Last night I posted about the reliable rumor that there are big changes coming to the American AAdvantage program in 2016. JonNYC at TravelingBetter had shared that agents were being briefed on the new program, and he explained that the changes were substantial and impact the entire program.
It’s no surprise that we’re seeing changes to the AAdvantage program, given that American and US Airways have just wrapped up their merger, and during that time their focus has been on “integrating” rather than “innovating.”
While the details of the program haven’t yet been officially announced, JonNYC has shared further details about what we can expect. Since this hasn’t yet been officially announced things could still change, but I’d take what JonNYC says as fact as of the time he publishes it.
So, what do we know about the 2016 AAdvantage program?
Qualifying for status:
- American is eliminating Elite Qualification Points (EQPs), so status can be earned based on Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS)
- There will be no minimum spend requirement for elite status (unlike at Delta and United)
- There will be no change to elite tier levels (there will continue to be three, and they’ll be at the same levels)
- There will be no change to segment requirements for status (30, 60, and 120 are required for Gold, Platinum, and Executive Platinum)
- Elite qualification will continue to be mileage based as opposed to revenue based (100,000 EQMs per year or 120 segments will be required to earn Executive Platinum status)
- Since EQPs are being discontinued, EQMs can be earned at the following increased rates (this makes it significantly easier to qualify for status, for those of us who fly a mix of paid premium class and discounted economy travel):
- Full fare first & business class: 3 EQMs per flown mile
- Discounted first & business class: 2 EQMs per flown mile
- Full fare economy class: 1.5 EQMs per flown mile
- Discounted economy class: 1 EQM per flown mile
- Later in 2016, American will go fully revenue based when it comes to earning redeemable miles, similar to the system that Delta and United have
- Executive Platinum members will only earn four systemwide upgrades per year, rather than the current eight, though there will be opportunities to earn more
- Gold and Platinum members will earn four 500 mile upgrades for every 12,500 EQMs rather than four for every 10,000 flown miles (in reality this will probably translate to roughly the same rate of earning for the average traveler profile, given the increased earning of EQMs)
I don’t think anyone likes seeing changes to the AAdvantage program, since it’s fantastic. I think the takeaway here is that 2016 (or at least the beginning of it) won’t be bad for AAdvantage. Come late 2016 (or perhaps early 2017, in practice), AAdvantage won’t be much different than MileagePlus and SkyMiles, as they’ll offer four systemwide upgrades when qualifying for Executive Platinum status, and earning miles will be revenue based.
Of course this is all subject to change, and I’ll post again when the announcement from American is official. Thanks to JonNYC for all the useful info he has posted about this.
What do you make of the above changes to the AAdvantage program?