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What's ahead for the 2016 AAdvantage Program

Posted on December 11, 2015 by

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American Airlines has introduced changes to their AAdvantage Program for 2016, affecting the way fliers earn award miles and elite status. The changes should go into effect sometime during the second half of 2016.

Earning awards miles

The most notable change to the program is its shift to a revenue-based earning system. Award miles will be earned based on the amount of money paid for an airline ticket and a member’s elite status level. Similar to programs from Delta and United, members will receive a certain amount of miles for every dollar spent depending on their elite status.

A breakdown of the amount of miles earned per US dollar spent:

  • 5 miles/dollar – All AAdvantage members
  • 7 miles/dollar – Gold
  • 8 miles/dollar – Platinum
  • 11 miles/dollar – Executive Platinum

Redeeming miles

Beginning March 2016, several award redemption levels will be reduced by as much as 40 percent and members will be able to book award travel on any day throughout the year without blackout dates.

For tickets booked on or after March 22, award redemption levels will change and vary depending on the date and region. Redemption levels for Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America will be reduced, while other routes such as Europe and Asia will increase due to market pricing and demand changes. New MileSAAver awards will also be introduced for as low as 7,500 miles one way for flights 500 miles or less.

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

Elite status qualification

Beginning January 2016, two thresholds will determine qualification for an elite status – Elite Qualifying Miles (EQP) and Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS). Elite qualifying points will be discontinued. More EQMs can be earned by purchasing higher fares, while ESQs can still be awarded for eligible flight segments flown.

EQMs and EQSs will continue to be earned for eligible travel on American Airlines, oneworld airlines, Alaska Airlines and American-marketed codeshare flights. Travelers will continue to earn EQMs based on the airline and booking class purchased. American-marketed flights will earn EQMs at a higher rate.

On American-marketed flights:

  • 3 EQMs/mile – Full-fare First or Business
  • 2 EQMs/mile - Discount First or Business
  • 1.5 EQMs/mile – Full-fare Main Cabin
  • 1 EQM/mile - Discount Main Cabin

Earning award miles for travel on most flights marketed by partner airlines will be based on a percentage of the flight distance and the fare class purchased.  More details on partner airlines will be revealed next year.

Upgrade programs

AAdvantage elite members will receive auto-requested upgrades on domestic flights 500 miles or less, with Executive Platinum members receive upgrades on all domestic flights regardless of flight length.

With the higher EQM earn rates in 2016, Gold and Platinum members will earn four 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 EQMs earned during membership.

Executive Platinum members will receive four upgrades upon qualification for the 2017 membership year, with opportunities to earn up to four more based on flight activity.