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Yesterday the news broke that American Airlines was making some pretty drastic changes to their AAdvantage frequent flier program, starting on March 22, 2016.  Yesterday I covered some of the award chart changes, listing the Top 5 worst American Airlines award chart devaluations.  Now that I have a bit more time, I thought I would cover some of the other changes, specifically to how you earn AAdvantage miles, how you’ll get elite status, as well as recapping the award chart devaluations.

Earning AAdvantage miles

I earn most of my AAdvantage miles through credit card signup and bonuses (rather than actual flying)

Award (redeemable) miles for travel on American marketed flights will be calculated based on what you pay for your ticket (base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, excluding any government-imposed taxes and fees) and your elite status.

  • 5 miles/U.S. dollar – regular AAdvantage member
  • 7 miles/U.S. dollar – Gold
  • 8 miles/U.S. dollar – Platinum
  • 11 miles/U.S. dollar – Executive Platinum

Do these numbers look familiar? Check out United’s chart from when they went revenue based a few months ago.


Redeemable miles on partner airlines will be “based on a percentage of the flight distance and the fare class purchased” aka similar to how it works now.

Note that how many miles you earn will be based on the rules in place on the date of your travel; so if you buy a ticket now for travel after the change to revenue-based earning (currently slated for “second half of 2016”), the miles you earn will be based on the new (revenue-based) system.  This is the opposite of how it works for award bookings.

American Airlines elite status changes

One thing that I found interesting was that although REDEEMABLE miles were changing to be based revenue, elite qualifying miles (EQM) will continue to be awarded by distance, with the earning rates being slightly higher.

On American-marketed flights:

  • 3 EQMs/mile – Full-fare First or Business
  • 2 EQMs/mile – Discount First or Business
  • 1.5 EQMs/mile – Full-fare Main Cabin
  • 1 EQM/mile – Discount Main Cabin

They are also getting rid of qualifying via EQP, leaving only miles and segments as the two methods to earn elite status.


The consensus seems to be that qualifying for elite status will be slightly easier under the new system, but that brings with it the fact that “if everybody’s elite, then nobody is!”

Other changes include that Gold and Platinum elites will earn 500 mile upgrade stickers every 12,500 miles instead of every 10,000 miles, and Executive Platinum members will only get 4 System Wide Upgrades (SWU) instead of the current 8.

Changes to the AAdvantage award chart

I’ve already listed out the Top 5 worst American Airlines award chart devaluationsbut the 2 big categories that I saw are on opposite sides of the spectrum – first-class redemptions and economy off-peak awards. Many partner offpeak awards were eliminated, and the ones that remain had their eligible dates slashed by as much as 50%.  Loyalty Traveler had 2 good posts on it as well

As I mentioned earlier in the post, when you’re booking AWARD travel, the important date is the date you BOOK it – so awards booked March 21st, 2016 or earlier will be based on the old award chart, even for travel AFTER March 22nd.  If you have to change your award booking though, you might end up in trouble, so I’d try hard not to do that!

Further reading

For further reading, you can check out the official AA press release, or some of these blogs

If you’ve got questions about the recent American Airlines devaluation, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!

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