American has made many changes to the 2017 AAdvantage loyalty program. Changes include the reduction of Executive Platinum benefits, transitioning to a revenue based loyalty program, and the addition of AAdvantage Platinum Pro status. Today I’ll introduce American’s new elite status, explain how to qualify, and dive into the benefits offered. Overall, I find the addition of Platinum Pro as one of a few positive changes to the new AAdvantage program.
Introduction Of AAdvantage Platinum Pro Elite Status
American introduced Platinum Pro status to bridge the gap between Platinum and Executive Platinum status. Those elite statuses require members to fly 50,000 and 100,000 miles annually respectively. In years past that left a huge gap and didn’t further reward those who flew 75,000+ miles with American.
Due to the sizable gap between elite status tiers AAdvantage members who knew they’d fall short of Executive Platinum often opted to switch loyalty mid-year. Doing so allowed them to earn base level elite status with a competitor in addition to AAdvantage Platinum status. This way they’d have good benefits on two different airlines and could be more flexible with future travel plans. By introducing AAdvantage Platinum Pro American hopes to keep those customers who fly between 75,000 and 100,000 miles each year.
Although American introduced Platinum Pro in 2016, this year is the first year AAdvantage members can qualify. American did not award the status to those who would have qualified based on 2016 travel. Many AAdvantage members were initially upset with this decision. Even worse, American offered those members the “opportunity” to pay extra to get Platinum Pro early. It goes without saying that this move didn’t exactly make too many AAdvantage members happy.
Now that you know the basics of AAdvantage Platinum Pro, it’s important to understand how to qualify.
How To Qualify For AAdvantage Platinum Pro Status?
As with all AAdvantage status, members qualify by flying, a lot. AAdvantage members earn elite status by traveling with American or partner airlines. Through flying and spending AAdvantage members earn Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM), Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS), and Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD). To qualify for AAdvantage Platinum Pro status, AAdvantage members must earn at least 75,000 EQM or 90 EQS AND earn at least $9,000 EQD.
AAdantage members must complete all that flying and spending in a single calendar year. On January 1 all qualifying activity resets back to zero. AAdvantage members must start the qualification process over once again.
American awards status from the moment you earn it until January 31 of the following year. This means if you earn AAdvantage Platinum status in July of 2017, you’ll enjoy the benefits through January 31 of 2019!
AAdvantage Platinum Pro Status Elite Benefits
It’s easiest to think of AAdvantage Platinum Pro as an ‘enhanced’ Platinum status rather than a diluted Executive Platinum status. Platinum Pro benefits include all of the benefits of both AAdvantage Gold and Platinum status plus a fee added perks. AAdvantage Platinum Pro benefits include the following:
- Complimentary auto-requested upgrades on domestic flights
- 78-hour upgrade window
- Group 2 Boarding
- Complimentary access to Main Cabin Extra (MCE) and Preferred Seats at the time of booking
- Includes international travel
- 80% elite mileage bonus
- 2 free checked bags on all American operated flights
- Complimentary same-day standby
- Access to the Platinum Pro AAdvantage desk
- Faster, more reliable customers service
- OneWorld Sapphire Status
As I mentioned above, I like to think of Platinum Pro as a slightly better version of AAdvantage Platinum status. I find the unlimited complimentary auto-request upgrades are the most useful perk of Platinum Pro over Platinum. Platinum Pro members don’t have to use 500-mile upgrade certificates to move from economy class up to domestic first. Instead, you can use 500-mile upgrades to upgrade a travel companion. Additionally, since the Platinum Pro upgrade window extends to 72 hours prior to departure you’ll have a better chance at those upgrades clearing before arriving to the gate at the airport.
Platinum Pro members continue to accrue 500-mile upgrade certificates based on miles flown. All AAdvantage elite members earn 4 stickers per 12,500 miles flown. Assuming you fly at least 75,000 miles the year following qualifying, you’ll earn at least 26 upgrade certificates. You can save these sticker upgrades or use them to upgrade travel companions however that choice is up to you.
OneWorld Sapphire Status
Beyond domestic upgrades, the benefit I value most from AAdvantage status is OneWorld Sapphire status. OneWorld is an airline alliance which consists of American, British Airways, Qantas, Qatar Airways, and Ibera among others. When traveling on OneWorld partner airlines you’ll receive many of the same benefits offered from AAdvantage status. Benefits vary from airline to airline, but the one benefit which is consistent is lounge access.
OneWorld Sapphire members have access to several hundred business class lounges around the world. These include British Airways Galleries lounges in the UK, Cathay Pacific Lounges internationally, and OneWorld Business Class Lounges as well. It’s a fantastic benefit that makes traveling internationally much more enjoyable. The best part is that OneWorld Sapphire members have lounge access regardless of the clas of service flown. You can purchase a deep discount economy class ticket on BA and enjoy a relaxing airport experience before and after your flights.
Is Platinum Pro Status Worth It?
While this is a very personal decision for everyone, I’ll quickly share my opinion. I personally don’t think Platinum Pro status alone is worth it. I wouldn’t go into a qualifying year aiming to earn AAdvantage Platinum Pro status. The benefits offered from AAdvantage Platinum status are fantastic and most importantly that’s when you first earn OneWorld Sapphire status.
If I knew I wasn’t going to fly a full 100K+ miles in a year, I’d stop going for a single airlines status at 50,000 miles. While complimentary upgrades are nice, I’d much prefer earning some status with another airline as well instead. That way I’d have a great elite status with American and something on United or Delta. Then if I needed to travel for a personal trip I’d have more options and wouldn’t feel so trapped by a single airline.
However, if I found myself falling just short of AAdvantage Platinum Pro in a calendar year, I’d make sure to take a last-minute mileage run to make up the difference. I’d only do this if I found myself about 10,000 EQM and $1,000 EQD short. There’s definitely a huge difference in upgrade priority between Platinum and Platinum Pro. If I fly 75,000 miles (mostly domestic) I’d make sure to hit Platinum Pro.
I’m happy to see American finally add an AAdvantage elite tier between Platinum and Executive Platinum. Doing so adds yet another carrot to the elite qualifying game. In years past I would have stopped at 50,000 miles and switched my loyalty as I did in 2015.
While I would be happy earning Platinum Pro status I wouldn’t aim for that status alone. I wouldn’t go into a qualifying year with the goal of earning Platinum Pro status. The benefits offered from this new elite tier simply aren’t attractive enough alone. The only real added benefit over Platinum status are the complimentary domestic upgrades. Those upgrades are getting harder and harder to come by anyway. If I really valued sitting up front domestically I’d pay the often marginal upfront cost and buy a first class ticket. This way I’d guarantee the upgrade and not have to sit around waiting for my upgrade to clear.