American Airlines published its new AAdvantage 2016 changes on aa.com today, along with new AAdvantage award charts for American Airlines flights and partner flights. The changes leaked last week are confirmed with a move to ticket revenue based redeemable miles earning, reduced partner miles earning, reduced earning of upgrade certificates for elite members, and some award chart changes, mostly big increases for Business Class and First Class award tickets.
1. Earning AAdvantage Redeemable Miles in 2016
In the second half of 2016, award 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; the higher your status, the more you’ll earn.
- 5 miles/U.S. dollar – AAdvantage member
- 7 miles/U.S. dollar – Gold
- 8 miles/U.S. dollar – Platinum
- 11 miles/U.S. dollar – Executive Platinum
2. AAdvantage Elite Status Changes in 2016
- Elite membership year ends January 31, 2018 for members who qualify for 2017 elite status with 2016 flights. Currently, AAdvantage elite membership year ends the last day of February.
- In 2016. AAdvantage elite membership is only for EQM elite qualifying miles or EQS elite qualifying segments.
- No changes to current qualification levels of Gold 25,000 EQM or 30 EQS; Platinum 50,000 EQM or 60 EQS; Executive Platinum 100,000 EQM or 120 EQS.
Starting March 1, 2016:
- Gold and Platinum members will earn four 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 EQMs earned during the membership year
- The price of 500-mile upgrades will increase to $40, online, at the airport and from an American Airlines agent
- The price for purchasing 500-mile upgrades with miles will increase to 40,000 miles for 8 upgrades
- Executive Platinum systemwide upgrades – ExPlat members receive 4 systemwide upgrades beginning with 2016 membership year. Earn 2 more SWU certificates at 150,000 EQM and 2 more with 200,000 EQM. Members who earn Executive Platinum status by December 31, 2015 earn 8 SWUs this year.
3. Award Chart Changes effective March 22, 2016
You will want to book tickets for 2016 travel before March 22, 2016 for places increasing in price. This is a more pressing issue for Business and First Class award tickets. Increases for First Class awards are 25% to 69%. Economy class has far fewer changes, which I have detailed in this post.
You can book award travel using AAdvantage miles at the current award chart level through March 21, 2016 for travel as far out as the schedule allows. New award miles prices take effect March 22, 2016.
Current USA AAdvantage Award Chart Economy Class
March 22, 2016 AAdvantage Award Chart Economy Class for USA flights
Economy Class Increase for MileSAAver Off Peak one-way award tickets:
- USA – Hawaii MileSAAver Off Peak 20,000 miles, up from 17,500 miles.
- USA – South America Region 1 MileSAAver Off Peak 17,500 miles, up from 15,000 miles.
- USA – South America Region 2 MileSAAver Off Peak eliminated. this change means off peak tickets at 40,000 miles round trip are now 60,000 miles, a 50% increase to cities like Rio, Buenos Aires and Santiago.
- USA – Europe MileSAAver Off Peak 22,500 miles, up from 20,000 miles, 12.5% increase.
- USA – Asia Region 1 MileSAAver Off Peak 32,500 miles, up from 25,000 miles, 30% increase. This higher off-peak level is the current MileSAAver level, which increases to 35,000 miles in 2016.
- NEW Award: Asia Region 2 MileSAAver Off Peak 32,500 miles is a new award and a lower cost than the current 35,000 miles award.
- One of the major changes for MileSAAver Off-Peak awards is a reduction in the season for USA-Europe Off Peak awards from the current October 15 to May 15 season to Europe: January 10 – March 14, November 1 – December 14 beginning March 22, 2016.
Economy Class Decrease for MileSAAver Off Peak one-way award ticket:
- USA – Caribbean, Mexico, Central America MileSAAver Off Peak 12,500 miles, down from 15,000 miles.
