American Now Shows You How Many Miles You’ll Earn With Their New Revenue Based Program

Last November, American announced some major changes to their AAdvantage program, including an award chart devaluation, a cut in Executive Platinum upgrade benefits, and a switch to revenue based mileage accrual (as Delta and United have been doing for a while).

At the time they didn’t yet announce when American AAdvantage would go revenue based, other than to say that it would happen in the second half of 2016. A couple of weeks ago we finally learned about the timeline for American switching to a revenue based program.

AAdvantage-Program

As of August 1, 2016, American AAdvantage members will earn miles based on how much they spend rather than how much they fly. The accrual rates are based on your status with American, as follows:

Elite Status LevelMemberGoldPlatinumExecutive Platinum
Miles Earned Per Dollar Spent57
(40% bonus)
8
(60% bonus)
11
(120% bonus)

As a reminder, this only applies to redeemable miles. Elite qualifying miles will continue to be accrued based on distance flown rather than spend. Furthermore, you only earn redeemable miles based on the base fare, and not the taxes and fees.

American-787
American 787

When American announced the starting date for spend-based mileage accrual, they said they’d soon make it possible to track how many miles you’ll earn under the new program through their website. It looks like that functionality is now in place.

When you go to book a ticket through American, you’ll now see a breakdown of the number of elite qualifying and redeemable miles you’ll earn for your trip. It should show on the final page before you book, immediately below your flight summary.

While I appreciate the transparency, it’s almost depressing to see. For example, the below trip between Los Angeles and Shanghai will go from earning ~35,000 redeemable miles to earning ~8,000 redeemable miles. Add in American’s huge recent award chart devaluation, and I’ll be racking up miles at a fraction of the rate at which I previously was.

AAdvantage-2 AAdvantage-3

The strategy going forward is definitely to book tickets on partner airlines, since they’ll still accrue redeemable miles under the old system (based on distance flown), and this might even be a way to greatly cut American’s new spend requirement for elite status.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-96
Flying Qatar Airways will be a great way to earn American miles

Bottom line

I appreciate American’s transparency in showing mileage accrual rates for travel as of August 1, 2016. At the same time, it’s sort of depressing to see just how much the rate at which I’ll earn miles is decreasing…

Comments

  1. @ lucky LOL I was excited for a sec cause I was contemplating heading to BKK with some friends. A Sept start date would have def solidified it for me as one last mileage run.

    So I went and played around with it to see my earning for some flights I had coming up and found a couple interesting things. Booking LGA-DFW-HKG, 1 only shows you’re mileage before bonuses(or maybe I’m wrong in thinking we still get a bonus) and 2 normally that flight would net me 19000 EQMs, it came out to 16117 EQMs. Seems because those legs all have the same flight numbers, 137 and 138, AA is now counting it as a single flight so the EQMs are being accrued as LGA-HKG instead of LGA-DFW-HKG.

  2. Trying to see if AA.com will show estimated mileage accrual for booked reservations departing after August 1 – appears this is not the case? I.e., will only show you the estimates for new bookings?

  3. Love the site… Where is the calculator? That just links me to home page. I am starting to travel more and considering doing a status challenge but have no idea how many EQM’s I am going to earn.

  4. But don’t forget that if you book in coach on partner airlines, you’ll generally only earn .5 EQM per mile flown so it’ll definitely be a trade off. AA has clearly thought this through 😉

  5. Lucky – I guess I’ve been under a rock this entire time as I was under the assumption that EQM’s would be calculated on base fare paid and not actual miles flown. Thank you for reiterating that EQM’s will still be calculated on actual miles flown. Geez – I think I need a vacation!!

  6. “Geez – I think I need a vacation!!”

    No, actually you need a PhD in economics to understand the new rules.

    So ridiculous. And unfortunately, now so not different from any other major US carrier.

  7. Is the AA Elite status spend requirement waived for non-US residents like United does?

    I updated my address to the one in my Foreign Passport and the requirement was waived for me in United. Not sure about AA and Delta

  8. Directly from AA website:

    “On most flights marketed by partner airlines, you’ll earn award miles based on a percentage of the flight distance and the fare class of your ticket. Rates will be available by July 15.”

    Booking with partners will only be more worthwhile if the percentage they decide to use is favourable, which is highly unlikely, otherwise they would incentivize us to fly the partners and not AA…

  9. …and this is why I no longer us AAdvantage for my OneWorld flights. Then again, I still currently use Delta and United for Skyteam and Star Alliance although I have contemplated shifting to different programs in the future.

    Then again, nearly all of my travel is paid for by work so it’s not like I am complaining about what basically amounts to “free” miles so far as I am concerned.

  10. How about tickets that were purchased when the old system was in place? Will the earning on those now also be revenue-based?

  11. Just did some quick math. I flew in and out of DFW this week on American and the current way (mileage) and the new way (revenue) work out to about the same miles for me. However, Lucky’s examples show that these programs are eventually going to go the way of the dodo bird, just like hot meals in economy did.

  12. I’m desperately trying to become more miles savvy since I would like to see more of the U.S. and the world. Currently, I have about 14,500 AA miles. What can I use them for? The chart AA Advantage provides doesn’t give a straightforward answer of where my miles can take me for free? Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

  13. Not too much of an issue, just need to fly a bit more to get the miles. Looks reasonable to me. I can’t imagine airines are too happy having lots of those free riders around who haven’t really earned their miles the right way.

