American Airlines Makes Changes To Their New Loyalty Program Less Than A Year After Launch

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Less than a year after American Airlines launched their new loyalty program they’re tweaking the requirements to earn status as well as the benefits. This is on the heels of United Airlines finally adopting the requirements they announced in 2019 and Delta increasing their qualification requirements.  I’m not surprised to see American making changes a year in.  Okay, maybe a bit surprised.  But, I wholeheartedly agree this is the right approach.  Smart companies continue to innovate where they see opportunities.  In most cases, small tweaks are more well-received by customers than wholesale changes.

AAdvantage Program Changes

There are a handful of changes to how you earn status in the AAdvantage program as well as choice benefits, referred to as Loyalty Points Rewards.  View From The Wing broke down the details after a conversation with AA. First, let’s take a look at how earning status changes:

  • Starting in 2023, earning Gold status will require 40,000 Loyalty Points versus the current 30,000 points.  All other status level requirements remain the same.
  • AAdvantage is eliminating the need to fly a certain number of segments on American Airlines to qualify for status.

Gold status is the entry tier in the AAdvantage program.  It’s not very rewarding, you only receive complimentary upgrades or extra legroom seats if they’re available 24 hours prior to departure.  If you can earn 40,000 Loyalty Points without losing value elsewhere it might be worth it.  However, spending on American Airlines credit cards with lower bonuses for many categories probably isn’t a winning strategy.

The elimination of the segments requirement for elite status has the potential to change the landscape significantly.  On the one hand, occasional travelers who have plenty of other ways to earn Loyalty Points can rejoice in the fact that they don’t need to amass as much as 30 flight segments to earn top-tier the best benefits of Executive Platinum status.  On the other hand, the segment requirement likely would have thinned the herd of elite members considerably.  That could have increased the chances of scoring an upgrade for those that hit the required number of flights on AA.

More Choices For Loyalty Points Rewards

American Airlines hasn’t updated their website as of yet to reflect the new Loyalty Points Rewards tiers, so I grabbed screenshots of them from Gary’s detailed story:

a screenshot of a group of members

a list of credit cards

a screenshot of a white card

a screenshot of a list of a company

a screenshot of a white text

By eliminating the requirement to rack up 30 flights on American, the AAdvantage program is opening up incremental benefits to so many more customers.  Some of the smartest benefits are the earning bonuses when spending with partners.  Back when I was a huge fan of American Airlines I started every flight search on the airline’s website. Offering benefits such as this will help train customers to start their shopping with AA. Given how much money AA makes selling miles to partners this could be a true win-win.

I sincerely hope there aren’t too many travelers hitting the upper tiers here with millions of Loyalty Points. It would be hard to rack up that many Loyalty Points just from flying alone, and we already discussed that credit card earning may not be lucrative for many of the bonus categories.  In some cases the benefits are quite nice, though I’d argue that most people who earn 5 million Loyalty Points probably don’t need a mileage rebate on top of that.

The Final Two Pennies

American Airlines has paved the way for customers to earn status and valuable benefits in the AAdvantage program without having to purchase even a single American Airlines ticket.  The phiosophy isn’t necessarily new. Delta has some paths to status that involve heavy credit card spending.  However, American’s approach has lots of different ways to achieve status as well as the benefits.  If you don’t value hotel status, or only occasionally stay at chain hotels, they make it easy to book hotels through their partners and rack up the Loyalty Points.  Ditto for Uber rides, Apple computers and thousands of other items.  Oh, and you can still book a ticket on American Airlines.  They’re okay with that, too.

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