American AAdvantage Increasing Revenue Requirements, Changing Mileage Earning For 2019

Filed Under: American, American AAdvantage

American has just announced some significant changes to the AAdvantage program, which kick in as of January 1, 2019. To start, let me note that there are no changes to the AAdvantage award chart for now (I don’t know if any changes are coming or not, but I feel that’s worth pointing out right away, before those with an AAdvantage mileage balance panic).

American says that they are making these changes because they “want to create a program that gives our customers a world-class experience, provides them with value, rewards they want and continues to keep them engaged” (I think I’ll just leave that here without comment).

So, what changes would we expect in 2019?

Increased Executive Platinum revenue requirements

Starting in 2019, American AAdvantage will be raising the revenue requirement for Executive Platinum from 12,000 elite qualifying dollars to 15,000 elite qualifying dollars. This is in addition to the requirement for 100,000 elite qualifying miles or 120 elite qualifying segments.

Currently American requires 12,000 elite qualifying dollars, so this represents a 25% increase in the revenue requirement.

It’s one thing if this were the extent of the changes, but let’s keep in mind that American recently announced that you’ll be able to earn fewer elite qualifying dollars for spend on Barclays credit cards:

  • You’ll no longer be able to earn any EQDs for spend on the Aviator Red or Aviator Blue Cards
  • AAdvantage Aviator Silver Cardmembers will be eligible to earn only a total of 3,000 EQDs after spending $50,000 on purchases per calendar year (previously they could earn 3,000 EQDs for spending $25,000, and a total of 6,000 EQDs for spending a total of $50,000)

So previously you could earn 6,000 EQDs by spending $50,000 on the AAdvantage Aviator Silver, which got you halfway to the Executive Platinum revenue requirement.

Now you can earn 3,000 EQDs for spending that amount, meaning you still have to earn 12,000 EQDs, which is double as much as before. Ouch.

There are no changes to the revenue requirements for Gold, Platinum, or Platinum Pro.

New Executive Platinum threshold bonuses

For those poor souls who earn significantly more than 100,000 elite qualifying miles per year (my condolences), American is introducing new rewards options at the thresholds of 150,000, 200,000, and 250,000 elite qualifying miles. Currently you receive two extra systemwide upgrades at each of those thresholds, while now you’ll be able to choose:

  • Two systemwide upgrades, 40,000 bonus miles, or the ability to gift Gold status at the 150,000 EQM level
  • Two systemwide upgrades, 40,000 bonus miles, or the ability to gift Platinum status at the 200,000 and 250,000 EQM level

Mileage earning changes on partner airlines

AAdvantage is increasing how many elite qualifying miles you earn when flying one of their transatlantic or transpacific joint venture partners, which includes British Airways, Iberia, Finnair, and Japan Airlines.

This is a logical enough move, since these joint venture airlines share revenue, so they want to create as much metal neutrality as possible (meaning that you fly whichever airline has the best route/schedule, rather than wanting to stick to one airline).

With these changes, mileage earning on these partners will be aligned with mileage earning on American.

Here’s the new mileage earning chart for travel on British Airways:

And for travel on Finnair:

And for travel on Iberia:

And for travel on Japan Airlines:

Mileage earning changes on American

American will be reducing how many elite qualifying miles you earn for travel on full fare economy tickets, which includes tickets booked in the “Y” fare class. You’ll go from earning 1.5 EQMs per dollar spent to earning just one EQM per dollar spent.

Here’s the new mileage earning chart for travel on American:

Changes to mileage accrual on special fares

American is making some changes to how many miles you earn for travel on American on select booking codes on special fare tickets. This includes bulk and consolidator tickets, and cases where ticket and fare details are unavailable.

In some cases mileage earning will increase, while in other cases mileage earning will decrease:

  • For example, the class of service bonus for special fares in first class and full fare business class will increase from 50% to 100% per mile flown, and EQDs for those fares will go up from 30% to 40%
  • Award miles earned on special fares booked in Q, O, and B will decrease from 50% to 25% per flown mile, and EQDs for those fares will decrease from 10% to 5%

Here’s the new chart for mileage earning on special fares:

As a point of comparison, here’s the current chart:

These changes could have been worse

I find these changes to be ridiculous (more on that below), but I do think it’s worth acknowledging that these changes could have been worse. American isn’t making any negative changes to Gold, Platinum, or Platinum Pro status.

They’re also not worsening the award chart, and they’re also not restricting the systemwide upgrades that Executive Platinum members get to being valid for only a one cabin upgrade (from economy to premium economy, or premium economy to business). While I feel like it’s inevitable that systemwide upgrades will eventually be devalued, I think they’re probably waiting for United to “catch up” with installing premium economy, so all the airlines can make changes at the same time.

So I don’t want to give them too much credit for not being worse, but I also wouldn’t have put it past American to make even worse changes.


This is what blows my mind. American really doesn’t seem to get it. This includes the airline on the whole, and AAdvantage.

American’s employees aren’t happy, American’s customers aren’t happy, and American’s shareholders aren’t happy. Doug Parker & Co. seem to think that if they just keep making cuts, everyone will be happy. What could be more logical?

