American AAdvantage 2016 Changes (Including Award Chart Devaluation)

Just under two weeks ago we learned about rumored changes being made to the AAdvantage program in 2016. Shortly thereafter I shared why I considered the potential changes to be pretty bad, and to basically signify the loss of any competitive advantage American had with their loyalty program.

Well, American has just revealed the full details of the 2016 AAdvantage program, including an award chart devaluation.

2016-AAdvantage-Program

This announcements covers changes to elite qualification, elite benefits, the accrual of redeemable miles, and also the award chart. Let’s go through them one-by-one:

American is playing catch up with Delta and United

Let’s start with the most simple point. As I look at these changes aboard, American is basically just copying a vast majority of the changes made by Delta and United over the past couple of years. They’ve been focused on the merger for the past couple of years, which is why they haven’t made any major changes. But they’re now making them all in one swoop.

As explained in the press release:

“American Airlines has spent the last two years being singularly focused on integration. Now we’re at a point where we can begin to look ahead and lay the foundation for the future of the AAdvantage program to ensure we’re rewarding our most loyal customers with the benefits they value the most,” said Suzanne Rubin, President of AAdvantage. “We seamlessly integrated our programs in 2015, and we’re excited about the opportunities that the program will offer our customers in the years to come.”

So let’s go through the changes one-by-one:

Changes to AAdvantage elite qualification in 2016

Many people will probably find this change to be positive. American is making it considerably easier to qualify for elite status in 2016. Under the current system, you can qualify for elite status based on elite qualifying miles, elite qualifying points, or elite qualifying segments.

For example, Executive Platinum required either 100,000 elite qualifying miles or points, or 120 segments. That meant you had to fly either 100,000 butt in seat miles or 67,000+ miles in paid premium cabins. But you couldn’t mix-and-match the two.

American-Mileage-Earning-Chart

Now that American is eliminating EQPs as a method of qualifying for status, it’ll be significantly easier to qualify, as you earn EQMs at the following (increased) rates:

  • 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

American points out how their elite mileage accrual rates are significantly higher than the competition:

American-EQMs

So it’ll require less effort to qualify for status, which is good news if you wouldn’t otherwise qualify for status.

Personally I consider this to be a negative change, since it means elite ranks will be swelled. American will have higher accrual rates than Delta and United (and their top tier requirements are lower than Delta), so this will swell elite ranks. That means there will be more competition for upgrades, which I’m not personally a fan of.

American-First-Class
Could domestic upgrades become more difficult?

Furthermore, starting with the 2017 membership year, elite status will be valid through the end of January of the following year, rather than through the end of February.

Changes to AAdvantage elite upgrades in 2016

American is making two major changes to elite upgrades in 2016.

The first is that beginning March 1, 2016, Gold and Platinum members will earn four 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 EQMs earned during the membership year, rather than for every 10,000 EQMs. This is due to the increased earnings rates of EQMs, which doesn’t seem unreasonable. Furthermore, American is also raising the cost to purchase 500 mile upgrades, from $30 to $40.

American will also be decreasing the rate at which Executive Platinum members earn systemwide upgrades. My single favorite benefit of being an Executive Platinum member is that you earn eight systemwide upgrades for every year you qualify. There are no fare restrictions on these, so they’re hugely valuable.

American-Business-Class

Beginning January 1, 2016, Executive Platinum members will receive four systemwide upgrades upon qualification for the 2017 membership year, with the opportunity to earn up to four more based on flight activity — two for every 50,000 EQMs earned above the 100,000 EQM threshold up to 200,000 EQMs. So that means you can earn at most eight systemwide upgrades per year, but only if you earn 200,000 EQMs.

This year American is offering eight systemwide upgrades just for qualifying for status, with the opportunity to earn many more for over-qualifying (I’ve earned 14 so far this year).

Presently I consider American to be the single most lucrative airline when it comes to top tier upgrades, while under the new program, I’d say they’ll be competitive with Delta and United, or perhaps the least lucrative. As a reminder:

Delta Diamond Medallion members receive:

  • Four systemwide upgrades PLUS four regional upgrades
  • OR 12 regional upgrades

United Mileage Plus Premier 1K members receive:

  • Six systemwide upgrades (with fare restrictions)
  • Four regional upgrades
  • An additional two regional upgrades for every 25,000 EQMs, and an additional two systemwide upgrades for every 50,000 EQMs

One could certainly make the argument that American’s systemwide upgrade program is still as good/better than Delta or United. Personally I don’t buy into it, and I don’t think anyone could say “with these changes, American has the best international upgrade program for top tier elites without a doubt.” Which I think almost anyone would have admitted prior to this.

Furthermore, I expect Executive Platinum domestic upgrade percentages to decrease, given that elite ranks will be swelled. Not a good combo.

American-787

Revenue based mileage earning coming in 2016

Starting in the second half of 2016, American will be following Delta and United in awarding miles based on revenue as opposed to miles flown, as follows:

  • Non-elite: 5 redeemable miles per dollar spent
  • Gold: 7 redeemable miles per dollar spent
  • Platinum: 8 redeemable miles per dollar spent
  • Executive Platinum: 11 redeemable miles per dollar spent

American-Dollar-Spend

The above calculations, which are at best almost break even are based on the following fare:

*Calculation based on an AAdvantage member flying round-trip on an American marketed flight from
Dallas (DFW) to London-Heathrow (LHR). Base fare plus carrier-imposed fees – $1,894.

When you add in taxes, that ticket would cost ~$2,200. When ~$2,200 is the basis of comparison we’re using for a transatlantic economy ticket, well, that just shows you how far airfare has come.

I’m sure these accrual rates look familiar if you’re a Delta SkyMiles member:

Delta-SkyMiles-Revenue-Calculator

Or a United MileagePlus member:

MileagePlus-Revenue-Based

It’s worth noting that until the revenue based program takes effect, American will continue to offer redeemable mileage bonuses for those booking premium cabins, as they have for all of 2015.

March 2016 AAdvantage award chart changes

When I wrote about the rumored changes a bit over a week ago, some of you said “well I earn miles primarily through credit cards, so as long as they don’t change redemption rates, that works for me.”

Well, AAdvantage is changing redemption rates as well. And it’s not pretty. At all.

The AAdvantage award chart changes kick in for travel booked on or after March 22, 2016.

Let’s rip the band-aid off super quickly here.

