A Glimpse at How American’s Revenue Requirement for Status Will Work on Partners

Earning American AAdvantage elite status is going to require minimum spending next year in addition to miles flown. That is, earning status in 2017 that will expire January 31, 2019 will need:

  • $3000 for Gold status (in addition to miles/segment)
  • $6000 for Platinum status (in addition to miles/segment)
  • $6000 for Platinum status (in addition to miles/segment)
  • $9000 for Platinum Pro status (in addition to miles/segment)
  • $12,000 for Executive Platinum status (in addition to miles/segment)

We can expect there to be an exemption of some kind based on spend with an American AAdvantage co-brand card, but we do not yet know how much spend, whether the exemption will apply even to top tier status, and whether spend with non-US credit cards will count.

American Airlines-marketed flights will count towards the Elite Qualifying Dollar requirement based on the fare and any carrier surcharges. So if you fly American Airlines with an American flight number, or you fly a partner like Japan Airlines with an American flight number, the fare value will count.

Like Delta, they are also making it possible to earn qualifying dollars when flying on partner airlines. American will not get the data on the fare for each segment if the flight doesn’t have an American Airlines code on it, so they’re going to award qualifying dollars based on distance and fare class.

For instance, you may earn 20% of the miles flown as qualifying dollars (in addition to qualifying miles and redeemable miles – complicated!) on a full fare ticket.

    The way to qualify quickly and easily will be through premium cabin mistake fares on partners! Those will be based on fare class and distance regardless of fare paid.

American has said they will not release the charts for earning qualifying dollars with partner airlines until mid-July.

However, we already know what those charts look like for American Airlines flights where fare information isn’t available.

There are a handful of American flights where qualifying dollars will be based on distance and fare class rather than price. Those include vacation packages such as American Airlines Vacations tickets, and other bulk or consolidator fares.

American is also hedging, it seems, for issues obtaining fare information on a ticket and in those cases will default to awarding miles based on distance and fare class.

In some cases, ticket/fare details may not be available at the time your flight is posted. If that happens, you’ll earn Award Miles and EQDs at a modified rate based on a percentage of the distance flown* as determined by the booking code.

Here’s that chart:

We can expect that different partner airlines will have different charts. They may be less rewarding than American Airlines flights. Perhaps joint business venture airlines like British Airways, Iberia, Finnair, and Japan Airlines will have charts that are similar, while other partners do not count as much. But that remains to be seen next month.

Nonetheless, these percentages should offer some guidance on what to expect – and they’re very similar to Delta’s. For example here’s the chart for earning qualifying dollars on Delta’s joint venture partner Alitalia:

Another example, it seems, where the new American tries to be like Delta.

(HT: JDiver)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. i can not parse Gary’s prose. I stopped reading halfway through, as it was impossible to understand what he is trying to say. Time for a copy editor!

  2. People who need to shut up: snarky complainers about his writing. The occasional typo shows up, sure, but people act like he just mashes his hands on the keys indiscriminately.

  3. I suspect this will also apply to AA tickets issued via Citi Thank You point redemptions (a selling point of the Citi Prestige Card). All of my recent redemptions through that, though they were the same “price” as identical itineraries ticketed directly by AA, came up as “bulk” fares, where AA could not see the fare details other than fare class.

  4. OK, I hate to pile on…and I ordinarily love Gary. But Aaron has a point. I also started to glaze over after a few paragraphs. It is quite difficult to comprehend what is being stated. I’d think the author would appreciate feedback that your audience is having trouble deciphering your meaning!

  5. i think what this means is contained in the AirItalia chart.

    100,000 miles and $12,000 in spending.

    Therefore flying Premium Economy, I need to fly 100,000/1.5=66,667 thousand miles. That those miles will net me 66,667 x 25%=16,667 elite qualifying miles. On Cathay Pacific that is 4 roundtrips JFK-HKG. plus a little for Executive Platinum

    Even though his post was hopeful, I think my last flight on American will still be in January 31, 2018, when my Executive Platinum expires.

    To American Airlines, I have a song: There are 50 ways to leave your airline via Neil Simon:

    “You just slip out the back, Jack
    Make a new plan, Stan
    You don’t need to be Coy, Roy
    Just get yourself free
    Hop on the bus, Gus
    You don’t need to discuss much
    Just drop off the key, Lee
    And get yourself free”

  6. @Aaron M

    It’s a complex topic, but made perfect sense to me. Maybe re-reading a few more times will help.

