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American Airlines Introduces The 2016 AAdvantage Program
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American Airlines Introduces The 2016 AAdvantage Program

by Michael BeenerNovember 18, 2015

American Airlines is taking the first step in the evolution of its award-winning AAdvantage® loyalty program. In the second half of 2016, the program will shift how customers earn award miles from distance flown to dollars spent. Award redemption rates will be adjusted with some award levels increasing, while others will be decreasing. Additionally, American will offer the best elite-qualifying mile multipliers in the industry and simplify the elite qualification process to better reward customers.

“American Airlines has spent the last two years being singularly focused on integration. Now we’re at a point where we can begin to look ahead and lay the foundation for the future of the AAdvantage program to ensure we’re rewarding our most loyal customers with the benefits they value the most,” said Suzanne Rubin, President of AAdvantage. “We seamlessly integrated our programs in 2015, and we’re excited about the opportunities that the program will offer our customers in the years to come.”

Earning Award Miles
In the second half of 2016, when traveling on flights marketed by American, members will begin earning award miles based on the price of the ticket purchased (base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, excluding government-imposed taxes and fees) and that member’s elite status level.

AAdvantage members will receive five miles for every U.S. dollar spent on the base fare and carrier-imposed fees. Gold members will receive seven miles, Platinum members will receive eight and Executive Platinum members will receive 11 miles per dollar spent.

AAdvantage Member Level AAdvantage Member Gold Platinum Executive Platinum
Miles / USD 5 7 8 11
Example Calculation Future* 9,470 13,258 15,152 20,834
Example Calculation Current** 9,502 11,878 19,004 19,004

*Calculation based on an AAdvantage member flying round-trip on an American marketed flight from Dallas (DFW) to London-Heathrow (LHR). Base fare plus carrier-imposed fees – $1,894.
**Calculation based on an AAdvantage member flying round-trip on an American marketed flight from Dallas(DFW) to London-Heathrow (LHR). Flight distance – 9,502 miles round-trip.

Award miles for travel on most flights marketed by partner airlines will be based on a percentage of the flight distance and the booking code purchased. More details will be announced in 2016.

Until the new award mile earning structure takes effect, members will still earn award miles based on the distance flown. American is extending its bonus miles promotion that allows members to earn even more on purchased First or Business class tickets. More information can be found at aa.com/moremiles.

Award Redemption Levels
In March 2016, some award redemption levels will be reduced by as much as 40 percent, and AAdvantage members will continue to book award travel on any day of the year without any blackout dates. For tickets booked on or after March 22, award redemption levels to popular destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America will be reduced, and MileSAAver awards for flights 500 miles or less in the U.S. and Canada will be redeemable for as low as 7,500 miles one way (plus any applicable taxes and carrier-imposed fees). Award redemption levels on other routes, such as some flights to Europe and Asia will increase due to changes to market pricing and demand.

“A significant percentage of our flights are less than 500 miles, so offering a lower MileSAAver option only makes sense for our customers,” said Rubin. “Other routes will be adjusted to match increased customer demand, including routes that feature our world-class A321T and 777-300ER aircraft.”

AAdvantage Elite Qualification
Beginning January 2016, the AAdvantage program will offer two simple ways to qualify for elite status – Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) at the same thresholds as today. Elite-qualifying points will be discontinued. Members will earn more EQMs for purchasing higher fares, and EQSs will still be awarded for each eligible flight segment flown. American will offer the most generous multipliers in the industry.

EQMs Earned On Carrier-Marketed Flights
Booking code purchased EQM / mile American EQM / mile

Delta

EQM / mile

United

Full-Fare First/Business 3 2 1.5
Discount First/Business 2 1.5 1.5
Full-Fare Economy 1.5 1.5 1.5
Discount Economy 1 1 1

The rates at which members earn EQMs on eligible partner airlines can be found on aa.com.

Beginning with the 2017 membership year, elite status will be valid through January 31 of the following year.

Upgrade Programs
The AAdvantage program provides complimentary, auto-requested upgrades for all elite members on domestic flights 500 miles or less, and AAdvantage Executive Platinum members receive complimentary, auto-requested upgrades on all domestic flights regardless of length.

With the higher EQM earn rates in 2016, beginning March 1, Gold and Platinum members will earn four 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 EQMs earned during the membership year. The cost of a 500-mile upgrade will be 40 dollars when purchased online, at the airport or from an agent.

Beginning January 1, 2016, Executive Platinum members will receive four systemwide upgrades upon qualification for the 2017 membership year, with the opportunity to earn up to four more based on flight activity – two for every 50,000 EQMs earned above the 100,000 EQM threshold up to 200,000 EQMs.

The AAdvantage program was the first loyalty program in the industry, created in 1981. It has seen several changes over the decades and will continue to evolve to offer the best program for its members based on the access and rewards they desire most. As the initial phases roll out in 2016, American is committed to sharing its plans with customers as clearly and as soon as practicable. Additional details about the 2016 AAdvantage program are available at aa.com/aadvantage2016.

About The Author
Michael Beener
Michael Beener