FORT WORTH, Texas, Nov. 17, 2015 — In the second half of 2016, American Airlines AAdvantage program will shift how customers earn AAdvantage® award miles from distance flown to dollars spent. Award redemption rates will be adjusted with some award levels increasing, while others will be decreasing. Additionally, American will offer the best elite-qualifying mile multipliers in the industry and simplify the elite qualification process to better reward customers.
“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.”
Earning AAdvantage Program Award Miles
In the second half of 2016, when traveling on flights marketed by American, members of the AAdvantage program will begin earning award miles based on the price of the ticket purchased (base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, excluding government-imposed taxes and fees) and that member’s elite status level.
AAdvantage program members will receive five miles for every U.S. dollar spent on the base fare and carrier-imposed fees. Gold members will receive seven miles, Platinum members will receive eight and Executive Platinum members will receive 11 miles per dollar spent.
Award miles for travel on most flights marketed by partner airlines will be based on a percentage of the flight distance and the booking code purchased. More details will be announced in 2016.
Until the new AAdvantage program award mile earning structure takes effect, members will still earn award miles based on the distance flown. American is extending its bonus miles promotion that allows members to earn even more on purchased First or Business class tickets. More information can be found at aa.com/moremiles.
Award Redemption Levels
In March 2016, some award redemption levels will be reduced by as much as 40 percent, and AAdvantage members will continue to book award travel on any day of the year without any blackout dates. For tickets booked on or after March 22, award redemption levels to popular destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America will be reduced, and MileSAAver awards for flights 500 miles or less in the U.S. and Canada will be redeemable for as low as 7,500 miles one way (plus any applicable taxes and carrier-imposed fees). Award redemption levels on other routes, such as some flights to Europe and Asia will increase due to changes to market pricing and demand.
“A significant percentage of our flights are less than 500 miles, so offering a lower MileSAAver option only makes sense for our customers,” said Rubin. “Other routes will be adjusted to match increased customer demand, including routes that feature our world-class A321T and 777-300ER aircraft.”
AAdvantage Elite Qualification
Beginning January 2016, the AAdvantage program will offer two simple ways to qualify for elite status – Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) at the same thresholds as today. Elite-qualifying points will be discontinued. Members will earn more EQMs for purchasing higher fares, and EQSs will still be awarded for each eligible flight segment flown. American will offer the most generous multipliers in the industry.
The rates at which members earn EQMs on eligible partner airlines can be found on aa.com.
Beginning with the 2017 membership year, elite status will be valid through January 31 of the following year.
American Airlines is the latest in the growing list of airlines switching from distance flown to dollars spent as the basis for awarding miles. For those traveling in First or Business Class, in many cases this will not be detrimental. Or, as in the example provided by American in their press release, if you are flying full fare to Europe from the U.S. miles awarded could be about the same before and after the switch. For many domestic flights those flying in economy or taking advantage of air sales will find themselves earning less miles under the new program.
It does appear that the changes in award redemption, with flights under 500 miles available for as little as 7,500 miles one way, may offset some of the loss of miles awarded. When flying in Europe I have often taken advantage of British Airways Avios Redemptions which also have reduced awards for short haul flights.
MilesGeek will keep you updated as additional news about the changes are announced.