American Joins Delta And United In Revenue Based Mileage Earning

American announced today that they will award miles based on the fare paid effective for flights taken on or after August 1st.

They will also copy United in adding a 75K elite tier in 2017 unimaginatively named “Platinum Pro.” American requires that Gold and Platinum members earn or purchase upgrades on flights longer than 500 miles, but Platinum Pros will receive complimentary upgrades as Executive Platinums do today.

Just as with United, base members will earn 5 miles per dollar, Golds earn 7, Platinums earn 8, Platinum Pros earn 9, and Executive Platinums earn 11.

For now, the best thing to do is to credit your flights to earn Alaska miles as they still award miles based on flight distance, though odds are that earning rates will drop there as well.

Effective in 2017 American will also require minimum spend requirements to earn elite status that will exactly mirror United’s policy. $3K for Gold, $6K for Platinum, $9K for Platinum Pro, and $12K for Executive Platinum. Delta and United have waivers of those requirements if you spend $25K on their co-brand credit card (though United won’t waive the spend requirement to earn 1K status), but American didn’t announce any waivers as of yet.

Delta and United also waive the spend requirements if you live abroad, but American didn’t announce any waivers for that either.

Million milers will be devalued as there is a new tier of elites on top of each of them that receive complimentary upgrades. Additionally next year upgrades will be prioritized by how much you have spent in the past 12 months on American flights, so million milers who don’t qualify based on spend will be pushed even further down the totem pole.

These changes, coupled with the massive devaluations that AAdvantage did earlier this year and 2 years ago when they eliminated free stopovers and their round-the-world award chart without notice takes most of the value out of the program.

I find that United has far better award availability (especially if you have their credit card), has far more generous routing rules, and still allows valuable free stopovers on awards, making them a better airline for accumulating miles. If you want to fly on American you’ll do better by focusing on partners like Alaska and British Airways for mileage accumulation and redemption.

American has managed to take the worst of USAirways and American to become a truly bumbling airline, worst overall, worst in cancelled flights, and worst in mishandled baggage:

Their mileage program was still lucrative until recently, so they’ve managed to devalue that from all sides as well.

Will American’s changes affect your preferred choice of airline to fly on or accumulate miles with? Hit the comments!

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53 Responses to “American Joins Delta And United In Revenue Based Mileage Earning”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    AA is fast becoming the worst !
    Not only have they gutted their miles program.
    But made it much harder to get direct flights jfk to lax even with paying more for Saver awards. I checked for next April and it’s 20-30k one way coach for direct.
    And I had another flight booked a while ago in business and jfk to lax and they just changed my time without any reason. I had to fight to get it back.

  2. aaron Says:

    If i am currently gold for life will this effect it at all?

  3. Dan Says:

    They’ve become vary stingy with saver awards.

    Read the post please.

  4. Sb Says:

    Does that affect eqm earning towards elite status as well?

  5. Al Says:

    “For now, the best thing to do is to credit your flights to earn Alaska miles as they still award miles based on flight distance”

    You mean, as of August 1,2016?

  6. Sam Says:

    Im currently an AA gold million miler. Finding saver awards in business of first have been murderous over the past 2 years, with the exception of a few seats within a day or 2 of travel. While flying business is nice, i still value free bags, priority check in and the little things being a million miler comes with.

  7. Dan Says:

    You still need the same EQM.

    I’d argue even now, but definitely as of 8/1.

    Even a credit card holder gets a free bag and priority checkin.
    AA Gold is a really weak status.

  8. Jacob Says:

    The allure of AA used to be its FFP… Now they have completely ruined that. combine that with old planes, bad connections, less then stellar lounge offerings and a devalued reward points and well say good bye.

    Who are they trying to kid here? In one year they were able to take one of the best programs and throw it down the trash.

  9. jay Says:

    I’m a 1K and Executive Platinum, with United I eliminate the spend requirement by having my address in Israel, will AA do the same?

  10. Sb Says:

    @Dan: what I mean is do you earn eqm based on revenue or miles flown

  11. Ejb Says:

    Still bitter over your JFK experience?

  12. Dan Says:

    It’s a real shame that the feds changed their mind and allowed USAirways to take them over. They’ve destroyed the airline.

    What a different industry it was when Airtran, Continental, and Northwest were still around. These mergers are just awful.

    I haven’t seen AA say that they will have a similar waiver.

    EQM will still be based on distance, but you’ll also need to have spent enough to get status.

    Just the facts, ma’am.
    But yes, I am. And they still are messing around with the DoT regarding my refund, it’s unreal.

  13. Ejb Says:

    The only good news is eplatinum can now get upgrades on award flights. About time, but I’ll lose my status by the time that happens :(.

    Also sucks that upgrade priority goes to people that have more eqd within each status. Used to be time of booking which actually penalized those that booked higher fares.

  14. Dan Says:

    United and Delta give upgrades on awards for lower-tier elites, AA is playing poor catch-up there.

