AA Brings Back Elite Rewards

American Airlines announced bonuses for extra miles above and beyond achieved status levels yesterday.

The rewards themselves are compelling, although largely unachievable for most.  AA has done this for a few years now, and the last two years the rewards have been based on the number of points you earn, not miles flown.

Let’s take Executive Platinum, for example.  You need 125,000 EQPs (elite qualifying points) to earn a reward.  Most of the fares I buy earn .5 (half) EQP per mile flown.  If you buy tickets closer to full fare (for example, an extra $500+ one way from IAD to DEN for a flight I need to take in 3 weeks), then you get 1 EQP per mile flown.  And, if you buy full fare or first, you’ll generally earn 1.5 EQPs per mile flown.

So, for someone like me who flies mostly on fares that earn .5 EQPs, I’d have to fly 250,000 miles to hit the reward tier.  That’s more miles than I’ve ever flown total in any one year.  Even someone buying a mix of fares is still going to fly far in excess of 100,000 miles a year to get these rewards.  Let’s face it, that’s a pretty small part of the flying population.

That being said, the EXP rewards are VERY generous.  You can get 4 Systemwide Upgrades, 70,000 miles, or 35,000 miles and an Admirals Club membership (probably the combo I would choose).

For the lower tiers, I think it’s even harder to achieve.  If you’re a gold member, you’d normally have to fly 25,000 miles or accrue 25,000 EQPs to achieve/retain your gold status.  To achieve an elite reward, you’d need 40,000 elite qualifying points.  Unless you flew ALL full fare coach/first class on paid tickets, you’d probably end up with more than 40,000 EQMs by the time you got 40,000 EQPs.  If you got 50,000 EQMs along with your 40,000 EQPs, well, you’d qualify for Platinum and wouldn’t qualify for an elite reward.

And, if you were somewhere between 40,000 EQMs and 50,000 EQMs while accruing 40,000 elite qualifying points and DIDN’T take a mileage run to get Platinum status, I’d fly to your house and toilet paper your front yard.

While I think this looks inviting, the reality IMO is that only a very small percentage of AA’s customers will actually achieve these rewards.

About the Author

My goal in life is to fill my family’s passports with stamps, creating buckets of memories along the way. You’ll find me writing about realistic ways for normal people to travel the world, whether you’re on a budget or enjoy luxury. I also enjoy taking us on the occasional detour to explore the inner workings of the travel industry.

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