2016 AAdvantage program changes American Airlines American Airlines AAdvantage

American Airlines AAdvantage goes revenue-based August 1, 2016

The dreaded dates for AAdvantage flyers have been announced.

  1. American Airlines AAdvantage goes revenue-based for earning redeemable AAdvantage miles August 1, 2016.
  2. AAdvantage elite membership program requirements change to revenue-based January 1, 2017.

From August 2016 all three major global alliance airlines in the U.S.: American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines will be revenue-based for earning redeemable frequent flyer miles.

Earning AAdvantage Redeemable Miles Changes as of August 1, 2016

  • AAdvantage member – 5 miles for every U.S. dollar
  • Gold member – 7 miles for every U.S. dollar (40% bonus)
  • Platinum member – 8 miles for every U.S. dollar (60% bonus)
  • Executive Platinum member – 11 miles for every U.S. dollar (120% bonus)

Earning AAdvantage Elite Status Changes as of January 1, 2017

Starting January 1, 2017, we’ll add Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) to our earning requirements. Qualify in 1 of 2 ways:

  • Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) + Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs)
  • Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) + Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs)

EQDs will be awarded based on:

  • Ticket price (base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, excluding any government-imposed taxes and fees) on American-marketed flights
  • Flights marketed by oneworld® carriers and Alaska Airlines will earn EQDs based on a percentage of the flight distance and the fare class purchased

With the addition of EQDs, we’ll remove the rule that 4 segments must be traveled on American or American Eagle during the qualifying year to receive elite status.

Effective January 2017, an annual airline ticket spend requirement must be met to attain elite status in AAdvantage.

AAdvantage Gold / Oneworld Ruby

  • 25,000 EQM (most Oneworld partner flights earn 50% EQM, unless AA codeshare flight).
  • $3,000 PQD (airline ticket taxes do not count).

AAdvantage Platinum / Oneworld Sapphire

  • 50,000 EQM (most Oneworld partner flights earn 50% EQM, unless AA codeshare
  • $6,000 PQD (airline ticket taxes do not count).

AAdvantage Platinum Pro / Oneworld Sapphire (2017 new elite level for AAdvantage)

  • 75,000 EQM (most Oneworld partner flights earn 50% EQM, unless AA codeshare
  • $9,000 PQD (airline ticket taxes do not count).

AAdvantage Executive Platinum / Oneworld Emerald

    • 100,000 EQM (most Oneworld partner flights earn 50% EQM, unless AA codeshare
    • $12,000 PQD (airline ticket taxes do not count).

AAdvantage Elite Status 1-1-17 rules

Elite members still earn minimum 500 EQM per flight segment. Minimum segment miles for redeemable miles are eliminated. Flight miles will no longer play a role in AAdvantage, except for partner airline coded flights. This rule change will reduce redeemable miles for short flights on partner airline tickets.

Bye-Bye AAdvantage Executive Platinum for yours truly, a regular $400 Europe-SFO round trip ticket flyer, who flies the miles without spending anywhere near the dollars needed to earn AAdvantage program for flights in 2017. I am currently ticketed to fly 75,000 EQM in 2016. I should have one more year of Platinum elite, but no way am I likely to spend even $3,000 on AA/Oneworld tickets in 2017 to earn lowly AAdvantage 25,000 EQM Gold elite.

I picked up AAdvantage Executive Platinum for 2016 last September with three round trip flights between California and Scandinavia for under $1,600 through an AAdvantage elite fast-track offer at 30,000 EQM. During 2016 I purchased four American Airlines/Oneworld airline round trip tickets for   Europe to California and one round trip ticket from San Francisco to New Zealand via Australia. Along with a flight to Florida, I have spent about $2,200 for more than 50,000 EQM. Probably 30% of those ticket prices were taxes, ineligible for earning redeemable miles in the new AAdvantage.

I’ll likely finish 2016 with 75,000 EQM and less than $1,600 in AAdvantage PQD.

I’ll be seeking a new frequent flyer program that is not revenue based to credit my flights in 2017. The charts for partner airline redeemable miles earned with Oneworld airline tickets and other airline partners will still be based on flight distance and fare class.

A new AAdvantage chart for airline partners is promised by July 15, 2017.

Seems odd to me that a new chart is announced after all the partner airline charts were redone in January and February. Are we going to see more restrictions on eligible fare classes and will there be more changes to EQM. Below I’ll show you why there may be further limitations to AAdvantage partner flights.

Two American Airlines / Oneworld Alliance ticketing options Stockholm to San Francisco in November.

Currently FinnAir still earns 100% flight miles on discount economy fare classes. With $500 round trip tickets available through FinnAir for Scandinavia to California, that would still be about 26,000 redeemable AAdvantage miles for any member. Compare that compared to 3,800 redeemable miles for an AAvantage Executive Platinum member on the same itinerary and price purchased as an American Airlines ticket.

American Airlines ticket Stockholm, Sweden ARN – San Francisco SFO

$484.26  Nov 7-14 (taxes are $137.66, so redeemable miles earned on $346.60 base ticket price).

Redeemable miles earned for American Airlines $484 Stockholm to San Francisco round trip ticket:

  • AAdvantage Gold = 1,733 redeemable miles.
  • AAdvantage Platinum = 2,426 redeemable miles.
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro = 2,772 redeemable miles.
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum = 3,812 redeemable miles.

