Reader C.W. emailed me,
Yesterday, was flying DFW-DCA in F and overheard some discussion behind me. Individual doing the talking sounded like he knew a thing or two – we were on one of the new 738s with AVOD and he was discussing delivery of the aircraft, also discussing his ride on the inaugural flight of the new 773 to London. So this guy didn’t strike me as a Joe off the street.
Anyhow, he was stating to his seatmate in no uncertain terms that AA was going revenue-based for the 2016 qualification year. He talked about the recent change at United, the comparison to Delta, and stated that AA would base qualification solely on points tied to fare price during 2015. He also mentioned that new tiers above EXP would be added.
Yes, but the person offering these opinions is making predictions and not sharing actual knowledge.
It could certainly play out this way, but I am 100% certain that nothing has been decided.
Timing in this prediction is right for a program change, sort of:
- The American and US Airways programs are expected to be combined in 2015. The focus now is integration, and the American AAdvantage President has said no major changes before integration happens.
- So any major changes – if there are any — would come at the earliest for 2016.
- We know that 2015 qualifying miles at both US Airways and American will get combined for 2016 status. Any announcement about how qualifying miles will accrue during 2015 will have to come this year and that’s unlikely prior to integration.
- So for elite qualifying it seems like a revenue requirement for 2017 status based on 2016 flying could come to American, but it’s unlikely before that.
But nothing has been decided:
- Nothing is certain two years out. There’s no question that American is aware of and has look at rewarding premium passengers more, they were an early adopter of an alternative elite status qualification scheme for high revenue passengers (“points” which are tracked in parallel with miles).
- United is following Delta. United adopted almost Delta’s exact revenue requirements for elite status. Then United adopted Delta’s exact revenue-based earning. United has no vision of its own. American won’t just follow blindly, and in any case the integration gives them time to come up with their own vision if they need one.
- And the integration gives them time to watch the results at other carriers, learn from others’ mistakes, and either go their own way if customers flock to them in the interim or adjust if they believe they’ll accrue more business or the same business at a lower cost.
The bottom line is that the rumor is one of many things that American could do. C.W. passes on a specific only about elite qualifying and of course doesn’t make a prediction about mileage-earning.
Just because they could do it doesn’t mean it’s what they will do, and there’s no question that there’s not yet a final answer. We’ll have to wait until the 2016 program year at the earliest, it would seem, to be able to call this prediction valid or not.
But in general bloviating frequent flyers telling war stories aren’t the best way to get the inside scoop in my experience. (It also follows that if I turn out to be your seat opponent, you can feel free to keep your noise cancelling headset on while I tell you what I think!).