There’s only so often I can say the same thing — American thinks the road to success is just to follow Delta’s cuts while being seemingly incapable of learning from Delta’s competitive advantages.

Delta gets that customers like to be treated like humans. Delta gets that customers want TVs at seats. Delta gets that the passenger experience goes beyond a spreadsheet. The list goes on and on.

It’s funny, because as I was writing this post, Andrew texted me the following about his flight in Delta Comfort+ (that’s just their extra legroom economy section):

I don’t remember the last time I was treated like that on American, ever, anywhere, in any cabin!

American just doesn’t get it. Despite failing on all fronts at the moment, American is continuing the race to the bottom.

This is just an extension of that. American expects more from their customers (more money) while they’re putting less into the experience. It’s greedy and it has backfired, but that doesn’t stop them.

Soon enough this airline will have a rude awakening, though I fear that won’t happen with Doug Parker at the helm.

Bottom line

These changes from American are a mixed bag. It’s mostly bad news for Executive Platinum members, while I’d say the other changes are mostly a wash. For Executive Platinums it’s one thing if they just increased the revenue requirement by 25%, but they’re doing this at the same time that they’re also reducing how many EQDs you can earn with credit card spend, which is a bad combo.

The one thing I’m looking forward to is improved elite qualifying mileage earning for travel on British Airways and some other airlines, which is a positive development.

What do you make of these changes to AAdvantage?

  1. This takes place in 2019 for 2020 status, correct?

    Sounds like next year will definitely be my last as an ExecPlat for the foreseeable future.

  2. It’s like you say, AA just doesn’t get it. Platinum Pro level and the benefits just don’t outweigh the negative experiences. Unfortunately I am in Charlotte so my weekly flight selections are limited.

  3. While Delta is nice and the experience is good, they simply do not fly where I need to fly nor when I need to fly with nonstop schedules that make sense. I live in DC, and AA and UA have convenient schedules nonstop to the places I need to go. It’s as simple as that. Maybe if I lived in a city where Delta was a more viable option I’d consider them. But even then….
    For mileage redemptions, there’s nothing comparable. I need a one way ticket from Tel Aviv back to DC next summer. AA has a ton of saver availability for business class on partner airlines (yes, some on BA with the punishing surcharges, but also some on Iberia and some on Royal Jordanian) – multiple options at 70k miles. UA has a ton of saver availability at 85K for business class on partner airlines. Delta? 360K for business class one way, no availability on partner airlines, and 130K for economy. No thanks.
    Delta runs a great operation, but they just dont fit what I need on many levels. and I’m not going out of my way to connect anywhere just for a somewhat nicer experience.

  4. And yet you continue to stay with them, so these words are hollow unless you make a point to take your business elsewhere.

  5. That’s it for me. I’ll earn EP this year, but then I’m getting off the hamster wheel. Time to burn my 1\2 million AA miles and head to Delta which is at least trying in my hub of JFK. #ByeClumps

  6. I think Executive Platinums that don’t qualify on cheap fares will appreciate this quite a bit. I’d be able to meet this new revenue requirement and I can barely qualify as Platinum each year on EQMs.

    I find elite status odd in general, long haul low fare passengers have long been preferred over short haul high fare passengers. This makes no sense. These revenue requirements have eliminated some of the lowest value long haul passengers but haven’t really done much to elevate what must be the most profitable customers.

    I completely agree with your take on American, they’re terrible, just not sure this is a valid complaint. I want to switch to Delta myself, i’m not sure they’re feasible for me out of Austin. I’m hoping they will be with the new gates opening soon, but I assume it will take some time to fill out their schedule.

  7. I feel bad for any flyers at American’s monopoly hub airports – those folks likely don’t have much of a choice. If they’re the only airline that serves your airport with lots of direct flights you essentially are stuck with them even as they continue to create a worse customer experience.

    If I lived in NYC or somewhere else with Delta options they’d likely be my go to. Since I’m in Chicago (with the choice between United and American), the choice to stick with United is pretty obvious given how awful my handful of American experiences have been in recent years. United is no gem but on operational issues (informing you of delays, push notifications when boarding commences, easy same-day flight change in app, etc.) they at least roughly match Delta. This matters for my weekly domestic travel and their app is far better than American’s in functionality IMO. For international travel, I hate United’s business class but the Polaris lounge has been a huge improvement on TATL flights where I can just head to bed immediately.

  8. OK so basically it went from getting $6,000 EQDs waived of the $12,000 requirement; now I can have $3,000 waived from the $15,000 requirement. Essentially it is as if there is no waiver at all for the original amount.

    I’ve accumulated a lot of miles with AA through flying and their credit cards; this is the nail in the coffin for me. I’m going to burn all my miles (probably on Qatar flights) and get out of this game. It’s just not worth it anymore.

  9. I was going to buy a mileage-run ticket to Asia just to put me over the line for 2019 EXP. Now I’m seriously reconsidering that. At this point I will be Platinum Pro in 2019, and with these changes to the EXP qualification requirements for 2020 it’s getting to the point where it’s just not worth it.