ARN-SFO $484 AA Nov7-14

ARN-LHR-SFO-JFK-HEL-ARN = 13,320 flight miles = 13,320 AAdvantage EQM.

This same itinerary flown this week earns 13,320 EQM and 13,320 redeemable miles. As an executive Platinum member I’d get over 26,000 redeemable miles with AAdvantage. In 2017 I could fly this route 8 times at this fare and have over 100,000 EQM in AAdvantage, however, my revenue spend would only be $2,772 and not even qualify for lowly AAdvantage Gold elite.

FinnAir ticket Stockholm ARN to San Francisco SFO

$462.55 USD (3,759 SEK) Nov 7-14, 2016 (four flight itinerary with 3 FinnAir marketed flights and one British Airways marketed flight).

FinnAir Economy Booking Class: O

ARN-SFO $472 FinnAir Nov7-14

*This FinnAir/BA four segment itinerary has different flights from AA 5-segment ticket shown above, but same general concept applies for redeemable miles earned between two similarly priced tickets.

FinnAir economy O class earns 100% flight miles as AAdvantage redeemable miles and 50% EQM, based on today’s AAdvantage rules.

Since flights in 2017 require a PQD component to earn elite status, budget flyers like me are incentivized to buy my airline tickets with FinnAir rather than American Airlines and earn far more redeemable miles in AAdvantage for the same low priced round trip route.

ARN-LHR-SFO-LHR = 11,645 flight miles. The final flight segment is British Airways coded flight in Economy O and only earns 25% flight miles (227 RDM).

11,800 redeemable AAdvantage miles on a lower priced Finnair ticket, even for someone with no elite status beats the miles earned in AAdvantage for Executive Platinum members.

    • All AAdvantage members = 11,800 redeemable miles (FinnAir $462 ticket with $346.60 base fare Stockholm ARN-SFO San Francisco round trip.)

  • AAdvantage base member = 1,733 redeemable miles (AA $484 ticket Stockholm ARN-SFO San Francisco round trip.)
  • AAdvantage Gold = 2,426 redeemable miles. (AA $484 ticket Stockholm ARN-SFO San Francisco round trip.)
  • AAdvantage Platinum = 2,772 redeemable miles. (AA $484 ticket Stockholm ARN-SFO San Francisco round trip.)
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum = 3,812 redeemable miles. (AA $484 ticket Stockholm ARN-SFO San Francisco round trip.)

Final Initial Thoughts on AAdvantage revenue-based program changes

In the decade since the global financial recession shook up the airline industry in the USA with consolidation of six airlines: American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways shrinking to American, Delta and United, we saw the launch of low cost airlines like Norwegian and WOW with low frequent flyer benefits move into US airports as international carriers gaining traffic share for Europe. China-based airlines led by China Southern and China Eastern, SkyTeam Alliance members, and Hainan, regularly offer the lowest fares to Asia, beating AA, DL and UA fares by several hundred dollars. Aeroflot and Aer Lingus offer all kinds of bargains from USA to Europe. Middle Eastern carriers like Etihad, Emirates, Qatar and Turkish are picking up traffic with worldwide routes at bargain fares from the USA.

The traditional frequent flyer programs of American AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles and United Mileage Plus have been coopted by the banks since the financial recession of 2008. These airlines no longer need to lure flyers with airline miles and airport benefits. Low buying frequent flyers like me have been spurned. Only the highest spending business travelers are catered to in the new USA world order for frequent flyers.

I see the banks as the winners of this fallout. No doubt, credit card spend for Americans is the primary way to earn redeemable frequent flyer miles now with legacy carriers American, Delta and United.

Good thing we have low cost carriers for low fares and international airlines still operating on flight miles for some non-revenue based benefits for flyers who are not big spenders.

I’ll cover AAdvantage upgrade changes in a separate post.

You can see a summary of changes with FAQ on American Airlines’ website.

FlyerTalk has a rapidly growing thread started today on AAdvantage changes, at 11 pages in less than 3 hours.


  • Jason June 6, 2016

    You mention you will earn 75k EQMs this year. Unfortunately this would only qualify for Platinum status, as the Platinum Pro status isn’t in effect until 2017. From the FAQs:

    “If I reach 75,000 EQMs or 90 EQS during 2016, will I qualify for Platinum Pro in 2017?

    No, qualification for Platinum Pro does not begin until January 1, 2017 and requires meeting the minimum EQD threshold in addition to the EQM or EQS threshold.”

    So it might be worth it to either stretch for EXP or stop at 50k for Platinum.

  • Ric Garrido June 6, 2016

    Obviously you are correct. I deleted that sentence.

    I won’t go for AAdvantage Executive Platinum with 100K in 2016. There will have to be some incredible deal, like $225 to New Zealand again, to get me to 100K in 2016.

  • Dan June 6, 2016

    You going to look into Alaska and get a status match?

  • Ric Garrido June 6, 2016

    Alaska makes a lot of sense for me in Monterey since American gave their route to LAX to AS. That is my most frequent flight.

    I was top tier AS Mileage Plan in 2003-04 and enjoyed that status. They used to upgrade my family members from economy to First on award tickets I booked for them.

  • Coffey77 June 6, 2016

    AS is awesome. I am Gold 75K. They treat their members very well and have top phone service as well.

    Now that the playing field is almost even, it’s time for DL to put on the wife beater and lower the bar again.

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