In mid-November, American announced the details of their 2016 AAdvantage program. While the changes are overwhelmingly negative, one positive change (in theory) is that American is making it easier to qualify for status, as they’ll be awarding more elite qualifying miles for premium cabin travel.
Earn more AAdvantage miles for paid premium cabin travel on American
Here’s the chart showing how American is increasing the number of elite qualifying miles you earn starting January 1, 2016:
As you can see, the major changes are that:
- Full fare first & business class tickets will earn 300% EQMs rather than 150% EQMs
- Discounted first & business class tickets will earn 200% EQMs rather than 150% EQMs
I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but United has just announced that they’re increasing elite qualifying mileage accrual rates as of January 1, 2016:
With this change they’re matching American exactly — full fare first & business class passengers will earn 300% Premier Qualifying Miles (compared to the current 150% PQMs), while discounted first & business class passengers will earn 200% Premier Qualifying Miles (compared to the current 150% PQMs).
But United is actually one-upping American. American is only increasing elite mileage accrual rates for travel on their own flights, and not their joint venture partners. That doesn’t really make sense, given that American has a revenue sharing agreement for transatlantic flights on British Airways, for example, meaning there’s metal neutrality.
For example, even next year, AAdvantage members only earn 150% EQMs for full fare first class travel on British Airways:
Meanwhile United MileagePlus is increasing the rate at which you earn PQMs on their joint venture partners as well. These include:
United MileagePlus is increasing mileage earning for Lufthansa business class tickets
For all these airlines, full fare first & business class tickets will also accrue 300% elite qualifying miles, while discounted first & business class tickets will accrue 200% elite qualifying miles. For example, below are the new earnings rates for MileagePlus miles for travel on Lufthansa as of January 1, 2016:
It’s hardly surprising to see United MileagePlus match American AAdvantage on this. What remains to be seen is:
- If Delta SkyMiles will match American and United
- If American AAdvantage will follow United’s lead and also offer increased premium mileage earning on their joint venture partners (which would make perfect sense)
Making it easier to qualify for status is good news for most, though at the same time awarding more elite qualifying miles for the same amount of flying does swell elite ranks. So whether this is good or bad news probably depends on how much you overqualify for status each year (with Delta SkyMiles you at least have the benefit of rollover miles, whereby any “excess” elite qualifying miles earned roll over to the next year).
What do you make of United increasing elite qualifying mileage earning on their own flights and joint venture partners?