    Thanks American…

  10. You go on about how American don’t treat their customers well etc. Yet you still chase status with them… so really, American probably is doing something right if they continue to have people chase them for status. Even if it is a crap airline

  11. As long as folks keep paying to fly American and puttting up with whatever punishment the Parker Regime comes up with they will continue down their path of destruction
    They enjoy shooting at fish in a barrel
    Thankfully I cut my ties two years ago and never looked back
    Loving life AA free awesome
    Glad I had 20 great years Parker Free very grateful

  12. I keep trying to leave AA for DL but 360,000 miles for a one way award redemption in Business Class on Delta is beyond ridiculous and basically a non-award, award program. If AA devalues their award chart to align with DL then I will be putting all my spend on cash back cards and will become a free agent. In the meantime, I’m still flying AA, warts and all but I’m not happy.

  13. this doesn’t really bother me. im at $19k EQDs so far on the year. Really the only people that would be upset by this are the ones who can barely make status by spending. The less EPs fighting me for upgrades the better. The last LAX-DFW flight i took, there were at least 30 people in group 2. insane. As far as i see it, if everyone is elite, nobody is elite.

    And you think these requirements are insane, look at the corresponding requirements to earn Emerald on BA Gold or QF Platinum One. And its not like those tiers offer free upgrades.

  14. Meanwhile AA still earns ZERO miles on Cathay discounted economy

    This is why I stay away from them and credit all my Cathay economy flights to AS

  15. @RKC – thank you thank you thank you. Just grabbed an award on EK126 since they haven’t pulled the award space yet.

  16. Lucky,

    I know you frequently look down upon AA and the types of changes they are choosing to make. Yet, as others have pointed out, you don’t actually change your own habits. You know that AA pays attention to your blog as they have even included some of it into their own presentations. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are using you as more of a gauge to determine when they have gone too far. Each incremental cut doesn’t seem to significantly change what your own habits, so they have nothing to fear. They know they have you prisoner.

    I’m not saying for you to be a sacrificial lamb to help out other AA elites (I’m not one), but I don’t think they will “get it” until one of their big impact customers walks away. And yes I consider you to be a big impact customer frankly because they have a known history of following your adventures.

  17. I can understand if you are in a fortress hub that it’s difficult to not book American. But otherwise, I find American to be incredibly unreliable — especially in IRROP situations. They blame stuff on the weather when other airlines (like UA, Spirit, Delta) are flying.

    Most of my purchases these days are international business/domestic first so that’s money that American just won’t see.

    And can you please stop writing “it could have been worse” in your blog posts every time there is a devaluation. That’s not helpful and makes you sound like an apologist. Better to say: “once again an airline guts its frequent flyer program and surprises no one.”

    As for American: don’t think we have seen anything yet in terms of their drop in market share. If there is a downturn I predict this airline will be in the largest world of hurt of any of the major carriers and will very quickly try to find ways to improve their program again. It’s going to take a lot of improvements to get me on there plans (unless there is no one else flying that route).

  18. @ Lucky , why won’t you leave AA? I know you’ve discussed your dilemma, but I can’t understand your hesitancy any more. All the reasons that caused you to stay in the past have disappeared.

    FF Program: see the above article
    Service: Delta
    Reliability: Delta
    In-seat Power: Delta
    On-board Entertainment: Delta
    On-board Product: Delta is improving while AA is making theirs worse

    Even just looking at your articles over the past month, you’ve consistently been bashing AA. It seems like you’re in a bad relationship that you just can’t quit at this point. Unless you’re hub captive (which you’re not), there’s really no reasons left to stick with AA. There’s no way the Oneworld Emerald benefits are worth all those butt-in-seat miles on AA, right?

  19. To clarify… EQM and EQD you get are the standard for AA if you fly on a AA marketed flight but fulfilled by another airline (BA, LATAM, etc…) Right?

  20. I probably need some time to digest it more, but it’s interesting in that these changes seem to be designed for someone like me – a corporate Traveller for a fairly large MNC.

    With business class travel rules for most international travel – I am more than double the revenue requirement for the year, so $12k to $15k not an issue. Again I’m earning through BIS so changes to CC not an issue. I’m happy about the higher earning on OW partners because that’s where most of my flying is and you can’t always get an AA code share or it can be pricier and break typical “lowest logical” rules.

    Finally I spend most of my time between major financial centers so in the US it’s mostly transcon or globally where AA “isn’t awful” (which i realize isn’t a high bar). See the above comment on earning more EQMs in partners. – that’s where I spend most of my time.

    So overall, I think I’m happy with almost all these changes. I realize that I’m in the minority here in that I’m still very much an “old fashioned type of business Traveller”. But there are still a few of us left and it does feel good to think that at least for us the slippery slope seems to be somewhat more bearable! LOL

  21. World-class, huh? If that’s truly their goal, they could do so easily. Just release more than a tiny number of saver seats, resume explorer awards, remove spending requirements for elite status, promise a full year’s notice for any future devaluation, and cut down to four or less total membership levels.

  22. Even if you hit Executove Platinum. By the time next year hits the 777s are going down to 28 seats in biz class. Maybe 20 for the 787s. SWUs will be worthless. First class is getting less legroom and upgrades are getting worse. Economy Comfort sections are fairly small. So what will the real benefits be??? I just don’t see it. American sucks.

