Rumor Mill: Big (Bad) Changes Coming To AAdvantage Program

First and foremost, it sounds like there will NOT be any changes to the award chart. So everyone’s redemptions are safe (for now at least). The changes all appear to be in the earning and elite status areas. Here’s what I am hearing so far:

Earlier this morning, AA insider JonNYC tweeted out that big changes were coming to the AAdvantage program. He comically referred to it as an AAvalanche.

Tweet

JonNYC has historically been an extremely accurate source for all things AA related and is not one who is prone to hyperbole, so when he calls this an AAvalanche, you can bet that the changes are going to be bad.

It appears that the award chart is safe and that changes are going to be on the earning and elite status qualification side of things. We knew the AAdvantage program was going to go revenue based in the second half of 2016, but it appears that there are other changes that will be announced today. Those changes are rumored to include:

  • Changes To The Number Of Elite Tiers – I would anticipate that we see 4 elite tiers at 30k, 50k, 100k and 125k.
  • Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) Earning Rates Are Likely To Plummet – I would anticipate that the EQM earning rates on all but the full-fare ticket classes plummet, with the cheapest of the discount fares earning 0 EQMs. That means those of us who like to travel on inexpensive paid tickets will largely be shown the door.
  • Deep Discount Fares Will Get You Nothing As An Elite – No early seat selection, no complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats, not eligible for 500-mile sticker upgrades, etc.
  • Limits On System Wide Upgrade (SWU) Use – I would anticipate we are going to see tighter restrictions on the use of SWUs for top tier elites. I would imagine that only the very top tier elites will have access to these anyways, and that they will be eligible to be used only on certain higher paid fare classes. That is going to limit their usefulness exponentially from the current program.

Keep in mind that these are just my thoughts based upon what I am hearing from sources, so it could be better, it could be worse. But I would honestly prepare for worse in this case. Guess it’s time to see what Delta or United will offer me for a status match, huh?

Stay tuned for the announcement from American sometimes today.

Final Thoughts

If these changes are as bad as they are sounding like, 2017 may be my last year as an AAdvantage elite member. While I am pretty confident that these changes are going to be horrible, I will be curious to see how many travelers like myself who defected from Delta or United go back to those airlines. If I am getting spit on by AA for being loyal, I sure as hell will not continue paying their higher fares for my flights. Regardless, brace for a bad day if you are an AAdvantage elite.

Any thoughts on what the changes will be?

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