AAdvantage is the frequent flyer program of oneworld member, American Airlines, which may be of interest to some Australians who travel to (and within) the United States. There are sometimes good deals with buying AAdvantage miles at a discount and using it for oneworld member flights.

Given that AAdvantage is based in the States, other earning opportunities for Australians are limited. This guide is ground zero for those who are just starting off or have some passing interest in how the program works.

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New to the American Airlines AAdvantage program? Start here! was last modified: July 6th, 2021 by Brandon Loo

How do I join American Airlines AAdvantage?

Signing up to the AAdvantage program is free. You can sign up 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?

AAdvantage miles can be earned across a wide variety of partners, though most are based in the US.

The primary way to earn AAdvantage miles is by flying on American Airlines and partner airlines including Qantas and Cathay Pacific.

Members will earn between 5 to 11 miles per US$1 spent on American Airlines-marketed flights, whereas most partner airline flights will earn 25-100% of the actual mileage flown, before other bonuses (such as premium cabin travel) are applied. Here’s Qantas’ earning table as an example.

You could also:

(Note that most of these non-flight options won’t be accessible for those living in Australia. 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 in comparison 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
to Europe35,00052,50075,00080,000
to the continental USA and Canada35,00050,00060,00090,000
to Asia (excl. Japan, 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 to flying to Europe with AAdvantage miles, including with Etihad.

How do I earn AAdvantage elite status?

American Airlines AAdvantage has four main status levels above the basic membership: AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum

These tiers are earned with a mix of Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD), along with either Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS).

Oneworld Ruby benefits apply to AAdvantage Gold tier, while oneworld Sapphire comes with Platinum and Platinum Pro. Top-tier 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 tier.

AAdvantage Gold Card AAdvantage Gold

Achieve/Maintain (usually): $3,000 EQDs + 25,000 EQMS or 30 EQSs
Achieve/Maintain (2021): $2,000 EQDs + 20,000 EQMS or 20 EQSs
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 500 miles or less
  • Priority check-in, security and boarding

AAdvantage Platinum Card AAdvantage Platinum

Achieve/Maintain (usually): $6,000 EQDs + 50,000 EQMS or 60 EQSs
Achieve/Maintain (2021): $4,500 EQDs + 40,000 EQMS or 45 EQSs
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 500 miles or less
  • 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 (usually): $9,000 EQDs + 75,000 EQMS or 90 EQSs
Achieve/Maintain (2021): $7,000 EQDs + 60,000 EQMS or 70 EQSs
Oneworld equivalent: Emerald Oneworld Emerald icon (as of mid-2021)

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 (usually): $15,000 EQDs + 100,000 EQMS or 120 EQSs
Achieve/Maintain (2021): $12,000 EQDs + 80,000 EQMS or 95 EQSs
Oneworld equivalent: Emerald Oneworld Emerald icon

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 3 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 it for award redemptions. There are frequent promos to get deals on miles, and the rates to redeem it are quite reasonable, including for intra-Australia.

One of the biggest disadvantages of AAdvantage status is that it does not include access to American Airlines-operated lounges when you’re travelling on a US domestic or selected short-haul international itinerary, whereas all other oneworld elite members do.

New to the American Airlines AAdvantage program? Start here! was last modified: July 6th, 2021 by Brandon Loo