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WebFlyer Home > News & Advice > NotiFlyer

NotiFlyer :: Late-Breaking News
Late-Breaking Program News More Good News for Elite Members
(Posted: Dec 16, 2003)

It's official, the frequent flyer sky is not falling.

After Delta and Continental each announced changes to their programs that were thoroughly panned by respective members, many travelers feared the worst. But shortly after Continental announced its changes, Northwest chimed in to let its members know no significant changes would be made to the WorldPerks program in 2004. Then United Mileage Plus took it a step further when it announced a series of changes to its elite program that made it easier for members to earn elite status and increased the benefits elites would receive (see the Mileage Plus press release regarding the changes to the program at http://www.united.com/press/detail/0,1442,51440,00.html ).

And now the American AAdvantage program has released its changes for 2004, and once again the changes can only be considered positive for members.

In fact, only one aspect of the program has changed, and that is the manner in which elite qualifying points will be doled out. American AAdvantage members are able to earn elite status through any one of three methods -- 1) Earn a required number of miles, 2) Fly a required number of segments, or 3) Earn a required number of elite qualifying points (the number of points earned on any given flight varies by the type of fare purchased).

The changes to the elite qualifying point system are shown in the chart below:

Fare Class Flown2004
New Points Earned Per Mile
Previous Points Earned Per Mile
First Class 1.50 1.50
Business Class 1.50 1.25
Full-fare Economy Class
(Y and B)
1.50 1.00
Discount Economy Class
(H, K, M, Q - except American Airlines trans-Atlantic fares booked in Q - W and V)
1.00 .50
Deep Discount Economy Class
(G, L, N and S)
.50 .50

What's more, American is retroactively awarding these new point earning levels to members' 2003 flights. Members who would have earned a higher elite status or retained their current status under the new points qualification guidelines (based on their 2003 flight activity) will be awarded the higher status for the 2004 membership year.

"We understand that our AAdvantage members like to accrue miles using a variety of fares, and they value the benefits that come with elite status," said Dan Garton, American's executive vice president of Marketing. "These improvements to the AAdvantage elite levels give our customers more of what they value."

Clearly Mr. Garton and the AAdvantage team have been listening to not only their own members, but members of other programs who have suffered not-so-positive elite program changes. In referencing members' who fly on a variety of fares, Garton speaks directly to thousands of travelers who have complained about changes in their own programs that have the effect of rewarding them only when they travel on high-fare tickets.

Previous comments:

K.C. from Florida
posted: Dec 19, 2003 at 8:53pm (MT)

I commend American Airlines for putting the customer first. American (like united) are realizing that we, the customers, are the heart of their business and success. It is my belief that American Airlines and United Airlines will achieve great success in 2004. Despite the financial woes that are currently plaguing both of these companies. I believe that we, the customers will be the "cream" that helps both of these companies rise to the top. I am a elite member of the American Advantage Program and my sister is a flight attendant for United. I am proud of the changes that have been made by both of these companies. DELTA AND CONTINENTAL, take notice...We, the customers, pay your salary. Please take note of your competitors changes in the coming year. Remember, as financial guru Suze Orman would say, PEOPLE FIRST, THEN MONEY.

AJ from NJ
posted: Dec 26, 2003 at 7:49pm (MT)

I flew over 100K miles this year on Delta but rec'd just over 50K Medallion Qualification Miles (50,013 to be exact). In years past, I would have been thanked with a Platinum Medallion but not this year. I was basically penalized for using their L,U, and T fares on a weekly basis to save money. I guess in today's world frequent fliers are people who spend a lot and not necessarily people who fly a lot. Now even Continental is adapting Delta's stingy attitude towards it's regular customers. Maybe I'll have to start flying AirTran in '04 and stop supporting airlines which do not support me.