Here’s the current AAdvantage partner award chart for travel originating in the US (all prices one-way):

AAdvantage-Old

Here’s the new AAdvantage partner award chart for travel originating in the US (all prices one-way):

AAdvantage-New

To give a few examples of changes in business class redemption rates:

  • Business class between the US and Europe increases by 7,500 miles, from 50,000 miles to 57,500 miles
  • Business class between the US and Asia 1 increases by 10,000 miles, from 50,000 miles to 60,000 miles
  • Business class between the US and Asia 2 increases by 15,000 miles, from 55,000 miles to 70,000 miles
  • Business class between the US and South Pacific increases by 17,500 miles, from 62,500 miles to 80,000 miles (in the highly unlikely event you can find award space)
  • Business class between the US and Middle East increases by 2,500 miles, from 67,500 miles to 70,000 miles

Qantas-Business-Class-747-03
The cost of a Qantas business class award between the US and Australia increases significantly

And to give a few examples of changes in first class redemption rates:

  • First class between the US and Europe increases by 22,500 miles, from 62,500 miles to 85,000 miles (the only partner offering first class to Europe is British Airways, so you’ll still pay $400+ each way in carrier imposes fuel surcharges)
  • First class between the US and Asia 1 increases by 17,500 miles, from 62,500 miles to 80,000 miles
  • First class between the US and Asia 2 increases by 42,500 miles, from 67,500 miles to 110,000 miles
  • First class between the US and South Pacific increases by 37,500 miles, from 72,500 miles to 110,000 miles (in the highly unlikely event you can find Qantas first class award space)
  • First class between the US and Middle East increases by 25,000 miles, from 90,000 miles to 115,000 miles

Cathay-Pacific-First-Class-777-39
The cost of a Cathay Pacific first class award between the US and Asia increases significantly

For a more comprehensive analysis, below is a comparison of AAdvantage business class partner redemption rates under the old and new program, along with a side-by-side comparison to Delta and United.

There are a few things to note:

  • AAdvantage rates listed are for partner airlines only
  • United MileagePlus has separate award rates for travel on their own metal vs. partners, so rates listed are for partner travel
  • Delta no longer publishes award charts, so all rates are approximate, and based on partner metal only
Contiguous 48 U.S. States To:Current AAdvantage CostNew AAdvantage CostUnited Mileage Plus CostDelta SkyMiles Cost
Contiguous 48 U.S. States 25,00025,00025,00025,000 / 32,500*
Canada & Alaska25,00030,00025,00025,000 / 32,500*
Hawaii37,50040,00040,00040,000
Caribbean30,00027,50030,00030,000
Mexico30,00027,50030,00030,000
Central America30,00027,50030,000
United has slightly different zone definitions
~30,000
Delta has slightly different zone definitions
South America Zone 130,00030,00035,000
United has slightly different zone definitions
~45,000
Delta has slightly different zone definitions
South America Zone 250,00057,50055,000
United has slightly different zone definitions
~62,500
Delta has slightly different zone definitions
Europe50,00057,50070,000~62,500
Middle East / India67,50070,00080,000~70,000
Delta has slightly different zone definitions
Africa75,00075,00080,000~80,000
Delta has slightly different zone definitions
Asia Zone 150,00060,000Japan: 75,000
United has slightly different zone definitions
~70,000
Asia Zone 255,00070,000Central/South/North Asia: 80,000
United has slightly different zone definitions
~70,000
South Pacific62,50080,00080,000~80,000

Meanwhile below is a comparison of AAdvantage first class partner redemption rates under the old and new program, along with a side-by-side comparison of United partner first class redemption rates (Delta doesn’t allow award redemptions for international first class).

Contiguous 48 U.S. States To:Current AAdvantage CostNew AAdvantage Cost
Contiguous 48 U.S. States 32,50050,000
Canada & Alaska32,50055,000
Hawaii47,50065,000
Caribbean40,00052,500
Mexico40,00052,500
Central America40,00052,500
South America Zone 140,00055,000
South America Zone 262,50085,000
Europe62,50085,000
Middle East / India90,000115,000
Africa100,000120,000
Asia Zone 162,50080,000
Asia Zone 267,500110,000
South Pacific72,500110,000

Lastly, here’s a table with definitions of the various zones:

AAdvantage Award Zone:Countries Included:
North America U.S. (including Hawaii and Alaska), Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, The Bahamas and the Caribbean
Central America or
South America Zone 1
Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Venezuela
South America Zone 2Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile (excluding Easter Island), Paraguay, Uruguay
EuropeAlbania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovinia, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia
Middle EastBahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
Indian SubcontinentBangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
AfricaAlgeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Melilla, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Reunion, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Asia Zone 1Japan, Korea, Mongolia
Asia Zone 2Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
South PacificAustralia, Easter Island, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Tonga, Republic of Vanuatu, American Samoa and Samoa

The good news is that American will be introducing discounted award costs for travel on their own flights of less than 500 miles. A saver economy award will cost 7,500 AAdvantage miles, while a saver business/first class award will cost 15,000 AAdvantage miles.

Unfortunately other than that, award costs are increasing on American quite a bit as well. The cost of a first class award on the American A321T between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco is increasing from 32,500 miles to 50,000 miles at the saver level, while business class is increasing from 25,000 miles to 32,500 miles. Ouch!

American-A321-First-Class-01

Here’s the new award chart for travel on American metal originating in the “lower 48:”

AAdvantage-AA-Metal-1

AAdvantage-AA-Metal-2

Bottom line

I was hoping the “new American” would want to do something to differentiate themselves from Delta and United post integration, given that both airlines have devalued their program to no end. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case, and instead American was just waiting for the integration to copy-cat the competition.

To sum up my feelings:

  • Qualifying for elite status will get easier, which is good if you wouldn’t otherwise qualify, but bad if you would. Making it easier to qualify for status means there will be more elite members.
  • Revenue based mileage earning is what it is. Personally I don’t like it at all, while I know others love it. My only issue with it is that Delta created totally arbitrary earnings rates, and United and American have copied them to a “T.”
  • The award chart devaluation is drastic, and unfortunately matches recent changes from both Delta SkyMiles and United Mileage Plus. The fact that a roundtrip Cathay Pacific first class award between the US and Asia is going up by 85,000 miles overnight is sort of insane to me. If it’s any consolation, Delta doesn’t allow redemptions for international first class, while American’s partner award rates are still slightly more lucrative than United’s partner award rates.

I’m not at all happy about these changes, but I guess this is the natural result of the industry being consolidated down to just three “big” international carriers? There’s something that really stings about huge cuts in mileage earning rates compounded with huge increases in award costs.

What do you make of the 2016 AAdvantage changes? Are you more bothered by the elite program changes or the award chart changes?

Comments

  1. Does this mean a pre-devaluation trip, like “the last aeroplan hurrah”? 🙂
    That seems to be the only positive thing about this devaluation… is there anything I missed?

  2. Sad indeed, BUT I’m glad we get a good amount of time to book flights.

    Sorta in line with what the others have done in this space so not surprising, though.

    BTW, who on earth would book BA first using AA miles now? It was bad enough when you included the fuel surcharges before, now it’s just insane.

  3. At work so didn’t have time to delve into the entire post but are these changes in place now for awards booked after March 22nd or will the new redemption rates be applied after march 22nd?

  4. Hey Lucky,
    How do you deduct that F Transcontinental on the 321t stays at the existing level? It would seem according to the new award chart that it would raise to 50,000. Other blogs are saying it goes up to 50. I am crossing my fingers you are right!

  5. Ben,

    1. Do the new EQM rates apply to partner airlines?
    2. Prior to revenue based kicking in, do we know if the award miles earnings are changing as well?

