American Airlines AAdvantage Status Overhaul

American Airlines Admirals Club
American Airlines will make major changes to the way AAdvantage status is earned in 2022. Photo: American Airlines.

Oneworld airline and Qantas partner American Airlines has announced major changes to the way status is earned in its AAdvantage frequent flyer program, taking effect from 2022.

Currently, earning American Airlines AAdvantage status requires members to earn Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs), plus a minimum amount of either Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs). But from 2022, American Airlines will only use one metric to calculate a member’s status tier: Loyalty Points.

From next year, AAdvantage members will earn one Loyalty Point for every eligible AAdvantage mile earned from flights, credit card purchases and third-party program partners. This will make it easier for AAdvantage co-brand credit card holders to earn status with American Airlines. (Unfortunately, there are no AAdvantage credit cards available in Australia.)

Under the current AAdvantage program, miles for American Airlines marketed flights are awarded based on the price of the ticket. AAdvantage members earn 5 miles for every US Dollar spent on the ticket, excluding government taxes. This increases to 7, 8, 9 or 11 miles per dollar for AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members respectively.

Loyalty Points will also be earned when flying with Oneworld airlines including Qantas and JetBlue. With partner airlines, AAdvantage miles are earned based on a combination of the fare class purchased and the distance flown.

All base miles earned from spending with AAdvantage program partners such as AAdvantage Dining and Simply Miles will contribute to a member’s Loyalty Points total, as will base miles earned from spending money on AAdvantage credit cards.

Bonus miles from special promotions, miles transferred to AAdvantage from another loyalty program, credit card sign-up bonuses and miles bought, gifted or transferred from another account will not earn Loyalty Points.

Requirements to earn AAdvantage status from 2022

Here are the new annual AAdvantage status thresholds from next year:

  • AAdvantage Gold (oneworld Ruby): 30,000 Loyalty Points
  • AAdvantage Platinum (oneworld Sapphire): 75,000 Loyalty Points
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro (oneworld Emerald): 125,000 Loyalty Points
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum (oneworld Emerald): 200,000 Loyalty Points

In addition to the usual status benefits, Platinum Pro members will become eligible for Loyalty Choice Reward benefits like systemwide upgrades, Admirals Club day passes and bonus AAdvantage miles if they take at least 30 flights during the year. American-marketed award flights and Basic Economy tickets are counted towards these 30 flights.

New membership year dates

Traditionally, most US airlines have used the calendar year as the default program year for the purpose of awarding status. But from 2022, American Airlines is changing from January-December membership years to March-February membership years. This means status earned in 2021 will now be valid until 31 March 2022, instead of 31 January 2022, and flights taken between March 2022 and February 2023 would count towards status in the 2023-24 membership year.

To make the transition easier, miles earned in January and February 2022 will be counted in both the current and next membership year.

A new direction for the AAdvantage program

Traditionally, frequent flyer programs only rewarded status to members for actually flying. But the new AAdvantage program also rewards members for earning miles on the ground, particularly with AAdvantage co-brand credit cards. This more closely reflects the member’s overall value to the airline, bearing in mind that loyalty programs earn revenue when members earn miles via third parties.

The 30-flight minimum to receive Loyalty Choice Rewards ensures members still need to do a certain amount of flying to enjoy the full array of the benefits that come with status.

All of the major US airlines already introduced requirements several years ago to spend a minimum amount of money in order to earn status. These changes move AAdvantage even closer to becoming a pure revenue-based program. But, thankfully, American Airlines hasn’t yet changed the way members can earn or redeem miles.

Speculation had been rife about major upcoming changes to the AAdvantage program for the past few weeks. Many were concerned that the attractive AAdvantage award charts could be gutted. These have thankfully been spared in the latest round of program changes.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Status Earning Changes for AAdvantage from March 2022

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]