American Airlines came out with some announcements yesterday, first and foremost is the date that they are changing to a revenue based system, Aug 1st. Next up was changes coming in 2017, and none of them are good. Unfortunately American Airlines has killed their program so badly at this point that I think it is time that I face reality, American Airlines is no longer a good choice for loyalty programs, and my loyalty is better spent elsewhere.
The single most problematic change coming out of the airline is the Elite Qualifying Dollars, and how they are being tied to your upgrades. Like Delta and United, American is implementing a minimum amount of money you need to spend with the airlines, I find this to be annoying and basically boils loyalty down to dollars, which isn't what loyalty is. Loyalty is flying with one airline over all others even if the case can be made to switch for one reason or another. I can hardly blame American for this move since both United and Delta have this requirement as well.
What American does not have is a way to bypass that requirement. Delta and United have credit cards that allow you to bypass the minimum spend requirement. It does require you spend quite a bit on their co-branded credit card, but it is a way around this requirement and in my opinion a needed way. American does not yet have this ability.
Lastly is how Elite Qualifying Dollars are being tied to upgrades. How much you spent with American Airlines in the past 12 months is what is going to be used to determine where you rank in the list of people getting upgrades, this is nothing short of greedy. It incentivizes spending lots of money and those who wait until the last second to buy tickets when they tend to be more expensive. No other airline does this.
So why the change of heart on Delta? Well as you have likely noticed, I've been hard on Delta for good reason, they do have a tendency to crap on their miles and lower the value of the miles all the time, hence the nickname for their program of SkyPesos. While Sky Miles may not be a great currency, their elite program looks to have taken over the top spot with the incentives being better than their competition.
Mix in the fact that Delta does have great on-board service, and you have a compelling reason. However, my dislike of Delta runs deep, and the biggest factor for me is that I am going to be close to Atlanta. Uniquely my home will be situated between Atlanta and Charlotte. Right smack in the middle of an American hub and a Delta hub. As great as it was to be close to an American hub, the place I live also allots me the chance to jump loyalty if one goes downhill, and that it has.
So I will be setting up a status match to Delta Gold Medallion in the near future and we'll see what the Delta program is all about. Deep at heart I like change, so this is something I'm actually sort of excited about, though sad to leave American Airlines, I find this to be the best move for my travel future.