  6. @Tom

    Was confused at first too, but the 321T will be on the AA award chart which is 25k in biz +7.5k for F for lower 48.

  7. So with the new revenue model short haul flights (lets say 300 miles) on a $300 economy ticket would earn nearly as many miles as an economy cross country flight under current model?

  8. @ Chris — Correct. Revenue based mileage earning is good for those who primarily fly shorthaul and on full fare tickets.

  9. @ Tom Davis — The 50K pricing is for partner airlines, so would apply to Cathay Pacific from New York to Vancouver, for example. The chart for travel on American metal is different.

  10. No more reason to be loyal to any one of them. I’m going to use my heard earned $ to buy discount 1st class fares.

  11. so AA’s award prices are a little less than UA’s partner award prices, yet AA still has their silly routing restrictions. I kinda think UA has a “better” award chart now.

    man, AA had the chance to do something different…were they really losing passengers to DL/AA that forced them to copy exactly what they did? Their earning calls showed they were doing FINE.

  12. Hey Lucky,

    Used your service to book ORD to BKK recently in F!!!! Thanks! Do you see any transfer opportunities into AA before March 22 from credit cards or hotel points? I have Hilton, Marriott, SPG….

  13. @Tom @Lucky

    JK think I am wrong. the 7.5K is a business class surcharge for 3 cabin J not F. Oof. Think it is 50k for 321T F and 32.5k for J.

  14. @ Ben — The way I read it, A321T transcon awards go up to 32,500 miles one-way in business class and 50,000 miles one-way in first class.

  15. Also, what is the rule for partner award chart when the overwater segment is on AA. Say DFW-LHR in F on AA then LHR-CDG on BA in European J. Does that trigger partner award chart?

  16. The award chart change isn’t half way bad. 80K for a F award to Asia beats out UA and partner awards price the same level as AA. I bet because of YQ it doesn’t cost AA nearly as much in BA F redemption as LH F redemption has costed UA in the old times so not surprisingly the rates didn’t increase astronomically. It’s all driven by microeconomics and in my book all make perfect sense.

    This also shows that AA coordinated with BA in BA’s change of award of 4500 avios Y awards in NA.

  17. @ Lucky – on AA’s own chart for J/F they have a bunch of categories marked by * (valid only on non-stop flights). Are rates going to be different if we have to fly through an AA hub, e.g. IAH-DFW-xxx?

    P.S. This is not unexpected but still blows. I guess the only positive thing is they are giving a lot of advanced notice.

  18. I think we all reasonably knew that 1st Class redemptions to Asia and the Middle East would be a bloodbath. Just had to. I mean, when I booked a flight to Tokyo for back in October my options at the time were 70k United miles to fly ANA in Biz or 62,500 AA miles in JAL First.

    For my immediate travel plans, I am actually somewhat relieved. I was focusing on Biz to the Middle East and India. So, given what it could have been, an additional 5,000 miles roundtrip is not too bad. Assuming I am reading these changes correctly.

    Disappointed by the steep increase in Biz to Australia, though. Not that I’ve often been able to find availability. But, capacity to Aus/NZ is increasing so that one is going to sting.

    On the whole, as someone who doesn’t differentiate all that much between Biz and First, I am reasonably relieved. Disappointed, but not devastated.

  19. What about changes to awards? say something booked already, but changed after 3/22? do I get the old rate or the new? I have J booked on EY but planning on moving up to F when/if they release the seats last minute. Would I have to pay the new rate or the old?

  20. Also, don’t understand the + notation on the partner awards. How can you have an F award on a non-3-cabin plane, unless they mean the surcharge for only business class.

  21. @ Szulcm1 — Thanks for using our service! With a specific use in mind it could absolutely make sense to transfer Starpoints to American, but it’s not something I’d do speculatively. Will have more analysis on the best options over the coming days. Stay tuned.

  22. As someone who buys miles, I suppose the amount of pain will depend on how cheaply they sell miles in future. Some premium fares may still be a good deal if they start selling at less than 2 cpm.

    I wonder if they’ll remove some of their archaic routing rules at the same time (e.g. no Australian via Asia) to soften the blow. Lucky, anyone at AA you can reach out to about that possibility?

  23. @ AdamH — It shouldn’t really make a difference one way or another, since it’s 85,000 miles either way. That being said, when a partner is involved it would go by that award chart.

  24. Are they changing the ability to earn EQM through credit card spend?

    We currently earn 10K EQM through Citi Executive card & another 10K EQM through Barclay Aviator Silver.

  25. I understand that it would be the old rate if I book a later flight before March 2016. But what happens if I change the date of a booked flight after March 2016? Would I need to top up the difference in miles?

    I.e. Call AA before March 2016 to Book Cathay First class for a flight on 1 Dec 2016. Later in April 2016, if I need to change my flight from 1 Dec 2016 to 10 Dec 2016 – is it still free change/without top up in miles needed?

    Thanks.

  26. The devaluations should have gone further . Business and especially First class should be for paying customers only. Economy Mile receptions are reasonable.

    Jackie

  27. Ben, another part of AA making it easier to earn status is that they are the only one of the big 3 to not have a revenue requirement for earning status. Is this correct?

  28. Oil’s cheap and planes are full. Just wait until the economy turns again and they will be throwing miles at us to fill up seats.

    I hope…

  29. saw this coming so on the whole am not surprised but jesus, they really took aim at CX F redemptions. looks like my last trips on cathay first will be my next two bookings in jan and feb.

    after march of next year i plan to use my AA miles for transcon J, that’s it. will purchase AS miles for first cabin redemptions from here on out.

  30. So is there any indication whether changes post March 22 will be at the old rate or the new rate? I have 5 CX business and 1 CX first in June of next year. Will I be able to change one or more of the business to first in June next year for 12,500 miles or will they be looking for 55,000 miles?

  31. @ SamuelH — We don’t know for sure yet, but my guess is that you can make changes as long as the award doesn’t have to be repriced. A reprice would be triggered by changing the award type. But I suspect a simple date change wouldn’t trigger an increase in mileage cost. Keep in mind a ticket has to be flown within a year of the date it was issued, though.

  32. It was completely unsustainable for AA to have redemption rates that much cheaper than everyone else. Obviously, if you’re comparing it against today’s award chart, the huge increase in F pricing looks devastating. However, I’m honestly not that upset for a couple reasons. First, with all-aisle access the new normal for business class, the hard product just isn’t that much worse in C than F (business class on cx isn’t exactly slumming it). While some put a high value on the champagne, I tend to sleep whether I’m in F or C. Second, it could have been much, much worse. We still have award charts, and they’re still better than the competition. What’s going to hit a lot harder is the revenue-based earning, especially the double-whammy platinums get. What remains to be seen is whether revenue management is less stingy once the new redemption rates are in effect. Given the routing rules, Asia 1 availability has always been limited to what JL offers, with award seats on AA itself almost as rare as Qantas.

  33. @ farnorthtrader — Not 100% sure, but doubt they’ll let you change the award type from business to first without repricing.