CJ from NH
posted: Jan 28, 2004 at 1:21pm (MT)

I agree with AJ, above. I fly frequently, and have been executive platinum with American each year since 1997. American managed a great team well, they helped me succeed in business, and I was a very loyal customer.....UNTIL....in 2003 they instituted their "no waivers no favors" policy, reading every fare rule before making a decision, and extracting every pound of flesh, which particularly hurt their frequent travelers. After 7 hellish flights in a row in May and June, held up for hours while AA staff read the rules to tell me how much to pay to make a change, I found ways around flying for the next four months. By December 31 I had still flown 93,000 qualifying miles, all on published fares. Like AJ, though, we used lower fares as we were able to plan ahead. Despite American's much-touted "new better" Advantage program, I do not expect to be exec again this year despite my 93,000+ qualifying miles in 2003 under their old program...and flying with them has become so difficult I am not sure I care. I am sorry, though, that my great partner is gone. Sign me "in the market for a new airline"

Jeff M.
posted: Mar 4, 2004 at 10:27am (MT)

Complete agreement with CJ, I am sick of being nickle-and-dimed by AA. But the AA (and UA)programs are so much better than DL/CO/NW that even with 100% rule enforcement I still can't justify a switch.
I am looking into UA however....
If I had to guess, I wouldn't expect AA to grandfather CJ at 93K miles even after 5 years at executive platinum...I do recall being grandfathered for one year by UA in the mid 90's. FF miles shouldn't make *that* much difference to the airline's bottom line, since it is generally giving away empty seats that wouldn't generate revenue anyway, so why not be liberal with deeply discounted fares? Delta drove me away in '95 and I'm glad that American hasn't taken the extreme position as some of the others...yet...but I can almost smell it coming.

Simon Manning
posted: Mar 27, 2004 at 11:38pm (MT)

I completely agree with AJ CJ & Jeff M. AA tout their OneWorld Alliance as THE Global Alliance with it's OneWorld Explorer RoundTheWorld fares which aint cheap. But in 2003 AA shifted their OneWorld Explorer passengers from M class to so-called 'deep discount' L Class which drops mileage allocation from 1 AAdvantage mile per mile to 0.5 AAdvantage miles per mile. This is a major significant shift in policy which (with all due respect) Webflyer overlooked in their editorial on the AAdvantage changes. So guess what? It is now impractical for any OneWorld Explorer passenger to be Exec. Platinum. Star Alliance, here we come! Their RTW fare earns the full quota.

JW from CA
posted: Mar 29, 2004 at 2:15am (MT)

This is a trend web flyer and others haven't noticed - the half mile awarded for so-called 'deep discount' travel. Mark my words, in 3 years, ALL discount travel will only earn half a mile. Just see how AA are slowly implementing this policy which they are burning to implement across the board. They HATE having to give a whole mile for discount travel, and are currently doing so through gritted teeth.

GS from CA
posted: Jun 12, 2004 at 5:15pm (MT)

An AA Platinum member for the past 3 years, I earned my status each year flying at least 50,000 miles. I've never concerned myself with segment or point requirements. I don't think I've ever flown more than 50 segments, and I probably only earned about 35,000 points over this past year or so. I fly the cheapest way I can each time, using upgrades to fly business or first. I suppose if your company is paying for first and/or business class fares, it might be a bit frustrating to not be able to earn your status as easily as you have in the past. If you can afford to fly business or first on your own dime, you probably don't care too much about this anyway. The rest of us coach flyers haven't been impacted at all. It's still an elite mile credited for each mile flown. And if you're earning status based on segments, you aren't impacted either. Comparing the programs, AA beats the rest hands down. UA is good, but have you seen the configurations of their planes compared to AA? Consider the 737: 8 first class seats on UA compared to 16 on AA. Unless you're Premier Exec 1K, don't expect an upgrade. The larger planes (767,777) have similar amounts of business and first class seating on UA as on AA, but that's it. AA also has more room throughout coach. "Economy Plus" you say? While I usually get exit rows in coach, I've learned to appreciate the "More Room" after missing a connection at O'Hare due to weather, being put on standy for the next flight out, and getting one of the last 2 seats in the back of the plane to LAX. I'd vote for "More Room" over "Economy Plus" any day - everyone gets the extra legroom. And the last time I checked, AA is still the only airline to offer lifetime elite status based on total miles earned in the program, not just miles flown. Want to switch to another carrier? Be my guest. More upgrade seats for the rest of us.

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