American Airlines has announced details for the new American AAdvantage program as American and US Airways merge. If you have both an AAdvantage and Dividend Miles membership, in early 2015, you’ll be able to match both of your accounts. If you have only a Dividend Miles account, you will be assigned a new AAdvantage membership number in preparation of transferring your miles from US Airways to American AAdvantage when the merger of the programs is complete.
AAdvantage elite status will be based on the member’s combined elite-qualifying activity from 2014 to determine status valid through February 2016. At the same time, members year-to-date 2015 qualifying balances will be combined to determine status through February 2017. Dividend Miles Preferred members will still have four elite levels until the programs combine in second quarter 2015.
When the two programs officially combine, there will be some changes, but nothing as drastic as moving toward a revenue-based frequent flyer program. Some of the changes include: Class-of-service mileage bonuses for business class flights will increase from 25 percent to 50 percent on American and US Airways flights starting Jan. 1, 2015. Another change as of Jan. 1, 2015 is that Executive Platinum members will be offered free same-day flight changes.
The new AAdvantage elite program will have three tiers, not four, as the current Dividend Miles program has with the same qualification criteria as the current AAdvantage elite program with the exception of earning Executive Platinum via segments. The current Executive Platinum segment requirement is 100 segments and the new requirement will be 120 segments for the 2016 elite membership year–a change that American said makes sense considering the extended network with US Airways will offer substantially more short flights. Gold and Platinum Dividend Miles members will be offered Platinum AAdvantage status (this is to facilitate the US Airways four-tiered program into AAdvantage’s three-tiered elite program).
With the new program Gold and Platinum members will qualify for auto-requested upgrades for American Airlines flights 500 miles or less while flights over 500 miles will require earned or purchased 500-mile upgrade certificates. Executive Platinum members will get unlimited auto-requested complimentary upgrades for all American Airlines flights. To read more about these changes, visit http://www.aa.com/aadvantage2015
Bottom line: If you have miles with both US Airways and American, your accounts will automatically be combined in the second quarter of 2015 but it is a good idea to monitor your accounts to verify that this happens. Lucky at One Mile At A Time summed up the new American AAdvantage program this way, “This gives me confidence in the leadership of AAdvantage–they’re focused on what’s most important, which is making the merger as easy as possible for their most frequent flyers.” We tend to agree with Lucky–the changes look to make the transition as smooth as possible and include some good news like earning 50 percent bonus miles on business class flights instead of the current 25 percent.