American Airlines

American AAdvantage program goes revenue based for earning miles

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We knew this was coming. And American announced today that August 1, 2016 is the date from which your award miles will be earned based on fare paid rather than on miles flown.

The highlights:

Starting with flights flown from August 1, 2016 on, you will earn miles as follows if the flight is marketed by American (AA flight number):

  • AAdvantage® member – 5 miles for every U.S. dollar
  • Gold member – 7 miles for every U.S. dollar (40% bonus)
  • Platinum member – 8 miles for every U.S. dollar (60% bonus)
  • Executive Platinum member – 11 miles for every U.S. dollar (120% bonus)

The miles will be based on your base fare plus carrier-imposed fees minus government-imposed taxes and fees. The more you spend (and the higher your elite status level) the more you’ll earn.  Now, if you fly a OneWorld airline that is not on an AA flight number or fly various non-published fares (such as via vacation packages, consolidators, etc) you will still (for now) earn miles based on distance. However, the AA website simply says it will be a percentage of miles flown and does not elaborate on what the percentage is – so I’m not yet sure if this will be a trick to continue earning more miles or not.

  • You will still qualify for your status level based on distance flown and fare class – but there is now a new 75,000 tier called “Platinum Pro”
  • There is ALSO now a spending requirement just like Delta and United previously implemented, meaning you won’t get status unless you meet the distance flown requirements AND spend a certain amount with American each year.

From the American website:

Ways to qualify

Starting January 1, 2017, we’ll add Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) to our earning requirements. Qualify in 1 of 2 ways:

EQDs will be awarded based on:

With the addition of EQDs, we’ll remove the rule that 4 segments must be traveled on American or American Eagle during the qualifying year to receive elite status.

 Elite status qualification
QualificationExecutive Platinum / oneworld® EmeraldSMPlatinum Pro / oneworld® SapphireSMPlatinum / oneworld® SapphireSMGold / oneworld® RubySM
EQMs100,00075,00050,00025,000
EQSs120906030
EQDs$12,000$9,000$6,000$3,000
Star_Integration_tierMapping_P2_w600_v2
They are also changing upgrade priority such that after status level, the next tiebreaker is how much money you have spent with them year-to-date. So if you are a Gold or Platinum member who flies mostly discount fares (or especially if you have lifetime status and don’t fly often), you can expect to see your upgrade chances go WAY down.

One interesting addition they announced regards award tickets:
Starting later in 2017, Executive Platinum members can use their complimentary 500-mile upgrade benefits on AAdvantage® award tickets for travel on American from Main Cabin to the next class.

That actually sounds like a nice benefit for their top tier elites.

Net-net, this benefits you if you are price-insensitive or fly on full fare tickets your employer pays for. If you are like most people that would bother reading this blog, it’s going to be a bit of a buzz kill.