Earn Airline Status Quickly – Status Matches and Challenges

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Yesterday I posted how I was going for an American Airlines Platinum challenge. This got some readers extremely excited and interested about the various matches and challenges to earn status. You actually might be able to get away with not flying as much as you thought and earn status! It used to be you could get an airline to match your status on another airline with no problem. Airlines, however, are starting to move away from this practice and instead are making flyers enroll in some sort of challenge to obtain the desired status.

Below is a compiled list of each airlines rules on the various status matches and challenges. Keep in mind though, many airlines only allow you to do this once every X number of years, so be strategic in going for the match/challenge and make it worthwhile.

American Airlines

As mentioned in this previous post, you can enroll in a three month challenge to earn Gold or Platinum status. You DO NOT need to have status on another airline to do this.

  • Gold Challenge: Earn 5,000 Elite Qualifying Points in 90 days
  • Platinum Challenge: Earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Points in 90 days

There is a cost associated with this challenge, and as of today, the fee is $120 for Gold and $200 for Platinum. You can enroll in the challenge by calling customer service at 1-800-882-8880. Make sure to read the prior post to learn more details.


If you have status on another airline, you are able to enroll in a 90-day challenge to earn matched status for the remainder of the status year (through the end of the February the following year). Unfortunately, you are able to only get matched up to Platinum status, so no Diamond matching allowed. Additionally, Delta does not have an exact 1:1 match to all airlines, so you will need to check out the chart below to see what your current status on another airline equates to with Delta. For example, American Airlines Gold status will only give you Silver (not Gold) on Delta.

To earn the matched status you must meet the following requirements:

  • Silver: 8,000 MQMs or 10 MQSs
  • Gold: Fly 16,000 MQMs or 20 MQSs
  • Platinum: Fly 26,000 MQMs or 35 MQSs

Also, you are not able to enroll in any challenge, it must be the one that you are matched for based on your status on another airline. For example, if you are matched for Delta Platinum and you only meet the terms for Gold, you will not get matched to Gold. You can learn more about the program and enroll here.


If you have status on another non-partner airline, you are able to enroll in a 90-day challenge to earn the matched status for the remainder of the year.

  • Premier Silver: Fly 10,000 qualifying miles or 15 flight segments
  • Premier Gold: Fly 17,500 qualifying miles or 22 flight segments
  • Premier Platinum: Fly 25,000 qualifying miles or or 30 flight segments

Only flights that are operated by United (which includes United Express and Copa Airlines) will count for the challenge. United will typically only allow you to status match once every five years.

At the beginning of the year you were able to ask for a status match on this site here, but after the full system integration of United/Continental, it seems to no longer be working. I would suggest calling United at 1-800-421-4655 to request a status match. You also might be able to email them at premiermatch@united.com, but I would not expect an immediate response.

US Airways:

US Airways has two programs to earn status: “Buy up to Preferred” and “Try Preferred Status for size”

  • Buy up to Preferred: You are able to buy status without any match or challenge needed. You are able to buy in increments for the number of preferred miles or segments needed. For example, if you have never flown US Airways you are able to purchase all the miles needed for top level status for $3,999. Or, if you are just shy of earning a particular status, you can purchase the number needed, for example, if you already have 90,000 miles credited to your account this year and will not be able to earn the extra 10,000 miles needed, you can purchase just those 10,000 miles for $789. You can learn more about the “Buy up to Preferred” program and the cost here.
  • Try Preferred Status for size: You can enroll in a trial program for 90 days for Silver ($200), Gold ($400), or Platinum ($600). You will immediately inherit that status for the 90 days. You do not need to have status on another airline and can select the challenge to enroll in. Only flights operated by US Airways and US Airways Express will count towards the program (no partner flights). During the 90 day period you can then try for Silver, Gold, Platinum, or Chairman status through February 28 of the following year.  The great thing is that you can enroll in the Silver status for only $200 and then if you earn the number of miles needed for Chairmans, for example, will earn that status for the year. You can learn more about this program here. To enroll in the trial challenge, call 800-428-1775.
    • Silver: Fly 7,500 miles or 10 segments (during the 90 day trial)
    • Gold: Fly 15,000 miles or 20 segments (during the 90 day trial)
    • Platinum: Fly 22,500 miles or 30 segments (during the 90 day trial)
    • Chairmans: Fly 30,000 miles or 40 segments (during the 90 day trial)

Just remember – plot out your travel for the year now and see what makes sense. You might be surprised on your ability to get status quickly!


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  1. I bought the silver trial preferred for us airways last year, but flew enough during the challenge time to earn platinum. So now I am enjoying my platinum status until 2-28-2013.
    Also, it was a pleasure meeting you at the travel show last weekend after the TPG presentation.

  2. Delta’s is 1:1 if you go by elite level and not name. AA Gold and DL Silver are both 25K, while AA Plat and DL Gold are 50K. It’s AA that has weird naming conventions.

  3. An important distinction is the one JimL refers to — US Airways allows you to purchase 90 days of their lowest level (Silver) but in that time you can fly enough to earn their highest (Chairman’s). I don’t believe any other airline allows you to do that. In fact, the ONLY reason to buy a higher trial preferred status is if you want to enjoy the benefits of that status during the 90 day challenge.

    I’m in the midst of the challenge now (having purchased Silver) and my ticket yesterday indicated I was already Gold, so as you achieve status during the trial you’re awarded it. I’ll definitely reach Platinum, and I’m hoping for Chairman’s. All in all, well worth the $200 already.

    • @MDAccount – That’s right!! Unless you want the top tier status immediately, spend the bare minimum and then got the top status (if you can!)

  4. I was able to status match from Continental/United Gold to Alaska Airlines MVP Gold for free in February. I believe you can only do this once, however.

  5. How about Southwest? Do they have a similar matching program and do the legacy carriers match Southwest’s “A-List”/”A-list Preferred?”

  6. What about Cathy Pacific? Do they offer anything like this as I am going to be flying to Hong Kong and would love to get status. Thanks for your help.

    • @Matt C – You must meet the terms of the AA Challenge to earn status, they do not give it to you temporarily. Once you meet the challenge, then yes, you can absolutely use that for the Delta Challenge status match.

  7. I want to try USAir preferred, but there seems to be a discrepancy on their website. Where they describe the program, they say status would be good until 2/2014- but on the enrollment page where you put your cc number and hit “…I agree…” it says status to February, 2013…a big difference. Does anyone have any knowledge? I called and a rep “guaranteed” that 2014 was correct, but I am naturally skeptical.

  8. Sorry guys, I’m a little lost! If I have 10,000 MQM’s on Delta…Is there a was to do a challenge with American or someone else that will be helpful. I really need 15K more MQM’s to reach Silver with DL. Thanks

    • @LaLa – American allows a Gold and Platinum challenge, but that is only for flying AA flights and earning AA miles, nothing to do with Delta. To reach Delta silver you can a) get the credit card that will give you MQMs or b) purchase the MQMs needed, but probably not recommended. You will transfer 10k Delta MQMs over to next years balance so hopefully next year you can earn status.

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