Do We Know On What Date AAdvantage Goes Revenue Based?

Last November American announced some major changes to the AAdvantage program, consisting of three main areas:

  • An award chart devaluation, for bookings as of March 22, 2016
  • A change in elite benefits, including a reduction in systemwide upgrades for Executive Platinum members
  • The program going revenue based in the second half of the year, meaning redeemable miles are issued based on how much you spend rather than how much you fly

2016-AAdvantage-Program

I’ve been front loading my paid American travel this year, so that I can still earn as many miles as possible under the old system. For example, I recently flew on a $570 ticket from Los Angeles to Beijing via Dallas, which earned me ~33,000 redeemable miles. Under the new system I’d earn ~6,000 miles for that ticket.

American-Business-Class-787 - 7
American business class to Beijing — not bad for a $570 ticket

Under the new system, members earn the following number of miles:

  • AAdvantage member: 5 miles/dollar
  • AAdvantage Gold member: 7 miles/dollar
  • AAdvantage Platinum member: 8 miles/dollar
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum member: 11 miles/dollar

A lot of people are planning their travel for the second half of the year, and understandably are trying to figure out how many miles they’ll earn. The thing is, American hasn’t actually announced on which date the AAdvantage program goes revenue based, other than that it will happen in the second half of the year.

I’ve followed up with American to see if they have any further information, though they don’t as of now.

So when should we expect American AAdvantage to go revenue based?

I would plan on them going revenue based as of July 1, 2016, since that’s the earliest possible date.

However, for some reason I don’t think that will happen. I suspect the actual date is more likely to be August 1, or maybe even September 1. It’s purely speculation on my part, but there’s a lot of back-end IT stuff which has to be updated before the program goes revenue based, and American sure has been busy this year.

If they actually intended for it to be July 1 all along, I think they would have made it clear from the beginning. The fact that they’ve been vaguely referencing the second half of the year suggests they’re still working out the exact date, but that it might not be July 1.

Regardless, I do think American will give at least 30 days notice of when the program goes revenue based, so it’s not something we should be caught too off guard by.

Bottom line

Of course I’d love for American to maintain their traditional program for as long as possible, but it’s only a matter of weeks until the AAdvantage program goes revenue based. I do think we’ll get some advance notice, so if they are planning on implementing a revenue based program as of July 1, I think we’ll know about it in the next couple of weeks.

On what date do you think American AAdvantage will go revenue based?

Comments

  1. Coincidentally, it will be the same date that they debase the AAdvantage program so remarkably that passengers begin to choose airlines based on quality and price instead of other incentives. And thus begins the death of the loyalty program.

  2. I front loaded all of my personal travel this year based upon your blogs on travel to Columbia. thank you for your advice on the ways to accumulate miles 102,858 miles with 68 segments. will be my 35th year of always being a top tier frequent flyer on the silver bird. (1982 began AA Gold top 1/2 of 1% of their frequent flyers, back then.) My guess they can still go revenue based July 1, they are just being top secret on it. I agree their IT dept has a lot of code to write and to test before going live. Maybe they will just wait till next year… fingers crossed..

  3. @Ben —
    Just so I understand: if I book all my AA travels now, AA will honor them under the current system — even if the actual travel occurs after the revenue-based switch date. Correct?

  4. @trondelic: I have already begun “to choose airlines based on quality and price instead of other incentives.” Actually, quality, price and schedule. All else being equal, I prefer American over others because the miles are still based on distance flown and because I have the Citi Prestige card, which gets me Admirals club access when flying AA. But if another carrier is less expensive or has a more direct routing or a better schedule or even an aisle seat available vs middle for American, I go for the other carrier without even thinking about it.

  5. By the way, there is still an easy way to get miles according to to distance flown on UA metal. Credit them to SQ! There’s probably a similar partner for AA, not sure which one would be best though.

  6. @andre my question exactly. Will the redeemable miles accrual be based on the policy in effect at the time of booking, or the time of travel?

  7. I am betting they delay until top of the year. There are a lot of quirks they will need to work through (as we saw with United), so best to align with the plan year.

  8. I have no idea when they’re planning on switching, but I have noticed that for trips I’ve booked more recently, there is now a prominent breakdown of the price of the ticket when I View My Trips on AA.com. Seems like AA is already working on this from a back end IT perspective.

  9. I have front loaded my mileage activity. I will reach 100,000 in June. Then start use my frequent flyer miles if possible.

    I keep on hoping that they reconsider the revenue portion. Wishful thinking.

  10. I’m still angry about this happening mid year. When you earn a status in 2015 that promises benefits through 2016 (double miles for Platinum and above) then how do they get to change that on you once you have already fulfilled your end of the bargain? I earned that status because I was earning miles per mile flown and would be getting the bonus on top of that and it would be good through 2016 and then they changed that. The right thing for AA to do is make the announcement in 2015 like they did and make it effective 1/1/2017 so we get the benefits we were promised when we fulfilled our end of the agreement.

  11. Is it safe to assume that mileage awarded is based on what program is in effect at the time of travel not when the flight was purchased? So, my September flight will be whatever program is in effect in September when I fly not necessarily the old program in place when I purchased the ticket in February unless they haven’t made the switch. What has AA to gain by not setting a specific date? And it would seem like the earlier the better for AA. And as for the IT challenges, I’m not an IT person but it doesn’t seem like this would be a big deal. But then again, as a former LUS person who came to AA with the merger, it wasn’t a seamless transisition – it was painful……

  12. @Donna —
    It’s not safe to assume anything with these airlines. One reason AA hasn’t announced a date could be the increased revenue from all of us front-loading flight and award bookings. It looks great on the books until they’re ready to pull the trigger. AA knows time is on their side because hey, where else are you gonna go to get the same deal?

  13. Mileage earning will be based on the program as of the date you travel not the date it is ticketed. You will want to fly before the changes take effect of you would like to earn RDM under the old program

  14. @snic,

    “By the way, there is still an easy way to get miles according to to distance flown on UA metal. Credit them to SQ! There’s probably a similar partner for AA, not sure which one would be best though.”

    I’m pretty sure fare codes N and O (the irony) don’t earn mileage with SQ. YMMV so check before you load up on those $45 LAX-ORDs that come along …

  15. Is there any chance that they will add aa new tier at the 125k or 150k miles level? I have found ExecPlat less reliable for upgrades this year. With the decrease in swu’s, it leaves open the possibility of a higher tier.

  16. Why should anyone care? This is anyway an airline to be avoided at any cost. Their groundstaff in particular is worse than u find on a fish market. I can imagine excitement and loyalty to airlines like Cathay, Garuda, or even KLM or Lufthansa. This AA thing merits no writing about, maybe with the exception of their desserts on long haul. For now they better fix the attitide of their ‘workers’.

  17. Might be time to push miles through Air Berlin. I’m already Air Berlin Gold and using the status to access Admirals clubs.

  18. So under the new system which would be a better choice to pursue, Marco Polo of Cathay Pacific or AAdvantage of American Airlines?

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