American Airlines had been the last holdout of the big 3 US airlines to announce what would happen with their elite flyers this year. It was inevitable that they would make a change but they just took their time to finally make that announcement.
Part of the announcement also detailed their reduction of requirements to earn elite status this year – something that could be handy to those who need to get back in the air when things start to resume a bit of a normal schedule.
American Airlines Status Extensions, Lower Qualifications, and Award Fee Changes
Let’s do a little breakdown on these changes that American Airlines has now announced. It should be noted that they will be rolling out many of these things in the coming weeks so it is not done yet!
Elite Status Extension
Here is a quick hit on the elite status extension for AA’s elite flyers. Basically, all flyers will see their elite status extended by another year. This means that elite status will not expire until January 31, 2022. AA says that accounts will be updated to this by May 15, 2020.
For Executive Platinum Members
Along with that extension comes some other extensions. For Executive Platinum members, their systemwide upgrades will automatically be extended through July 31, 2021 (instead of expiring January 31, 2021).
But, the extension of status for Executive Platinum members does not mean they will receive new systemwide upgrades. Those will have to be earned by re-qualifying for Executive Platinum status this year (which will mean that those upgrades will not expire until January 31, 2022).
For those EXP members who spend a ton of time in the air, AA had rewarded them previously with extra rewards. Those rewards were given at the 150,000 EQM (elite qualifying mile) level, 200,000 EQM level, and 250,000 EQM levels. Now, they will instead be awarded at 90,000 EQM, 120,000 EQM, and 150,000 EQM levels.
New Elite Status Qualification Levels
If you are able to fly enough this year, you may find it pretty easy to earn American Airlines elite status that will also be good through January 31, 2022. The amount of miles and dollars spent to earn this status can be done with a significant decrease from normal levels.
|Qualifying Metric||(Old) Gold||(New) Gold||(Old) Platinum||(New) Platinum|
|Elite Qualifying Dollars||$3,000.00||$1,500.00||$6,000.00||$4,000.00|
|Elite Qualifying Miles||25,000||15,000||50,000||30,000|
|Elite Qualifying Segments||30||15||60||30|
|Qualifying Metric||(Old) Platinum Pro||(New) Platinum Pro||(Old) Executive Platinum||(New) Executive Platinum|
|Elite Qualifying Dollars||$9,000.00||$6,000.00||$15,000.00||$9,000.00|
|Elite Qualifying Miles||75,000||45,000||100,000||60,000|
|Elite Qualifying Segments||90||45||120||60|
While most would say that this is still going to be hard given the limited amount of time for flying before the end of the year (after the various travel restrictions/guidances/limitations lift), the fact is that there are and will be some good flight deals for business class flights.
Those combined with fewer miles needed means that just a couple-few flights could be all you need to hit an elite level that could work for you. I will be doing some posts in the coming weeks to highlight ways to get to various elite levels quickly when flying is semi-normal again.
Credit Card Spending Counts Towards Million Miler Status
This is something that used to work with American Airlines and there are many Million Milers today as a result of it. Now, AA is bringing it back again in what I think is a very smart move to encourage spending on their cards while people are grounded.
From May 1 – December 31, 2020, every dollar spent on American Airline credit cards will count as 1 mile towards Million Miler status. This should help those that really want to hit that next Million Miler elite level.
Award Fees Being Waived
This is something that is a bit confusing but overall very helpful. As of now, if you want to cancel an American Airlines award (before all of these waivers came around), you would need to pay $150 for miles to be reinstated to your account (and $25 for each additional passenger on that reservation) unless you had Executive Platinum status.
But, you were able to make date changes when you were more than 21 days out for no fee at all. According to this new change, it appears that this great opportunity is going away to be replaced by a larger fee waiver for reinstatement of miles and other changes.
Here is the new fee structure.
|Elite Status||Changes 60+ Days Before Travel||At Least 7 Days, but Fewer Than 60 Days Before Travel||Fewer Than 7 Days Before Travel|
This is how the fee applies and who they are waived for:
- Fees apply to each award ticket changed or reinstated.
- Fees vary by elite status of the member using miles from their account and the number of days before departure of the first changed or canceled flight in the original trip.
The flight award change / reinstatement fee will be waived for:
- Members using more miles to purchase a higher cabin on the same flight(s).
- Executive Platinum members using miles from their account, including for Web Special awards.
American Airlines has done right by their elite members and created a path for easier elite status for those that were already on track or those who want to chase it this year.
On the award size, it is a positive with many of the changes but there are some changes I do not like – like the apparent change to date changes being free up to 21 days before departure and the reduced fee cost for tickets on the same reservation.
Featured image courtesy Stefano Panzeri / Shutterstock.com