  34. Time to email: sean.bentel@aa.com and kerry.philipovitch@aa.com and let them know that their product just is not good enough to be the same as UA/DL… I switched to AA before the merger, they were great, now with the merger I hate flying them more than UA.. now with a crappy programme they become the airline I’d least fly of the 3.

    I hate that they say 2nd half of 2016, means I have to assume that I will switch to another airline before that… at least give us the Quarter it is happening in.

  35. While I don’t like these changes, I don’t think AA had much choice here. They’ve printed way too many miles and there aren’t enough award seats to go around for the number of outstanding miles, unfortunately. I remember reading about Cathay executives complaining about too many AAdvantage members redeeming for Cathay F back when there was talk about Cathay restricting F redemptions for their own members.

    Cathay and JAL availability are not as good as it used to be even at last minute right now. Hopefully they’ll be more available seats after March because I think that cheap award prices and no availability is worse than an expensive award chart with some availability.

  36. Was planning to travel late feb 2017 (honeymoon) to Asia 2. Seems it should be possible to book earlier in feb before the devaluation and then change the date of travel when tickets become available 330 days out. Will be gold so $75 fee should be waived. Is that possible?

  37. @ Michael — That should work, as long as you keep in mind that tickets are only valid for a year from the date they’re issued.

  38. If I booked one of the $1400 J fares NYC-Europe that would have earned me about 30k+ RDM will now only earn 15k for me and 11k for my platinum wife. Will I earn under the old chart if booked before the change happened?

  39. @ Angus — When are you traveling? If during the first half of 2016, old earnings rates should still apply.

  40. Since AA doesn’t charge a fee to change the dates of an award flight as long as the origin and destination stay the same, if someone wants to travel say Summer 2017, can they simply book an award flight with the desired route for a dummy date now under the current rates, then change the dates for free when Summer 2017 becomes bookable without having to pay the increased mileage amounts?

  41. @ Rich — That wouldn’t work because award tickets are only valid for a year from the date they’re issued.

  42. The more I think about this, the more I keep coming back to the same conclusion: my alaska miles increased in value today.

  43. It’s even worse for flying with partners. For example, all non-full-fare economy tickets on Alaska and British will only earn 50% EQM starting January 1. What a mess.

    And even Business only earns 1.5x EQM on partners (vs. 2x or 3x on AA).

  44. Two comments: 1) AA has always being a copycat of Delta. Delta is the big brother than takes the risk and move first. AA is the scared little brother that is always afraid of the consequences but at the end wants to follow the big brother. In sum, they follow what Mr. Anderson decides. 2) Why in the world would someone want to fly AA international first class? The only reason would be to brag to friends you flew first class. If your friend knows a little bit about travel hey would laugh at you. Keep your miles to fly real first class and not this joke that AA calls first class.

  45. The rates for certain premium cabin travel originating outside the USA go up 50-80%!!!

    For example LHR-AUH-SYD in J/F on EY (A380 routes). Used to be 30k/40k for J/F on the first leg now jumping to 42.5k/62.5k for a blended increase of 49%.

    On the AUH-SYD sector the cost increases from 45k/60k to 80k/100k for a blended increase of 72%.

    Thanks AA. Sounds like I should avoid flying you and if I do, credit the miles to AS, which hasn’t (yet) devalued their program. The extra bonus miles you’re offering until mid 2016 don’t make up for this massive devaluation.

  46. So currently if I buy a $450 LAX-DCA ticket (2,300 miles flown) I get the 4,600 EQMs r/t + 4,600 bonus miles for being platinum or EXP. 9,200 total Advantage miles.

    2nd half of next year that same $450 ticket earns 2,250 miles for no status, 3,150 miles for gold, 3,600 miles for platinum or 4,950 miles for EXP. I would need to buy an $836 ticket to get the same amount of FF miles.

    To me this kills the deep discount mileage earning, specifically the big mileage runs some of us have done to accrue AAdvantage miles. With redemption rates going up, we’re going to have to either buy higher priced flights or find other ways to earn miles.

  47. You know what is bizarre, travel from Canada/Alaska to Asia 1 in business is 65,000 yet only 60,000 for US. For Europe it is 62,500 and 57,500. Those are huge differences! Are there other airline charts that charge a “surcharge” for departures from Canada? It is usually the same for both Canada and US is it not?

  48. Yes they seem to have hammered the 1st class rewards, but for me I use miles to avoid coach, so the business class awards are still ok for me.

  49. So here’s my optimistic approach: American isn’t that great anyway. I think everyone ran to it because “yay not revenue based,” but really, the service doesn’t inspire me to stay loyal. So I’m not devastated that the three loyalty programs offer little differentiation in that regard. The award chart, on the other hand, is nuts and I can’t help but feel bummed.

    I think I’ll be looking at Alaska now…

  50. Is there any plans to change the routing rules? Hopefully they will be more flexible like UA is with routing to Asia via Europe.

  51. @ pw — Yep, just like the increase on all their other partners. Business class between the US and South Pacific (which includes Tahiti) goes from 62,500 miles to 80,000 miles.

  52. So under the new regime, does the AA flight JFK-LHR in discount business earn more EQM than the BA flight JFK-LHR in discount business?

  53. Traveling in July but booked several months ago. Hope I earn under the old chart or I will be mighty pissed.

  54. @ deelizzle — For the first half of 2016 it does, though after that it depends what the fare would otherwise be.

  55. @Ben, It’s weird, the award chart you posted on here only displays off-peak for Europe and no other awards. On the website I found a chart with off-peak asia 1, Hawaii, etc… (with an increase of course). Which is correct? Is Europe the ONLY off-peak available with the new changes? I find that hard to believe…

  56. I stockpiled all these AAdvantage miles and now for what! These changes really piss me off.

    This is the nail in the coffin of the mileage run/mileage game.

  57. I can’t find if they are changing any fees (like change fees) or policies (allowing you to move around for free to another dates). Some of BA’s policies are really good, especially cancellation fees, so this would impact significantly the value of AA miles to me. I hope that doesn’t change especially now that they are charging more.

  58. I find it fascinating that they are increasing the cost of upgrades while trashing the onboard product. One reason I didn’t mind buying upgrades previously was because the product was good – better than the others. Now they want me to spend more money for a MUCH poorer quality onboard?

  59. For what it’s worth, looks like business class award redemption on AA metal to Mexico have gone down from 30,000 miles one way to 27,500. I’m booked for a flight that leaves Jan 3. I wonder whether they’ll agree to deposit some miles back although the chart doesn’t go into effect until after my travel is complete.

  60. Bummed about the huge increase for F. I will credit all my flights to AS now. Hopefully, AS will not change drastically anytime soon.

  61. @lucky, thanks!. I wouldn’t even consider it usually, but the change goes into effect 10 days before I can book for my trip (and can’t really do honeymoon before wedding)

  62. As one posted mentioned, AS earning is gutted at 50%

    If you look, ALL partners now earn 50% EQM unless you book Y/B (though even Iberia B is 50%)

    I hope everyone does take the time to email AA and let them know the only reason they fly them and deal with the bad service (post merger) was the AAdvantage program.