  23. It seems like they’re trying to bump ahead on the upgrade list Pros with high annual spend over EPs with low annual spend. This would help customers who typically book short hauls and don’t accrue the EQMs. What good is upgrade priority, of course, if you usually fly 319’s with 8F seats.

  24. Will this cause you to reduce the amount of flights you take with them, Lucky? I think some of the others do bring up a fair point in that you still seem to fly them quite a bit despite all of the bashing lately. Although at the same time, we don’t fully know the details of all of your domestic travel when reading this blog, so perhaps not fair to criticize you at the same time either. Rather, general question, at what point do you decide to fully take away your business (or at least most of it?) Money talks as with any business.

  25. Looks like Lucky will not be in AA First Class as much, as you will have fewer SWU and status 🙁

    This change is good as it allows AA’s top customers better access to upgrades and to focus on its best customers.

  26. (1) Revenue today is the name of the game. $$$ = rewards. Cheapo long-haul fares = bupkus. The game has changed.

    (2) Most of these changes do not follow “Delta’s cuts” – the EQD decision more closely aligns with UA. Nobody is giving away the highest status and best perks to customers that are not paying the bills.

    (3) DL is not a viable alternative if your highest objective is free business class award tix on TATL/TPAC. DL charges a ridiculous # of skypesos for these awards. AA has repeatedly made inventory available (with no predictable pattern) for these seats – you just have to be ready to pounce when the window opens. DL is the airline you fly if (a) you are stuck in a DL hub or (b) you value service/reliability over miles.

  27. @Lucky – please do something for the stubborn victims of AA (I got out this year, so I’m good):

    Please do an article on the Pros/Cons of leaving AA and switching to Delta (NOT United).

    I’ve read all of the complaining and all of the anger at AA by their customers and these people (that have a choice to leave) still stay there.

    So please put up an article that tells them what to do. And if they continue to stay with AA and complain then they are no longer victims, but fools.

  28. @Boraxo – you make excellent points about DL being horrible when it comes to award redemptions.

    However, I think a lot of the AA complaints also dwell on the operational side, and involve the terrible ways that AA treats their customer base. DL seems to have happier fliers and keeps them that way.

  29. Why don’t airlines just go to a 100% revenue system, and forget about how many miles or segments someone flies? If you are in the top 10% of revenue, you get Exec Plat and have a sliding scale for the lower tiers. I’m sure they have looked at this, right?

  30. This change isn’t bad for ep members, it’s GREAT, even with the higher spend requirement. Get rid of ALL credit card eqds! Give status to people who, you know, actually fly.

  31. I find it interesting. The changes don’t bother me, the seem to be geared towards those that pay the least and maybe this allows those who pay more per mile toget more. But what I dont get is the delta love. I can’t stand delta
    The service is goid, but when there is a problem, i always fibd delta to be indifferent at best. Never an apology, just too bad.

  32. AA has always been awful. To me personally and I also see the way they treat others. They have bottom of the barrel employees or bottom of the barrel training. One of the two. I fly them because I can’t afford not to. If I was able, I would never be on an AA plane. Flying over 20+ years and the sentiment hasn’t changed.. not even for one flight.

    While I’m here, I have to mention their AAdvantage extension. If there’s anyone here that collects AA miles but does not know about this you’re missing out on a LOT of miles you could be earning online. Look it up! I don’t shop online now unless that’s “on”.

  33. I don’t understand all these people on here that are in the “this is good because higher value customers will get better chances for upgrades” camp.

    You already do – upgrade prioritization is based on EQDs.

  34. @ben
    Being based in Buenos Aores I just made a LATAM status match and said bye to American even having flown 204k miles (not earned, flown) this year.
    The kind of service you get in amy other airline is so better.

    This changes suck but you were right to the core when saying that AA doesn’t get it.

  35. Just flew busines QATAR MIA-DOH-HKG.
    I regret the million miles ive flown on AA via the same route. QATAR has better service, better food, better planes, better drinks. To the point, i rather have the longer layover in DOHA. DINE ON DEMAND: dinner the whole flight, or breakfast the whole flight, when you wish it, what you wish on the whole menu!!. Qsuites!! What an airline!! For years i heard you write about this, i thought you were exagerating. It was shocking. If anything, it was too much food, too much service; or maybe im just accustomed to “sorry we ran out of that option” upon departure on AA.

    At AA, Every year is a slap in the face for Advantage members. What about announcing better planes? Better food? Better drinks? Better service? Ive gone hungry on PVG-DFW because of crappy food, in business class. Crappy old planes, make you plan schedule around them. Its just ridiculous. The pompous attitude and disregard is a slap every year to loyal customers.

  36. Lucky is showing classic battered spouse syndrome and codependency. Complain but never leave. And i don’t even know how his marriage is.

    In any case I have ordered violins for each of you.

  37. Everyone who says they will leave for Delta for AA are full of it. Have you seen Delta’s prices compared to AA for coach or Business. At least 25% higher. Have you seen Delta’s award chart? Enough said. Are you really going to pay 25-50% more so the flight attendant can say “Hello Mr. Smith?”. Yea right.

