AAdvantage Program to be Based on Revenue Starting in 2016

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

The AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty program will change to base rewards on the airfares paid by customers of American Airlines rather than distance traveled; and beginning with the membership year of 2017, elite level status will be valid through January 31 of the following year.

Although many changes are expected to become effective as of Friday, January 1, 2016 — such as elite-qualifying points will be removed from the qualifying structure for earning elite level status and instead will be determined by Elite Qualifying Miles or Elite Qualifying Segments earned during a calendar year — the calculation of award AAdvantage miles earned will be effective as of sometime during the second half of 2016, where members of the AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty program can earn anywhere from five to as many as eleven AAdvantage miles per United States dollar paid for the base airfare and surcharges imposed by the airline, depending on your elite status level:

AAdvantage Program Elite Status Level
AAdvantage Miles Earned Per United States Dollar Spent
General Five AAdvantage Miles
Gold Seven AAdvantage Miles
Platinum Eight AAdvantage Miles
Executive Platinum Eleven AAdvantage Miles

This means that on an airline ticket whose base airfare is $1,000.00, a general member of the AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty program would earn 5,000 AAdvantage miles; whereas an Executive Platinum member would earn 11,000 AAdvantage miles.

Systemwide Upgrades

If you qualify for Executive Platinum elite level status by December 31, 2015, you will still earn eight upgrades to use during your 2016 membership year; but effective as of Friday, January 1, 2016, Executive Platinum members will receive four systemwide upgrades upon qualification or re-qualification, with the ability to earn up to a total of eight per year.

“For me the big pile of batman is the loss of SWUs”, posted InsideFlyer member brodyf in this discussion. “Only 4 SWUs for 100,000 EQMs with the ability to earn up to 8 – 2 for every 50,000 EQMs. that cuts that benefit exactly in half for a large segment of EXP fliers.”

You may earn up to four additional systemwide upgrades; two for every 50,000 Elite Qualification Miles earned above 100,000.

500-Mile Upgrades

Effective as of Tuesday, March 1, 2016:

Award Chart Changes

The new award charts are shown below.

Main Cabin Class

To: MileSAAver
Off Peak
MileSAAver AAnytime
Level 1
Level 2
Contiguous 48 U.S. states 12,500 20,000 30,000
Contiguous 48 U.S. states & Canada (≤ 500 miles)^ 7,500 20,000 30,000
Canada & Alaska 15,000 25,000 40,000
Hawaii 20,000 22,500 40,000 50,000
Caribbean 12,500 15,000 27,500 37,500
Mexico 12,500 15,000 27,500 37,500
Central America 12,500 15,000 27,500 37,500
South America Region 1 17,500 20,000 35,000 50,000
South America Region 2 30,000 55,000 75,000
Europe 22,500 30,000 47,500 65,000
Asia Region 1 32,500 35,000 62,500 80,000
Asia Region 2 32,500 35,000 65,000 85,000
South Pacific 40,000 70,000 90,000

^Valid only on non-stop flights

Business / First Class

To: MileSAAver
Off Peak
MileSAAver AAnytime
Level 1
Level 2
Contiguous 48 U.S. states* 25,000 45,000 55,000
Contiguous 48 U.S. states & Canada (≤ 500 miles)^ 15,000 45,000 55,000
Canada & Alaska* 30,000 50,000 65,000
Hawaii* 40,000 67,500 90,000
Caribbean* 25,000 50,000 60,000
Mexico* 25,000 50,000 60,000
Central America* 25,000 50,000 60,000
South America Region 1* 30,000 65,000 90,000
South America Region 2 57,500 110,000 150,000
Europe 57,500 110,000 135,000
Asia Region 1 60,000 120,000 155,000
Asia Region 2 70,000 140,000 175,000
South Pacific 80,000 140,000 175,000

^Valid only on non-stop flights.

*If the award includes aircraft with three separate cabins in the United States and Canada, the MileSAAver and AAnytime Levels will be 7,500 miles higher than what is shown in the chart above.

First Class

To: MileSAAver
Off Peak
MileSAAver AAnytime
Level 1
Level 2
Contiguous 48 U.S. states 50,000 85,000 95,000
Canada & Alaska 55,000 90,000 105,000
Hawaii 65,000 107,500 130,000
Caribbean 50,000 90,000 100,000
Mexico 50,000 90,000 100,000
Central America 50,000 90,000 100,000
South America Region 1 55,000 105,000 130,000
South America Region 2 85,000 160,000 190,000
Europe 85,000 140,000 175,000
Asia Region 1 80,000 170,000 200,000
Asia Region 2 110,000 180,000 210,000
South Pacific 110,000 180,000 210,000


New award levels of 7,500 AAdvantage miles each way in Main Cabin and 15,000 AAdvantage miles each way in Business / First have been introduced for flights fewer than 500 miles in distance. Additionally, reduced off-peak awards when traveling on partner airlines to Hawaii, South America 1 and Asia 1 have been eliminated.

Award travel on partner airlines have taken a significant hit in some cases — such as on Cathay Pacific: “Pretty much ALL of Euro/Asia, and Asia 2 F (aka CX) is getting whacked bigtime, from 135k r/t to 220k r/t. OUCH.” This was the reaction to the new award chart as expressed by InsideFlyer member eponymous_coward. “Also, a lot of the discount Y offpeak got taken away, and the ones that are left got increased (Europe offpeak Y goes from 40k r/t to 45k r/t). Pretty ugly all over the chart if you ask me.”


If these changes sound familiar to you, they should, as they emulate what Delta Air Lines implemented for its SkyMiles program effective as of Thursday, January 1, 2015 and what United Airlines implemented for its MileagePlus program effective as of Sunday, March 1, 2015; and the changes were expected to happen as soon as the merger between American Airlines and US Airways was completed.

The theory is that American Airlines — similar to Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — is seeking to reward its highest-value customers with generous redemption earnings; while those customers who travel on a budget are expected to “feel the most pain” as a result of the impending changes.

Airlines based in the United States are not the only ones whose frequent flier loyalty programs are switching from earning miles based on distance to those based on revenue. The Gold Circle frequent flier loyalty program of Aer Lingus will be closing on Thursday, March 31, 2016; and it will be replaced with the rollout of AerClub, whose earnings by members will be based on revenue and not on distance flown.

Look for this trend to continue with the frequent flier loyalty programs of other airlines…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.


  1. Michael Trager says

    Surprising. Not at all. The only thing that I found “surprising” throughout 2015 was AAdvantage members trying to convince themselves (and others) that American actually “valued” lower revenue (or low revenue) frequent flyers. In the end, they (American Airlines) came to the same conclusion as everyone (Delta, United) else. Even with this unsurprising announcement AA could have been a “bit” more creative. Heck, give Executive Platinum members 12 instead of 11 miles/$. Alas, I believe there are many at Delta grinning that their “incomprehensible” changes have now been copied by all of the major US Legacy carriers.

  2. Michael Murphy says

    Ah yes, loyalty – increasingly a 20th century phenomenon. Just got my latest statement. 128000 Advantage points in 2015 and AA helpfully include a note to indicate that I would have received 88000 EQMs had the new model been in place. The real message, if you travel/pay 40% more in 2016 you will be rewarded with half the benefits (4 systemwide upgrades) you got in 2015. Increasingly difficult to be loyal, I think.

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