  15. EJB Says:


    Agreed, though AA had been (until this year) much more generous with SWU than both of those airlines. And the transcontinental flat bed routes are complimentary upgradeable with AA (although extremely difficult in practice), in contrast to DL.

  16. Dan Says:

    Except AA now only gives 4 SWUs.

    And United has RPUs and GPUs and a regional upgrade (RPU) is useable on transcontinental lie-flat or even EWR-HNL lie-flat on any fare.

    Delta and United now outclass AA in nearly every way. Delta has the operational edge, United has the mileage edge, and either are now far better options than AA. The USAir merger has completely destroyed AA.

  17. High end hobo Says:

    ” If you want to fly on American you’ll do better by focusing on partners like Alaska and British Airways for mileage accumulation and redemption”

    Mileage accrual on BA is even worse only 25% on most flights.
    For redemption using AS for AA instead of saving it for CX J/F is criminal. Use etihad or ba to book AA

  18. Dan Says:

    @High end hobo:
    1. AS is better for low fares, BA for premium cabin.
    2. Etihad redemption appears to be horrendous.
    3. BA is great for most AA domestic nonstop, terrible for AA across an ocean or domestic connecting.

  19. EJB Says:


    I said until this year. I agree that now UA is better. AA’s loyalty program is still much better than Delta’s, but it seems like Delta is inching in the right direction. I agree with you about UA. Just need to wait for a 1k challenge and some work flights 🙂

  20. Anonymous Says:

    I will ditch AA along with my 190k miles and start accumulating United miles

  21. Dan Says:

    United should be willing to match Executive Platinum to 1K, just call/email them.

  22. EJB Says:


    EY isn’t all that bad, though I wouldn’t accumulate them over a more all-around good currency

  23. Dave Says:

    It’s interesting to see how Southwest is doing so well on that chart

  24. Jacob Says:


    I said in another forum that who ever thinks there is not a monopoly in the USA air industry has no clue what they are talking about. Even though there are three different companies I wouldn’t be surprised if one day it was found out that they have secret meetings behind closed doors to screw the customers they claim they serve.

    The lack of real competition has caused checked baggage, fees devalued miles, higher ticket prices, less direct flights, bad conditions for flight attendants and pilots, horrible frequent flier programs and the list goes on.

    It’s a sad day to see the entire USA air market be controlled by three giants who copy each other’s way of treating their loyal customers all while smiling and saying it’s an enhancement.

  25. Mike Says:

    AA redemption is still good for Latin America. I redeemed earlier this year for more than $0.04. @Dan your posts need to differentiate better between earning points and redeeming. Many of your readers are getting the bulk of their points from CC sign-ups rather than taking 100 flights a month across the world. How does the revenue based mileage earning impact redemption rates for someone who is primarily earning their points via the initial CC sign-up?

  26. Dan Says:

    Definitely explains how they’ve all copied each other. There’s no creative thought left in airline loyalty.

    On what route was it better than Alaska or BA?

    What impacts even cc users are the increased mileage requirements, strict routing rules, lack of stopovers, stingy saver award space, etc.

  27. sb Says:

    @Dan: Right now I have temporary platinum status and if i get 12500 EQM’s before september i retain platinum until 2018

  28. Dan Says:

    I wouldn’t make yourself too crazy for Platinum.
    The real benefits don’t kick in until Platinum Pro or EXP.

  29. Is the $200 Fee Worth it for Plat Challenge Says:

    With the downgrade in the value of the AAdvantage Program, is it worth to pay the $200 for the Platinum Challenge? I already booked a transatlantic business class ticket and would qualify for Platinum for the one round trip. Is it worth the $ though for what you get?

  30. Al Says:


    AA has tightened the screws with respect to availability. It USED to be good. Not anymore.

    I checked availability to Bogota for July and August, and there is no saver space in either coach or business.

  31. yudig Says:


    i noticed the line about ua 1k elite and no waiver for spend…does having a non us address work for 1k as it does for gold or platinum levels?

  32. Dan Says:

    @Is the $200 Fee Worth it for Plat Challenge:
    That would depends on your flying patterns.

    Non-US does waive all spend requirements for all levels for Delta and United.

  33. Maifriend Says:

    Booked a 1st class saver on AA from Orlando to SFO at 11:25am so that I don’t have to drag the kids out of bed at 6am. Guest what? AA cancelled my flight, put us on the 10:40am flight and created a new flight at 11:43am. Asking them why they cancelled my flight? Answer was unpredictable weather, aircraft maintenance, etc… Asking them why they put me on the 10:40am instead of 11:43am, they said it would have cost me more miles than the 25K for one way. Basically the more desirable 11:xx am flight has been “freed” for more desirable customers. The smart guys who got the flight by booking early are now flying at a less desirable time.

    I’m flying almost free and shouldn’t be complaining. However if I have to pay, I will be mostly looking somewhere else.

  34. Al Says:

    @Dan, @yudig, I’m not sure about Delta, but for United the waiver does not apply to 1K

  35. Dan Says:

    AA is terrible with schedule changes on award tickets if there’s no award space on the flight that matches better with your times.
    Delta and United are a pleasure in those cases.