  38. I only wish they had increased the MQM requirement as well. They need to thin the Exec Platinum group so these are great changes given that they are reducing the number of business class seats. You cant please everyone but you should please those who spend the most.

  39. I can’t figure out reading through the Special Fare rule if this means the Citi Thank You point game is over. I guess I’ll have to try it and see what gets awarded…

  40. I honestly can say that I’m not smart enough to figure out the AA program. I give up and go back to Alaska Airlines.

  41. @Rich – As one who was (up until recently when AA went revenue based) screwed out of EXP for years, having spent over $25,000 per year but not having the EQM, I was really happy with the new system that went into effect last year. For every low EQM, high EQD EXP like me, there must be 100 higher EQM, low EQD EXPs. If you were AA, who would you want most to reward? Those who spend the most and fly the least or those who spend the least and fly the most? Fact is, many people with high EQD, low EQM are buying F and J primarily, so the “thinning of the herd” of EXPs with low EQM will not be freeing up F of J seats. My greatest benefit of EXP status is the extra mileage I earn on actual flights and my SWUs which I usually gift to family and friends not upgrades.

  42. Been FF since 1984 with a dinosaur airline named TWA. Through their bankruptcy, American acquired TWA’s assets in 2000, including Frequent Flyers, and I was enrolled into AAdvantage.
    For a while it was great. I had a Citi card that I spent 10s of thousands on, earing miles AND Million miler status. But then American cut back and took away the ‘card miles’ from the count for permanent status [million-miler, 2 million-miler].

    But the latest, cutting back the EQD on Barclays MC (only reason I got the card was to get EQDs), along with raising the spend by 25%, and the EQM threshold by 50% (keeping up with the Jones’ (er United), is the final straw. Will spend one more year on EP, then will fall back to permanent Gold (million-miler), and walk-away.

    And I complained about it to both AAdvantage Customer Service AND to AA Customer relations, and I STRONGLY urge each of you here to do the same. They won’t likely roll back the changes, but between the number of complaints and large and growing number of walkaways, like myself, will get at least SOME attention, I’m sure.

  43. THIS IS OVER FOR ME: I will burn my 1 million plus miles that I have accumulated, ENJOY the “Platinum for Life privileges” whenever I can afford to fly AA (and until they remove the Plat-4-Life status); and just go for the CHEAPEST AIRLINE that takes me where I need to go. -LOYALTY is supposed to be a TWO-WAY thing, AA is not loyal to those of us that have been flying with them for more than 3 decades, why should I continue to be loyal to them anymore?

    This is my last Executive Platinum Year, and kiss-good-by.

    It was nice meeting you AA, but THIS IS OVER FOR ME,

    Sincerely yours,
    Dr. Vargas.
    Ex-Loyal Executive Platinum Member.

  44. For all of you that said if you are a captive of a fortress AA hub, you have no choice, well I will tell you, you do! I have lived in Charlotte for the past 7 years and have been a Delta Diamond for 4 of them and Platinum for the other 3. I used my AA miles (from credit card sign ups) to fly nonstop when I want, but pay for Delta and their on-time (mostly) machine. They treat me very well, especially on an IRROP flight and yes, the flight attendants call me by name and thank me for my business. I always purchase first class, because honestly it’s crap in the back on any airline. If you live in Chicago, fly to MSP and connect. If you live in Denver, fly to MSP and connect. If you live in LAS, fly to SLC and connect. I do get that there are less options in Miami or SFO and LAX, but if you get sick of the service or lack thereof at UA and AA, there are options.

  45. LUCKY SAID: American’s employees aren’t happy, American’s customers aren’t happy, and American’s shareholders aren’t happy. Doug Parker & Co. seem to think that if they just keep making cuts, everyone will be happy. What could be more logical?

    Doug’s VP’s will serve these comments to him on silver platters with their head’s bowed.

  46. All the people, above, who are duly outraged at the new changes and vowing to burn their miles ASAP seem to miss the big picture. These changes are not going to affect your perceived ‘elite’ status; you are treated like poop now, and so it will continue! Why bother? Burn you miles by all means, but not on AA flights. Extract the best value on partner airlines in premium cabins, not economy.

  47. At least this EXP changed behavior and moved over my business to Alaska, with the last round of ‘enhancements’ to the AAdvantage program. Alaska has reminded me why I loved to travel and fly (as opposed to the last few years on American). I realize that not everyone can do that (given Alaska’s lack of nationwide route network).

    I have already received the message loud and clear that my business is not simply just not valuable to American, even in paid Int’l J. Those of you who spend a lot on American, but not enough for CK–you can get much more value for your spend elsewhere as a free agent.

    I don’t even bother to complain to AA Customer Service or AA Twitter anymore. It’s just not worth the time. There’s just not a whole lot they can do when AA seems to have only one tool being used anymore–a one-way ratchet of lower service levels.

  48. Needless to say, American Airlines is not your friend, and I am no friend of theirs. I put in for the Barclay Aviator Red and the Citi AA card and received about 130,000 miles total. I used those miles for two roundtrip flights to Europe. Now those two cards are never used and will be closed or transfered into a no fee card at renewal. Those cards will just sit there never to be used. Thank you American Airlines…..the game woks both ways.

