AAdvantage Program: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
American Airlines’ AAdvantage program has been touted as the premier frequent flyer program of the US3 airlines (American, Delta, United). My friends that live near AA hubs and several of the most popular travel bloggers (example) are all big fans and boosters of the AAdvantage program. Living near Atlanta I tend to see things through the red and blue glaze of Delta-colored glasses. But Delta’s continued changes to the SkyMiles program have led to my spreading travel dollars around, especially for International routes. I kept my eye on American, but never made the leap domestically, as the thought of having to change planes almost every time I flew just wasn’t very appealing.
In 2014, Delta announced they would be changing the SkyMiles program in 2015 to be revenue-based. This meant that the miles you earned would no longer be determine by the number of miles that you flew, but on the cost of your ticket plus airline-imposed fees multiplied by a factor based on your status within the SkyMiles program. Delta flyers were “not amused.” Unless you were a Diamond or Platinum SkyMiles member that flew on higher-priced tickets, you could count on earning less SkyMiles than you did before. In the Delta communities I frequent anecdotal evidence bears this out.United followed right behind Delta announcing their program, MileagePlus would be making similar changes but American held fast. They did dilute some of their benefits heading into 2016, but they maintained a superior, miles-flown program.
With their June 6th announcement, American has aligned their program more closely with Delta and United’s by going revenue-based.
Revenue-based Earning with American AAdvantage – Post August 1, 2016
You earn miles on the base fare plus carrier-imposed fees minus government-imposed taxes and fees. The more you spend (and the higher your elite status level) the more you’ll earn.
They also announced that starting in 2017, there will be a new elite tier, Platinum Pro, that will earn 9 miles for every U.S. dollar spent. This will make their program identical to Delta’s. Take a look at Delta’s mileage calculator that accompanied their announcement of revenue-based SkyMiles. See any similarities?
American AAdvantage Elite Qualification Changes
The biggest change, and the one that is causing the most grumbles, is the addition of a revenue component to the AAdvantage elite status qualifications. The current program has two components: You can qualify based on miles (EQMs) or you can qualify based on segments (EQSs).
Elite status qualification – Through December 31, 2016
The new announcement takes AAdvantage extremely close to the standards first implemented by Delta. You can qualify based on EQMs and EQDs or you can qualify based on EQSs and EQDs. Those EQDs are calculated based on the amount you pay for your ticket plus airline-imposed fees, so it’s a fairly healthy, but not altogether unreasonable, spend. They also announced the creation of a brand new tier Platinum Pro that slots in between Executive Platinum and Platinum. Personally that’s just too many Platinums to keep track of.
American AAdvantage Missed A Major Component In Their Program Making Delta SkyMiles The Current Leader
You might also want to read: This Is How You Increase The Value Of Your AAdvantage Account