MileSAAver Off Peak Dates as of March 22, 2016
To Hawaii: December 29 – March 12, August 11 – November 18, November 24 – December 10
From Hawaii: January 7 – March 19, August 18 – November 27, December 3 – December 25
- Caribbean, Mexico and Central America: September 7 – November 14, April 27 – May 20
- Europe: January 10 – March 14, November 1 – December 14
- Asia Region 1 (Japan):
To Japan: January 1 – April 30, July 1 – November 30
From Japan: January 16 – April 19, May 2 – 31, September 1 – December 31
- Asia Region 1 (Korea):
To Korea: January 1 – April 30, July 1 – November 30
From Korea: January 16 – May 31, September 1 – December 31
- Asia Region 2 (China & Hong Kong):
To China/Hong Kong: January 1 – April 30, July 1 – September 30, October 11 – November 30
From China/Hong Kong: February 1 – May 31, September 1 – 19, October 2 – December 31
- South America 1: January 16 – June 14, September 7 – November 14
Economy Class Increase for MileSAAver one-way award tickets:
- Alaska & Canada at 15,000 miles, up from 12,500 miles, 20% increase.
- Asia Region 1 at 35,000 miles and South Pacific 40,000 miles are increases of 2,500 miles on the current award chart.
- No other increases at economy class MileSAAver level. There are few changes to AAnytime 1 level. Europe and Asia Region 1 are 2,500 miles higher. No changes to economy class AAnytime 2 level.
- Caribbean: includes Bermuda and The Bahamas
- South America Region 1: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Manaus (Brazil)
- South America Region 2: Argentina, Brazil (excluding Manaus), Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela
- Asia Region 1: Japan, Korea
- Asia Region 2: China, Hong Kong
New Lower Price USA 48 award 7,500 miles for flights 500 miles or less
A new award level for the US 48 offers flights 500 miles or less for 7,500 AAdvantage miles at MileSAAver award; 20,000 miles for AAnytime 1 and 30,000 miles for AAnytime2 awards.
Credit Card Earners take a big hit Business and First Awards
There are increases to many awards with greatest miles increases for Business Class and First Class award tickets. You will likely want to redeem AAdvantage miles for award tickets before March 22, 2016 if you desire Business or First Class award tickets. Award ticket prices increase 25% to 69% for First Class in 2016.
Revenue Based Redeemable Miles
One of the worst confirmed changes is AAdvantage will go revenue based for redeemable miles earned, like Delta and United frequent flyer programs, where redeemable miles earned for a ticket are based on ticket price. The main thing to know is this change will occur in the last half of 2016. This is a major disadvantage to the U.S. casual flyer and the budget frequent flyer who will earn far fewer miles on airline tickets in the new system.
AAdvantage Elite Status in 2016
Elite qualification thresholds are unchanged in 2016.
Earn Gold at 25,000 EQM elite qualifying miles or 30 elite qualifying flight segments. Platinum at 50,000 EQM and Executive Platinum at 100,000 EQM.
Economy class flyers can still reach elite levels with AAdvantage on elite qualifying miles at relatively low cost. Two long-haul international flights earn AAdvantage Gold with 25,000 EQM.
The remaining AAdvantage competitive edge is no annual spend requirement to hold elite status for U.S. residents. Even discount economy American Airlines operated flights and AA codeshare flights on partner airlines will still earn 1 elite mile per flight mile in 2016. U.S. members will continue to be able to earn elite status on low cost airline tickets with AAdvantage frequent flyer program.
Delta and United require a spend component over $10,000 in tickets annually to hold high level elite status. Flying 100,000 miles for AAdvantage Executive Platinum status can still be achieved with less than $4,000 in low-cost, long-haul airline tickets in 2016 for elite status through January 2018.
The biggest change is reduced partner earning for Oneworld Alliance airline flights with many airlines dropping to low percentages of 25% to 50% for redeemable and elite earning miles on discount economy tickets. AAdvantage elite members will need to focus on AA operated flights and AA codeshare flights to continue earning 100% elite qualifying miles on partner flights with low cost discount economy tickets.
More on those changes to come on Loyalty Traveler.
Loyalty Traveler – AAdvantage 2016 Changes to Off-Peak Seasons for discount economy awards (Nov 18, 2015).
Loyalty Traveler – AAdvantage 2016 Business and First Class American Airlines Award Chart changes (Nov 18, 2015).