American Airlines AAdvantage 2019 Program Changes: Elite Status and Earnings
AA sent out emails yesterday announcing some upcoming changes. Beginning January 1, 2019 how you earn Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) and the qualification requirements for AAdvantage Executive Platinum status are changing. AA is also adding rewards options for Executive Platinum members who earn 150,000 EQMs or more. I’m also not sure when this change was announced but I also noticed on the site that Platinum Pro members will soon be able to change flights same day with no fees beginning in February. (This makes Platinum Pro much more appealing to me since this is my favorite money saving benefit available to Exec Platinum members.) Remember you can use AA Insider fares to avoid change and cancellation fees as well.
I’ve outlined the changes and concluded with some thoughts, but I’m having a hard time deciding whether these changes are net positive or negative. On the one hand, extra earnings and bonus miles on partner flights is awesome and helps you earn status more quickly (especially for those who qualify through partner flights). On the other hand, 15K EQDs is a big ask especially since the EQDs you can earn from credit card spend has been severely limited.
Executive Platinum Status Qualification Requirements
- Elite Qualifying Dollars Requirement is changing from $12,000 to $15,000
- This will be much harder to attain for some without the extra EQDs from AA Aviator credit cards
Additional Rewards for Executive Platinum Members
Upon qualification for Executive Platinum status, members who reach 150,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs), 200,000 EQMs and 250,000 EQMs can choose a reward. (Currently, you earn 2 SWUs at 150K and 200K EQMs)
- Reach 150,000 EQMs and choose from:
- 2 systemwide upgrades
- 40,000 bonus miles
- Gift of AAdvantage® Gold status
- Reach 200,000 and 250,000 EQMs and choose from (both times):
- 2 systemwide upgrades
- 40,000 bonus miles
- Gift of AAdvantage® Platinum status
Changes to Earning Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)
Earning Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)
AA Partner Marketed Flight Earnings (Based on Miles flown)
The EQMs you earn on select oneworld airlines are increasing in several classes (click on each for the official charts at AA)
Outcome: Business and First Class Partner Flights will earn significantly more EQMs- in some cases 3 EQMs per mile and even in some economy classes earnings will double what they’re currently earning.
AA Flight Earnings
The EQMs earned on American-marketed flights on fares booked in “Y” are decreasing from 1.5 EQMs to 1.0 EQMs per mile flown.
Earning on Special Fare tickets
We’re adjusting the award miles, class of service bonus, EQDs and EQMs to match the value of the ticket for select booking codes for travel on American-marketed flights on Special fares and tickets where the ticket/fare details are unavailable.
- EQDs and Bonus Miles are increasing significantly for Business and First Fares
Ticket/Fare Details Unavailable
- There will be no more “Class of Service Bonus” on any economy fare (Previously Economy (H, K, M, L, Y) all earned a 25% bonus)
Interestingly, it’ll be more expensive to earn Executive Platinum status, but you will be more handsomely rewarded for partner flights in most classes with increased EQM earnings rates. It’s also nice that Exec Plats will have choices when they reach specific EQM tiers. The ability to Gift platinum status is a pretty valuable perk. It will also be easier for people to qualify for lower level status on premium cabin partner flights. In fact, I’m seeing some potential avenues to Platinum Status with only one very carefully selected flight. (Before I commit I have to do some more research, stay tuned.)
One change that’s negative all around is the reduced earnings on economy Y fares.
My Final Thoughts
I’m having a hard time understanding why AA continually sends out targeted Elite Status offers and challenges while making qualifying more difficult for those who actually fly enough to earn status. I can’t imagine it helps AA’s bottom line to reduce benefits for loyal customers and yet give others huge shortcuts. I myself am Executive Platinum thanks to a shortcut challenge.
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