligible AAdvantage credit card which post to your account between Friday, January 1, 2021 and Friday, December 31, 2021, which gives members another way to achieve their elite status goals. More details are to come.

This includes all Citi AAdvantage credit cards, all AAdvantage Aviator credit cards, and all AAdvantage credit cards outside the United States.

Select offers and select benefits may not be achievable based on the assigned credit line and ability to maintain that credit line.

Adjusting Elite Qualifying Mile Thresholds for Executive Platinum Rewards

American Airlines International Business Class between Bogota and Miami

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Previously, members who qualified for Executive Platinum elite level status received a choice of one reward upon reaching 150,000 Elite Qualifying Miles, 200,000 Elite Qualifying Miles, and 250,000 Elite Qualifying Miles.

For 2021, the levels required to earn these rewards to 120,000, 160,000 and 200,000 Elite Qualifying Miles will be adjusted.

Elite status benefits

The levels required to earn these rewards have been lowered for 2020, as when you reach:

  • 90,000 Elite Qualifying Miles and choose from:
    • 2 systemwide upgrades
    • 40,000 bonus AAdvantage miles
    • Gift of AAdvantage Gold elite level status
  • 120,000 Elite Qualifying Miles and choose from:
    • 2 systemwide upgrades
    • 40,000 bonus AAdvantage miles
    • Gift of AAdvantage Platinum elite level status
  • 150,000 Elite Qualifying Miles and choose from:
    • 2 systemwide upgrades
    • 40,000 bonus AAdvantage miles
    • Gift of AAdvantage Platinum elite level status

Introducing the Flexibility to Choose Your Rewards

Admirals Club Lounge Atlanta

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Additional information will be coming soon; but starting in early 2021, you will have the flexibility to choose the rewards which matter most to you when you qualify for:

  • Platinum Pro Elite Level Status — You will be able to enhance your current benefits by choosing from a list of rewards — such as:
    • A systemwide upgrade
    • Admirals Club day passes
    • AAdvantage bonus miles
    • And more
  • Executive Platinum Elite Level Status — systemwide upgrades will now become one of many reward options, as you can choose to maintain up to the four systemwide upgrades you receive today; or you will have the flexibility to select from a list of additional rewards. All of your other existing Executive Platinum benefits will remain the same.

Expanding Elite Benefits to Basic Economy Fares

AAdvantage members who have earned elite level status have enjoyed such benefits as priority access and preferred boarding during their journeys when they purchased Basic Economy fares since Thursday, October 1, 2020 — and they can now use elite benefits for:

  • Upgrade privileges
  • Elite seat benefits — reserve a preferred seat or Main Cabin Extra seat
  • Same-day confirmed flight change benefits.
American Airlines Santiago to Miami

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

To upgrade, AAdvantage members who have earned elite level status can use their 500-mile upgrade certificates, systemwide upgrade certificates, or mileage award upgrades — just as they do today — with a Main Cabin fare.

For travel starting Friday, January 1, 2021, Basic Economy tickets will no longer earn Elite Qualifying Miles, Elite Qualifying Segments, or Elite Qualifying Dollars toward future elite level status.

No Award Mile Expiration For Members Younger Than 21 Years of Age

Effective as of Wednesday, July 1, 2020, the 18-month activity requirement will not apply to AAdvantage members who are younger than 21 years of age. For AAdvantage members who turned 21 years of age before Wednesday, July 1, 2020, the 18-month qualifying activity period will be applied on a pro rata basis.

Example: If a member turned 21 on Sunday, March 1, 2020, the 18-month qualifying activity period for this member will start on Sunday, March 1, 2020.

This means AAdvantage members will not be subject to mileage expiration until 18 months after their 21st birthday if they do not have qualifying activity in their membership accounts at least once in 18 months following their 21st birthday. If the AAdvantage membership account does not include a birth date in the member profile, the account will be subject to the 18-month activity rule. Be sure to keep your AAdvantage membership account updated to get the latest information.

