American dropped some big news today: their new AAdvantage program.  It appears to be focused on how AAdvantage members earn status (versus how they redeem points for rewards) for now.

Here’s the scoop, or, if you want to read American’s version of it, click here.

Elite-qualifying dollars, miles, and segments are going away

American is moving to a single point of focus: Loyalty Points.  If you earn enough loyalty points, you get status.  Here are the new levels:

  • AAdvantage Gold – 30000 points
  • AAdvantage Platinum  – 75000 points
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro – 125000 points
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum – 200000 points

You have from March 1 to February 28/29 to earn status now, instead of the calendar year qualification period of the past as well.

How do you earn Loyalty Points?

Some have said American has turned into a credit card marketing company that happens to fly people on planes.  Loyalty Points might strengthen their argument.

You earn LPs for flying and for spending on AAdvantage credit cards.

Flying

You earn LPs based on the base miles earned on qualifying airlines (American, oneworld, and JetBlue) as well as status bonuses.  Basically the old elite-qualifying miles.

Credit Card Spend

You earn LPs based on the base miles earned from credit card spend on AAdvantage credit cards.  Basically 1 dollar = 1 LP.  Note that category bonuses (like 3x earning for spending on American flights on the Aviator card, for example) do not count, just the base miles.

That’s it, that’s the program

Pretty simple, honestly.  There are some exclusions to the above, so I’d advise you to check out American’s FAQ about the new program.

There are plenty of other things to unpack about the changes, including American’s Loyalty Choice Rewards for those who fly more than 30 flights and qualify at least for Platinum Pro.  (side note: I dislike their repeat use of Loyalty as the title for this.  Loyalty Points and Loyalty Choice Rewards kind of get jumbled together for the average customer.  Then again, we’re talking about an AAdvantage program that has the word “Platinum” in 3 of their 4 status levels, so it’s not that surprising I guess.)

I think generally this benefits those customers who can run business expenses through their personal cards the most.

Ultimately it comes down to this

Status qualification announcements allow us a rare glimpse into what airlines truly value most.  American Airlines wants their credit card to be at the front of your wallet.  If you happen to fly on their planes, so much the better.

From what I’m seeing on social media so far it seems like people are reflexively hating this, but I’m not sure that they should.  If you’re aiming for Executive Platinum status you’ll have to spend some money and fly some flights.  Executive Platinum will be harder to get.  You previously needed 125000 elite-qualifying miles to qualify, which, if we posit that you earned the EQDs needed under the previous scheme as well, leaves you about 60,000 LPs short under the new model.

The new AAdvantage targets spenders, not flyers.  I’m not even sure that’s a bad thing, but either way it’s good knowing what American values most right now.

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