Why I Like the American Airlines AAdvantage Program 2016

Why I Like the American Airlines AAdvantage Program 2016

American Airlines announced yesterday that both the elite qualifications for 2016 and mileage earning on AA was due to change. Overall, liked the changes. Lets start off with things I didn’t like about the announcement:

  • Announcing it so late – Delta and United announced theirs 6 or more months ahead of the change, giving their elite members adequate time to find other airlines to fly. American only gave us 6 weeks before the new program would kick in, and some elite members (like myself) may have already booked many trips with American.
  • Reduction of SWU – starting next year, Executive Platinum members will only earn 4 SWU after earning 100k EQM, but can earn 2 more for every 50k EQM above 100k for a maximum of 8. Many of us thought 8 was too generous (it really was) and we have heard rumors of 4 floating around for a few months now. We had hoped to get a few more (6 maybe?)
  • Potentially more elites: The new EQM structure (see below) makes it easier for members to qualify. Before you freak out about it, it is mainly beneficial who flies a mixture of discount economy and higher fare classes. In reality, they should be better treated and the new program does that.
  • Award Chart – we all knew this was coming, but American Airlines has increased the award chart for many destinations. The highest increase was business/first class awards to Asia Region 2 (Southeast Asia, including Hong Kong) and Australia. Now it is up to 110k miles one way in first class. Hopefully, this will mean we will get more availability, but I don’t think that will happen. Here is the full award chart: http://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/redeemMiles/american-airlines-award-chart.jsp. A small tidbit they added onto it was an increase of 7500 miles for domestic 3 cabin premium awards. So instead of 25000 miles, it will be 32,500 miles for domestic business.
  • 500-mi Upgrades – Starting March 2016, everyone except Executive Platinums who have unlimited domestic upgrades will earn 1 500-mi upgrade for every 12,500 miles they fly, up from the previous 10k miles they flew. Also, it will be $40 to purchase each 500-mi upgrade, or 40,000 AA miles for 8 upgrades. Luckily, this won’t affect me as I no longer earn 500-mi certs. I still have over 20 from when I qualified for EXP from PLT three years ago.
  • Mileage Accrual will be revenue based: Starting mid 2016 (AA did not clarify exactly when, but I would say July 1st 2016), you will start earning miles based on revenue (base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, excluding any government-imposed taxes and fees) with the chart below:
    General Member Gold Platinum Executive Platinum
    Miles Earned/Dollar 5 7 8 11

    From looking at past tickets, I would earn a lot less on the new system, just like how Delta and United flyers are earning miles today. I normally spend just about $5500 a year on American Airlines, which will amount to about only 50k miles, as compared to 200k I was earning yearly from AA. This will be a huge loss, but I didn’t think earning 200k miles a year was not sustainable, especially with CX F being only 62,500 miles.

Things I do like:

Changes to EQM:

For most mileage runners, it is still staying the same. If you are flying with an AA flight number, it will be 1 EQM for every mile flown in coach. As announced last month, EQM earnings have been reduced in partner airlines (most notably on BA). In addition, they have combined EQP with EQM, so higher fare classes get more EQM. Here is the new earnings chart for AA:

For travel on or after January 1, 2016

Class of service Purchased fares booked in Base miles Class of service bonus miles EQMs per mile flown
Full Fare First/Business F, J 100% 50% 3.00
Discount First/Business A, P, D, I, R 100% 50% 2.00
Full-Fare Economy Y, B, W* 100% 1.50
Discount Economy H, K, M, L, W, V, G, Q, N, O, S 100% 1.00

As you can see, people who fly discount economy will still earn 1 EQM, so it shouldn’t affect many people there. For full fare economy, you will earn 1.5 EQM, which was the same EQP you got, so that wouldn’t really change for those who gets a lot of points rather than miles. The huge improvement is now Discount First/Business and Full fare Business/First. They will be getting 2 EQM and 3 EQM, respectively. For those who fly a mixture of fare classes, it will be the most beneficial to them. There can be definitely some instances where members fail to qualify for a certain elite ranking because of their mixed fare classes, which makes them short of the next elite level due to a lack of both points and miles. The new structure will make

Here is the chart from BA:

For travel on or after February 1, 2016

Class of service Purchased fares booked in Base miles (elite qualifying) Class of service bonus miles EQMs per mile flown
First A, F 100% 50% 1.50
Club World / Club Europe (Business) C, D, I, J, R 100% 25% 1.50
World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy Flexible) W 100% 10% 1.50
World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy Lowest) E,T 100% 1.50
World Traveller & Euro Traveller (Full-Fare Economy) Y, B 100% 1.00
World Traveller & Euro Traveller (Full-Fare Economy) H 100% 0.50
World Traveller & Euro Traveller (Discount Economy) K, L, M, N, S, V 50% 0.50
World Traveller & Euro Traveller (Deep Discount Economy) G, O, Q 25% 0.50

Much of this chart isn’t different from the change a month ago.  I am disappointed that flying business or first on partners only gets 1.5 EQM, similar to the 1.5 EQP you would get from flying business or first. I actually have a lot of business class international tickets booked and was hoping for 2 EQM. Hopefully AA will change it higher in the future. The lower earnings on partners is to entice members to fly with AA but 1.5 on BA first is much too low.

Addition of short segment awards

In addition to increase the number of miles required for an award, AA also added a 7500 mi (MileSAAver) award for flights shorter than 500mi. BA has a similar feature of their award chart (it was 3500 until they increased it to 7500 only for East Coast flights) but it is still cheaper on BA. I do value AA miles more, so I would still continue to use BA Avios for short flights, but I can see this coming in very handy for some members who fly BOS-JFK, JFK-IAD, etc.


  • While I’m sad to see the 8 SWU go down to 4, that may mean that more people will get the upgrade, even though I never failed to clear my SWU upgrade on an international segment.
  • I’m a bit concerned about potentially more Executive Platinums due to the changes in the EQM earnings system.
  • The new EQM system has me earning more EQMs but unfortunately short of the next tier to get 2 more SWU at 150k total EQMs
  • The mileage accrual is much lower than it was, but I didn’t think earning 200k a year on 5k spend (2.5CPM) was sustainable. At 11 miles/$, its about 9 CPM. There will definitely be much less mileage runners now, but it wouldn’t affect me too much because I usually fly for the benefits and not necessarily for the award miles.
  • The increase in the award chart wouldn’t necessarily affect me because I usually pay for all my tickets, . It will affect me when I book tickets for my wife, whom almost always flies on award tickets in premium cabins and most of it is domestic.

4 Comments on "Why I Like the American Airlines AAdvantage Program 2016"

  1. I don’t understand how you arrived at mileage accruals numbers. If you spend 5.5k on tickets and assuming that the full amount counts (which is not the case), then using EXP multiplier would only give you about 60k miles. How are you getting the 250k number?

    • Simon - Running For Status | November 19, 2015 at 8:42 am | Reply

      Sorry, I was using the wrong multiplier. Yes, it would be closer to 60k (or 50k once you strip off the government fees). My post has been changed.

  2. Why do you like 201
    6 better as your getting 140,000 less miles ? You like getting less

    • Simon - Running For Status | December 9, 2015 at 6:19 pm | Reply

      I am qualifying by Mid April, so I’m not getting less miles at least for 2016. I’m still earning at the same rate as 2015. 2017 is a whole another story….

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