For a long time American has had a generous unpublished policy whereby you get a “soft landing” of elite status if you don’t requalify for status. Through these soft landings you could never drop more than one elite tier per year. In other words, if you’re Executive Platinum and don’t do any flying, you’d still be Platinum the following year, and then Gold the year after that.
Per this FlyerTalk thread, it appears as if American has sent out an email to those that benefited from a soft landing last year:
Can you believe we’re almost halfway through 2013? Hopefully you’re on track to achieve your goal of elite status qualification for 2014. To check how many elite qualifying points, miles and segments you’ve earned thus far, simply log in to your account.
Previously, based on your prior year status, you benefited from an exception to receive a higher level of elite status than you actually earned. Next year, regardless of your current status, your elite status for the next membership year will be based on your elite qualifying activity in 2013.
We invite you to achieve the highest level you can to earn the greatest benefits. You can also find details about qualifying for elite status here.
Can’t say I’m surprised, especially with the upcoming merger where they’re probably trying to avoid swelling elite ranks too much. It’s nice of them to at least send out an email in advance saying that this unofficial policy won’t apply in the future, rather than making it a surprise at the end of the year when it’s too late for people to still qualify.