Extending Expiration of Systemwide Upgrades

American Airlines International Business Class between Bogota and Miami

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Any unused systemwide upgrades with an expiration date of Sunday, January 31, 2021, have been extended through Saturday, July 31, 2021.

Although American Airlines is not awarding new systemwide upgrades with the extension of Executive Platinum elite level status, members who qualify or re-qualify for Executive Platinum elite level status in 2020 will receive four systemwide upgrades which are valid through Monday, January 31, 2022.

Promotion to Reach Million Miler Status Using Credit Cards

A limited-time promotion has been introduced to help you reach Million Miler status and receive benefits like elite status. For all eligible Citi AAdvantage credit cards, all AAdvantage Aviator credit cards, and select AAdvantage credit cards outside the United States, every dollar which is spent on net purchases that post between Friday, May 1, 2020 and Thursday, December 31, 2020, will count as one mile toward Million Miler status.

Offer of an American Airlines Vacations Credit

AAdvantage members who have earned elite level status have another reason to look forward to a vacation, as a special one-time credit of up to $400.00 to use toward an American Airlines Vacations package was deposited in Your Wallet for eligible members on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

Elite Level Status Credit Amount
Gold $300.00
Platinum and Platinum Pro $350.00
Executive Platinum $400.00

AAdvantage members who have earned elite level status can redeem their credit on or after Wednesday, July 1, 2020, by calling a representative via telephone at 800-321-2121.

Companion Benefit: Systemwide and Mileage Award Upgrades

If you and a companion are waitlisted for the same type of upgrade, you can sponsor him or her to receive your elite priority level. You will stay prioritized together — even at the airport.

Companions do not have to be members of the AAdvantage frequent guest loyalty program, as the upgrade can be deducted from any AAdvantage membership account.

To sponsor a companion for a new or existing trip, contact Reservations.

Companion and sponsor qualifications:

  • Book on the same flight — same or separate reservations
  • Use the same upgrade type — systemwide or mileage award upgrades

Companion Benefit: 500-Mile Upgrades

American Airlines domestic first class

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Today, you and another elite status member can be prioritized together on the 500-mile upgrade waitlist. If the upgrade is not cleared before you get to the airport, you are prioritized based on individual elite level status.

Now, you can ask an agent to reconnect you on the list at the airport. If available, the 500-mile upgrades will be deducted from the AAdvantage membership account of the sponsor.

Upgrade Prioritization

Upgrade requests will be prioritized by elite status level — then by:

  1. Type of upgrade
  2. 12-month Rolling Elite Qualifying Dollars
American Airlines International Business Class between Bogota and Miami

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

If the upgrade type and 12-month Rolling Elite Qualifying Dollar value are the same, the booking code will be looked at first; then the date and time of the request to determine prioritization.

Type of Upgrade

Before you get to the airport, requests for systemwide and mileage award upgrades are processed independently from 500-mile upgrade requests.

At the airport, upgrades requested will be prioritized in this order:

  1. Systemwide and mileage award upgrades
  2. 500-mile upgrades on purchased tickets
  3. 500-mile upgrades on award tickets

12-Month Rolling Elite Qualifying Dollars

Your 12-month Rolling Elite Qualifying Dollar value is updated daily and is different from your Year-to-Date Elite Qualifying Dollars, which is used to track your progress toward elite level status.

Rolling Elite Qualifying Dollars are based on:

  1. Elite Qualifying Dollars actually earned in the 12 last months
  2. Elite Qualifying Dollars earned from reaching qualifying spend thresholds on eligible AAdvantage® Aviator® MasterCard® cards

Booking Code

Booking code priority:

  • From Business to First — for systemwide and mileage award upgrades only: J, R, D, I, C
  • From Main Cabin to the next class: W, P, Y, H, K, M, L, V, G, S, N, Q, O, T

Summary

American Airlines Santiago to Miami

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Eliminating fees for award travel for all passengers of American Airlines — as well as the further extension of the expiration of AAdvantage miles — is great news which marks a rare time that American Airlines has set a standard by taking the lead on a policy which is friendlier and more convenient to customers. Do not be surprised if other airlines — such as Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — enact similar policies.

All photographs ©2018 and ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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