I think American Airlines is smart to start offering additional and exclusive benefits to AAdvantage members, which is a reasonable way to promote loyalty and direct bookings to its own channels. Let’s explore these changes.
New American Airlines Benefits Require Only AAdvantage Membership
Beginning at a later unspecified point in 2024, American Airlines will limit the following perks to its own AAdvantage loyalty members:
- Same-Day Standby: Stand by for an earlier domestic flight free of charge
- Extended Trip Credit: Enjoy six more months to use Trip Credit than non-members when canceling travel online
- Note, that this is somewhat misleading (see below)
- Admirals Club One-Day Passes: Buy a One-Day Pass to visit Admirals Club lounges
- Flagship Lounge Single Visit Passes: Buy a pass to enjoy this premium lounge
- 24-Hour Trip Hold: Need time to decide before booking? Put flights on hold free of charge for up to 24 hours
- Cancel Basic Economy Tickets: Cancel non-refundable Basic Economy tickets and receive a partial trip credit for a $99 fee
- This will only be available for domestic flights for passengers who booked directly with American Airlines (third-party bookings like on Orbitz or Expedia will not qualify)
The same-day standby, Admirals Club day passes, and 24-hour holds currently are available to all AA passengers, regardless of whether they are AAdvantage members.
In terms of “extended trip” credit, really AA is cutting from non-members rather than “extending” trip credit for members:
For Trip Credit issued on or after March 11, 2024, AAdvantage members have 12 months to use their Trip Credit when canceling their trip on aa.com or the American app and their AAdvantage number is included in their reservation. Non-AAdvantage members have 6 months.
Limiting these perks to members only may be a cutback to those who are not AAdvantage members, but it is both free and easy to join AAdvantage and American is not unreasonable to want to increase its membership base.
The key question, and one that I have posed to American Airlines, is what happens when a oneworld member from another program is crediting their AA flights to that program. Would a British Airways Executive Club Silver member, for example, not qualify for same-day standby? Would presenting your AA card be enough, even if you are crediting to another program? We will update you once this is clarified.
Other Upgrade Perks Coming
In addition to the members-only benefits above, American Airlines will make three positive changes to its upgrade program:
- Cash upgrades will earn miles and Loyalty Points (oddly, this is not currently possible due to technical limitations)
- Systemwide upgrade requests can be made online
- Upgrade will be available on more partner airlines
It is not yet clear when any of these three upgrades will be rolled out.
American Airlines is making mostly positive changes to its AAdvantage program. Making Basic Economy tickets more flexible and crediting Loyalty Points for paid upgrades is a great thing. Limiting certain benefits to AAdvantage members is a reasonable evolution of policy. I doubt that partner upgrades will be a great value, but having that theoretical option is better than no option at all.
What are your thoughts on these American Airlines AAdvantage changes?
image: American Airlines