United Airplane

Is It Time To Say Goodbye? When or How To Change Preferred Airlines

This post is part of a long-form series documenting the process of completing a status match challenge. For the master post on my experience matching from United Airlines MileagePlus Premier 1k to American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum, click here.

Is It Time To Say Goodbye?

At the beginning of August 2018, I found myself searching for a way to retain my prized United Airlines Premier 1k status. Not unlike Andrea Bocelli, it appeared that after 350,382 “lifetime miles” on UA (more than half of all the miles I’ve flown total), I was going to have to say goodbye to the “Friendly Skies”…

Time to say goodbye
to countries I never
saw and shared with you,
now, yes, I shall experience them.
(just not on United)
Sadly I never got to fully enjoy airline loyalty programs before they switched to a revenue based model. Flying over 100,000 miles a year is something I’ve done with ease since 2015, but hitting $12,000 in annual spend? Not so easy. Having been based in Washington, DC and then Chicago, IL it made logical sense to fly United Airlines and their Star Alliance partners.
In my first year of frequent travel I hit Gold, discovered the benefits of international lounge access, got my first ever complimentary international upgrade and never looked back. The next year I hit Platinum and reveled in those RPUs (Regional Premier Upgrades). In 2017, thanks to some smart booking, cheap Business Class flights through Europe and four trips to Dubai in five months I finally attained the much coveted Premier 1k status. Not only was I getting upgraded on almost every domestic flight, but I also received SIX GPUs (Global Premier Upgrades).

Is It Stockholm Syndrome…Or Just Staying Sane?

Call it Stockholm Syndrome if you must, but there’s a reason why 100s of millions of people participate in loyalty programs, especially when it comes to travel. There’s enough uncertainly in life…having an expectation of what you’ll experience when traveling matters. It’s also helpful when you get perks like complimentary flight changes, upgrades, free bags, priority boarding, etc.
The one downside with these loyalty programs is that getting accustomed to those kind of perks will lead you to do crazy things to keep them. Case in point: this entire experience of attempting to do a status match. Or you know, renting multiple cars every week to score plenty of miles for award flights. Though I’m not as bad as this guy. I can’t possibly imagine air travel where one would have to start paying for their bags, or GASP even worse…fighting for a place in line in Boarding Group 2.
While I’ve been actively working towards attaining Million Miler on United, just to lock in those wonderful Gold benefits for life with new projects taking me to cities where they don’t have the best route options I’ve broken down and am now chasing Executive Platinum on American Airlines AAdvantage program.

Welcome to the dAArk Side

I’ve been posting a bit of this process on social channels. A friend of mine (and fellow frequent flyer) who switched from United to American a while ago “welcomed” me to the “dAArk Side”…his words not mine! Because Chicago is still homebase for me, it made little sense to attempt a status match with Delta, though I did give it some thought. American still has enough of a hub in Chicago with great options to new markets I’m working in that I sat down, did a little math and figured this was the best solution for a crap situation.
The process hasn’t been painless…post US Air/American merger it appears that their phone systems and customer service programs have suffered quite a bit. For example? No where could I really find ANY info online for how to request a status match. I had to call the main number where after 1h 32 min of navigating menus, being transferred, being put on hold, being disconnected I finally got an agent who was able to share the very simple instructions.

How to Request a Status Match on American Airlines

  1. Take a screen shot of all your flight activity from the program you are currently a member of. It was easier for me to screen shot off the desktop than the app (for United).
  2. Send an email to AAdvantage.Customer.Svc@aa.com requesting a status match challenge with said screen shot files attached. Also be sure to include a screen shot of your current membership card for the program you’re seeking them to match.
  3. Be prepared to make the move within 10 business days and have a grasp of what your travel is going to look like for a total of 90 days.


In this case, I started the inquiry process back in June, before I realized what all the terms were going to be. I try to make it a habit to take some time off from the road to enjoy summertime in Chicago so when I was first informed of the offer I was being given, I realized I needed to wait.


When you begin the status match challenge for American Airlines, based upon what status level you are trying to match, you will have 90 days to do so. You must accept the offer within 10 business days and budget 48 hours of adjustment for their systems to sync up and reflect the status desired.

a black and white card with a logo

You are TECHNICALLY considered that status level during your 90 days but you don’t receive the upgrades (in their case 4 one-way systemwide certificates) until you successfully complete the challenge. As an Executive Platinum, you do however get some pretty nice perks:

  • Complimentary auto-requested upgrades (regional: Domestic/North America) for paid AND award travel…which is better than United which only offers upgrades on paid tickets
  • A 100-hour upgrade window
  • 120% elite mileage bonus
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred Seating
  • 3 Free Checked Bags

This is in addition to all the perks of oneworld Emerald status.

Off To The Races

To receive Executive Platinum status for the rest of 2018 (starting as soon as I meet the challenge), AND score those four one-way upgrades and retain EP status through the full 2019 program year (ending January 31, 2020) I would have to meet the following criteria:

  • Earn a minimum of $4,000 EQDs (elite qualifying dollars)


  • Fly 35,000 EQMs (elite qualifying miles) OR 40 EQSs (elite qualifying segments)

on AA, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia or Japan Airlines.

Clearly trying to “win” my business, the agents I interacted with via email were incredibly helpful and responsive. They assured me that I could reach out to them at any time when I was ready to make the move, acknowledging that the offer was subject to change (it didn’t). Considering the fact that without a challenge I’d have to spend $12,000 EQDs and fly 100,000 EQMs, this is a great “deal”. Now begins the race to see if I can meet the requirement!

UPDATE: Challenge Status as of 9/4/18

$1,322 EQDs (Currently appealing to have a $450 day-of paid upgrade to Business Class be included in that spend)

11,875 EQMs

6 EQSs

Only $2,678 EQDs & 23,125 EQMs to go…

a man in a red hat

The post Is It Time To Say Goodbye? When or How To Change Preferred Airlines was first published on Coworkaholic.

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