AAdvantage is the frequent flyer program of oneworld member American Airlines. It’s most relevant for people who travel to (and within) the United States. But even so, there are sometimes good deals with buying AAdvantage miles at a discount and using them to book oneworld member flights.

Most recently, American Airlines overhauled how you earn status in the AAdvantage program. Instead of Elite Qualifying Dollars, Miles and Segments (EQDs, EQMs and EQSs), you now just earn Loyalty Points. We’ll talk more about these changes later on.

Given that AAdvantage is based in the US, most Australian readers will find it more useful to buy miles, rather than earn them. In this guide, we take a general look at how the program works, including some of the ‘sweet spots’ with using AAdvantage miles across Australia.

COVID-19 DISCLAIMER: The situation regarding Covid-19 is constantly changing, and the impacts on travel remain quite fluid. We endeavour to keep our content as up to date as possible in this dynamic environment.

How do I join American Airlines AAdvantage?

Signing up for the AAdvantage program is free, and you can get the ball rolling using this link.

  1. Go to the AAdvantage enrolment page
  2. Enter your name and other personal details
  3. Create an account password
  4. Click ‘Continue’ to finalise your registration

How do I earn AAdvantage miles?

Now, let’s dive in to the most important part: how to boost your balance. AAdvantage miles can be earned across a wide variety of partners, though most are based in the US. One of the most fundamental ways to earn AAdvantage miles is by flying on American Airlines and partner airlines, including Qantas and Cathay Pacific.

As an AAdvantage member, you earn 5 to 11 miles per US$1 spent on American Airlines-marketed flights. On the other hand, most partner airline flights will earn 25-100% of the actual mileage flown, before other bonuses (such as premium cabin travel) are applied. Take a look at Qantas’ earning table as an example.

In order to earn more miles, you could also:

However, note that most of these non-flight options won’t be accessible for those living in Oz. Buying miles and taking eligible flights are the easiest ways to earn AAdvantage miles in Australia.

How do I use AAdvantage miles?

AAdvantage miles are best used on reward seats, hands down. The more premium the cabin class booked, the better value you can expect from those miles.

The AAdvantage award chart for Australian redemptions is a simple flat-rate for any oneworld-operated domestic flight in Australia. Of course, Qantas is the only airline that fits the bill.

  • 10,000 miles: Economy Class one-way
  • 20,000 miles: Business Class one-way

For short hops, this is poor value. But for longer routings – such as Perth to Sydney – it’s great value when compared to Qantas Frequent Flyer.

A guide to Qantas Points transfer promotions from bank rewards programs
Fly Qantas Airbus A330 Business Class across the country for just 20,000 AAdvantage miles.

Here are some of the rates for flights from Australia and New Zealand (termed the ‘South Pacific’) to various destinations:

AAdvantage miles one-way travel from South Pacific EconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst
Australia to New Zealand15,00020,00025,000n/a
to Europe35,00052,50075,00080,000
to the continental USA and Canada35,00050,00060,00090,000
to Asia (excl. Japan and South Korea)12,50017,50020,00030,000
to Asia (Japan and South Korea only)20,00025,00030,00040,000

Want to read deeper into this? Check out our guide on flying to Europe with AAdvantage miles – including with Etihad.

How do I earn AAdvantage elite status?

Next, we move on to elite status. American Airlines AAdvantage has four main tiers above the basic membership: AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum.

Previously, these tiers were earned with a mix of Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD), along with either Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS). But from 2022, everything will be scrapped and you’ll need to earn Loyalty Points to maintain your AAdvantage status.

Unfortunately, this change to Loyalty Points puts a greater emphasis on non-flying spending. While you can earn Loyalty Points on American Airlines and oneworld partner flights, you’ll also collect them on American Airlines-branded credit cards in the US.

Oneworld Ruby benefits apply to the AAdvantage Gold tier, while oneworld Sapphire comes with Platinum. At the top of the rung, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members have access to oneworld Emerald.

In 2021, the thresholds to achieve elite status qualification have been lowered by roughly 20% due to the effects of COVID-19 on travel. This is reflected in the sections below. The Platinum Pro tier is also now matched to oneworld Emerald as of 30 June 2021 – this is great for those looking to reach that coveted tier.

