American Airlines Is Reinventing the Wheel on How to Earn Elite Status

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Big news hit this week from American Airlines. You might have already heard it, as these news spread like wildfire through the internet and bloggosphere.

Beginning next year, American Airlines will change how you earn elite status with the airline. According to their announcement, they will get away with complicated Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD), Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) and Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS).

History

American Airlines was the first airline to ever offer a loyalty program to its customers. They started their AAdvantage program on May 1st, 1981. 

In the beginning, you earned status simply by miles flown or as we call it butt-in-seat time. It didn’t matter if you flew first class or the cheapest fare. You basically earned equal amount of miles to qualify for your status. 

A few years ago airlines, mainly in the US, shifted to a more revenue based loyalty program. From now on they honored people more who spend more money and especially on more expensive fare like Business or First Class. To be honest, this makes sense. Maybe not exactly how they implemented it, but if you have a little store you want to honor shoppers more who spend a lot of money with you by buying items from you. If someone buys the same amount of items from you but only 1cent stuff, you don’t earn a lot from that customer. I wasn’t a fan of revenue based, but it made kinda sense.

In 2022 everything will change once again.

The new AAdvantage Loyalty Program

In 2022 you will earn no more EQMs, EQDs or EQS’. The new “currency” of the AAdvantage program is Loyalty Points and you earn them by

This means you can now basically spend your way to top tier elite. As what I am seeing so far on information, you won’t have to spend one single minute in an airplane to get their top tier status. You can do this by spending on your co-brandend American Airlines credit card(s) and double dipping by using them at the AAdvantage Shopping Portal and AAdvantage Dining Portal.

My question is, why do you would want top tier airline status if you never fly? They want you to spend more with them but not necessarily on flights, which is their main business. That’s kinda weird.

AAdvantage 2022 Status Requirements

Status Loyalty Points
Gold 30,000
Platinum 75,000
Platinum Pro 125,000
Executive Platinum 200,000

Elite Level Bonus

While you reach a higher status levels, you will earn additional Loyalty Points as well as bonus award miles. 

  • AAdvantage Gold® 40% bonus
  • AAdvantage Platinum® 60% bonus
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro® 80% bonus
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum® 120% bonus

Loyalty Choice Rewards

So far you had to reach Platinum Pro level to unlock a selection of Choice Rewards and you unlocked another selection by reaching Executive Platinum tier.

With the new program there is an additional requirement. You still have to reach at least Platinum Pro level, no matter how, but you also need at least 30 segments flown with American or a qualifying partner airline. 

Too easily increase your segment count, you can book flights with connections. A flight with one connection counts as 2 segments. If you do this roundtrip, you already banked 4 segments for your Loyalty Choice Reward. However, in the times we are currently live in, everyone is trying to go non-stop and spend as least as possible in the thin flying tube in the air.

First Class Cabin

New Elite Tier Period

Historicaly you had to qualify within a calendar year for your status. The earlier you qualified, the more extra time you got on your new elite level. So far you had from January 1st until December 31st of each year to reach the requirements to qualify for a elite tier. Your current hald status would than expire on January 31st of the following year if you didn’t requalify in the calendar year before.

This will change in 2022. The timeframe shifted by three months but you still have 12 months to qualify for status.

You will now qualify for status from March 1st, through the end of February. Your status will then be valid through March 31st of the following year. 

Why did the qualification period change away from a calendar year? I think it’s mainly because they want your credit card spend. November and December are some of the biggest spending months for Americans as there is Thanksgiving with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and of course Christmas itself. Thats when most American’s spend the biggest amount of money. Charges on your credit card in December won’t post until January. This is the only explanation I have, but there might be other reasons. This is actually very generous of American Airlines, if this is the main reason for the shift.

Double Dipping in 2022

As the AAdvatnage loyalty program will transit to the new period in 2022, points earned in January and February will count towards the 2022 and 2023 Advantage status. This means, if you are close to qualifying for the next elite tier right now, you have until the end of February 2022 now to qualify rather than the end of December 2021.

Elite Status Extension

Because of the shift to the new program, everyone’s current elite status will be extended until March 31st, 2022 rather than ending on January 31st 2022. What they label as generocity is a necessary evil for them to transit to the new program.

Award Miles Earning and Redemption

Even with the introduction of Loyaltypoints, you will still earn award miles as you are used to right now. A higher priced ticket and class gives you more miles for a flight. The same goes for elite bonus miles when you already have status and earn miles. Every earned award mile counts as one Loyalty Point.

America Airlines taxiing at LAX

Redeeming miles for flights also stays the same. At least for now. We see what happens in the future. In case you are working to qualify for lifetime Million Miler status, dont worry. This one is unchanged as well. Only miles flown will count towards Million Miler Status. No credit card spent or any bonus miles you earn. Loyaltypoints are only changing how you earn status. Nothing else.

 

Conclusion

Changes can be good and bad. In this case, it’s both. I am sure lots of people will welcome the changes as it is easy for them to earn top tier elite. I am talking about the big spenders out there. But on the other side these big spenders probably care less about elite level anyway, as they just buy business and first class tickets anyway and probably don’t even bother redeeming miles. Maybe I am wrong. On the other side, I welcome the changes as it is now easier for the majority to understand on how to earn status. Also by doing some math, I should be able to earn status without any bigger changes, which is good. The best thing, if I am short a few Loyalty Points, I can just put some spend on an American Airlines co-branded credit card. Of course I need to sign up for one first. American Airlines has a calculator which lets you check your projected status depending on the amount of flights and average cost. 

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