What are the Frequent Flyer Program alternatives to American Advantage for Aussies?

Dear All

Has anyone had any luck getting around the drastic and infuriating changes to American Airlines qualification rules for Aussie members wanting to earning elite Advantage status?   They are so punitive for Aussie flyers that I’m seriously thinking about switching my allegiance to a new frequent flyer programme.

The first infuriating change is that “You must fly at least four segments on American Airlines (AA) or American Eagle (AE) to qualify for Executive Platinum, Platinum or Gold status within the qualifying year”?   I only discovered this after putting my AA FF number on return business class Finnair flights to England in October.  My account now shows 39,829 AA points earned, which should have earned me Gold status at 25,000 points, yet my status level is a big fat blank.   Why?  Because I haven’t flown 4 segments on AA or AE metal, which is very easy to do if you live in the States.  Much harder and MUCH more expensive to achieve if you live Down Under.

The second infuriating change is that they’ve scrapped the Platinum Challenge.  I’d very carefully researched and paid for return business class flights to both the UK (Finnair) and South America (Qantas) this year which cumulatively would have earned me AA Platinum status.   I actually paid $400 more to fly Qantas, rather than LAN for SYD-SCL-SYD as the AA customer service office in Sydney had assured me, prior to booking and paying for my flights that they would definitely qualify me for Platinum status whereas the LAN flights wouldn’t.  But when I rang 6 days later to enrol in the Platinum Challenge, I was advised that it had been been “cancelled indefinitely”.  To say I am furious would be an understatement!

To add salt to the wound, AA recently sent my husband an email offering to extend his Gold Status for a further year if we paid USD699.  How can it be possible to buy gold status for USD 699 without flying on AA or AE metal, but not possible to earn Gold (or Platinum) status after spending $20,000 on fares?

If you’ve had any luck in getting AA to grant you Gold or Platinum status without flying 4 segments on AA or AE metal, and without paying USD699 per person, please let me know how you did it!

If it’s not possible, I will definitely be switching my allegiance to another FF program as I feel as though I’ve been thoroughly shafted.  Any recommendations on good FF alternatives to AA for Aussies who fly business internationally, but who don’t visit the US much?

Thanks everyone



Welcome to PH community

To answer your question, first we need to know is there a particular airline (hence alliance) that your company is affiliated with? Can you fly whatever airline you want? To me it sounds like you are affiliated with Oneworld airlines?

Secondly, when you credit your miles, what are you after? Status or miles for flight redemptions? It sounds to me that you are after status, am I correct?

Based on the information you have given, I would say it’s probably best to credit your flights to our very own Qantas. I know for non frequent travelers it’s hard to achieve gold. But in your case, your flight to SCL in Qantas business class would’ve earned you 320 status credit. So 2 roundtrips would have earned you 640 which is very close to gold. Then as you said you travel a lot for business, the extra 60 credits can be easily earned with a round trip to New Zealand.

But if you don’t have to stick to one airline, then Virgin’s velocity is easier to attain status. They allow family pooling and you only need 500 status credits to attain gold. So for your trip to South America, just one roundtrip with you and your husband would be enough to earn gold status. Of course there are also minimal eligible flights needed (it’s 4), being an Australian airline, it’s not hard to do it as you said for Americans to fly AA.

Dear Michael

Many thanks for your response.

For the past 10 years, I’ve given my allegiance to American Airlines (and hence Oneworld) as AA required about 1/2 the number of points as QF for J class international redemptions on the same metal.  However, since AA’s recent massive devaluation of points, I am now prepared to switch my allegiance to any FF program or alliance that gives me a more generous earn & burn rate.

My husband and I fly internationally (for leisure, not business) at least once every year in paid J class (mostly to the UK and/or South America).  We have been stockpiling AA miles for retirement (between us we have about 1.3 million miles) and I now realise the utter folly of that decision as we would have been much better off redeeming them for reward flights and foregoing status!  I’m wondering which FF program we should credit our LAN J class SYD-SCL-SYD fares to in December/January if we don’t credit them to AA?  Status is secondary to miles earned, but Oneworld status is useful for our various Y class flights within in South America due to the extra baggage allowance that it entitles us to.   Any thoughts would be much appreciated.




Beyond Michael’s excellent response, the only other thing I’d emphasise is to get planning on redeeming your AA miles for trips you could take any time up to around January 2017 (the end of the booking window for flights booked just before the changes kick in in mid March). At least that way you can maximise the value of the balance you do have now.

Dear Michael

Thank you so much for answering my question so comprehensively and helpfully.  You have completely revolutionised my attitude towards collecting FF miles and I am incredibly grateful to you for all your suggestions (which I shall follow up).  No more allegiance to one FF programme for me!!

Thank you again for taking so much trouble to set me straight

Kindest regards