In a move which was both expected and unoriginal, the AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty program will change to base rewards on the airfares paid by customers of American Airlines rather than distance traveled effective as of Monday, August 1, 2016; and beginning with the membership year of 2017, elite level status will be valid through January 31 of the following year.
American Airlines AAdvantage Program to be Based on Revenue Starting August 1, 2016
Additionally, a new elite status tier called Platinum Pro will be introduced on Sunday, January 1, 2017, which will receive unlimited complimentary domestic upgrades on flights operated by American Airlines — similar to Executive Platinum; but with a lower priority for upgrades. Up to two bags can be checked at no charge; and oneworld Sapphire elite level status is included with Platinum Pro. You cannot earn towards Platinum Pro elite level status in 2016.
Also effective as of Monday, August 1, 2016, the minimum mileage guarantee once enjoyed by members of the AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty program on shuttle flights will no longer be available. The elite member minimum mileage guarantee is also disappearing; but earning a minimum of 500 elite qualification miles will still be awarded on eligible flights.
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|
|Platinum Pro||Nine 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.
Be aware that no matter how much money you spend on a ticket, you can earn up to the maximum of 75,000 AAdvantage miles per ticket — inclusive of any class of service and elite status bonus miles; but there is no maximum for Elite Qualifying Dollars, which are explained in more detail next.
The Introduction of Elite Qualifying Dollars
Effective as of Sunday, January 1, 2017, you will be required to earn Elite Qualifying Dollars — in order to qualify for and achieve elite level status — which will be awarded based on the following two factors:
With the addition of Elite Qualifying Dollars, the rule that four segments must be traveled on American or American Eagle during the qualifying year to receive elite level status will no longer be in effect.
|Elite Level Qualification||Executive Platinum / oneworld Emerald||Platinum Pro / oneworld Sapphire||Platinum / oneworld Sapphire||Gold / oneworld Ruby|
|Elite Qualifying Miles||100,000||75,000||50,000||25,000|
|Elite Qualifying Segments||120||90||60||30|
|Elite Qualifying Dollars||$12,000.00||$9,000.00||$6,000.00||$3,000.00|
If these changes sound familiar to you, they should, as the lemming mentality of airlines continues: they basically 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. Whether that is true remains to be seen.
The argument that American Airlines could have left the AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty program alone to differentiate it from United Airlines MileagePlus and Delta Air Lines SkyMiles and attract more frequent fliers — especially business travelers — apparently fell flat as a pipe dream of sorts; and the much of the remainder of the stark reality was revealed earlier today from American Airlines.
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.