American Airlines has fundamentally changed the way elite status is earned in its AAdvantage program, introducing a new currency called Loyalty Points. Are the changes positive or negative? How should we view these changes?
New American Airlines AAdvantage Program: Loyalty Points Replace Miles
This morning, American Airlines announced that elite status will be earned in a wholly new manner in 2022 and introduced a new currency called Loyalty Points. Unlike elite qualifying miles, Loyalty Points can be earned through flying and credit card spending.
How To Earn Loyalty Points
The biggest change is that the new elite qualifying currency, loyalty points, can now be earned via credit card spending, flying, and potentially in other ways:
- You can earn one Loyalty Point for every base mile earned on an American Airlines co-branded credit card from Barclays or Citi, which equates to one Loyalty Point per dollar spent, even if you have category bonuses set up
- You can earn 5 Loyalty Points per dollar spent on American Airlines
- AAdvantage elites will receive a bonus on top of the 5 base points
- Gold – 40%
- Platinum – 60%
- Platinum Pro – 80%
- Executive Platinum – 120%
- AAdvantage elites will receive a bonus on top of the 5 base points
- On tickets issued by partner airlines, your Loyalty Points earning will be based upon distance and fare class (in a similar fashion to how Elite Qualifying Miles are currently earned)
- You can earn points through AA’s shopping, dining, and travel portals with partners
- Basic Economy fares will earn Loyalty Points
Some spending will not earn Loyalty Points:
- Government taxes and fees
- Purchased or transferred miles
- Credit card welcome bonuses (and category bonuses)
How Many Loyalty Points Are Required To Qualify For Status?
With the introduction of credit card spending counting toward elite status, American Airlines has dramatically increased the number of Loyalty Points required to reach top-tier status.
- AAdvantage Gold status – 30,000 Loyalty Points
- AAdvantage Platinum status – 75,000 Loyalty Points
- AAdvantage Platinum Pro status – 125,000 Loyalty Points
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum status – 200,000 Loyalty Points
Loyalty Points will determine upgrade priority in case of a “tie” between those in the same elite tier.
In order to earn Loyalty Choice Rewards (replacing Elite Choice Awards), you’ll need to earn 30 segments on American or a qualifying partner airline during your membership year.
Status Extension For Three Months
As part of this move, American Airlines has extended everyone’s elite status by three months through March 31, 2022. Going forward, the program year will run from March – March, rather than over a calendar year. Loyalty Points earned in January and February 2022 will count toward both 2022 and 2023 status.
AA’s current status re-qualification promotion is still ongoing (spend $15K on a co-branded card or earn 2,000 elite qualifying dollars through the end of November to keep your 2021 status for another year).
No Change To MillionMiler Program
Today’s news does not impact AA’s MillionMiler program. Lifetime status will still be earned by butt-in-seat miles flown.
No Redemption Devaluation – Most Important News Of the Day
I’m relieved that we have (temporarily) dodged a bullet and avoided a devaluation on the redemption side. Redemption rates will remain unchanged…for now.
How This Impacts Me – A Move To Alaska Airlines
I’ll unpack this more in a subsequent post, but the changes hit me particularly hard because I am (no longer) an American Airlines credit card customer. I see Alaska Airlines MileagePlan as the oneworld program of my future (assuming they don’t try something similar).
This change, like most program changes, will help some and hurt some. For those who are able to do a tremendous amount of credit card spending, this seems like good news. Do factor in, however, the opportunity cost of placing spending on your American Airlines card versus an American Express or Chase card with big category bonuses…or even a 2% cashback card.
I don’t give American Airlines any kudos here, but I do recognize that it is leading, not following, in this new iteration of the AAdvantage program. We’ve known for years American Airlines makes its money selling miles, not flying, so the program change is logical and will shift a lot of spending, no doubt, to co-branded AA credit cards.
I’m greatly relieved that redemption pricing will remain unchanged for now. That still represents a great value and a great reason to be loyal to American Airlines.
Unless I am missing something, this will mark the end of the road for my time as an AAdvantage elite.
You can find out more details about the new program here.
