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When American Airlines first shared its 2016 AAdvantage program, the carrier also announced an increase in Elite-Qualifying Mile (EQM) earning rates. With the change, American Airlines jumped to the forefront in incentivizing premium-cabin flyers by making it even easier to earn elite status.

What 2016 elite earning rates looked to be...
2016 elite earning rates — before United’s announcement today.

Well, today, United Airlines announced changes to its MileagePlus Program for 2016, matching American Airlines’ elite-qualifying rates exactly. Note, however, that while AA does not have a revenue requirement for elite status, United’s is still in place and remains unchanged from 2015.

United changes
United’s new earning chart for 2016.

Full-fare first and business-class flights will now earn 3 Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs) per mile flown, and discounted first and business-class fares will earn 2 PQMs per mile flown.

This earning rate increase shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Business and first class customers — particularly those purchasing full-fare tickets — are most valuable to an airline. Naturally, they’re also the customers who may benefit least from elite status, since many of those same perks come along with premium-cabin tickets.

United announced this change to 2016 PQM rates in an email this afternoon.
United announced this change to 2016 PQM rates in an email this afternoon.

Where United is differing from American Airlines is that it’s also increasing PQM earning rates for certain Star Alliance partners. In 2016, American Airlines is equalizing partner earning rates at 0.5 EQM per mile in economy and only 1.5 EQM per mile in business/first.

United's partner earning rates on Air Canada in 2016
United’s partner earning rates on Air Canada in 2016.

United has already changed its earnings charts for the following partner airlines to reflect these increased earning rates:

It seems that PQM earnings rates on United’s other partners will remain unchanged from 2015.

Will this change affect your travel plans in 2016?

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