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Let's say one is interested in gaining or retaining AAdvantage frequent flyer status with American Airlines (I am happy to broaden the question to other airlines if that's useful). Normally, this requires you to actually fly, typically with either American or their alliance/codeshare partners. However, are there any other mechanisms to contribute towards frequent flyer membership without flying? As far as I understand, most credit cards/hire car programs etc. which are related to the AAdvantage program don't contribute 'elite-qualifying' miles. Are there any other legitimate ways to earn these or retain membership?

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If this question will get attention and many answers on topic, it'll became a wiki. Right now I don't think this should be wiki-question. –  VMAtm Dec 19 '12 at 9:36
    
@VMAtm, OK, thanks. Still learning the protocol for that kind of thing. Are there any guidelines on what should and shouldn't have CM? –  Andrew Ferrier Dec 19 '12 at 11:35
    
Well, the post became CM automatically if there are many answers, many reviews of it, and after owner or moderator decision. More about CM here –  VMAtm Dec 19 '12 at 12:06
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The only easy way to attain AA status is to have it gifted to you, either by the company or by another elite. Still, there are some avenues to shorten the climb.

  • AA Elite Awards allow Executive Platinum members who earn 125,000 EQMs to gift AAdvantage Gold status to a friend for one year.

  • A company enrolled in Business ExtrAA can redeem 2,400 points (equivalent to $24,000 in spending) to give Gold status to an employee.

  • AA does not generally status match except some cases negotiated through corporate travel departments; however, earlier this year they pounced on problems at United to poach some upper tier Premiers with matches.

  • Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard — Each calendar year when you reach $40,000 in spending on purchases, you will earn 10,000 EQMs. This card is also sometimes promoted with a one-time signup bonus of 5,000 EQMs for new cardholders.

  • Completing a challenge is usually the easiest way to attain status quickly if you have travel already scheduled, particularly if in a premium cabin as the challenge is based on EQPs, not EQMs. Note that the challenge is only offered to attain a status, not to maintain it.

  • AA periodically runs double EQM promotions.

  • If you're a true mover-and-shaker, someone who is giving AA hundreds of thousands of dollars of business over the years in full fares, you may be invited to the Concierge Key program.

Also, while the AAirpass prepaid card no longer comes with status, it does come with Admirals Club membership and priority checkin/screening/boarding.

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No, there is no other way to get an elite status. There are very few exceptions:

  • Sometimes airlines match the status you have with another airline.

  • You can participate in a status challenge. You pay a fee and get a temporary elite status. Then you have to fly a certain number of miles in a specified time period. If you do that, you get an elite status for a year. You cannot participate in the challenge to retain your status.

  • If you are in charge of a travel department in a large company, you may get a complementary elite status.

  • If you earn more than 1 million miles (it doesn't matter how you get them in some frequent flyer programs; but not any longer in AAdvantage), you get an elite status for life.

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Some high-end credit cards also give airline status (eg Amex Centurion). Delta also sometimes do promotions with hotels to earn EQMs (eg their Hilton Q4 promotion) but I don't think AA do that –  Gagravarr Dec 19 '12 at 3:10
    
The OP specifically asked about AA, for which this answer is not the most helpful. AA does not usually match, they do not confer status during a challenge, and as noted AA has changed its MM program to align it with UA and DL, so non-EQM miles no longer accrue toward million miler. –  choster Dec 19 '12 at 4:40
    
@choster: Right now AA matches your status with UA. –  R-traveler Dec 20 '12 at 1:36
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