  49. If earning elite with AA has become unduly difficult the arbitrage opportunity is to swap to a different Oneworld FF program. Maybe Lucky can do a post comparing the leading options.

  50. Hey didn’t UNITED announce this first by making their 1K spend requires now 15,000 , stop bashing AA, and also doesn’t DL and UA have same tiny toilets in their MAX

  51. Why wouldn’t Lucky continue to fly AA? He gets lots of bonus points when he flies AA or their coshare partners due to his status. If most airlines change to the way Delta/ Jet Blue value their miles including AA, you can be sure Lucky wouldn’t be sticking around AA anymore.

    For those vow moving to delta, have fun redeeming several hundred thousands miles ONE way from US to other countries. As long as AA/ UA stick with their mile redemption structure, there’s no reason to fly other airlines in US if you are into mile game. AA knows that. That’s why they can repeatedly punch you and you still stick around. When they go one cent a mile, everyone will scatter like when a mouse sees a cat.

  52. Just canceled my Red Aviator card after reading this (the 10% bonus for award miles wasn’t enough, since it was impossible to find decent award travel to Europe and South America from SFO and LAX without either crazy connections or the BA fuel surcharge).

    That said, did redeem miles to get that last 10% bonus before shutting down my card (Qatar Airways QSuite from Doha to Tokyo for 40,000 miles, or 36,000 miles after getting the 10% back).

  53. I’m a low-EQD EXP, and I mostly agree with what others have said … but today I was 2 for 2 on upgrades through CLT … we had great service from a FA who owned the first cabin in a good way … and he discreetly gave each elite a handwritten thank you note card. So as we whine, with some good reasons for the whining, some things are still going right on American.

  54. It’s incredible. As an Exec Plat for years I am just amazed. They basically have targeted their most loyal customers for more. This as we suffer the hell of the service they provide now.

    Now more than ever…Bring Richard Branson back and a new airline in the U.S. to give us REAL choices besides Delta with good service but old aircraft and a horrible redemption plan/partners and United who, well, is United.

    God help us all…Southwest is starting to look world class.

  55. Between this and the Delta article where the dog left “items” on a passengers seat and floor, don’t know what to do except not care for any airline and book the most conveinent passage.

  56. I’ll only have EP with AA next year because of the Barclays Silver card, but should I really? Probably not (w/o the cc my personal EQD spend is ~$7k). So I agree with these particular changes. AA elite status, with the credit card assists (particularly with Barclays EQD assist) and the free status American keeps handing out, has made AA elite status a watered-down joke. A recent 737 flight from PHL to SEA I was on had 56 elite flyers on it. The upgrade list was 47 deep. It’s one reason I added a mileage run in December to get EP for next year, so I’d actually get *some* use out of my status. I recognize I’m literally crazy to do that.

    My dilemma is that I fly to DFW all the time for personal obligations (75+ relatives in the Dallas area) and NY for business. My wife and I use our accrued miles for international travel. I’m not moving to United and Delta’s int’l award chart is LOL. I’ll likely status match to Alaska next year (for 2020) but I’m really not sure what else to do. Jet Blue seems decent to NYC. Either way I know I’m off the AA wagon because if you think they aren’t devaluing the other statuses next year for 2020 you’re crazy. Doug Parker needs to go.

    I’m willing to give Ben a break for going for EP with AA. If you fly as much as he does why stick to a single airline? You only get so much once you reach top tier, may as well get top status on several airlines. He also gets paid to write about his experiences, so spreading out his travel only makes fiscal sense.

    I wonder how much Citibank lobbied or paid AA for these changes; you know they were getting killed by the BC EQD benefit.

  57. @Tony I agree. I have been EXP for the past 3 years and have already earned it for next year also. I welcome these changes as it will reduce the amount of EXPs. There are too many now so making this tier more difficult to achieve makes it more excited exclusive.

    @Lucky The flight attendants call me my name regularly so not sure why they are not doing the same for you.

  58. If 80% of AA’s revenue comes from the top 20% spenders, you’d keep them happy too. Dont pretend you wouldn’t. Bravo for these changes.

  59. Can anyone advise if the four upgrades we were awarded when we reached US$12.000 or 100.000 eqms have been removed meaningyou need to reach 150.000 eqm’s to receive the first 2 upgrades? I could see nothing about that.

  60. Wow – OK EXP for five years. This is the final straw. I’ll requal this year but I’m giving up next year for 2020 status. I do like some of the benefits but every time there is a cut back not once was there something better they gave us. I look back 5 years to today and things are simply far far worse.

    I have some prebooked 2019 international revenue on AA, I’ll take those trips but that’s it. My travels are mostly US transcons in a non hub AA market (SFO) and NYC. I have a choice with airlines – spoiled even – I like JetBlue the Y fares are cheaper and it’s delightful vs row 11 on AA economy (even on a $400 one way fare I’ve been loyal to AA even when I know my 500 miler will never clear) why pay the $ when I can go Jetblue for $249-299 each way?. They’ve clearly lost the plot and I won’t be spending on them domestic.

