American Airlines intends to simplify earning elite status on its AAdvantage program by moving to Loyalty Points but ends up making it more confusing and trying to “force” members to swipe cobranded credit cards more often.
American will move away from Elite Qualifying Miles, Elite Qualifying Segments, and Elite Qualifying Dollars and will only use Loyalty Points as a qualifying factor. You do need to have 30 American Airlines coded segments to earn Choice Rewards, however.
You can access the American Airlines page for these changes here.
Here are the key points that AA had in its email to members:
We’re thrilled to introduce updates to the AAdvantage® program that will make it simpler for you to earn status.
Starting in 2022, instead of Elite Qualifying Miles, Elite Qualifying Dollars and Elite Qualifying Segments, you’ll only have one status metric: Loyalty Points.
How it works
- Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every eligible AAdvantage® mile earned*
- Enjoy more ways to earn Loyalty Points: Travel on qualifying airlines, use an AAdvantage® credit card for purchases, dine and spend with our partners
- Elite bonuses earned from flying will also count toward Loyalty Points
Extending and earning status
- Status valid through January 31, 2022 has been extended to March 31, 2022
- January and February 2022 activity will count toward earning both 2022 and 2023 status
- In the future, you’ll qualify for status from March through February, with status valid through March 31 of the following year
You’re at the heart of everything we do and we appreciate your business. Thank you for your loyalty.
American first claims that every eligible AAdvantage miles earned counts as a Loyalty Point but then have the following excluded:
- Bonus miles earned from special promotions
- Miles from Buy, Gift, Transfer transactions
- Government taxes, fees, and other charges associated with buying a ticket do not count toward earning AAdvantage® miles and do not count toward earning Loyalty Points
- Conversion of another program currency to AAdvantage® miles
- For AAdvantage® credit cards, “accelerators” or “multipliers” such as: extra miles for purchases in specific categories, with specific merchants (such as American Airlines purchases) or purchases made abroad
- AAdvantage® credit cards new account or welcome bonuses, spend bonuses, etc.
At one point, American claims that all base miles earned from American cobranded credit cards in the US or elsewhere counted, and then here claims that purchases made abroad won’t. One of these two cannot be correct.
Loyalty Points Required for Status
First, these Loyalty Points requirements may appear extremely high, but the AAdvantage elite bonuses on both American and partner flights also count as Loyalty Points. It is somewhat unclear if the cabin bonus on partners counts as well, but likely it does.
If the cabin bonus is included, you will end up earning many more Loyalty Points on partner flights on discounted business than you would if flying on American as those earnings are not based on the ticket price, excluding actual taxes/fees, but rather on miles earned (higher cabin bonuses for partner flights in business and first) based on the flight distance.
Also, it no longer matters what cabin type you purchase on American, as even the lowest fares, basic economy, earn you the same number of Loyalty Points per dollar spent.
It will be more difficult for members to advance from one tier to another because AAdvantage members earn a lower elite bonus on lower levels.
Tier Validity & Tracking
The elite tier qualification period is no longer a calendar year but from March to February, as is the tier validity.
During the launch year, American Airlines has extended all member tiers that were set to expire at the end of January through March, and members will have 14 months instead of 12 to qualify for the status in 2023.
American Airlines wins here by making the program more confusing while simplifying it.
The airline tries to get elite members to swipe their affiliated credit cards more often to earn Loyalty Points, and I would advise against this. Why would you swipe an inferior card to earn Loyalty Points while you can earn convertible “currency” with other issues at a much higher multiplier?
Also, if they had wanted to “simplify” the program, there would be no exclusions. None. Now there is, and I am sure that America will tweak what is qualifying and not with little or no advance notice.
Members may end up earning far more Loyalty Points on premium fares on partner airlines than they would on AA, especially on discounted tickets. This would push members not to choose American over partners that certainly cannot be the intention.
Some members may decide to forgo earning status with American and choose Alaska instead if they wish to continue flying on both airlines and have status with the Oneworld.
What a mess!
I have a lifetime Platinum status (Oneworld Sapphire) with American from when all deposits to AAdvantage accounted for the million miler goals. I am in the process of earning lifetime Gold with BA’s Executive Club that maps to Oneworld Emerald.