AAdvantage Gold Card AAdvantage Gold

Achieve/Maintain (previously): $3,000 EQDs + 25,000 EQMs or 30 EQSs
Achieve/Maintain (from 2022): 30,000 Loyalty Points
Oneworld equivalent: Ruby Oneworld Ruby icon

Some major benefits of AAdvantage Gold status include:

  • 1x free checked bag on fares.
  • Complimentary preferred seats.
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats on check-in.
  • 40% elite mileage bonus.
  • 24-hour upgrade window.
  • Complimentary auto-requested upgrades on US domestic and short-haul international flights of 500 miles or fewer.
  • Priority check-in, security and boarding.

AAdvantage Platinum Card AAdvantage Platinum

Achieve/Maintain (previously): $6,000 EQDs + 50,000 EQMs or 60 EQSs
Achieve/Maintain (from 2022): 75,000 Loyalty Points
Oneworld equivalent: Sapphire Oneworld Sapphire icon

In addition to Gold benefits, Platinum members get:

  • 2x free checked bag on fares.
  • Priority baggage delivery.
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats.
  • 60% elite mileage bonus.
  • 48-hour upgrade window.
  • Complimentary auto-requested upgrades on US domestic and short-haul international flights of 500 miles or fewer.
  • Oneworld Business Class lounge access (except for AAdvantage member access to American Airlines lounges within North America or to selected destinations, which is always excluded).

AAdvantage Platinum Pro Card AAdvantage Platinum Pro

Achieve/Maintain (previously): $9,000 EQDs + 75,000 EQMs or 90 EQSs
Achieve/Maintain (from 2022): 125,000 Loyalty Points
Oneworld equivalent: Emerald Oneworld Emerald icon

Similarly, new perks over Gold and Platinum include:

  • 72-hour upgrade window.
  • 80% elite mileage bonus.
  • Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades on all US domestic and short-haul international flights, regardless of length.

AAdvantage Executive Platinum Card AAdvantage Executive Platinum

Achieve/Maintain (previously): $15,000 EQDs + 100,000 EQMs or 120 EQSs
Achieve/Maintain (from 2022): 200,000 Loyalty Points
Oneworld equivalent: Emerald Oneworld Emerald icon

Finally, as the top tier available, Executive Platinums can enjoy:

  • 4x one-way systemwide upgrades that can be used on any American Airlines-marketed and operated flights of any length, including international long-haul. Each upgrade covers up to three segments of a one-way journey. This can be gifted to other people.
  • Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades on all US domestic and short-haul international flights, regardless of length.
  • Complimentary upgrades on award tickets.
  • 100-hour upgrade window.
  • 120% elite mileage bonus.
  • 3x free checked bags on fares.
  • Waived ticketing service charge and award change/cancel fees.
  • Complimentary alcoholic beverage and snack in Economy.
  • Guaranteed seat availability in Economy.
  • Expanded award seat availability.
  • Oneworld First Class lounge access (except for AAdvantage member access to American Airlines lounges within North America or to selected destinations, which is always excluded).

How do I contact American Airlines AAdvantage?

To get in touch with AAdvantage about a membership enquiry or flight redemption, try:

  • calling 800-882-8880 from the US or (02) 9101 1948 from Australia (charges may apply).
  • sending them a direct message on Twitter or Facebook.

While the call centre might be the quickest way to resolve your issue, try the social media channels if the line is busy or you’re not able to call overseas numbers.

Summing up

AAdvantage is a program that Australian users might consider for buying miles on sale then using them for reward redemptions. For instance, there are frequent promos to get deals on miles, and the rates to redeem them are really quite reasonable, including for intra-Australia.

However, one of the biggest disadvantages of AAdvantage status is that it doesn’t include access to American Airlines-operated lounges when you’re travelling on a US domestic or selected short-haul international itinerary. It’s strange because all other oneworld elite members do.

The change to Loyalty Points also means it will be harder to achieve AAdvantage status, though we don’t imagine this will be a concern for most Australian readers.

The Ultimate Guide to American Airlines AAdvantage was last modified: October 19th, 2023 by Brandon Loo