The other piece of this that you did not mention is that EXPs or Platinum Pros must fly at least 30 segments (AA paid or award and partner paid) in order to earn Loyalty Perks, such as eVIPs, club membership, etc. That’s a lot of segments, especially for people, like me, who earned EXP through paid international J travel. Previously, 4-5 paid international J trips per year was enough to get to EXP, but was only about 20 segments at most. Basically, in order not to make additional trips, I need to turn my 4 segment trips into 6 segment trips. So JFK-LHR-WAW will now need to be LGA-CLT-LHR-WAW or similar. Not only does this more travel time (and cost) and more opportunities for flight delays/misconnects, etc., it also incentivizes anti-climate conscious behavior. Note, if you hit 200K Loyalty Points but less than 30 segments, you are still EXP, you just don’t get eVIPs, etc.
Agreed that is encourages the wrong type of behavior.
This is the thing that will keep me happyily in the Alaska program for Oneworld. I get 3x the “program value” of AS flights credited to AS than I do AA flights credited to AA.
Hard pass. I spent three or four years as an EXP in the not too distant past, based on that experience I cannot imagine flying 30 segments on AA in a year. It is a demoralizing prospect. I only flew one international itinerary on OneWorld this year and I still reached BA Gold with 16 segments on BA and Alaska and less than $8,500 in ticket costs. AA is offering a program that would offer the same benefits if I just fly twice as much and spend twice as much with a worse airline. Hmmmm…yeah no I think I’m good.
As someone who made EXP on segments two years in a row… I can agree how hard it sucks. Being non-hub, every round trip was at least four segments.
Gonna stick with BA. Credit card spend on AA isn’t worth it. I value Main Cabin Extra which i can get with BA Silver If I want first on domestic flights (almost no reason to anymore) , I buy it on AA and credit to BA. What exactly is going to make me “loyal” to AA?
Absolutely right. With BA elite status, I get lounge access, including Flagship in the US (can’t with AA status) and main cabin extra on all flights. On occasional TP runs I buy first and credit to BA.
So no reason to run to AA now.
American Airlines continues to dig a deeper hole at the bottom of the worst S Big 3 airlines.
What about non-US based members? How do these changes impact them (aside from the massive disincentive of not having credit card spend)?
Hey Matthew! THANK YOU for being honest about horrible new AA elite status earning compare with other bloggers – they are brown-nosing them so badly. I just can’t find this amusing news! Huge slam on many loyalist flyers. All I can say is good luck with AA’s new system. Look at you, ALASKA! We are coming to your program!
Why can’t you just open an AA credit card with either Citi or Barclays?
My thoughts exactly! I wonder if MatthewLAX was shut down twice? I’m proud to admit I was shutdown by Citi years ago so if I go this route, I’ll have to be mighty nice to BC!
As I’ve been saying for years now, frequent flyer programs have become frequent buyer programs with airlines becoming proxies for the banks that issue their affinity cards. And as noted by P, AAdvantage members outside the US who can’t get these cards are basically out of the game as not having status pretty much limits benefits of these programs. As you note, it’s Alaska’s program for this non-US resident who had held AA elite status for decades including ExecPlat for half of them once I requalify my BA Gold next year.
Wow….did they speak to any international business travelers before rolling this out?! This seems like it’s really going to cause an exodus unless all other airlines switch to this method of mandating 30 segments be flown to earn the elite perks. When I travel for work (or leisure) i prefer to do what’s convenient and pay for that convenience. So either take additional trips or insert connections, which A) is terrible for the environment B) isn’t convenient and C) creates higher chances of delays / missed connections. So regardless of what I spend, they’re pushing a volume game? That makes no sense and I think my 7 years as an EXP holder (and 6 years before that of Platinum) is coming to an end.
