Here Are All The Changes Being Made To American AAdvantage In A Few Days

American AAdvantage is making some major changes in 2016-2017, which largely reflect the changes that have been made to Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus in previous years. American’s changes came a bit later due to their merger with US Airways, where the focus was on integrating while changing as little else as possible.

However, we’re seeing quite a few previously announced changes kick in as of January 1, 2017, which is in just a few days. So I figured I’d recap what those changes are. Don’t worry, there’s nothing we don’t already know about.

AAdvantage-Program

With that in mind, here’s what we can expect from American AAdvantage as of January 1, 2017:

AAdvantage Platinum Pro being introduced as a status level

American will be switching to a four tier elite system. The new tier is called Platinum Pro, and will require 75,000 elite qualifying miles or 90 elite qualifying segments annually to earn. Platinum Pro comes with all the benefits of Platinum status, plus the following perks:

  • Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades in 500-mile upgrade markets, plus option to upgrade one companion
  • 72 hour upgrade window
  • 9 award miles/U.S. dollar (80% bonus)
  • oneworld Sapphire status

This means the new requirements for the four elite tiers will be as follows:

GoldPlatinumPlatinum ProExecutive Platinum
25K EQMs or 30 EQSs50K EQMs or 60 EQSs75K EQMs or 90 EQSs100K EQMs or 120 EQSs
$3k EQDs$6k EQDs$9k EQDs$12k EQDs

The introduction of elite qualifying dollars

In addition to having to earn a certain number of elite qualifying miles per year to earn status, AAdvantage members will also have to meet a certain revenue requirement to earn status. Specifically, the thresholds will be as follows:

  • Gold: $3k EQDs plus 25k EQMs OR 30 EQS
  • Platinum: $6k EQDs plus 50k EQMs or 60 EQS
  • Platinum Pro: 9k EQDs plus 75k EQMs or 90 EQS
  • Executive Platinum:  $12k EQDs plus 100k EQMs or 120 EQS

Keep in mind that you only earn EQDs on base fares, so taxes and fees don’t count towards that threshold.

While there won’t be an outright waiver possible through credit card spend, it will be possible to earn up to $6,000 elite qualifying dollars per year by spending money on American’s co-branded Barclaycard products. This will look as follows in practice:

  • AAdvantage Aviator Red, Aviator Blue, and Aviator Business Mastercard accounts can earn up to $3,000 EQDs by spending $25,000 on qualifying net purchases during the calendar year
  • AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard accounts can earn up to $6,000 EQDs by spending $50,000 on qualifying net purchases each calendar year; they’ll earn $3,000 EQDs after spending $25,000 on qualifying purchases and another $3,000 EQDs after $50,000 on qualifying purchases

American-View

American is formalizing Concierge Key status

American is also finally formalizing their Concierge Key tier, which is their invitation only status level. In practice they’re not actually changing (or for that matter, publishing) the qualification criteria, but Concierge Key will now be an official level.

This means that Concierge Key members will finally get priority ahead of Executive Platinum members for upgrades, standby, etc., which wasn’t previously the case.

The AAdvantage Platinum upgrade window is changing

AAdvantage Platinum upgrades will clear at most 48 hours out rather than at most 72 hours out. This is largely a moot point, since I don’t remember the last time an upgrade for me actually cleared at the elite window, even as an Executive Platinum member.

AAdvantage companion upgrade priority is changing

Companions of elite members will begin inheriting the status of the elite member when it comes to upgrades and standby, even at the airport on the day of departure. In the past this was inconsistently enforced, though going forward you should always be next to your companion on the upgrade list.

Bottom line

For the most part these are negative changes, though also things we’ve known about for a while, so they don’t come as a surprise. However, I figured it made sense to recap the changes we’re seeing. The one objectively positive change coming in 2017 is that Executive Platinum members will get free upgrades on award tickets on flights eligible for 500 mile upgrades. However, that’s not being implemented until “later” in 2017, and we don’t yet have an exact date.

Comments

  1. @ Frank — EQPs are no longer being used as a metric of qualifying for status. They do earn more EQMs, though.

  2. @Susan
    He’d already answered that question in the post:

    “Platinum Pro comes with all the benefits of Platinum status, plus the following perks:

    oneworld Sapphire status”

  3. Greetings, per the AA.com program updates webpage, carrier-imposed feed do count toward EQDs though Gov’t taxes and fees don’t. Have they issued mixed messages?

  4. @Lucky

    Off topic, I have 250k miles with AA, I want to book e. plus on JAL, Alaska charges 40k per seat, sfo/nrt

    I hope that’s the same/similar amount since both charge 60k for bizz

  5. Free upgrades on award tickets? It’s near impossible to get an upgrade now! The F tickets on domestic flights are relatively decent. It’s better to buy one and not worry about clearing for an upgrade.

    My prediction. In two years time, these complimentary upgrades unless it’s an operational upgrade will be a thing of the past.

