American Airlines and US Airways merger closed back in December 2013. The airlines finally combined the reservation systems last month and the US Airways name was retired.
Previously, the CEO of the airline Mr. Parker had announced that there wouldn’t be any changes for 2015 year, but now we are eagerly awaiting for the shoe to drop.
Delta started the frequent flier program devaluation and United has swiftly matched every single downgrade ever since.
Now, American Airlines is also moving to awarding frequent flier miles on money spend instead of giving them based on the distance flown.
There is a log thread on FlyerTalk (access here) about the changes that are coming based on the information leaked by American Airlines front line employees that are going through internal training. I would assume that American Airlines will make an official announcement very soon.
1. Award Miles
American Airlines will basically copy what Delta started and United soon followed. You will earn frequent flier miles based on the price paid of the ticket minus government mandated taxes but inclusive of fuel surcharges.
Non-member would earn 5 miles per USD charges to 11 miles pr USD spent for Executive Platinum members. There would no longer be 100% bonus in addition to this.
The number of miles earned for majority of fliers will be cut from 50% to 90%. The only winners are those that fly on expensive short-haul tickets or on non-discounted business and first class.
$500 Los Angeles to New York return would earn roughly 2500 miles that would be half the number under the current system.
2. Systemwide Upgrades
The number of systemwide upgrades that Executive Platinum members earn by reaching the minimum required is cut half from 8 to just 4. There will be incentives to earn more. Unlike with Delta and United, the systemwide upgrades could be used on all fares.
3. Elite Qualifying Points Are Gone
You could have qualified under the Elite Qualifying Miles or Elite Qualifying Points that have been quite difficult to understand for many. The Elite Qualifying Points will disappear and members will just receive up to 3 multiplier per mile flown towards Elite Qualifying Miles.
4. No Minimum Spend Requirement
Delta and United have both required fliers to meet a certain spend requirement or to have specified credit card to reach certain status levels regardless how many miles were flown. American Airlines doesn’t plan to introduce this requirement.
5. Status Validity
American Airlines will move the status validity from the end of February to end of January inline what Delta and United have both already done.
6. Partner Airline Earnings
American Airlines could award partner airline earnings on 001-issued tickets (AA’s ticket stock) based on the price as well. On tickets issued by partner airlines and flown on them, American Airlines likely has to continue awarding miles based on the distance flown, as they cannot access the coupon value.
It remains to be seen if there will be elite bonus on some partner airlines as there are currently.
Race to the bottom continues with the US based airlines and their frequent flier programs. I will have more comprehensive post up once American Airlines officially announces these changes.
I believe that the best strategy for those that are not hub captive or must fly on certain airline due to corporate contracts, is basically buy on price and convenience.
Many airlines offer highly discounted business and first class (latter mainly domestic) fares that were unheard just few years ago. It really makes very little to be “loyal” to any one airline.
Also, if you would like to have status with one or all three alliances, there have been non-stop status match opportunities to get Oneworld Sapphire, Star Alliance Gold and SkyTeam Elite Plus statuses of late.