  7. Gary – I wonder if American will waive the EQD threshholds for members who live overseas, like Delta does?

  8. Frequent flyer programs are becoming more complex as airlines attempt to make them more cost-efficient. The new rules will be enough to make your head spin, even if they are explained well. As a customer, your options are to study the new convoluted system for loopholes, or to throw your hands up and say it’s too confusing.

    I think Gary previewed the new system as succinctly as possible; he’s only the messenger in this.

  9. @Charles Webb – American has confirmed that it will not be exempting overseas AAdvantage members from the EQD requirements.

  10. I read it twice. Got his points on the second read. Basically AA will follow Delta.

  11. Gary’s describing a s—sandwich as concisely as possible. It’s complicated by design. The airlines want you to ‘not understand’ as your ignorance works in their favor. For example, I have coworkers who consider themselves savvy travelers. You don’t want to know the number of times they’ve explained programs to others with completely inaccurate information (for example, “you need to spend like crazy on your Delta card to avoid MQDs” was one piece of advice…..but we’re based outside the U.S…..why not just update your address?). These guys aren’t ignorant, they just simply don’t have time to keep up with all the details associated with every nuance of a constantly changing landscape. How many times have I called to ask why a particular flight didn’t receive appropriate credit–a bunch. Only to be told, “well, as of (date) we only give (%) on (name) airline for that fare.” Mind you, these are all top-dollar, last-minute flights. Total b.s.

    So as programs become more complex, the less rewarding they become for the customer and the more profitable for the provider. I’m at the point where all I’m worried about is status….get me the lounge, maybe an upgrade once in a while and expedited security…..everything else is just a rebate I can use every few years to fly mom out to visit (maybe).

  12. I have to agree with the writing, I had to read this twice, but Gary’s not a professional writer or copy editor. Additionally, the source material is pretty dismal. It’s like AA intentionally makes this as confusing as possible. Or maybe it’s that everyone at AA hq is a former America West employee with some “degree” from an AZ public school.

    On a separate note, it’s nice to see AA (and of course, DL too) so full of themselves. That *will* change, and it will be fun to sit back and watch the inept America West fools try to triage that situation.

  13. @Charles Webb – Yes, I have seen them confirming that overseas customers will not be waived EQD
    I am not sure if they might review. Just guessing it might affect their business in markets like Brazil (the second largest market in AAdvantage members).
    Let us think that a regular Brazilian AAdvantage member tries to continue his business with AA, flying domestic in BR with LATAM and Internationally with AA and other One World members. With thresholds presented and the speculative charts Gary presented (in Brazil there is no Business Class in domestic flights) we might get 10% EQD of the miles flown, and that is particularly important as 500 miles minimum rule is also off the table. Means that basicaly everyone flies domestic in the discounted fares (so, 10% EQD of the miles flown in the best case scenario).
    That will not be much, as you can imagine the Sao Paulo – Rio is bit more than 200 miles away, and tickets usually costs USD100-150, so AA member will get 20 EQD on a USD150 ticket.
    So, members will migrate to LATAM, that awards for domestic flights something between 7 and 20 points/USD depending on your status and airfare (with minimum 500 points per segment). To make things even worse, LATAM awards 200% (plus up to 100% status) on miles flown for International flights betwenn Brazil and US in Business Class in flights marketed and operated by LATAM. So LATAM is revenue based for domestic flights (which is better than distance based) and distance based for Intenational Flights (wich is better than revenue based in this case).
    Beside that, if you can reach the top tier at LATAM you can have unlimited Upgrades in the International flights and receive coupons that can be used to upgrade companiors.
    I made my calculation, and basically I can get twice more redepentions with LATAM Fidelidade, and I can reach Top Tier and with this EQDs thresholds imposed by AAdvantage i might be too close to reach EXP.
    Thing is that, if I do not like LATAM for any reason, I still can reach top tier with Delta or United, but not with AA. Would you guess where AA business will migrate to? LATAM, Delta, United… anyone but AA.
    They might review, or they might figure it out months from now… never know.

  14. I for one like this approach, if we must have EQDs. It creates potential scenarios where it possible to earn far more EQDs than the fare would warrant on low Y fares by flying partners.

    For example: from my home base in DEN carriers are currently selling fall roundtrip travel to Europe at round $700 all in. If this were 2017 and I buy that fare on AA I earn about $600 EQDs. But if I buy it on BA with BA flight numbers, and assuming a 10% of distance EQD rate, I earn about $1000 EQDs (depending on exact destination).

    I will be very interested in seeing the actual AA partner charts.

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