    International I always book a mix of economy or fully paid business. At this stage only 50% of my chances of SWU on AA international clear. And I find it stressful and can ruin a trip I let 2 SWUs expire in Feb this year I couldn’t even use them on a SFO-JFK flight go figure…

    So this is it.

    I will requal. Keep my AA Lifetime Gold but ongoing AA has failed this was the final straw. Keep your big big spenders $20k+ a year who would have by passed me already on upgrades etc. the flexibility of some aspects of the program kept me as an EXP. like same day standby (which failed me on Sunday and I was 3rd-6th on the WL and missed 4 flights). Which allows me to cancel and reinstate awards (I’ll miss this but I just need to plan better). The paltry earn rate, the disgusting food in biz, the apathy of your staff (it’s gone downhill rapidly in the past 2 years), your poor call center experience for EXP, and with a far better NYC-SFO competitor set I’m leaving.

    I will:

    1/ consider a status match on Alaska late next year and focus on Alaska for domestic

    2/ back it up with Mosaic status via Spend on jetblue with for about 1-2k jetblue points I can get the comfy seats and with generous cancel and flex policy for domestic

    3/ up use with delta which does have competitive fares vs AA transform but a better overall inflight experience. Plus I can use lounges with the Amex Plat card which was removed with CitiPrestige for Admirals club do some mild earning on delta where I’ve found they do have competitive awards vs AA

    4/ fly more paid international biz but not be loyal to one airline ie I may fly China southern to Asia which has $1.5k-$3k biz fares and a comfortable hard product and credit it to delta or continue to fly QR who I credit it to will be TBD.

    As another reader said tho Ben – please provide us a game plan ASAP as we plan our 2019 revenue spend so we can avoid AA – I would suggest as a reader said:

    A/ Please do an article on the Pros/Cons of leaving AA and switching to Delta (NOT United). And what game plan we should initiate now to make that happen whilst enjoying our remaining perks as EXP in 2019 enjoy that but then creating our disloyalty given how they’ve devalued the program. If they did value our biz in late 2019 maybe they could offer us a fast track to requal If they don’t then we stick with Jetblue, Alaska and being free-agents. Or perhaps Delta…. (never thought I’d say that but this final trick of $15k plus reducing $6k to $3k eqd from Aviator Silver was it. I’ll do around $10k of my own rev spend on AA this year and I could get to it but frankly all these changes makes me uncomfortable that AA will again move the goal posts next year and I hate being treated worse every year for driving even more revenue to them. This was it…. the crazy thing is when I bump up my spend again say in 2021 because I am no longer an EXP but a free agent I will have tasted the other side and won’t be commiting my loyalty anymore because of these short sighted actions of AA so in reality AA will have lost $100k-$200k from me over a 6-10 year period – their loss x 10,000s other. And me no longer being an advocate to tell my colleagues to also fly AA with me.

    B/ I’ve read all of the complaining and all of the anger at AA by their customers and these people (that have a choice to leave) still stay there.

    C/ So please put up an article that tells them what to do. And if they continue to stay with AA and complain then they are no longer victims, but fools.

  61. I received an email from AA stating EQM requirement is also increasing, a double blow. I will be EP for 2019, after that will probably return to Delta.

  62. I’m DFW based and have been EXP for the past decade, but Team Parker has finally broken me. It’s not that this change has direct impact on me, but eventually you reach the breaking point. I’m headed to DL for 2019. For my travel patterns, I always seem to route through CLT, PHL, or ORD anyway, and even when I don’t AA seems to want a significant premium on the direct service. I almost never get upgraded anymore, and VIP’s are only useful these days as day of departure upgrade instruments if you want to gamble and book a coach seat on an international flight. No thanks. I understand Skymiles are worthless, but AAdvantage miles are almost as bad. I’ve got lifetime Plat, so the only real benefit of Plat Pro or EXP are upgrades that never clear anyway.

  63. I am posting a second time. I really would love to know why people love Delta. I read through, AA always comes to my seat and thanks me for my business. Out of PIT, a non-hub, if you want status is the big three and it’s always through a hub. Delta is through ATL, which I absolutely hate and you will never get an upgrade, only PIT to/and from ATL. Most of my colleagues have choosen Delta over AA and they are often stranded, especially on flights LGA back to PIT, where I am always making it and when there is an issue, Delta tells them too bad, where AA always works to accomodate me and has done so for my colleagues on Delta, to help get them home. I would consider Untied, but it’s all through EWR and always more expensive than AA and Delta. EWR is horrendous, but as a nobody on United I feel like they do a great job. On AA, I have multiple hub options. And while out of PIT, Detla offers DTW and MSP, it’s always twice the price over ATL. I would agree over the years the program has lost some luster, however, SkyMiles is way worse and this year’s changes are for the cheap sakes, will not effect bueinss travelers/higher dollar per mile payors. I think that’s fair.

  64. I just use AA now to cash in my miles on awards. I receive most of my miles through credit card spend since I only travel about 6-8 times a year and I’ve nearly all of those trips elsewhere. The cattle call at DFW is just not my idea of fun anymore. Surly FAs and gate agents rolling their eyes like “I don’t want to be bothered.” has done it for me.

