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American Airlines Will Reward Fliers Based on Dollars, Not Miles

American Airlines Will Reward Fliers Based on Dollars, Not Miles

American Airlines is following other airlines by basing perks like free flights on how much passengers spend on tickets, not how many miles they fly.

The change, which matches those at Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, starts with flights on Aug. 1 and rewards American’s highest-paying passengers.

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Elite-status members of American’s AAdvantage frequent-flier program will earn bonus miles for every dollar they spend.

AAdvantage has about 100 million members, making it the biggest and the oldest major airline loyalty program. It featured easy math: Fly one mile, earn one mile.

Today that simplicity is a quaint throwback. Airlines now compete fiercely for high-paying customers — they lavish elite travelers with upgraded cabins, lie-flat beds, better food and bigger frequent-flier rewards.

American said most members will earn five miles for every dollar they spend on base fares and carrier-imposed fees. That multiple rises to seven, eight or 11 for elites — gold, platinum and executive-platinum members.

Miles alone will no longer make you elite. Starting Jan. 1, customers will have to annual hit mileage marks and spending minimums, including at least $3,000 for gold and $12,000 for executive-platinum. A fourth level will be added just below executive platinum.


Award miles

Earning in 2016 and beyond

For travel beginning August 1, 2016

Earn award miles based on your ticket price and elite status on American-marketed flights.

You earn miles on the base fare plus carrier-imposed fees minus government-imposed taxes and fees. The more you spend (and the higher your elite status level) the more you’ll earn.

On most flights marketed by partner airlines, you’ll earn award miles based on a percentage of the flight distance and the fare class of your ticket. Rates will be available by July 15.

Sample calculation

AAdvantage® member flying round-trip on an American marketed flight from Dallas (DFW) to London-Heathrow (LHR):

Elite status Base fare (USD) Carrier-imposed fees (USD) Award miles/USD Award miles earned
AAdvantage® member $1,436 $458 5 9,470
Gold $1,436 $458 7 13,258
Platinum $1,436 $458 8 15,152
Executive Platinum $1,436 $458 11 20,834

See exactly what you’ll earn when you book flights on aa.com, starting in late June for travel August 1, 2016 and beyond.

Minimum mileage guarantee

Effective August 1, minimum mileage guarantee on shuttle flights is going away for AAdvantage® members. The elite member minimum mileage guarantee is also going away, but the 500-mile EQM minimum will still be awarded on eligible flights.

Elite status in 2017

New status level

In 2017 you can start earning toward a new level, Platinum Pro, with benefits like:

Ways to qualify

Starting January 1, 2017, we’ll add Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) to our earning requirements. Qualify in 1 of 2 ways:

EQDs will be awarded based on:

With the addition of EQDs, we’ll remove the rule that 4 segments must be traveled on American or American Eagle during the qualifying year to receive elite status.

Elite status qualification

Qualification Executive Platinum / oneworld®EmeraldSM Platinum Pro / oneworld®SapphireSM Platinum / oneworld®SapphireSM Gold / oneworld®RubySM
EQMs 100,000 75,000 50,000 25,000
EQSs 120 90 60 30
EQDs $12,000 $9,000 $6,000 $3,000


Upgrade prioritization

The way your upgrade request is prioritized will change later in 2017. You’ll be listed according to your elite status level followed by the number of EQDs earned in the last 12 months.

500-mile upgrade windows

Status Upgrades confirmed before departure (as early as)
Executive Platinum 100 hours
Platinum Pro 72 hours
Platinum 48 hours
Gold 24 hours

Award tickets

Starting later in 2017, Executive Platinum members can use their complimentary 500-mile upgrade benefits on AAdvantage® award tickets for travel on American from Main Cabin to the next class.



After Delta and United announced that they would switch to spending-based rewards in 2015, American responded by giving bonuses to high-fare customers. American officials decided that the promotion wasn’t a dramatic enough change.

But the overhaul of AAdvantage was pushed back last year as the company focused first on integrating American and US Airways following their merger in December 2013. “This was as quick as we could do it,” said Bridget Blaise-Shamai, the company’s managing director of loyalty.

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