That’s frustrating for pure flyers who don’t want to use their credit card, giving up more valuable points from Chase, American Express, Citi, et al. Because flying alone takes more spending to requalify under the new system. An Executive Platinum re-earning their status from just flights would need to spend over $18,000 on American Airlines tickets under the new system, up from $15,000 in 2019.
I actually think this would have gone over better if American Airlines hadn’t run out of time working to notify members of the new program. We’re two months from the end of the year, they needed to get word out about how status would be earned. And they’re not done with contracts for partners whose activity will earn Loyalty Points. Basically American Airlines wants to charge more money for a partner’s miles to also count as Loyalty Points, and that’s a process that didn’t finish. We’ll see more ways to earn Loyalty Points before this launches.
But there are really (2) groups that are going to find earning elite status most difficult.
- Non-U.S. customers. While American has credit cards throughout Latin America, they have no cards in Europe and their only Asian card is in Japan. Most of their partners, and certainly Loyalty Points-earning partners, are centered in the U.S.
That leaves program members in much of the world without many opportunities to earn Loyalty Points besides flying. And flight requirements alone have gone up.
- New flyers. The program is going to be easier than ever to re-earn status for those who engage in activities beyond flying. Flying alone is more expensive. But starting from scratch is more expensive still.
That’s because elite bonus points count as Loyalty Points and the highest-status members earn the most points. A new member doesn’t earn any bonus points until they make Gold, earns only Gold bonus points until they make Platinum, etc. A new member earning Executive Platinum status from scratch through ticket spend alone has to spend over $27,000 on American Airlines tickets. That’s the most expensive path in the world to comparable status.
It’s one thing to say that American Airlines doesn’t want a $15,000 a year flyer, who doesn’t also engage in the program in other ways, to have top status – since those other activities are often more profitable to American.
It’s another, I think, to say that whole classes of members are shut off from much of the new program based on their geography. American should consider lower points requirements based on residence.
And it’s another as well to say that new members face a higher hill to climb for status from flying. After all, like every loyalty program they want new members. And with business travel still an open question, they want the loyalty of new business travelers who enter the workforce. Those are the members in particular that may have limited ability to spend on a co-brand card, but they have a lifetime of potential loyalty ahead of them.