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American Airlines filled in the details of many changes it’s making to the AAdvantage program, which it originally announced back in November.
There aren’t a lot of surprises here – it’s a tougher road if you’re not a big spender – and things are pretty close to what Delta and United have adopted over the last two years. Below is a rundown of the exact timing of the changes and what they mean for you.
But first, a quick summary.
For elite members…
Some key terms to know if you’re hoping to earn elite status…you’ll see them referenced often...
American Airlines marketed flights will earn award miles based on how much you pay, not how far you fly.
Here’s the earning for award miles:
So, a trip to London that costs $1,439, including $752 in airfare, $458 in carrier fees, and $229 in taxes / airport fees, will earn based on the $752 in airfare + $458 in carrier fees, or $1,210.
A general member will earn 5x $1,210, or 6,050 miles for the trip, while an Executive Platinum member will earn 13,310 miles.
What’s an American Airlines marketed flight?
It’s a flight with an American Airlines flight number. That can be on American, or on a codeshare partner like British Airways that you buy with an American Airlines flight number. Just about every ticket you buy on AA.com has an American Airlines flight number.
Flights on American partners that don’t have American Airlines flight numbers will earn award miles based on how far you fly.
For example, if you buy a British Airways ticket from the British Airways website, or an Alaska flight from Alaska Airlines, it won’t have an American Airlines flight number. Sometimes these tickets will have American Airlines flights in them if you have a connection.
However, the number of miles you earn for cheaper fares will be reduced. American will announce those earning rates by July 15. For example, you might earn only 50% of the miles flown for some fares. Don’t expect a lot of lucrative loopholes with this method of earning miles. It will be less than before for many tickets.
There will no longer be a 500 award mile minimum for short flights.
Since award miles are earned based on how far you fly, the old minimum of 500 miles earned for short flights flown by AAdvantage elite members isn’t valid anymore.
You will need to both fly enough AND meet the new hurdle of spending enough on tickets to re-qualify for elite status. That status will be good through 2018 and early 2019.
Remember, there is no change to how you qualify for status during 2016, and the status you earn in 2016 year will be valid until early 2018.
You can also start qualifying for a new level of elite status, Platinum Pro
Platinum Pro requires 75,000 EQMs or 90 segments AND $9,000 EQDs earned after January 1, 2017. Activity in 2016 does NOT count toward Platinum Pro.
This level earns you higher upgrade priority than Platinum, and complimentary upgrades on flights in North America and between the U.S. and Central America. No more 500 mile upgrade certificates are needed for those flights, matching the Executive Platinum level benefit.
Several changes have no specific date yet, but will happen sometime in 2017:
EQDs part of upgrade priority: Upgrades will be prioritized by elite level and then within your elite level, your 12 month rolling EQD total. The time you buy your ticket is no longer the main priority. So if you are a Platinum member, you will be behind Platinum Pro members, and then any Platinum members with a higher EQD total than you.
Award tickets upgradable for Executive Platinum: You’ll be eligible for complimentary upgrades on award tickets with the same rules as for paid tickets, so flights within North America and to Central America may get complimentary upgrades starting at the normal 100 hour window.
Earning EQDs via credit card spend: AAdvantage hasn’t committed to whether you can earn EQDs or get a waiver of EQD requirements via credit card spending. Currently the Citi Executive AAdvantage and Aviator Silver card from Barclaycard let you earn elite qualifying *miles* via spending. But with the new EQD requirement starting January 1, that will become a lot less useful on its own.
Delta currently waives all EQD requirements when you spend $25,000 or more a year on a Delta SkyMiles Amex. And United waives it up to Premier Platinum for holders of the Presidential Plus credit card (though that card isn’t open to new applicants).
If there’s one change where your input matters, it’s probably this one. So if you hold an Executive AAdvantage or Aviator Silver card, and are concerned about being able to meet EQD requirements, make your case known to both American and your bank. The more they hear, the more they might consider allowing some sort of waiver.
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