Why I Hate American Airlines 2017 Changes to AAdvantage
I have held Executive Platinum for a few years now. I stumbled into the status when I was trying to finish a marathon on all 7 continents in one year and quickly realized the value potential of earning status. It was almost too good to be true. Spend roughly about $5000 to fly 100,000 flight miles on American Airlines and get top tier status, along with 200k redeemable miles, 8 systemwide upgrades and unlimited domestic upgrades. I have milked this benefit for a few years and I also managed to do a bit more this year before American Airlines switched to revenue based earning system.
I defended last year changes to the program in that it was still worth it to get elite status, as long as you did the majority of your flying in the first half of the year before the revenue based earning system kicked into effect. Four systemwide upgrades was a tough pill to swallow, but the new EQM system allows some fliers who buy premium cabins to qualify faster than before, even with the EQP earning system. The new EQM system awards first class passengers with 3 EQM while the old system only gave them 1.5 EQP, so these travelers would qualify twice as fast. If they did this often enough, they were bigger spenders anyway so it achieves the goal of rewarding American Airline’s top customers.
Revenue Based Mileage Accural
In an announcement today, they are announcing that on or after August 1st, members will earn miles based on the following table:
Earning award miles
For travel starting August 1, 2016, you’ll earn more miles the more you spend with us. As an elite member, you’ll earn at even higher rates.
† Base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, excluding any government-imposed taxes and fees
So the benchmark for spend and elite status for me is about $5000 for 100k flight miles. If I spent the same, I would only earn about 55000 miles, compared to 200k based on the old system. This will certainly sting but everyone in this game knows that you can often earn more miles without flying, such as shopping portals, credit card signup bonuses, and manufactured spend (mostly dead these days).
Elite Status with a Spend Requirement
Today, they also announced the elite qualification requirement for 2017 to earn status for 2018. American Airlines has now added a revenue based requirement as EQD. For their top tier, it is $12k EQD, similar to United and Delta’s system. They noted that carrier imposed fees will be included as EQD, which may be a bit better than United or Delta’s system. We will have to wait and see exactly what items will be included as EQD.
The spend requirement was the last straw for me. There is almost no way that I would be able to hit those numbers. I spent quite a bit more this year and I am at around $8000 spend for the year. This number includes taxes and government fees so my EQD this year is more like $5000-$6000, assuming they include fuel surcharges. With this type of spend, I would be looking at around Platinum or Platinum Pro if I was lucky.
These changes go live for the 2017 year for qualification for 2018 status, so flyers have this year to change their flying to get ready for the changes. These changes will most benefit the most loyal fliers to pay for expensive tickets and not those like me who go on mileage runs and cheap fares around the world. I will be booking many other trips on other airlines if I see the fare I like and a destination I want to go to, like many other frequently fliers who gave up their status years ago. Most in the know knew that this would be the last year for the “good o’ days” and to take AAdvantage of it while we could. I definitely did one last hurrah and milked my status for about 320k RDM this year.
Delta at this point look very tempting because they waive the EQD requirement if you spend over $25k on the Delta American Express card. Delta has a similar qualification requirement, and can be easy to achieve Diamond by flying premium cabins. The spend is also very reasonable as well. As I will be moving to Seattle in a month, Delta may be much more interesting to me. I haven’t seen many mileage runs on American from Seattle, but a few from United and Delta.
What do you think? Do these requirements look better than United or Delta? Would you be more likely to fly on American or another airline with these changes? I certainly would not be going for status in 2017 on American and be a free agent, as many others already have.