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Earn Elite Status – Fast!

Miles. They’re the bread and butter of the frequent traveler. If you’re like me, you hoard miles in every way possible. There’s the miles card; e-shopping; special promotions; and, if you’re an American Airlines AAdvantage member, the Platinum and Gold Challenges — fast tracks to more miles and elite status.

It wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve never heard of the challenges. They’re not posted anywhere on the site, so many consumers aren’t aware that they even exist. I recently enrolled in the Platinum Challenge. My goal: to earn 10,000 points through qualifying flights within three months.

Here’s the scoop:

  • Challenges are based on points, not miles. You must earn 10,000 points in the three-month period to reach Platinum status and 5,000 points for Gold. (You can start the challenge on the 1st or 16th of the month.)
  • Only points earned on American Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection flights (including AA codeshare flights operated by other carriers) count toward Challenges.
  • Know the point values you’ll earn for the booking codes you select.
  • Premium fares earn 1.5 points per mile when the purchased fare on your American Airlines ticket is booked in one of these booking codes: A F P D I J B Y
  • Discount fares earn 1.0 point per mile for these AA booking codes: H K L M V W
  • Deep discount fares earn .5 points per mile for these AA booking codes: G N O Q S (O — only eligible domestic fares booked in O will count. Q — excludes transatlantic fares booked in Q.)

To enroll, you must call American Airlines at 1-800-882-8880. If you don’t fly enough to meet the requirements for the Platinum Challenge, go for the Gold! You can always try the Platinum Challenge later, and you’ll be racking up additional points from being Gold in the meantime.


My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.

(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)

Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!

Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.

View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!


Nothing But Bonfires

Oooh, great tip. You’re right — I hadn’t heard of this, and I AM an AAdvantage member. Am hoping this might get me closer to the fancy lounge at the airport…


Ack! I never seem to fly the same airline so I’m always “points poor.”

But this is a good tip. I like the idea of having Platinum status. So very Paris Hilton.


It figures they wouldn’t put it on the website! What a cool deal. I am an AAdvantage member, too. Thanks for the info!


Do any other airlines have similar challenges?


Rumor has it that Delta does something similar, but I hear it’s by invitation only. If you find out anything more, let me know. I’m curious, too!


Thank you for the information.

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