    I can’t believe the gutting of the partner EQMs

  63. American moving to a revenue based system is a the biggest negative in the news to me. That means it will be difficult to earn miles through flying. For example, an $1,000 round trip LGA-DFW-HKG moves from earning 36,000 miles to 11,000 miles as an Executive Platinum. Brutal. I will seriously have to reconsider my allegiance to American in 2017.

  64. When they switch to a revenue based system, won’t that make it much easier to re-qualify for status? An exec platinum will need to spend ~$9,000 through the course of the year to get to 100,000 miles.. or am I interpreting this wrong?

  65. really bad copy paste.
    but its seems like they didn’t copy “elite status revenue requirements” am i right?

  66. Here is a tricky question. I have a business award booked on Cathay under the current level, but travel is after the change. Can I still grab any F space that opens in the last week at the old rate or will the upgrade double my cost?

  67. Any idea if they’re changing the elite mileage bonus (i.e. 100% bonus for Plats)? I saw rumors that was going to happen, but nothing in the official announcement that I could find.

  68. @ Ken — Nothing is changing regarding that in the first half of 2015. However, with revenue based earnings, Platinum members will earn 8 miles per dollar compared to 5 miles per dollar for non-elites, so I guess that equates to a 60% mileage bonus.

  69. @ Bourbon — Not positive, but since it’s a change in award type I suspect it will trigger the new award cost.

  70. AA is now one of the worst reward program after doing away with stop over and now this award devaluation.

    Time for bloggers to quit and time to use cash back cards cos the gov rarely ever devalues currency.

    Love my 2% back on everything everyday card.

    will be canceling my AA cards just like i have done with UA cards cos we all know these programs are a SCAM!

  71. I agree with Scott about letting American know how lousy these changes are. Especially for Executive Platinums. As an alternative to emailing them, I’d suggest using Twitter so that the entire world can see our displeasure. Perhaps we can create a new hashtag #rAACe2thebottom or #Going4notgreAAt?

    Lucky, it would seem like you have an opportunity to lead the call for real change and innovation through your blog. Will you?

    SPG and AA were also my two main reward programs….sigh.

  72. I just booked tickets YESTERDAY for April 2016 on Alaska assuming that I’d earn 1 EQM per mile flown. Now they tell me that they are changing the rules and I will only get 0.5 EQM? I’d think that entitles me to a refund – you can’t change the rules after I’ve purchased a ticket…

  73. Ben,

    How can they say “second half of 2016” with regard to redeemable miles changing to the Delta/United model that kills us Executive Plats.

    I have travel booked for 2016 and would like to know how much I am earning. When will they release exact date (July 1, October 1?)

  74. The bloggers and its readers demanded award increase and you got it now from AA.

    You have been saying, “please devalue advantage miles, “increase award blah blah but give me advance notice and if you give me advance notice, you don’t mind devaluation! Remember”?

    If advance notice is given, you were all for devaluation!

  75. Well, this is crap that AA did this. Do you know if Concierge Key is going to be affected? With Concierge Key you get 2 extra SWUs for free each year so I hope that is not brought down to one. Hopefully they can bring it up to 4 extra 😉

  76. So lucky what are the programs for next year? Since starwood and American have changed so much or is that a different post?

  77. @ jim — Yeah, no. American hasn’t devalued their award chart in a major way in several years, and this was inevitable. This has nothing to do with bloggers or readers.

  78. Lucky..Being an AA Plat… I bought the mistake fare ($1250) BA F from DXB – LHR – LAX for Jan 2. Shall I use Alaska to deposit my miles or continue with AA? Also, the deval happens on Jan 1st or the middle of 2016 for mileage accrual?

  79. Well good thing I used my miles for CX J to HKG and CX F from HKG-US this past August. Just booked myself in J on QF DFW-SYD-MEL in July as well. I was originally going for JNB on QR but it seems that award has remained at 75K.

    So….. looks like Alaska becomes the leader in terms of value? But like someone else mentioned, with SPG more than likely going away and now AA being devalued what program for airlines/hotels should we start focusing on for 2016 and beyond?

  80. As I start looking for CX first class tickets for next year, is BA’s site the best way to search? Is the week-by-week the only way to see partner flights, or does the month view work for that?

    SPG yesterday and now this. Even as a current Plat100 with SPG and EP with AA, the point of traveling for work is greatly diminishing.

  81. Concierge Key and lifetime “x” statuses will all be eliminated in the second half of 2016. You heard it here first.

  82. @Andrew there is availability but it is very sparse. i’d shoot for CX J, seems to have better availability in march/april/may. what is especially troubling is i’m seeing no JL availability for late april/early may, even in Y+ and J.

  83. I really want to yell when I read this breaking news. This is one of the worst news ever this year. I hate American Airline.

  84. Man I’ve been busy at work so I don’t’ get to browse your site as much as I usually. I check in for the first time in a few weeks and this is what I see. FML

  85. @Lucky’s “Bottom Line” that “I was hoping the “new American” would want to do something to differentiate themselves from Delta and United post integration, given that both airlines have devalued their program to no end. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case, and instead American was just waiting for the integration to copy-cat the competition” says it all…

    With AA joining DL and UA as their carbon copy, the transition of the US airline to a “collusive oligopoly” is now complete. How so? Because UA copied DL, the de facto cartel leader, and now AA just copied both UA and DL. Moreover, innovation is out of the window in a collusive oligopoly. Judge for yourself by reading the following scholarly description of “collusive oligopoly” and its “modes” or types (the type of collusion that the US airlines have adopted is clearly “tacit”):

    ——————————————————————

    Collusive oligopolies
    Another key feature of oligopolistic markets is that firms may attempt to collude, rather than compete. If colluding, participants act like a monopoly and can enjoy the benefits of higher profits over the long term.

    Types of collusion

    Overt
    Overt collusion occurs when there is no attempt to hide agreements, such as when firms form trade associations like the Association of Petrol Retailers.

    Covert
    Covert collusion occurs when firms try to hide the results of their collusion, usually to avoid detection by regulators, such as when fixing prices.

    Tacit
    Tacit collusion arises when firms act together, called acting in concert, but where there is no formal or even informal agreement. For example, it may be accepted that a particular firm is the price leader in an industry, and other firms simply follow the lead of this firm. All firms may ‘understand’ this, but no agreement or record exists to prove it. If firms do collude, and their behaviour can be proven to result in reduced competition, they are likely to be subject to regulation. In many cases, tacit collusion is difficult or impossible to prove, though regulators are becoming increasingly sophisticated in developing new methods of detection.

    —————————————————————

    One can only hope that the DOJ, which approved the mega-mergers that have now led to this oligopolistic cartel, will move quickly to undo it before it bankrupts the consumer!

  86. Easy conclusion: next year, AA will introduce a new MEGA EXECUTIVE PLATINUM level in order to devalue again the executive platinum and of course to…”reward our most loyal customers”…
    A pity. This program WAS great.

  87. Hi Ben,

    I use AA to book awards from Sydney, Australia to Europe (generally London) and back.