    That’s not correct.
    The credit card waiver doesn’t apply for 1K, but the non-USA waiver does apply for 1K.

  36. ari Says:

    seems AA is competing with its partner EL-AL as to whom can have the worst frequent flier program

    btw el-al has repartnered with AA to allow AA flts on the domestic as well as intl flts when flying ELAL routing of ORD-TLV you can now use AA from ord to london or paris and connect with elal to tlv
    but as you say is a waste of miles flown if the rewards are devalued

  37. Jacob Says:

    Another point about DL is that they have now become the innovators… they were the first to bring back snacks (sad that this is considered innovating) and Free IFE for all passengers.

    Also Another huge benefit for infrequent travelers or those that like to shop around… DL points never expire.

  38. Dan Says:

    Hopefully they bring back their mileage partnership.

    It’s easy to make miles never expire when you massively devalue them as Delta has.
    I’ll still stick with United due to far superior miles. And their service and operations have been on the upswing since they fired Smisek who was a true cancer in the organization.

  39. Jack out of the box Says:

    Ever since AA parted ways with Elal my AA miles are very limited in their use for me. My wife and I each have a nice amount of miles but not much use for them between TLV and NYC.

  40. Dan Says:

    @Jack out of the box:
    Can use them on AirBerlin, need to call to book that. can search AirBerlin space.

    But yes, AA is very tough for TLV.

  41. Jack out of the box Says:

    @Dan: Something new about AB bookings on Iberia isn’t searchable on AB has been there.

  42. Dan Says:

    @Jack out of the box:
    I’ve seen a lot more AB space on Iberia than on AA.

  43. Jack out of the box Says:

    @Dan: Interesting. If I just open an Avios account with Iberia, can I search for flights even with no Avios balance?

  44. iahphx Says:

    While you are certainly correct in noting that UA has significantly better award availability than AA (especially with UA elite status or their credit card), you are wrong to call AA a “bumbling” airline. I’ve flown about 50,000 miles with them so far this year and have yet to have even a delayed flight. The service in the air and on the ground is about as good as USA airlines do.

    That said, unless you live in an AA hub or can otherwise take advantage of Avios redemptions on AA, it’s currently better to earn and burn miles with UA and their myriad partners. Not only is UA award inventory much better than AA, UA has much better PARTNER availability as well.

    Just keeping it real — and realistic.

  45. Sam Says:

    Do United club AU get clib access when the primary card holder isnt present?

  46. Dan Says:

    @Jack out of the box:

    My experiences have been the exact opposite. Endless delays and cancellations. But our tiny data points are meaningless. Look at the Wall Street Journal chart in the post for actual rankings based on hard data.

  47. Mike Says:

    @Dan: @Dan I am not an expert on the comparison of AA to BA or Alaska so I’ll take your word for it as this is your expertise. I flew in January from BOS-EZE and returned via Rio (GIG) through MIA back to BOS. It worked out good for me and based on what you are saying regarding lack of saver awards ……etc I’m glad I used a good chunk of my miles for a decent redemption. Going off the redemption chart it still seems AA to Latin America has value though if there are no seats available its a moot point.

    As an aside the one partnership program I do not have miles in is United (Star Alliance). As luck would have it, I just opened the mail and there is a 50,000 offer ($3K spend) to sign up for a Mileage Plus Explorer card. Is this the best out there or is there a better promotion available? Thanks.

  48. Dan Says:


  49. ExGingi Says:

    Here is the biggest problem of how the airlines collaborate

    Deregulation (which is overall a good thing) led to the current situation, but it seems like the pendulum has swung too far in one direction. At some point something might give, and we might see some consumer protection coming in and swinging the pendulum in the other direction.

  50. ExecPlat Says:

    Caveat re: 500 mile updates is that continuous ExecPlat members don’t earn them. I’ve Ben CK for 2y and ExecPlat for 4. I am swimming in SWUs but have <40 500MUs (already flown 129K miles this year FYI). The overall program changes are positive for some (i.e., business travelers) but the ExecPlat upgrade benefit seems like smoke and mirrors.

    Separately, Delta only allows award ticket upgrades on miles so the two programs aren't really comparable. On the one hand, 500MUs are basically useless to ExecPlat members. On the other, ExecPlats don't earn 500MUs where we still earn Delta miles so can upgrade as much as we like, even if it is quite expensive…

    Perhaps I'm missing something? Thoughts appreciated. Thanks.

  51. Israel Matzav Says:

    @Dan: I don’t get what you mean by that. Are you saying that if I’m EP on AA (and a million miler), I can just convert that to 1K status on United?

  52. Israel Matzav Says:

    @Dan: The El Al – AA partnership will never come back until the old TWA workers die or are paid off.

  53. eli Says:

    can you clarify re: United. Can I earn elite status (platinum ,platinum pro, executive platinum) just by spending a lot like 25k+ on The United Explorer Card per year even if I do not earn by flying? or that won’t do it. if yes, what are the elite benefits?


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