    TSA Pre Check for AA at DFW seems prehistoric compared to Love Field, LAX, LGA, JFK, ORD, MIA, FLL and San Jose. I’m lifetime Gold, but that’s not worth anything anymore, just a free checked bag (but I already have that with my cc). I’ll never, ever get upgraded ever again.

  65. My response to AA’s lame response to my complaint:

    Dear Lili Bustamante,

    Thank you for your condescending response. I feel MUCH better now.
    Feel free to forward this to your supervisor. I’ll bet the condescending is meaningless to them too.

    I don’t think you fully ‘get it”. Chasing a large majority of your elite flyers to other airlines, like Delta (domestic) or United (international), or even my new favorite, Alaska Airlines (whose ratings on frequent flyer forums and Yelp, or Yelp-like sites TOWER over American), is hardly what’s ‘best’ for American, whether referring to Stockholders, employees, or passengers. What’s best for your lame CEO is definitely not necessarily what’s best for the other three stakeholder groups here. Please stop trying to BS me or any other whiners. Just because we’re whining doesn’t mean we’re stupid.

    Just don’t expect to see me much, if ever, after 2020, ESPECIALLY after this response.

    You can check here to get an idea of the anger your company has unleashed:

    And here:

    And here:

    No further response is needed or desired, unless it’s your supervisor apologizing for the condescending attitude I detect here.

    C_______s Blue

    PS, I have posted your [non]response to all three forums.

    From: [email protected]
    Sent: Monday, November 5, 2018 6:46 PM
    To: C_______s Blue
    Subject: Your Response From American Airlines
    November 5, 2018

    Hello Mr. Blue:

    Thank you for contacting Customer Relations. I’m sorry to hear that you are not happy with the changes being made to the AAdvantage® Executive Platinum account requirements. I can certainly also understand your frustration when you learned that our Barclay’s Aviator AAdvantage® MasterCard will also be affected.
    We don’t take changes to the AAdvantage® program lightly. We’ve taken a lot of time to monitor the competitive landscape and identify what works for customers and what may not. Mr. Blue, there are undeniable competitive gaps between the current AAdvantage program and the competition for our best customers. We’ve been monitoring our own bookings as other carriers have moved to revenue-based programs and have determined this model will best lay the foundation for helping American accomplish our objectives moving forward.
    We always appreciate hearing our customers’ perspective about any issue pertaining to our business, and we are glad you took the time to share yours.
    Mr. Blue, we value your loyalty as an AAdvantage® Platinum Pro elite member and are eager to continue the relationship we have enjoyed over the past 17 years. We value your business and look forward to having you on our American Airlines flights for year to come. I hope we have the opportunity to serve you past 2020.


    Lili Bustamante
    Customer Relations
    American Airlines

  66. @C Blue
    You are getting upset at the wrong person. A poor Customer Relations agent has no power over the decisions being made by the airline’s dishonest and greedy executives. Doug Parker is an alcoholic with multiple DUIs and yet this doesn’t bother AA’s board at all.

  67. I don’t understand the high spending EXPs on here that are saying “good…now less competition for an upgrade”. You’re already prioritized at the top. If you’re not getting upgrades as it is today, this change will do nothing for you.

  68. Don’t get me wrong, I have my issues with AA. Disappointed about the increase in EQD to reach EXP. But for me, honestly, I am not much bothered by not being able to earn EQDs by the credit card spends you mention since I don’t get my EQDs that way. You say it yourself – changes could have been much worse. The partner airline changes aren’t all bad.

  69. AA Concierge Key says:
    November 6, 2018 at 3:01 pm
    @C Blue
    You are getting upset at the wrong person. A poor Customer Relations agent has no power over the decisions being made by the airline’s dishonest and greedy executives. Doug Parker is an alcoholic with multiple DUIs and yet this doesn’t bother AA’s board at all.

    @AA Concierge: perhaps you could re-read my response to Lili Bustamamte. I’m not mad at her (just her condescending attitude/comments). And I made it clear these changes were not good for ALL stakeholders: Stockholders, Employees and Customers. I made it clear that I consider the blame lies at the feet of American’s CEO, something that a number of other here have pointed out as well.

  70. @C Blue
    I sure hope you aren’t an attorney. You expect a customer service agent to admit her company has a terrible CEO? And big deal, you feel she gave you an AAttitude, welcome to AA… it is all in its code AA = Arrogant Alcoholic. They would gas all their customers if they could and then blame it on Airbus and Boeing for insurance.

  71. A company wanting YOU to spend more money with THEM to keep your status… shocker! I am Plat Pro with AA. I obtained it with 100% BIS miles/spend. I will never be Exec Plat. And I am fine with that. I never worry about upgrades because I just pay to fly in first class. All you Exec Plats are just mad that the status your companies basically got you will be harder to get. How about you just pay for the class you want to fly and stop whining about not getting upgrades. Also, it’s 2018, why do you need entertainment on planes? I have almost 30 segments this year and haven’t once used the seat back entertainment systems (4 flights were to Australia/NZ). Who doesn’t have a tablet, phone, etc. to entertain themselves. AA is smart to not waste money on planes with that stuff. Over time they break, they need updates, etc.

  72. But a poor Customer Relations agent has no power over the decisions being made by the airline’s dishonest and greedy executives.

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