If you read other blogs or are an American Airlines member, you have undoubtedly already read about the American Airlines AAdvantage changes coming over the next several months. Most likely, no one is surprised that changes are coming, but what do they mean and what is missing in the announcement?
American Airlines AAdvantage Changes Coming
Here is a rundown on the changes that will be coming:
Award Mile Earning
Like Delta and United, American Airlines is shifting to a revenue-based earning structure for their award miles. This had already been announced, it was just the date that this was going to be in effect that we did not know. Now, we do – it is for travel beginning August 1, 2016. For any American Airline flights on that date or after, your award miles will be earned according to the following structure:
This earning is based on the base fare and not the complete ticket cost. Here is the example that American Airlines has given.
AA is also doing away with the minimum award mileage earning as well (on AA shuttle flights), though the elite mileage minimums will still be applied (on eligible flights).
New Elite Level Coming
American Airlines AAdvantage elites have been missing an elite level when compared to Delta and United. While each of those airlines had 4 published status levels, AA had only had 3. That is changing in 2017.
The new elite level will be slotted in between AAdvantage Platinum and AAdvantage Executive Platinum – the new elite level is called Platinum Pro. This elite level requires 75,000 elite miles to achieve. The new Platinum Pro elites will receive the following benefits:
- Complimentary upgrades on flights within North American and between the U.S. and Central America
- Earn 9 award miles/U.S. dollar
- 2 free checked bags
- oneworld Sapphire status (same as Platinum members)
New Requirement to Earn Elite Status
Finally, we get to the new part – the fact that elite members will need to fly the required amount of segments/miles while also meeting required spending for each elite level. This is just like Delta and United with one missing exception (see below about the Big Difference).
First, let’s see what AA has put out as the required spending amounts:
They are also changing the upgrade priority methods. This is what they have to say “The way your upgrade request is prioritized will change later in 2017. You’ll be listed according to your elite status level followed by the number of EQDs earned in the last 12 months.” This is a big disappointment since it will be on a rolling basis instead of a calendar of spending. Big negative!
On the good side, Executive Platinum members will be able to use complimentary upgrade benefits on award tickets in the 500 mile upgrade buckets.
The Big Difference – Right Now
The big difference between the new American Airlines AAdvantage changes and the current elite qualification systems of Delta and United is that those two airlines give waivers to the elite qualifying spending if the elite members spend $25,000 on the co-branded credit card.
American Airlines has reportedly said that this is something they are still looking at. My guess is they are trying to figure out what the reception is on this news since this could be a big deal. While Delta and United do give that exemption, United has an exemption on the exemption. United does not allow their top tier, Premier 1K, to have the spending exemption.
The American Airlines Executive Platinum level has long been a favorite of many bloggers (I am enjoying the benefits this year myself) and it has had a lot of value. My guess is that is part of the hangup – does AA give the exemption to all elite levels or do they require their top tier elites to have to spend the $12,000 on qualifying ticket costs?
As one final piece, both Delta and United also give that spending exemption if the member lives outside of the US. Nothing from AA on this either…
Summary of these American Airlines AAdvantage Changes
As a current American Airlines Executive Platinum member, I have to say I am both disappointed but also not surprised with these changes. It took AA long enough to get to this point (thankfully) but they are here now.
If you fly AA for the award miles and elite benefits, you may want to consider reevaluating your march to elite status. I know that I will not work that hard for Executive Platinum again this year given some of these new updates to the program. I love some of the benefits to Executive Platinum members but enough changes have been made that it does not make as much sense for me going forward.
What about you? What do these changes mean for you and American Airlines?