    Will there be much impact for my J class travel?

    Am I better off, henceforth, to buy points on Alaska?

    Thanks very much!

    Regards,

    Darshak

  88. i am new to this. How does american airlines changing their redemption rate on a flight to thailand affect cathay pacific flight?
    trying to get a first class ticket to thailand
    I could not even find anything on AA to thailand.
    does the aa miles required for the cathay pacific award go up too??

  89. Ughh, this is terrible. CX LAX-HKG was my favorite flight since I could dine across from my wife. I think a 20k point increase for F and 10k point increase for J would have been fair. But I know they’re just matching closely to the other two legacy carriers. And since we’re in Denver the 500 mile flights are worthless to us; there’s nothing within 500 miles except for SLC.

    Whoever thought less competition would benefit the consumer was an idiot. It very, very rarely happens this way.

  90. Seriously was anyone in their right minds not expecting these changes? The min the news about the leaked program came out I burnt my AA miles. Just hope Alaska does not change anything on their chart. Who knows maybe AA will bring in the 100% bonus miles purchase 😉

  91. Hey Lucky,

    A few questions…

    Considering redemption rates are lower in many markets than United’s partner rates, it is easier to obtain status than United because of the EQM system, giving you more miles, would you say that the new program is still better than both United and Delta?

    If many awards cost more miles, do you think that people with lots of miles (like you) will have better chances of finding space since some people won’t be able to afford the new rates with the same availability?

    Do you think domestic upgrade ability for EXPs will still be better than 1Ks, because there are so many 1Ks on each United flight, especially out of places like Chicago? And are four systemwide upgrades without fare restrictions with the potential to earn more better than just six with restrictions?

    While these changes aren’t good, I’m trying to figure out whether they’re better than United and Delta.

  92. Flying Business Australia to NZ go up from 17500 miles to 25000 miles – that’s not good.

    Flying Business Australia to Sri Lanka goes up from to 35000 miles to 80000 miles.
    Is this the worst miles devaluation by percentage with these changes?

  93. @ ray — You have to fly a partner airline to get to Thailand, and the price of that type of award in a premium cabin is increasing significantly. These types of awards have to be booked via American’s call center.

  94. @ Darshak — Prices are increasingly significantly, though Alaska isn’t really a good alternative, since you can’t redeem miles for them for travel between Australia and Europe.

  95. Lucky. You do know that there is a way to earn extra redeemable miles beyond the 11 per dollar for EXP’s right? Definitely works on Delta as I’m Diamond and have done it for 2 years. Will see I’d it works on AA.

  96. Hey Lucky,
    Do you think there is a way that we can all get together and complain to AAdv about theses changes? After all we are customers, they should listen to us.

  97. @Cris – Can’t tell if you’re actually serious…

    @mangoceviche – You cannot route USA-Asia 1 via Asia 2. So LAX-HKG-NRT is not allowed. It’s too bad too, because that would open up CX to Japan. I’ve done BKK-HKG-HND-SFO before on a mixed CX/JL routing in F and it was wonderful. BKK-HKG was CX’s old J and was very dated, but the other direction was in their new long haul J and was great.

  98. Here’s to hoping that Alaska sees an opportunity to sell some miles and does a deal with AMEX and Chase as a transfer partner.

  99. Lucky,
    This is a biased post
    You should have listed the AA cost, OW/P cost, UA cost and the *A/P cost side by side as well as DL/P
    UA is much better in many places on their own metal.
    AA and UA are both 57.5 to EU/UK
    Yes UA partner is 70k but that has NO surcharges almost
    AA may be 57k with 500$ fee on BA

    I threw away all my mileage cards a while ago and focus on cash back now
    2% minimum, 3-5% on all bonus category spend
    I can buy my own tickets in bz class and get 2x miles for the money

    Also note that they sell miles for 2c now, not the 1.1c of yesteryear
    So bz class to India/Asia is 70k @ 2 cpm = 1400 + taxes EACH way
    One can get sub 2-3k fares in bz out of India to the US on QR
    (and get 35k EQM, as well as 35k miles worth 700$)

    Cash is KING.
    and for those who fled UA for AA welcome to the new DL/UAdbaAA

  100. Wow. This is worse than I was expecting. I was hoping for a change to earnings (revenue based) but without award chart annihilation, which is exactly what happened. There is no competition anymore! UA, AA, and DL all have the exact same revenue based earnings system? Horrible!

  101. So is there a strategy of spending on the credit card before year end that will extend the old system? Lock in status for some time frame????

  102. They need to hear loud and clear from the EP and CK member about how unhappy we are with these changes. It won’t undo this awful devaluation, but it might reduce or delay the next round of bad news coming out of AA. Please contact AA and let them know you are angry that they have copied DL and UA in crapping on their frequent flyers.

  103. I’m trying to use aa.com for award booking but it keeps giving me an error message once you select the date of travel. Is it just me?

  104. Ben,
    what makes you think that it will be easier to qualify for status? Yes, if you only buy Biz or First, but then you don’t need upgrades. Most people qualify with purchased economy class tickets and they still get 1 mile per mile flown. And if you fly partner airline you get less EQM’s than before. I don’t think it will be easier to qualify for status. Maybe you can elaborate more about this subject, you are the pro.

  105. Hi Ben-

    For European-based AA elites, do you think its worth staying in the programme for 2016 or switching to a European programme (e.g. Avios or Flying Blue)? Until now, I’ve remained loyal to AAdvantage for similar reasons as you (easy elite status qualification with butt-in-seat miles, and higher chances to upgrade). Now that American has gone the way of United and Delta, I’m inclined to shop around for a European-based programme. Do you see any upside or advantage (sorry for lack of a better word) to switching from AAdvantage to a European programme? And do you know if any of the European carriers offer elite status matching with AAdvantage? Thanks for all your work!

  106. Perhaps Lucky, AA will take a page out of QF’s book and introduce a new elite OWE+ tier that is like QFF’s Platinum One (that requires considerable travel, with a majority of it on AA coded flights) to help stratify the Executive Platinum rank (that will indeed swell in number). Alternatively, they may look to discreet CIV scores to rank Executive Platinums for the purposes of offering special (but moderately low cost) enhancements.

  107. @David,

    The difference between “easier” and “cheaper” is not to be confused!!!!

    Yes it’s easier to attain Elite status. But is it cheaper? That remains questionable!

  108. Particularly brutal award devaluations if you’re travelling to/from Australia.
    Though some sweet spots I can see include:
    SP – Asia 1 J goes down from 45k to 40k miles, I’m thinking a lot more QF SYD-HND (excellent product!) or even QF/JL SYD-HND-ICN/GMP are on the cards.
    Intra-Australia J only a slight increase from 17.5k to 20k miles, QF East Coast-PER still excellent value on their fantastic J product. Another 5k miles gets you across the ditch to/from NZ if you want.
    Intra-SP J still the same cost at 30k miles. Perhaps a nice holiday to Fiji?

