American Airlines is tweaking its AAdvantage loyalty program, looking to make things more streamlined for its most frequent flyers and allow passengers to start unlocking perks even before they earn status.
“It’s a complicated loyalty space out there across different loyalty programs,” AAdvantage managing director Heather Samp told USA TODAY. “Our focus was simplicity.”
Some of the big changes include a new array of rewards at different qualifying thresholds and an elimination of the mileage earning cap on flights.
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“We’re creating a more meaningful travel rewards program for our AAdvantage members,” American’s Chief Commercial Officer Vasu Raja said in a statement. “Only our members will have access to everything American has to offer.”
Here’s what American’s customers can expect once the changes are implemented in March.
Can AAdvantage members have benefits before status?
One of the biggest changes rolling out for AAdvantage members next year is the availability of certain perks before reaching the lowest level of elite status.
Once a member accrues 15,000 Loyalty Points, they will be able to board with Group 5 for the rest of the membership year. They’ll also have the choice to bump up to Group 4 along with other priority privileges for one trip, or receive five preferred seat coupons.
“Think of loyalty points as something that you constantly accumulate throughout the year. They’re never spent,” Samp said. “Once you get to one of our loyalty point reward thresholds, the benefit is unlocked or the choice is unlocked.”
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Even above the highest level of AAdvantage status, members who keep accruing Loyalty Points will continue unlocking benefits.
Executive Platinum status is achieved with 200,000 Loyalty Points, but other rewards are available at 550,000, 750,000, 1 million, 3 million and other higher point thresholds.
At 550,000 Loyalty Points, members can choose between two perks, including bonus redeemable miles, a systemwide upgrade, the ability to gift Platinum status to someone else, lounge passes and more.
Does it cost anything to enroll in the AAdvantage program?
No, enrollment in AAdvantage is free. Travelers can sign up online.
How does an AAdvantage member earn Loyalty Points?
AAdvantage members can earn loyalty points by flying American Airlines and its partners.
Point accrual from flying is based on the cost of the ticket, on a sliding scale based on the member’s status. This includes base miles on fares and multipliers from elite status.
Points can also be earned through partners in the following categories: shopping portals, hotels, rental cars, cruises through AA and retail outlets. In addition, members can earn Loyalty Points through spending on their cobranded MasterCard.
A higher threshold for the first status tier
Lower-level earners in the AAdvantage program may be especially happy about the ability to start unlocking perks even before achieving first-tier Gold status because the airline will up the Loyalty Point threshold to qualify.
Previously members had to earn 30,000 Loyalty Points to get Gold status, but under the overhaul, that will increase to 40,000.
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Even so, Samp said, the airline isn’t worried about non-elite flyers diluting the benefits of the program.
“At this point we are not seeing any degradation in terms of benefits. Our members are very happy with the program, but we’ll constantly be assessing the landscape,” she said.
New ways to spend AAdvantage miles and other changes
AAdvantage members who hold a co-branded MasterCard will also be able to redeem their airline miles for experiences through the card.
Some of the options for those redemptions include private dinners, sporting events and theatrical performances.
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Samp also said as part of the program’s evolution, the airline is lifting the cap on how many redeemable miles a traveler could earn on their trips. Previously, passengers could earn no more than 75,000 miles per ticket.
AAdvantage members will also earn two miles per dollar spent on basic economy tickets issued beginning Jan. 1 for travel on or after March 1, down from five miles per dollar currently.
Story Credit: usatoday.com