AAdvantage Devaluation

The long awaited and much dreaded situation has finally come to pass, and I am not too happy about it. American Airlines has made some massive changes to their program, and they are worse than originally expected. 

At the beginning of the year AAdvantage points are going away, personally I don't see this as a huge lose, because they are changing Elite Qualifying miles (EQM's) to scale with class just like points used to do in the past, so really this change to me isn't a big deal. However, American just announces that EQM's are going to be cut on partner airlines. If you fly in discount coach on any airline other than American, you'll only earn 0.5 EQM's per mile flown. This seems a bit crazy to me for a few reasons. One is that these are your partners and many times I fly a codeshare, so they are marketed as American Airlines flights... yet they won't earn me the same miles, despite being considered an AA flight. Second, there are places I plan to fly, that are not serviced by American Airlines. Cape Town for instance is either a British Airways flight or Qatar flight, no other options in One World... so I get penalized because American doesn't serve this destination? Seems odd to me.

Next is the earning structure in the second half of the year for 2016. Miles earning is going to way of Delta and United. Despite American claiming they were "innovating" they apparently think innovation is a synonym with copying. Copying is exactly what they did, the earning structure is as follows.

  • AAdvantage Memebers - 5 Miles per $1 spent
  • AAdvantage Gold - 7 Miles per $1 spent
  • AAdvantage Platinum - 8 Miles per $1 spent
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum - 11 miles per $1 spent

So where do I start. First off, why is the earning structure exactly the same as United and Delta. This is a weird business practice that rides the edge of collusion, not to say this is whats happening, but it really is up with with price fixing. There is no reason to make all of your programs the exact same, especially when redemption rates on awards is different between airlines. I will never call this a back door deal without some good evidence, but they sure or skirting the fine edge on this.

Next, why is Platinum only 1 mile per $1 more than Gold. I fly alot to get from the 25,000 miles needed for Gold, to jump to the 50,000 needed for Platinum. Previously the bonus earn on Platinum was 4 times better than it was on Gold... now it's disturbingly low 14% increase... really I think that should be 9 miles at minimum.

The next change is that 12,500 miles will be required for each batch of 500 mile upgrades instead of the 10,000 it used to take. This is to slightly offset the fact that it is mildly easier to reach elite status now... not a huge deal. However, if you are Executive Platinum, they are cutting system wide upgrades from 8 per year to 4. This is huge, system wide upgrades allow one to upgrade one class higher on any flight in the world, cutting these in half severely degrades the worth of Executive Platinum.

On top of all of this, awards costs are jumping up significantly. Business class to Europe is jumping by 7,500 miles each way, and that's the best of the redemption jumps. Some are really bad, increasing by more than 60% in some cases for first class awards... that is insane.

I do enjoy that American is touting the really small good things that came out of this like the fact that awards under 500 miles in flight length now only cost 7,500 miles. This is a really really minor good outcome, it's 95% bad outcomes.

So to summarize, American has "innovated" by following the lead of Delta, I guess they didn't want United to be the only copy cat company. We will manage under the new earning structure, and since only a portion of my miles come from flights, we will continue to take aadvantage of all the other methods of getting miles to still fly in the super expensive, posh classes that are so very nice. Also, I am seriously considering flying more 1st class flights domestically in order to gain more points EQM's domestically since my many international flights next year may be hurt by the partner EQM cuts.

What are your thoughts on these changes?