    Wish CX flew F into Australia, SP-Asia 2 F for 50k miles would’ve been a bargain. As it stands, I don’t think there are any OW F products flying SP-Asia unfortunately, even though both SQ and TG do.

    Others that I like:
    Intra-Asia (either between or within 1 & 2) in J or F are unchanged. Both JL and CX have great products on some of those routes to try out. A little unfortunate however that Sri Lanka is now part of ME/India, though I guess it does make more sense.
    Even with the increase, India-Europe in EY F for 62.5k is still worth it imo.

  109. Ben, Can’t AA be more specific than saying that revenue-based mileage will start in the second half of 2016? That’s a pretty wide time frame. I thought a date in November had been floating around on this.

    Also, I see no justification for the big salaries and bonuses execs at AA are raking in when all they are doing is copying DL and UA. They haven’t had one original idea all year.

  110. Hi Lucky,
    I’m planning to book BOM-AUH-LHR return tickets on Etihad First for August next year, using AA miles. Would I be charged at the old rate or the new rate, if I book the tickets in the next few days?

  111. Not sure to figure out all these new changes. I just know thay flying 2 round trips between Tampa & Bali each year booked on Cathay Pacific and all miles credited to AAdvantage (TPA–>EWR–>HKG–>DPS) in Premium Economy (W, R, E) @ approx $2800/rt each trip, has been enough to give me Platinum status. Continuing this trend once the revenue based change occurs – I have not idea how to do the math with where I’ll end up, but probably not good. Any help from those that understand. Obviously, I’m not seasoned enough to know all the ins and outs like so many of y’all do.
    Thanx for any help anyone can provide
    Regards – David

  112. Hey Lucky,

    I have a crazy question for you regarding the devaluation. So believe it or not, we’ve been hoping to fly CX F using AA miles on March 21, 2017 from HKG back to Seattle (through YVR, LAX, or SFO).

    What’s really interesting to me is that this is exactly a year after the devaluation kicks in. As a result, I won’t be able to book travel on this date before the rates change on March 21, 2016, since AA only books 330(?) days out. But, since the ticket will be valid for a year, will I be able to book something for an earlier date on March 21, 2016 and then hope that something comes available down the road for March 21, 2017? Since the miles were redeemed before the devaluation, will they honor the old rates for date changes within the 1-year validity of the ticket from issue date?

    And just to be careful, will a ticket issued on March 21, 2016 be valid through March 21, 2017 or March 20, 2017? And, in either case, would the flight have to to depart or land before the cutoff date? (Not sure if this will matter in practice; I *think* traveling back from Asia to the States will have a same-day arrival due to the time difference, right?)

    Wondering if we could at least theoretically pull off a redemption at the current levels and still travel on March 21, 2017. Thanks so much!

    Todd

  113. Just emptied all my AA miles on a trip next year: JFK -> SFO -> HND -> HKG -> HND -> SFO -> JFK, on AA, JA, and CX for 2 people, all in F. SO excited and glad I was able to use my miles at the old redemption rate (Just 67.5K one way).

    @Lucky – thanks so much – would never have figured out this was possible without your blog 🙂

  114. Quick question:
    I live in Rio and often pay for off-peak deep-discounted tickets on AA to the States for a ridiculously low price, especially given Brazil’s current economic downfall- I think all of the airlines are begging Brazilians to travel.

    For example, I just booked a ticket for $380 dollars round trip from GIG-SFO via Miami. Under the current award structure, I am expecting to increase my milage balance by approximately 13,500 miles based on total miles flown from GIG-MIA-SFO-MIA-GIG. Please correct me if I am wrong, but under the new structure, I would I only receive 380 x $8 (as I am platinum), equaling 3040 additional miles to use for award travel??? If that is the case, and I really hope it is not, OUCHHHHHHHH

  115. @Rodrigo Actually it’s even worse than that, because whatever part of the $380 is taxes would not accrue miles. So if it’s (say) $80, then it would be $300 * 8.

  116. Very disapointed about the 8 to 4 SWU devaluation.
    .
    Tweeted @AmericanAir and created hashtag #BackTo8 (<– Use It !)
    .
    Their reply: "There are ways to earn extra SWU's. We're building a program that will allow our best customers access to the Best Benefits."
    .
    Clearly, MM and EXP is no longer "best customer" status.

  117. Now I know they disclose in their terms and conditions that they can basically devalue or do whatever they want with their loyalty program. But that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to do it with no regulatory oversight. I mean seriously, they are essentially getting away with bait and switch. If you are paying full fare for a flight of $1,000 with the expectation that you will, in return, receive passage on said flight, plus a certain value of reward points, then they should have to deliver the value they advertised at the time of purchase since that value was needed to induce you to make the purchase. By continually devaluing their reward points they are essentially engaging in illegal deceptive pricing, similar to hidden surcharges and bait and switch tactics. In addition, the fact that there are only 3 major carriers now and they all seem to be moving their programs to the same redemption levels and revenue based point accumulation schemes suggests there could also be monopolistic collusion going on. When is the Justice department going to step in? If a bank tried to play games like this they would be fined and fined repeatedly. It is time the airlines are held accountable for bait and switch and collusion.

  118. I am struggling to work out how many EQMs and reward miles I will get for my mixed Carrier flights next year.

    The routing is GLA->LHR->MIA->LIM (return) where the GLA->LHR->MIA is marketed and operated by BA and the MIA->LIM is marketed and operated by AA… but the whole fare is booked through the AA website. Price is around £850 discount economy and I have G status (although have been offered the buy up deal to get P.)

    Under the old rules I’d get around 15060 + 3680 (25% bonus) for 18740 reward miles total… Under the new rules, I haven’t a clue, but I suspect it’s a LOT less

  119. Hi. As someone who most commonly buys miles to then redeem on international first since I live outside the U.S., does this pretty much stop me doing that since you can only buy 100,000 a year and a one way to South Pacific costs more than that? Thanks

  120. OMAAT Crew, I’ve been having a Kafka-esque experience getting miles credited with Delta that I think is an unexpected consequence of awarding miles based on money spent. I have flown on a number of flights with my infant daughter internationally, for which Delta charges 10% of the adult fare. She receives a ticket in her own name with a Delta ticket number.

    Delta ticket plus fare paid should equal 5 miles per dollar spent, right? Not according to Delta agents. Though they can’t point to anything on the Delta website that says this, they keep saying that infant tickets aren’t eligible for mileage accrual. I get that she shouldn’t get any MQMs, but 5 miles per dollar is 5 miles per dollar whether the fare is $1 or $1,000. Further, on an upcoming flight the infant fare (10% of the adult fare) still came to $116, yet Delta says that still isn’t eligible for earning miles. The Skymiles terms and conditions state (in part):

    “For Delta-marketed (flight numbers that include the “DL” airline code) or Delta-ticketed (featuring a ticket number beginning with “006”) flights, SkyMiles members will earn miles based on ticket price, at the rate of 5 miles per U.S. Dollar (USD) spent, including base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges, but excluding government-imposed taxes and fees.”

