American Airlines AAdvantage Program to be Based on Revenue Starting August 1, 2016

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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
Keep in mind that you may qualify using either Elite Qualifying Miles or Elite Qualifying Segments; but either method must be in conjunction with earning a minimum amount of Elite Qualifying Dollars.

Certain ticket types — such as those sold in conjunction with a vacation package or tickets where the actual fare is not disclosed like consolidator, bulk fare or student tickets — will earn award AAdvantage miles based on a percentage of distance flown as determined by the fare class purchased.

Tickets which currently do not earn award AAdvantage miles, Elite Qualifying Miles or Elite Qualifying Segments will not earn award AAdvantage miles or Elite Qualifying Dollars in the future. Only the base fare paid for your ticket including any carrier-imposed fees will count toward earning award miles and Elite Qualifying Dollars. Fees for other products or services — such as fees for checked baggage or the cost of membership for Admirals Club, whose rates will increase effective as of Monday, July 25, 2016 — will not be awarded miles or Elite Qualifying Dollars.

Other exceptions to the new Elite Qualifying Dollars policy may apply.

Upgrade Prioritization

No firm date pertaining to the way your upgrade request is prioritized will change was announced; but it is expected to occur later in 2017. You will be listed according to your elite status level followed by the number of Elite Qualifying Dollars earned in the last 12 months.

Elite Level Status Upgrades Confirmed Prior to Departure
Executive Platinum As early as 100 hours
Platinum Pro As early as 72 hours
Platinum As early as 48 hours
Gold As early as 24 hours

Award Tickets

Starting later in 2017, members of the AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty program who have earned Executive Platinum elite level status can use their complimentary 500-mile upgrade benefits on AAdvantage award tickets for travel on flights operated by American Airlines from Main Cabin to the next class.

Summary

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.

Comments

  1. Ulev says

    Well the end has come to the aankus@aol.com a tags program and my further participation in it.
    Having ‘ burned’ my cache of over 500K prior to the devaluation, and having just retire from the cray.’ I count my ‘lucky stars’ to no longer have to do battle at the airports and be rewarded with less than impressive awards.
    My only concern as I no longer travel hitched to a brand, is how long will
    “Lifetime status” last….or for that matter how long will the airline continue to last…
    As for now I will be riding the rails, not being saddled with work related schedules… And

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