American Airlines announces changes to their AAdvantage Program
Rumors have been out there for months regarding proposed changes in American Airline AAdvantage program–today, finally the airline announced the official word. Overall, not terrible news for most people–some devaluations in their award chart, but the biggest change is following in the footsteps of Delta and United in going towards a revenue based mileage earning program (instead of mileage based). What this means is that the more you spend on a ticket (and also depending on your status) the more miles you will earn. How do these changes affect you?
Earning Redeemable Award Miles
American follows in the footsteps of both United and Delta in moving to a revenue-based award system going into effect 2nd quarter 2016. This means that “when traveling on flights marketed by American, you’ll earn miles based on the price paid for your ticket (base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, excluding any government-imposed taxes and fees), multiplied by five (5) for AAdvantage members.” Gold members will receive a multiple of seven (7), Platinum members will receive eight (8), and Executive Platinum will receive eleven (11). That means if you are paying for full fare tickets you will likely do very well with this new system, but if you are purchasing the lowest fare economy ticket possible, you will be earning LESS redeemable award miles than before.
Earning Qualifying Segments and Qualifying Miles
There is a distinct difference between earning REDEEMABLE award miles and earning ELITE QUALIFYING MILES (EQMs) and ELITE QUALIFYING SEGMENTS (EQS). You will still earn 1 segment credit for each American flight that you take. Similarly, you will earn elite qualifying miles based on the actual mileage distance of your flight (i.e. a 1,000 mile flight still earns at least 1,000 EQMs and 1 EQS, but will earn Redeemable award miles based on the price you paid for the ticket). I say at least, because if you are flying Full Fare First Class, you will actually earn 3x EQMs per mile flown; Discount First Class earns 2x EQMs per mile flown, Full Fare Economy earns 1.5, and any other economy fare earns 1x mile flown.
EQMs and EQSs matter in qualifying for elite status. In 2016 American Elite Status will be earned via the following:
Award Redemption Changes
Finally, the expected devaluation of the American and its Parnter Award chart has arrived. Many of the great values that were part of their previous award chart have increased in price. However, there are some good deals to be found. Perhaps the best deal on the American Partner Award chart was the ability to redeem 67,500 AA miles to fly one-way to South Asia (i.e. Hong Kong) in Cathay Pacific First Class (one of the nicest products out there). With the release of this new chart, that same award increases to 110,000 miles. In general most business and first class redemptions on both American Airlines and Partner operated flights have increased in price from any region in the world.
You still have time!
These changes do not go into effect until 22 March 2016–so you can still redeem your miles at the old rates until that date–even for travel after that date. As for me, I am going to look hard at trying to book a one-way in Cathay Pacific First at the old BARGAIN rate of 67,500! Send me a message if you have any questions on the changes and how you can best prepare for the upcoming devaluation.