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American Announces Loyalty Program Changes

American loyalty program joins legacy competitors in awarding miles by airfare price and not distance traveled.

American Airlines flyers will soon find their award mileage earning in line with other legacy carriers, as the program will transition to a fare-based system in the next year. American made the announcement as part of their overall roll-out of the 2016 American AAdvantage frequent flyer program.

Under the new mileage earning program, flyers aboard American-marketed flights will earn award miles based on the airfare price, which includes the base fare and any carrier-imposed fees. From there, the amount of miles a flyer earns is based on their elite status. Flyers with no status will earn five miles per dollar spent, while top-tier Executive Platinum flyers will earn 11 miles per dollar.

The shift puts American’s frequent flyer program in line with legacy competitors Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. Under their programs, flyers earn the same amount of points per dollar based on their elite status. However, both competing programs have four elite tiers, while American will stay with three.

How flyers earn elite status will change as well. Instead of offering flyers the opportunity to earn status based on elite qualifying miles or elite qualifying points, flyers will earn status based on distance or segments flown. Elite status earned in 2016 will be valid through January 31, 2018.

In addition, the number of system-wide upgrades available to executive platinum flyers will be reduced as well. Executive Platinum flyers who earn their status after January 1, 2016 will only receive four system-wide upgrades upon qualification, cut in half from the previous allowance.

“We’re evolving to build a rewarding program for all members,” the airline wrote on their website. “While giving our best customers access to our best benefits.”

The new mileage earning program will come into place in the second half of the next year. American has not committed to a definite date when the transition will take place. Previous reports put the transition in the fourth quarter of 2016.

[Photo: American Airlines]

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