The only real benefit of higher level elite these days is boarding first, free checked bags (both of which you can get with low cost credit cards) and being able to get the E+ seats for free. Upgrades are basically non existent even for high level and points become more and more worthless…DavidB is right, FF programs have nothing to do with loyalty any more, simply something to get dumb people to sign up for credit card bonuses. I love seeing the “WOW 100K sign up bonus biggest EVER!!!” stories…yeah great, biggest every, but those points are worth less than ever!!! I’d like to see a comparison of what 100K could get you 10 years ago as opposed to now. Availability is also an issue. Was reading something the other day about the amazing suite spots with Miles&Smiles where you can fly transcon round trip lie-flat for like 30K points. LOL, gotta love the desperation in those articles that try to make the points game sound worthwhile…sure there is an award chart that says you can do it, but good luck trying to find a seat with any reasonable advanced notice and at a reasonable time to fly. If I started out an airline I would put out an award chart that says F class is 5K points…the bloggers will write about it for ever and all the readers will sign up for my cobranded card!
Let’s face it, everyone is giving away points for free so those points are worth pretty much what you pay to get them. I’m close to United 1K, but there’s no reason to get it. Just to get Plat I basically had to fly first all the time as most people would. Airlines and hotels simply want people who fall for the massive point sign up bonuses and then stick them with points that they will never actually be able to use for those aspirational redemptions. I miss the days when a domestic round trip ticket was 25K points and you could get one on pretty much any flight with a seas and first was 50K. ‘Dynamic’ pricing should be called “Devalue” pricing because all it does is hurt the value of points…oh, unless you want to stay at a holiday inn in Fargo on an Tuesday in February.
The best advice any blogger can give their readers now is to forget any cobranded card except the low fee ones that give bags and priority boarding and focus on cash back cards because the average person is rarely going to see more than a cent of value and far less if you’re a Marriott, Delta or Hilton collector. Hyatt still has a descent value proposition even with their new pricing, but t I’ve noticed that their premium suite availability is becoming non existant.
Happy Delta Diamond here. Got AA Gold for life 15 years ago but never flew them again. Totally useless.
Another program from American that lessens the opportunity for loyalty. Can’t think of a good reason to continue to support this company when they keep raising the standards needed to achieve status. This is an airline that claims to appreciate your loyalty, but their actions say otherwise.
UA is probably happy to pick up some AA high-fare passengers on long-haul. Same with DL. However, their upside is limited unless international biz travel returns. If it’s diminished, then AA’s focus on domestic flyers may pay off.
Wow, American just keeps getting worse and worse.
Scott Kirby and Ed Bastian must be thrilled. They don’t have to do anything to compete with American, they will just keep making themselves less competitive. From project oasis to this.
I’m not sure what the folks at American Airlines were thinking on this one, but in one word: horrible! American has basically told it’s actual loyal in the seats on the metal customers -“we could careless about you” to attract even more non-loyal customers. American has essentially moved the program to an all revenue based program- they only put in the 30 segment caveat to make it seem good. and 30 segments is absolutely nothing to be honest. In this new so -called “simple” system, the goal post to qualifying for elite status was moved significantly more than what it was in 2019 qualification year. It is not as simple as it is being marketed and glorified by so many bloggers – half of them don’t get at all – too many people are focusing on the credit card spend -touting that to be the greatest thing. I am Executive Platinum and a loyal AA flyer, I don’t jump around from one airline to the next -I fly AA exclusively and I am extremely disappointed in American Airlines complete disregard to their actual loyal customers. I don’t know who these customers were they claim to have informed and provided feedback because I surely wasn’t one and I’ll bet they didn’t contact other real loyal customers either. On average it will cost an additional $10,000 in flying to achieve executive platinum status – folks like myself who fly for leisure and work for small companies don’t buy J tickets. In my industry, a J ticket takes food off the table of an employee so they idea that the so-called business traveler is only J ticketers are absolutely hogwash and I wish people will stop.
As for million-milers, even though they are claiming it didn’t -change it is meaningless now as it has always been anyway. If million-milers are a real thing then our qualification year should always start at the Platinum qualifying threshold or the Gold for those who are at the first tier.
I don’t know what to say other than this is the biggest scam -even on the level of a Ponzi scheme – Shame on you Doug, Robert and Vasu. Now we now why Rick step-down!
Do you receive additional loyalty points for first and business class tickets?