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Big changes from American Airlines today in regards to their AAdvantage frequent flyer program. The changes revolve around earning elite status and AA has gone away from the model most airlines have adopted over the past decade or so. Gone are elite qualifying miles, elite qualifying segments and elite qualifying dollars, to be replaced by Loyalty Points. One simple elite qualifier, Loyalty Points are earned on a one to one basis for most AAdvantage miles earned by a member through flying, credit card spend and earning with partners.

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This is big shift away from the model most airlines are using right now where you have to have flights or segments plus qualifying spend. Now you can earn status without even flying one flight on AA or their partners – you can earn it through credit card spend or partner earning. This is something similar Air Canada’s Aeroplan did earlier this year however they capped the non flying elites at their lowest elite level – to achieve anything higher you do have to fly with Air Canada. Not so with American AAdvantage. When you earn an eligible AAdvantage mile through flying, credit card spend, partner earning you’ll earn 1 Loyalty Points for that mile. Most mileage earning activity appears to be eligible including elite status bonuses when flying. It is easiest to show which miles earned DO NOT count towards Loyalty Points and those are:

  • Bonus miles earned from special promotions
  • Miles from Buy, Gift, Transfer transactions
  • Government taxes, fees, and other charges associated with buying a ticket do not count toward earning AAdvantage® miles and do not count toward earning Loyalty Points
  • Conversion of another program currency to AAdvantage® miles
  • For AAdvantage® credit cards, “accelerators” or “multipliers” such as: extra miles for purchases in specific categories, with specific merchants (such as American Airlines purchases) or purchases made abroad
  • AAdvantage® credit cards new account or welcome bonuses, spend bonuses, etc.

So while elite bonuses count, other bonuses do not such as the current bonus miles offers for Hyatt stays, this is assuming hotel stay base miles will be eligible. Right now AA has only confirmed AA dining and shopping as eligible but they do state ‘travel’ so hotels and car rentals should count as well. And it’s pretty obvious that buy miles offers, hotel and credit card transfers and credit card sign up bonuses don’t count as well, that would be too easy! They don’t even count accelerated earn rates on AAdvantage cards so those I assume you’ll get one Loyalty point per dollar spent in those categories.

When flying with American Airlines you’ll continue to earn 5 miles per dollar spent and here are the elite bonuses that will be earned when flying American Airlines or on eligible partner airlines:

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The next question is how many loyalty points do you have to earn to reach a status level? It’s as follows:

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  • AAdvantage Gold: 30,000 Loyalty Points
  • AAdvantage Platinum 75,000 Loyalty Points
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro: 125,000 Loyalty Points
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum: 200,000 Loyalty Points

If you can spend $30,000 a year on your credit card you get AAdvantage Gold status – it’s that simple. And if you are big spender? Yes you can get Executive Platinum by spending $200,000 on your card in the earning year.

Now you may be asking if you can earn any level of status without flying on American Airlines what incentive is there to fly with them prior to earning status? That’s where the new Loyalty Choice Rewards come in. These are the existing Elite Choice Rewards rebranded to match the points moniker and to get these rewards you must have reached Platinum Pro status and flown a minimum of 30 segments on American Airlines, oneworld and/or JetBlue. Those Loyalty Choice Rewards will remain the same as before including systemwide upgrades, bonus miles and more.

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This was very interesting direction that AA has taken with elite status qualifying. For most non-frequent flyers this should be taken as a very positive development in that any status level can be achieved in the program without having to meet EQM, or EQS plus EQD requirements. For the AAdvantage frequent flyer these changes are still up in the air as to whether they are an improvement or not for them. Early calculations show you may have to spend more than you currently do to earn status and you have to hit that 30 segment rule to get your Loyalty Choice Rewards.

Click here to learn more about the AAdvantage Elite Status qualification system.

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