  14. So I submitted this as an IDEA

    IDEA: make the award program reasonable

    so what I am saying, is that make the awards equivalent to the award miles earned thru the base miles
    then I will feel you are just and fair.
    that you are not corrupt, self-centered, megalomaniacal.

    the story:

    I had this communication with your company.
    the agent tried to “explain” it
    this is at the bottom of this……

    Just give it a little thought, will you
    I buy a ticket for $800 for a round trip between US & Europe
    In the past I would get about 8500 miles with the little side legs to get to the transatlantic hubs
    So with about 6 tickets I could rack up around 50000 , enough for an award round trip between Europe & USA
    So what happens now
    For FAO – MIA $787 I get 1580 base miles
    MIA – FAO return I get 1630 base miles
    So together I get 3210 miles
    Gee, only 16 tickets I have to buy to get the same 50000 miles
    So in the past I spent $5000 to get an award ticket
    Now all I have to spend is more than $12000, like 250% more

    ok , so now it is 60000 miles, but it is still the same math

    You say
    “It is not our desire or intent for you to feel less valuable and apologize that you feel that way. “

    How can I not feel less valuable when it costs me more than double to get the same award ticket?

    You also say
    “Over the years members have told us they want to be recognized for how much they spend flying with us, rather than the miles flown”
    I never was asked for my vote!

    I resent having someone try to explain to me something which is a big cover up for corporate greed
    Anything to do with Premiere group has no connection to me.
    I’m not part of that “boys’ club”

    I once flew around the work with Pan Am & United but that was more than 25 years ago.
    A different time, but people still had quality and dignity.
    Not this nonsense.

    First Skyteam pulled this, and now your company and StarAlliance
    Last to fall is the OneWorld group
    Hey, I’m not blaming you, you didn’t do this.’
    You’re just part of the ugly machine.

    if people are dumb enough to pay double, why not?
    but there once was a man who said ” you can’t fool all the people all the time”
    Did everyone forget that?

  15. It seems to me that these changes amount to a massive devaluation of FLYING as an earning activity compared to CREDIT CARDS.

    In the short run we can switch to flying partner airlines as @Lucky suggested, but that loophole too (if one shows up at all when the charts are revealed), will be plugged soon.

    However, I don’t believe market psychology will accept credit cards with greatly devalued earnings. People need to fly; they don’t need to sign up for all the new credit cards. So expect credit cards to become relatively more important for earning RDM miles.

  16. Just got off phone (7/20) with AAdvantage rep, who stated that elite qualifying miles are based on purchase $, not actual miles flown, starting 8/1/2016. So qualifying miles are calculated the same way as award miles. This is very different from Lucky’s comment earlier.

  17. @ cliff — That’s definitely not true. The rep was misinformed or didn’t communicate correctly.

  18. Hey everyone. So sorry, I’m still a noob when it comes to flying miles and trying to understand the whole system. So using the flight example mentioned above, will the EQM of 17388 be counted towards elite status qualification or would the award miles instead be used as elite status qualification? Thanks.

  19. I have been flying for nearly 45 years, and the greed of these airlines is disappointing to say the least. They change their programs to make it so that mileage earned is on the base fare – I booked a flight, I paid nearly $900 for a RT flight and it is listing the base fare as $111 and the rest as taxes and fees. This is how they will get around to giving us even less miles. It should be based on miles flown, not on how much or how little we spent on the ticket!

  20. Uh, I think you need to clarify the EQM piece of this article: yes, EQMs are still based on the miles flown BUT you won’t get Platinum unless you both fly the 50k AND do so spending $6,000 OR fly some huge number of segments. If flying my usual 50-60k per year at a spend of approximately $4k isn’t good enough I – and I predict many other people who don’t travel on the company dime – will make the following types of changes: shop for the best price on carriers with Premium Economy offerings (since upgrades to businesses will be impossible to acquire); use their bank of miles (mine is 400k) to occasionally get award tickets on partner Airlines; take less trips per year. If I were a AMR shareholder I’d be very concerned – while business travelers are coveted, so too are higher end leisure travelers (affluent singles and older empty nest couples) who take multiple vacations per year. AA is going to lose a significant # of these sales since their prices are not competitive on many non-focus routes.

  21. I see a lot of complaining by the very same people that I believe American has identified as not profitable. For example, the guy that buys 6 international round trips for for under $5,000 total (did American even make a profit on those?), and then gets 50K miles and a free round trip (now 6 trips for under $5K) is likely not their ideal customer (from a profitability perspective). I like the idea that the amount I spend with them will determine my awards. It makes sense, and it is very straightforward. Why should someone who spends $5,000 get a free international round trip, when I have to spend $10,000 domestically on shorter flights that are closer to full fare, to get the same thing?

  22. I’ve booked a few flights and I no longer see any information about “AAdvantage earnings for this trip” at any stage in the purchasing process prior to payment.

  23. While I’m not happy with the change since it reduces the amount of reward mileage I can earn, I have to laugh at all the people who think this change makes AA corrupt. They think that getting miles is their right or something. I mean seriously. Airlines are not obligated to give you free flights! You bought a ticket and you get to fly. It’s like riding a bus or a train in your city. or buying anything else. The whole mileage system (and the point system now at many places) is you getting miles (or points) because the airlines wants to give you an incentive for always flying with them. When you’re earning AA miles, you want to keep flying AA so that you can earn the reward. So now they probably realize that they can keep people doing this while giving them less reward. it sucks but all it’s not outrageous (although it would make sense to stop calling it mileage since it’s no longer related to the mileage).

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