No one likes to be excluded. Sadly, whenever I write about status matches, the benefits are exclusive to those who already hold status somewhere. This is the game changer. A status challenge is an opportunity to grab major benefits, bonus miles, upgrades, lounge access and other wonderful frequent flyer benefits with a small fraction of the generally required flying. It’s incredible, it’s back and it’s open to everyone…

a plane on the runway

The Challenge

Like Mission Impossible (the good ones), your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to fly 7,000 elite qualifying miles for Gold status or 12,500 elite qualifying miles for Platinum in a three month (90 day) period, beginning the day you call to sign up. As soon as you successfully complete the challenge, you’ll be granted Gold or Platinum for the rest of the year through February 2017, and if taken after June, all of the following year as well, into 2018. All flights taken on American Airlines, British AIrways, Iberia, Finnair, Japan Airlines and Qantas will count toward the challenge. The fee for the Platinum challenge is $200, Gold will be less, and if you travel more than three times a year it’s absolutely worth the money for all those free bags and drinks in the lounge. To take the challenge call 888-697-5636 (you can do so from Skype online too). 

a map of a city

What Are Elite Qualifying Miles?

Elite qualifying miles are slightly different than miles flown in that you can earn more or less than one for every mile you actually fly. Any American Airlines fares will earn at least one elite qualifying mile for a mile flown, with fares in business earning two times miles and first offering three times. Fares on other carriers will earn between half a mile for every mile flown to a maximum of two miles for first and business class tickets. Discount business class tickets, like many of those I’ve illustrated on the site count as 1.5x elite qualifying miles on airlines other than American, which would count those fares as 2x if flown on their own planes. 

an airplane seat with a small table and a bottle of water

The Benefits

Where do you begin?! You gain OneWorld Sapphire status, the second highest tier offered in the OneWorld alliance, bringing you business class check in, priority screening and luggage fast track, not to mention lounges on every OneWorld airline. That means all the benefits above with Cathay Pacific, Iberia, British Airways, Japan Airlines, TAM, Qantas, American and more. When flying with American Airlines the benefits are even greater, on flights under 500 miles you’re automatically added to the complimentary upgrade list. On longer flights you can redeem certificates for upgrades, you’ll receive fee waivers across the board and you’ll get two free checked bags. Having lounge access when traveling internationally, even if you’re flying economy on British Airways, Iberia or any of the others is a major benefit, a huge upgrade and a major money saver, offering free drinks and food. 

a sign with a blue and white text

Two Examples Of Qualifying: 

A) If you happen to have booked one of the amazing discount business class fares between the US and Europe in recent months, or one from Europe to Australia or Asia, you can likely get it done in just one round trip. Let’s take Las Vegas to London (first thing that came to mind). The flight is 5,222 miles one way. With the 1.5x elite qualifying mile bonus for discount business class on British Airways or any other partner carrier, you’d earn 7,833 elite qualifying miles each way, 15,666 in total. Putting you 3,000 over the meter for Platinum in one round trip. 

B) If flying on American Airlines you earn at least one elite qualifying point per mile. Let’s take New York to San Francisco. Flying on the cheapest economy tickets, you’ll still earn elite qualifying miles round trip. Do that twice, 10,332. From there you’d just need one segment over 2,168 miles, or a round trip of that distance. Platinum benefits, fee waivers, baggage allowance, international lounge access and upgrades for almost two years. Just for flying like usual….

a piece of paper with white text on it


If you’ve ever thought of jumping ship, always aspired to hold elite status or want a back up status for a reasonable amount of flying, this is your golden ticket. I would argue that American Airlines offers the best elite program and some of the most valuable miles. What are you waiting for?

BIG HT: ViewFromTheWing

As Always, Get In Touch:

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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