Hi, welcome to 2014, the year where the airlines have us by the you-know-what!
There’s no doubt that the past couple of years have been amazing for the airlines — the economy is recovering and capacity has decreased, leading to airfare and load factors that are at a near all-time high.
While American and US Airways work on their integration, Delta and United have been taking steps to “fine-tune” their frequent flyer programs…at least from their perspectives.
Or more accurately, I should say that Delta SkyMiles has been making changes, and United MileagePlus has been matching them.
Here’s a video that perfectly sums up the dynamic between Delta and United (I’ll let you guess which airline is the duck):
So what has happened so far?
- In January 2013, Delta SkyMiles announced they’d add a revenue requirement for status starting in 2014
- In June 2013, United MileagePlue announced they’d add a revenue requirement for status starting in 2014
- In February 2014, Delta SkyMiles announced they’d start awarding miles based on revenue in 2015
- Today, United MileagePlus announced they’d start awarding miles based on revenue in 2015
Credit to Charles M. Kunz for this
I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. 😉
Will American AAdvantage go revenue based?
Or perhaps the more accurate question is when will American AAdvantage go revenue based?
It has been almost 18 months since Delta first announced that they’d add a revenue requirement for status, though we haven’t heard a peep from American regarding the possibility.
I wouldn’t assume that this means it’s not coming, however.
It’s tough to change frequent flyer programs during a merger
I think the main reason American hasn’t matched either (or probably both) of the above changes is because they’re in the middle of a merger.
We’ve seen changes, though they’ve mostly come in the form of aligning policies and not coming up with new ones altogether. Obviously they have bigger fish to fry right now, and they have such massive technological limitations merging these two airlines that they’re not really in a position at the moment to complicate things even further.
I don’t think AAdvantage will go revenue based in 2015
Yesterday American confirmed that elite qualifying miles between American and US Airways won’t be combined for this program year. Instead there will be a new combined mileage program next year, and I suspect they’ll be outlining what the new program will look like in the next couple of months.
Chances are that it will take elements from both programs, and ideally they’ll meet somewhere in the middle in terms of benefits.
For example, right now American offers their Executive Platinum members eight systemwide upgrades with no fare restrictions, while US Airways offers their Chairman’s Preferred members two systemwide upgrades (also valid for a companion). I’d wager they’ll somehow split the difference, and maybe offer four systemwide upgrades with no fare restrictions, or something like that.
But in practice I don’t think they can move quickly enough to introduce both a revenue requirement and revenue based mileage earning in 2015.
I predict AAdvantage will go revenue based in 2016
I suspect it will be announced at some point in 2015, and that starting in 2016 they’ll adopt some aspects of Delta and United’s programs.
Maybe they won’t adopt it completely, but at the same time there’s no way they’ll just permanently keep their programs as is, in my opinion.
I could be wrong.
It could be sooner, it could be later, or it could be not at all.
But my guess is that American isn’t intentionally not matching these MileagePlus and SkyMiles changes, but rather the merger and technological limitations are preventing them from implementing these changes as quickly.
What do you think — will American AAdvantage go revenue based? If so, when?