For a Price, American Elites Can Extend Status

How much is elite status worth to you?

That's the question implicit in American's new status buy-back offer.

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Through May 15, American AAdvantage members who had elite status during 2012 but failed to requalify for 2013 may pay to have their status reinstated, as follows:

  • Gold status can be extended for $409 for those who flew at least 20,000 miles or 24 segments.
  • Gold status can be extended for $559 for those who flew fewer than 20,000 miles or 24 segments.
  • Platinum status can be extended for $619 for those who flew at least 40,000 miles or 48 segments.
  • Platinum status can be extended for $769 for those who flew fewer than 40,000 miles or 48 segments.

Status will remain in effect through February 28, 2014.

To be eligible, AAdvantage members must have earned (not bought) elite status for 2012, and have flown at least two elite-qualifying segments during 2012.

The online renewal form will not be live until January 30.

Upgrade Worth the Upcharge?

It makes good business sense for American to allow lapsed elites to extend their status. Operating in bankruptcy, and all that implies, the company needs its most profitable customers more than they need American.

Whatever the underlying rationale for the offer, it's a welcome opportunity. But it's not a slam-dunk.

For most, the key variables are flight frequency (how often you fly) and flight duration (the length of your flights).

If your 2013 travel plans include many flights or long-haul flights or, better, many long-haul flights, then the perks associated with elevated status may well be worth paying for.

Otherwise, those buy-back fees are probably better used for other purposes.

Status is nice, but it's not always worth it.

Reader Reality Check

Does this deal work for you?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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