AAdvantage and Alaska Airlines Economy EQM changes January 1, 2016

A number of bloggers have stated elite ranks will swell with new 2016 AAdvantage EQM rules. Personally, I do not see that happening. Earning Executive Platinum only requires between 33,000 and 50,000 flight miles for paid domestic first and international business and first class in the new 2016 version of AAdvantage. But how many people buy their way into high elite? You have Delta and United for that strategy.

I’ll argue the elite ranks may drop due to the big cuts in AAdvantage EQMs earned for partner airline flights. One of the big three changes AAdvantage is making in 2016 is a reduction in EQMs for partner operated flights. Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and many other of the 25 airline partners will have reduced EQMs for economy flights in 2016, making it harder to reach elite levels in AAdvantage.

There are four major areas of change to AAddvantage in 2016.

  1. Business and First Class awards increase in miles cost on March 22, 2016. Some routes increase as much as 69% in First Class. Economy class changes are much smaller percentages.
  2. Redeemable Miles or RDM are frequent flyer miles redeemed for award tickets. As of January 1, 2016 RDM earned for discount economy class booking code tickets are reduced with many AAdvantage airline partners. For example, British Airways and Iberia redeemable miles drop from 100% to 50% or 25% on February 1, 2016 for discount and deep discount economy booking codes.
  3. EQMs, elite qualifying miles, are reduced to 50% for discount economy booking codes with many partner airlines. Alaska Airlines shifts five economy class booking codes. As of January 1, 2016 all discount economy class tickets drop from earning 100% EQM to only 50% EQM per flight mile.
  4. Revenue based earning for redeemable miles to be introduced in the second half of 2016.

AAdvantage and Alaska Airlines Elite Qualifying Miles in 2016

AAdvantage Alaska Miles 2016

Alaska Airlines flights continue to earn 100% RDM in 2016. The difference is discount economy booking codes earn only 50% EQM. Nearly all Alaska Airlines tickets flown will earn half EQM compared to American Airlines flights and AA codeshares for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air flights.

Qualifying for elite status in 2016 will be harder for economy class flyers, if you previously relied on partner flight EQMs for elite status in AAdvantage.

I sit back with the masses where we pay as little as possible for our economy class tickets. Most of those bloggers complaining about swelling elite flyers are lounging in front of the aircraft on miles awards. I look at the changes as an Executive Platinum member and look for ways I can adjust my flights to maximize benefits. The benefits are still there and I will be flying American and Oneworld flights throughout 2016 to test the new AAdvantage loyalty program. There is a wave of change coming to AAdvantage. I hope to surf it and not get dragged down by the wave of despair.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. Ric:
    A positive change to the Aadvantage program for 2016 is that the EQM on deeply discounted coach tickets increases from 0.5 EQM to 1.0 EQM. Although future mileage runs won’t earn the Aadvantage miles, the EQM will help advance your elite status quicker.

  2. @Steve T – AAdvantage changes encourage flying American operated flights in 2016 over most partner carriers to earn full EQM and RDM. The RDM piece will change in the latter half of 2016, but until then the earning is good. Makes me want to front load my AA flights for the first half of 2016 to rack up RDM.

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