  6. Thanks for the summary, its helpful to have it all in one place. The companion inheriting the status of the elite member is interesting to me – I’ve upgraded a companion about a dozen times as a Gold the past two years, and she is always adjacent to me on the list.

  7. FWIW this EXP still regularly clears domestic upgrades at the 100hr window. Success here is highly route, time and aircraft dependent. I was at about a 90% success rate overall on domestic upgrades in 2016.

    Now domestic upgrades are second only to redeemable miles on my list of the least important aspects of the program (and I say that even though I buy nothing but discount coach tickets) so I don’t particularly care when my upgrade clears.

  8. And one more negative change is:

    There will be only 4 “VIP/systemwide upgrade” deposit into your account after you made Executive Platinum in 2016. You will earn 8 VIP/systemwide upgrade if you made Executive Platinum in 2015.

    Thank you American Airlines, for punishing your most loyal customer.

  9. Happy New Year Ben. Any idea if AA will be able to show us EQD from 2016? I made it on EQM and EQS but it would be nice to have an idea where I was on EQD.

  10. @JOEDIVER I spoke to Advantage Customer service and even got a follow up from a Senior Manager confirming there will be no data on EQD given out to members for the 2016 year. She said agents were still being trained and they have not calculated EQD’s for partners in 2016 nor will they.

  11. Ryan are you sure about that? I know some time in 2017 that EQD will be a secondary priortization for upgrades (first being status level) and it will be based on rolling 12 month EQD. So the EQD’s earned in 2016 will be part of the rolling 12-month total.

    This is key to me since much of my travel is for biz and high revenue for AA. I’m hoping AA implements this ASAP even though I know most people hate this…

  12. Upgrades are entirely route and time dependent. As a Plat since September, I’ve cleared 5 out of 6 upgrades requests. Typically my upgrades have been on weekend, leisure routes, on business routes at favorable times (ORD to LGA at 8 PM, for example). Luckily, my travel policy allows me to book business/first on flights over 4 hours, so that takes care of NYC to SFO, LAS, PHX, SFO when traveling on business.

    Upgrades are tougher on hub to hub flights and on key business flights during peak hours. Book around those, and you can get upgrades, even as a God

  13. $12,000 to be EXP with only 4 SWUs (used to be 8) or $13,450 to fly Etihad AUH-JFK 1 way in Residence Class. Hmmm, it’s a tough choice now, American Airlines (who are desperately trying to weed out the unearned EXPs from the unpopular US Airways merger).

    Oh well….more room in the 1st class lounges for me.

  14. I am Plt for Life on 2M+ miles flown. Will I now enjoy Plt Pro status, rather than Plt? I rarely fly AA anymore, as they’ve eliminated virtually all the short haul flights from my local airport.

  15. Melissa, just want to congratulate you for making a post that didn’t somehow twist this into politics. One step closer to being a grown up.

  16. I consider myself lucky – we were able to get two FC seats on AA from Miami to Buenos Aires in February while getting our friends two Business Class seats. We did this many months ago. But look now for two BC seats and you will find this Friday and Saturday and NOTHING ELSE for eleven months out.

    The stuff you write about is important but it pales in comparison to a situation where no seats are being made available. I consider it disgraceful. Boy, has this game changed!

  17. So here’s something that’s always puzzled me: “AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard accounts can earn up to $6,000 EQDs by spending $50,000 on qualifying net purchases each calendar year…”

    Does the EQD credit happen on the date the charge posts to the account, or is it on a billing period basis? In other words, if I have a charge that posts on December 28, 2016 but appears on the statement ending January 15, 2017 — do the charges count towards the 2016 or 2017 EQD total?

  18. I had one flight clear at 100 hrs recently – RDU-DCA on a weeknight. When I cleared I was the only person in the cabin. But usually my upgrades clear the day of flight. Occasionally on longer flights I even clear on the plane. But lately I’m finding I clear almost every flight. It’s great, but I think EQDs are going to reduce my luck a great deal, as I don’t fly internationally for business, so none of those really big dollar flights for me. I just grind it out 135K EQMs and 99 segments for me this year!

  19. With the intro of platinum Pro and CK, what does this mean for priority boarding ? It’s a zoo at the gate with platinum ( half the plane) boarding after First. Hopefully AA implements some logical changes to thin out the crowds trying to board

  20. For as long as I’ve been flying with Alaska or US Air/American, as I board (whether 1st Class or Exec Premier, I could bring my companion along my boarding process. I’d just say, “He/she is traveling with me.” Today I was boarding with first class and my colleague bought a last minute ticket so we was in group 3. He doesn’t travel much so no status. While boarding the agent denied my colleague and actually made a little scene, creating a rather embarrassing moment. I seldom write on these forums but have been practicing this for 15 years on both Alaska and American. I’d like to know what the official policy says. I can’t seem to find any language on the matter.

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