FAST TRACK YOUR WAY TO ONEWORLD SAPPHIRE ELITE STATUS
Around 18 months ago we wrote a piece on how to fast-track your way to Star Alliance Gold status. Using a loophole with Aegean Airlines, it was possible to obtain gold status from just one long-haul return flight, and even more impressively, keep gold status throughout the Star Alliance for several years. As frequent fliers will know, it was an incredible shortcut of historic proportions. Unsurprisingly, the article remains one of our most popular to date.
However, as we stated at the time, industry shortcuts like this usually aren’t around for long. Sure enough, late in 2014, Aegean Airlines changed their elite status criteria and the amazing shortcut to Star Alliance Gold status was gone for good.
Since the Aegean shortcut was abolished, many readers have asked us for the next fastest and most affordable way to hit airline elite status. Not wanting to disappoint our fans, we scanned the frequent flyer globe and came up with an answer.
Let us introduce the American Airlines Platinum Challenge.
Follow this shortcut and you could hit OneWorld Sapphire status and enjoy all the perks such as lounge access, priority boarding and extra baggage allowances from as little as one flight.
American Airlines Platinum Challenge
The challenge has been covered on several reputable frequent flyer blogs, but the details are still patchy and usually varied with each review. Details can also change from year to year with zero notice. That said, allow us to take you through it. Here’s where things stand in the first quarter of 2015:
Whereas one would normally have to fly 50,000 miles over at least 4 segments to hit Platinum status on American Airlines (equivalent to OneWorld Sapphire) or any major US carrier, the Platinum Challenge criteria is simple. All you need to do is:
- Pay a USD $200 challenge registration fee to American Airlines
- Obtain 10,000 elite qualifying points (EQPs) by flying on certain OneWorld airlines in a 3 month period
Specific dates vary by airline but normally, if you earn elite status through a challenge in the first half of the calendar year, you’ll be awarded status until the following February. If this were in early June for example, you’d have only 8 months to enjoy the benefits of elite status. However if you complete a challenge in the second half of the year, July for instance, you could enjoy elite status for well over a year (the second half of that year, the entire next year, and the first two months of the following year), extending your elite status up to a possible 20 months! Timing is everything.
The cutoff date for the American Airlines Platinum Challenge is June 16th. Challenges begun prior to June 16th, once completed, will only earn status for the remainder of that calendar year and the first two months (end of February) of the following year. But challenges begun on or after June 16th, once completed, earn status for the remainder of the year, the entire next year, and the first two months of the following year.
Airlines and Elite Qualifying Points (EQPs)
The beauty of this challenge is that you don’t even need to fly with American Airlines to complete it. You heard that right – you don’t need to fly with American Airlines at all to be granted Platinum Status.
What you do need to do – is obtain 10,000 EQPs within a 3 month period.
However, if you had booked that same flight on British Airways ‘deep’ discount economy class code N, you would receive only 0.50 EQPs per mile – 1723 EQPs.
Bear in mind the points tables are different for each airline so if you’re planning to fly another airline such as Qantas, you need to check their table. It all requires careful analysis to ensure you will hit the 10,000 EQP mark. Do your homework however, and you’ll be rewarded.
The American Airlines Platinum Challenge Process
Below is a full explanation of the American Airlines Platinum Challenge process:
- Sign up for American Airlines AAdvantage membership on their website. It’s free to join, and you should have an AAdvantage membership number within minutes.
- Call the AAdvantage customer service hotline on 1-800-882-8880. It’s important you speak with a knowledgeable representative here. Again, we spoke with several agents who knew very few details about this challenge. If you encounter one of these less knowledgeable agents – don’t be deterred – just ask to speak to someone more senior. Failing that, simply hang up, call again and try with a different agent.
- Explain that you would like to register for the Platinum Challenge.
- Inform the agent of a suitable start date for your challenge – you’ll ideally want this to be just before you flights to maximize your 90 day window in which to accumulate the necessary number of miles flown.
- The agent will bill you USD $200 to register for the challenge.
- Be sure to provide your AAdvantage number to your OneWorld airline before you fly.