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Folks who enjoy Big Travel With Small Money on American Airlines won’t be happy with many of the upcoming changes to the American Airlines loyalty program.
- Changes to complimentary upgrades
- Executive Platinum award ticket upgrades
- New elite status level
- Revenue-based earning based on price of ticket
- Spending requirement to earn elite status
Most of these changes will make it harder for folks to earn elite status with American Airlines.
I’ll explain more about the upcoming changes!
What’s the Story?
When American Airlines merged with US Airways in 2014, I wrote how the American Airlines loyalty program was staying (mostly) the same. But things change quickly in this hobby!
Since then, American Airlines has modified many parts of their loyalty program, like changes to their award chart.
And now, there will be even more changes to the American Airlines loyalty program. Here’s a summary of what to expect.
Starting August 1, 2016, you’ll earn American Airlines miles based on the price of your ticket instead of distance traveled. While this is not an unexpected change, we now know the official start date.
The more you spend on a flight and the higher your elite status, the more American Airlines miles you’ll earn. For example, you’ll get:
- 5 American Airlines miles per $1 for AAdvantage members
- 7 American Airlines miles per $1 for Gold members
- 8 American Airlines miles per $1 for Platinum members
- 9 American Airlines miles per $1 for Platinum Pro members
- 11 American Airlines miles per $1 for Executive Platinum members
If you book a partner airline flight through American Airlines, you’ll earn award miles based on a percentage of the flight distance and the fare class of your ticket. Rates for partner airlines will be available on July 15, 2016.
This change makes the American Airlines loyalty program similar to Delta and United Airlines, which also have a revenue-based earning system.
If you’re a casual flyer who doesn’t mind flying long distances in coach, you’ll now earn fewer American Airlines miles with this new system.
For example, if you’re a AAdvantage member and book a round-trip coach fare for $800 from Dallas to London, you’d earn ~9,000 American Airlines miles under the current system. But, after August 1, 2016, you’d earn only 4,000 American Airlines miles ($800 fare X 5 American Airlines miles per $1). That’s a bummer!
New Platinum Pro Elite Status
American Airlines is adding a new elite status level called Platinum Pro. To qualify, you’ll need a combination of
- 75,000 elite-qualifying miles or 90 elite-qualifying segments AND
- $9,000 elite-qualifying dollars in a calendar year
Benefits of Platinum Pro include:
- Higher revenue-based earning of 9 American Airlines miles per $1 spent
- Unlimited complimentary upgrades on flights within 500 miles
Spending Requirement to Earn Elite Status
Effective January 1, 2017, to earn American Airlines elite status, you’ll need to spend a certain amount in addition to having a certain number of elite-qualifying miles or elite-qualifying segments.
Here’s how much you have to spend to earn elite status at each level:
- $3,000 for Gold
- $6,000 for Platinum
- $9,000 for Platinum Pro
- $12,000 for Executive Platinum
Again, this change is NOT good for folks looking to earn elite status by booking cheap fares.
One unknown at this point is if American Airlines will lower the requirement for folks with American Airlines credit cards like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite(TM) MasterCard®.
There will be 2 changes impacting American Airlines upgrades.
The major change is how American Airlines will prioritize your upgrade starting later in 2017. Your upgrade will be determined on your elite status level AND the amount of money spent in the last 12 months.
The 2nd change is Executive Platinum members will be able to use their complimentary 500-mile upgrades on award tickets.
In the upcoming months, American Airlines will make several changes to their loyalty program including revenue-based earning, new elite status, an elite status spending requirement, and upgrade changes.
Most of these changes are NOT good for folks looking to earn elite status without spending a lot of money.
What are your thoughts about the new policies? Will you plan to keep your American Airlines elite status?