Why Qualifying for AA Executive Platinum is Still Worth It

Why Qualifying for AA Executive Platinum is Still Worth It

As many people have already heard, American Airlines is making some rather drastic changes to the Aadvantage program. They announced the devaluation of award miles along with changes to the way members can earn elite status. Below is a chart from The Points Guy:

Travel from US to: Off-Peak Coach (Old) Off-Peak Coach (New) Coach (Old) Coach (New) Business (Old) Business (New) First (Old) First (New)
Contiguous 48 US states N/A N/A 12,500 12,500 25,000 25,000 32,500 50,000
Domestic < 500 miles N/A N/A N/A 7,500 N/A 15,000 N/A N/A
Canada & Alaska N/A N/A 12,500 15,000 25,000 30,000 32,500 55,000
Hawaii 17,500 20,000 22,500 22,500 37,500 40,000 47,500 65,000
Caribbean 12,500 12,500 17,500 15,000 30,000 25,000 40,000 50,000
Mexico 12,500 12,500 17,500 15,000 30,000 25,000 40,000 50,000
Central America 15,000 12,500 17,500 15,000 30,000 25,000 40,000 50,000
South America Region 1 15,000 17,500 17,500 20,000 30,000 30,000 40,000 55,000
South America Region 2 20,000 N/A 30,000 30,000 50,000 57,500 62,500 85,000
Europe 20,000 22,500 30,000 30,000 50,000 57,500 62,500 85,000
Asia Region 1 25,000 32,500 32,500 35,000 50,000 60,000 62,500 80,000
Asia Region 2 N/A 32,500 35,000 35,000 55,000 70,000 67,500 110,000
South Pacific N/A N/A 37,500 40,000 62,500 80,000 72,500 110,000

The devaluation is definitely pretty substantial. The First class award to Asia Region 2 is definitely the worst as there was decent availability in CX F (JL F wasn’t bad either). There are still some good areas of the chart, such as most of the business class awards.

The way to earn elite status has also changed. The short of it is that it is still 120 segments, but points has been eliminated and combined into EQM. All discount coach flights earns 1 EQM on AA metal (same as before) but now full fare coach/discount business/first is 2 EQM, Full fare Business/First is 3 EQM. This will make it easier for some premium class travelers to hit a higher elite status.

American Airlines is also changing the way members are earning miles while flying with American. It will be based on revenue and it will start in Mid 2016 (AA did not mention when). Here is the chart from The Points Guy:

AAdvantage Member Level General Member Gold Platinum Executive Platinum
Miles / USD 5 7 8 11
Delta (Equiv. status level) 5 7 8 11
United (Equiv. status level) 5 7 8 11
This is another huge blow to the Aadvantage program. I will be essentially going from earning 200k miles a year when hitting EXP to earning just about 55k miles. This is pretty bad but could be avoided as long as you qualify (or fly most of the miles) before mid 2016. I am guessing that it will start sometime in June or July of 2016 but many of the cheapest fares on AA is usually between January and early May anyhow.
The last downside is that when members hit EXP, they will only get 4 SWU instead of 8. This is really the only difference for myself as I am earning EXP by April so I will still earn over 200k miles but only 4 SWU instead of 8. If you redeem them for mostly business class, the Aadvantage program won’t be changing as much as everyone is making it out to be.
So here is what you will get if you manage to fly 100k miles before Mid 2016:
  • 200k AA miles
  • 4 SWU

When you qualify for EXP in 2016 before mid 2016, you lose 4 SWU but almost everything will stay the same. Again, qualifying for EXP the cheapest way will net you 200k RDM so that is a huge plus. 4 SWU is valued at about $1000, whereas 150k miles (what you stand to miss out on with the new RDM chart) is worth above $1500. I value the miles more than SWU if push came to shove.

Here are two different ways to qualify for EXP:

  • Spend ~6000 to fly 100k miles in coach. That is about 6CPM, which is pretty realistic unless you have some vacation time to use up and can fly during the weekdays.
    • 200k AA miles (if you are Platinum or Executive Platinum)
    • 4 SWU
  • Spend ~6000 to fly 50k miles in business. There are some business class flights on AA metal that were going for about 10CPM. (Business on partner airlines only earn 1.5 EQM, but on AA metal it is 2 EQM per mile) Here is what you would get:
    • 100k AA miles (if you are Platinum or Executive Platinum)
    • 4 SWU

You can see that earning it in business class nets you less redeemable miles but with the new revenue earning system, you would be earning about the same. This is the main reason why the revenue earning system works to reward higher spending members.

The above two examples are the reason why Aadvantage program was so lucrative and why there were still mileage runners on AA but not on any other US airline. This will surely change with the new revenue based earning program. I already booked all my flights for 2016 so either way I’m getting EXP again next year. How about you? Will you change your flying habits because of the change?

2 Comments on "Why Qualifying for AA Executive Platinum is Still Worth It"

  1. You have booked ALL of your flights so far for 2016? I am only booked through April and I thought that was quite a bit! You need to share itineraries 😉

    • Simon - Running For Status | December 9, 2015 at 6:20 pm | Reply

      Yea, some in paid discount business as well. I guess I’ll post about it:
      dublin jan 15-17
      Rio Feb 2-5 to 2-8
      SYD 2-15 to 2-29
      HKG 3-3 to 3-15
      rome 3-18 to 3-28 (lax)
      san juan 3-29 to 4-4 (lax)
      Bali 4-5 to 4-17 (lax)
      Then afterwards probably directly to seattle.

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