Tuesday, November 17, 2015

American AAdvantage changes coming in 2016 - Most of it isn't good news and its worse for Canadians than our US counterparts

 To say this wasn't expected would be a lie. For the past two weeks their have been inklings on many blogs and forums due to leaked info that the American AAdvantage program would be changing in 2016. We now have confirmation from American Airlines themselves that the AAdvantage program will change. Even before the rumours started flying earlier this month many experts including ourselves were just waiting for them to change. I mean why wouldn't they? Their main competitors, United and Delta, already had done so but American had their hands full with the integration of US Airways. Now that US Airways is no more and AA doesn't have worry about that it was time to focus on the frequent flyer program.
"American Airlines is taking the first step in the evolution of its award-winning AAdvantage® loyalty program. In the second half of 2016, the program will shift how customers earn award miles from distance flown to dollars spent. Award redemption rates will be adjusted with some award levels increasing, while others will be decreasing. Additionally, American will offer the best elite-qualifying mile multipliers in the industry and simplify the elite qualification process to better reward customers."
The first thing you read in the press release is the move to a revenue based program in terms of earning, just like United and Delta.


Earning will be as follows:
AAdvantage members will receive five miles for every U.S. dollar spent on the base fare and carrier-imposed fees. Gold members will receive seven miles, Platinum members will receive eight and Executive Platinum members will receive 11 miles per dollar spent.
AAdvantage Member Level
AAdvantage Member
Executive Platinum
Miles / USD
Example Calculation Future*
Example Calculation Current**

These earning changes will take place later in 2016 and really only rewards the really high spenders. Most flyers as has been experienced by those flying Delta or United will earn less miles on a whole when moving to a revenue based program.

The good news is that AAdvantage is keeping award charts like United and unlike Delta who no longer publishes award charts as their awards are dynamically priced. The other good news is that we have four months noticed for the effective changes to AAdvantage award flights. Those changes will come to be on March 22, 2016.

Keeping with the good news they are introducing new short haul awards, 7,500 miles one way for flights under 500 miles. This is inline with the new British Airways requirement of 7,500 miles for flights under 600 miles in North America.

Now onto the  bad news for us Canucks, they are increasing the amount of miles required for travel between Canada and the U.S. over 500 miles.  The current chart has MileSAAver awards at the standard 25,000 miles round trip (12,500 one way) but on March 22 that moves to 30,000 miles or 15,000 one way for Economy Class. Business Class moves to 60,000 round trip or 30,000 one way.
Economy Class Mileage Requirements as of March 22, 2015 (each way)

Current Economy Class Mileage Requirements  (each way)
Economy Class Mileage Requirements as of March 22, 2016 (each way)

Current Economy Class Mileage Requirements (each way)
For Economy Class this is now more than Aeroplan, United and British Airways (in most cases) while in Business this now matches the Aeroplan requirement that kicks in on December 15th.

Some other major changes:
Canada to Europe moves from 50,000 miles each way in business class to 62,500!! This matches Air France KLM Flying Blue's requirement. Economy Class only sees a mild increase of 2,500 miles each way.

Canada to Asia 1 in First Class moves from 62,500 to 85,000 miles while Canada to Asia 2 jumps from 67,500 miles to 112,500 miles each way in first class!!

The move of AA to separate Canada from the typically seen US/Canada category in award charts hurts us up North here more so than those in the lower 48 whose increases are a hard pill to swallow but are less than what us Canadians will feel!

These changes are really unfortunate and see lots of AAdvantage members here in Canada making use of those under 500 mile awards now instead of hoarding points for those long haul flights.


Finally, Elite Qualifying will change slightly as AA is doing away with Elite Qualifying Points and solely relying on Elite Qualifying Miles and Segments. Here are the new earning rates

EQMs Earned On Carrier-Marketed Flights
Booking code purchased
EQM / mile American
EQM / mile
EQM / mile
Full-Fare First/Business
Discount First/Business
Full-Fare Economy
Discount Economy

and the 2016 requirements for status:

To find out more and read all about the 2016 American AAdvantage program please see here.

Even though we expected changes these are always unfortunate! I am surprised that Canada gets it worse in the new program, I don't believe there are a huge amount of AAdvantage members here that there was a need to increase rates for flights to Canada by that much. Think about it, most of AA's flights in Canada aren't very far from the U.S. border! I digress.  What are all of your thoughts on the changes?

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