American Airlines’ AAdvantage Becomes Revenue-Based, Adds New Tier

American Airlines announced today that it will change its frequent-flier program to award miles based on ticket price rather than distance flown. American Airlines said its AAdvantage program, which has about 100 million members, will change beginning August 1.

Customers who have no status in the plan will receive 5 miles for each dollar spent on tickets, excluding government taxes and fees. The number of miles awarded will increase based on the passenger’s elite status, with the lower “gold” members receiving 7 miles to a dollar and top-tier “executive platinum” fliers getting 11 miles per dollar spent.

Elite Status Level Basic Gold Platinum Exec Platinum
Miles per USD 5 7 (40% bonus) 8 (60% bonus) 11 (120% bonus)

Beginning later this month, customers will be able to see an estimate of the number of miles and elite-qualifying credits they will earn for a chosen itinerary when booking their trip on aa.com.

American also said that effective Jan. 1, it will add minimum annual spending levels fliers must meet to reach elite status the following year. To be a gold level flier, a customer will have to spend $3,000, along with flying 25,000 miles or flying 30 segments in a given year. A platinum flier will need to spend $6,000 and fly 50,000 miles or 60 segments, and so on.

American Airlines

These changes come after similiar moves by Delta and United which are ranked second and third by traffic. Other carriers including Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin America, also already have moved to a revenue-based model, which is intended to award those who spend the most, instead of those who fly more.

One change it will also make in January is to add a new elite tier, “Platinum Pro” between its Platinum and Executive Platinum levels. Pro will require fliers to travel 75,000 miles or 90 segments and spend $9,000 on tickets. This tier will provide complimentary automatic upgrades on all eligible flights in North American, two free checked bags and pay 9 award miles per dollar spent.

AAdvantage Tiers.jpg

Later in 2017, AAdvantage members will see changes to how upgrade requests are prioritized along with a new benefit for Executive Platinum members:

  • Upgrade priority will be based on a 12-month rolling EQD total, sorted by elite status level.
  • Executive Platinum members will be able to use their complimentary 500-mile upgrade benefits on AAdvantage award tickets for travel on American from Main Cabin to the next class.

American Airlines hasn’t made any changes to its redemption options aside from some modifications made in March, and said it still plans to show the award redemption requirements on its website. While American was preparing to make the program changes, it found itself uncompetitive with its largest rivals on the more expensive tickets. So it has had a special mileage promotion in place that will be phased out in August.

Changes to the program for customers who use co-branded American credit cards to book travel are still under review, the company said.

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