    She’s got a ticket number beginning with 006 and paid a base fare. Further, the exclusions state:

    “Mileage credit will not be given for the following: (…) Infants (under age two) traveling without paying an applicable fare. Mileage will be credited to the accounts of infants traveling on a ticket purchased at the applicable fare.”

    She paid an applicable fare so the exclusion doesn’t apply.

    While the mileage numbers aren’t huge, they’ll add up to a few thousand by the time she’s 2 and needs her own seat. I’ve submitted a complaint through delta.com and if that is not successful then I plan on submitting a complaint with the DOT. If frequent flier programs are now just refund programs then I want my refund.

  121. Oh, and I’m happy with the new elite qualification structure, as it will make it much easier for me to maintain status.

  122. lol…this is the same convoluted explanation Delta gives for its annual “new” improvements/changes. It’s like reading Ikea instructions not in English. I am close to Diamond status with my qualifying miles but Delta medallion desk cannot tell me exactly how much of my $600-700 tickets will actually count towards my qualifying dollars because there are so many restrictions. It’s come down to hoping I make it. I’ve sent a letter to their director of Skymiles but no word yet. I started flying AA but looks like I need to just try where I am and cross my fingers.

  123. Hi Ben,

    I’m planning a trip to BKK next September. I see business class available from JFK-HKG and first class HKG-BKK on CX. Based on the current award chart, will I be charged the biz rate of 55K, the first class rate of 67.5K, or blended?

    If I’m charged the first class rate of 67.5K and JFK-HKG first class opens up after the devaluation, will my award be repriced to the new first class rate?

    Thanks.

  124. I am trying to determine if I should pay the $1,199 to keep my platinum status through this coming year. I am currently platinum, but only qualify on my own for gold this year. I am estimating that I will travel about 30,000 miles in 2016, and will likely book the cheapest flight available. Thoughts on how I may calculate this and determine if it is worth paying for the platinum extension?

  125. Quick question… on the US to, say, AUH, 1st goes from 90K to 115K, a 25K difference. Are they still going to charge 25K additional for a stopover? If they aren’t, then the increase in miles isn’t so bad; if they are, then it’s a total of 140K.

    Of course as OP have pointed out, AS miles redeemed for Emirates gets one one all the way to BKK and HKG, for 90K miles roughly, and there’s no charge for stopovers. This trip on Etihad could cost roughly twice as many miles to go US to Asia 2 with stopovers. And under the new dispensation, way more.

  126. Horrendous. Thanks for not trying to make out “it’s not too bad” as some other sites have. There are two sides to frequent flying, one is status, one is miles. Regarding status the changes are “not too bad” regarding miles it’s a game changer, I’m out of American. Will spend my miles asap, most likely before next March. The double whammy of massive uplifts in award levels, 50% up South America to USA in coach, whilst bringing in the revenue mile earning is horrendous. The reality is that we will pay 25-50% more miles for awards and we will earn a quarter of the miles we previously earned. Aadvantage is basically 6 times less Aadvantageous… Ha and they’ve halved the systemwides… I’ve status matched with Turkish Airlines. Once I’ve used my 8 systemwides for 2016 it’s back to star alliance for me after 10 years…

  127. What the hell? So as a Platinum I only get $1 more than a Gold, while Executive Platinum gets 4 more than Gold and 3 more than Platinum? So for NJ to LAX I used to get about 5,000 miles RT, and now I get 3,000 (on a $380 RT discount promotion)? See ya later American. That’s a RIPOFF.

  128. American is running a special on selling miles until Jan 4 for up to 265,000 miles (150,000 base + 115,000 bonus) for over $4,400. If using a new Platinum Citi card for the 50,000 mile bonus, do you feel it’s still worthwhile to buy these miles? I would prefer to use them for Asia 1 and Asia 2 business class.

  129. Sorry if I’m not seeing this above, but once they go revenue-based for earning award miles, is it only for AA-marketed flights?

    What award mile earning approach would be applied to a BA-code share, BA-ticketed, AA-operated flight?

  130. Hi, I just checked the new aadvantage award chart and I don’t see Middle East region. Am I missing something? Thanks

  131. Hey Lucky…by any chance do you think AA’s miles devaluation affect Qatarairways’ qmiles redemption chart? Any thoughts?

  132. I really don’t see this as such as drastic devaluation of anything. In short, AA can’t win for losing. You mention there will be more elite members but that’s a bad thing. OK, tell that to a new Elite member and ask a current one to drop their status on their own – just call AA and say, I don’t want Elite anymore because it’s too competitive. AA changed to what the others were doing because people complained that if they were paying more they wanted to earn more miles – Elite or not. The thing is, when buying 1st class they were already earning additional AEMs. Another reason why this devaluation thing is really a myth for Elites, is because a lot of Elites don’t fly deep discount economy only getting 1 mile for mile flown. As an EP they’ll be getting 11 mile for each mile flown, instead of the current 1 for 1, so that’ll get them the other miles to make up for an additional miles needed – anyone do the math on that yet for a flight as an EP member? And how many people pay for a flight and even get 1 for 1 mile now until the change? When the change hits, that’s 5 miles for dollar spent even for a non-elite. As of today, it’s $1,130 to fly from JFK to SAN from AA. Currently, that’s 2,246 miles – that’s what they’d earn. With the upcoming change, they’ll earn 5,560 miles – and keep in mind one way domestic routes will still start at 12,500 miles (unless the flight is less than 500 miles and it would be 7,500 miles.) So how is this devaluing thing? If you’re looking at elites, same above scenario, instead of 1,130 miles they’ll get 12,430 miles if they’re EP. More than enough to make up for additional miles needed for some of those longer hauls after even a few domestic flights. Again – I just don’t see devaluation here if people took the time to do the math and I blame a lot of the online “experts” who just jump to conclusions looking at a chart. And yeah, easier to get to Elite status based now no longer on how many miles you flew, but that X a higher purchase fare code which awards people for paying higher ticket prices – again, something people have been saying for a long time. I know people who have already achieved Gold status for the first time in their life and they are thrilled with this scenario which only seems fair. Remember, all the FFP’s out there are perks – the main thing is still to land in one piece but everyone just takes that for granted and lately, as we’ve seen in the past few years, it’s no longer a certainty.

  133. Not only are miles devalued beyond recognition, but finding decent award seats has become next to impossible. A representative routing: AA wants to fly me from DFW to DCA then IAD to LHR then LHR to AMS. The alternative is DFW to LGA to LFK to LHR to AMS. And so on.

  134. Hi Lucky,
    I am platinum on AA. My travel is often from Chicago to Europe (predominantly Italy and Germany). I hate that I often have to go through PHL to get to Munich. Do you think for someone like me, it would make sense to switch to Star Alliance? I enjoy lounge access for One world, but I think I can still do that on Star Alliance. I don’t like the award tickets on AA that go through London with crazy fuel surcharges. Would that improve if I switch to Star Alliance? Also what’s the milage upgrade like on Star Alliance? Finally, I hate flying on old planes with terrible food even in business on AA especially the CHI-DUS route. Thank you.

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