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American Airlines just announced one of the major aspects of the bigger, (hopefully) better carrier, after the merger with US Airways: the new AAdvantage program. Essentially, American will adapt the legacy American AAdvantage program to incorporate some features of the Dividend Miles program. US Airways Dividend Preferred members will see the biggest change as their elite structure will be down from four to three tiers. However, if you were hoping to transfer your miles back and forth between the programs, you won’t be able to (like you were with the Delta/Northwest merger). You’ll only be able to transfer from US Airways to American on the merger date. American top tier flyers will gain free same day confirmed options, which is a huge plus for me.
For customers who have an account in both programs and have matched their accounts early in the year, American will move their current Dividend Miles elite-qualifying activity and award mileage into their existing AAdvantage account in the second quarter of 2015. Elite status for 2015 will then be based on a member’s combined elite-qualifying activity from 2014. The same will be true for 2016 elite status, which will be based on combined elite-qualifying activity from 2015. If you’re a current Dividend Miles members who doesn’t have an AAdvantage account, one will automatically be created in the second quarter of 2015.
AAdvantage Elite Status Membership Levels
The new AAdvantage program will offer three levels of elite status membership: AAdvantage Executive Platinum, Platinum, and Gold. AAdvantage members will continue to qualify for elite status based on elite-qualifying miles, points, or segments meaning that unlike United and Delta, American will not be adding a revenue component just yet. However, those who qualify for Executive Platinum status on segments will have to fly 120 segments per year instead of the current 100 segments.
Here’s a look at the new combined program:
|Dividend Miles Elite Level||AAdvantage Elite Level||Elite-Qualifying Miles||Elite-Qualifying Points||Elite-Qualifying Segments|
|Chairman’s Preferred||Executive Platinum||100,000||100,000||120|
500-Mile and Complimentary Upgrades
Once the programs combine in the second quarter of 2015, all elite members will receive unlimited complimentary upgrades on eligible American-marketed and operated flights of 500 miles or less. Executive Platinum members will continue to receive complimentary upgrades on all upgrade-eligible flights regardless of length. Additionally, complimentary upgrades will be requested automatically at the time of booking. Elite member upgrade benefits will continue to work separately for American and US Airways flights until the airlines merge reservation systems later in 2015.
The upgrade policy for elite members traveling on American-marketed and operated flights in eligible markets will be as follows:
|For flights 500 miles or less||Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades||Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades||Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades|
|For flights over 500 miles||Use earned or purchased 500-mile upgrades||Use earned or purchased 500-mile upgrades||Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades|
|Upgrade window||Confirmed as early as 24 hours before departure||Confirmed as early as 72 hours before departure||Confirmed as early as 100 hours before departure|
Until American and US Airways merge reservation systems in late 2015, the upgrade policy for elite members traveling on US Airways-marketed and operated flights in eligible markets will be as follows:
|For all flights||Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades||Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades||Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades|
|Upgrade window||Confirmed as early as 2 days before departure||Confirmed as early as 3 days before departure||Confirmed as early as 4 days before departure|
Once American and US Airways use a single reservation system, all elite upgrades will follow the policy for travel on American outlined above.
AAdvantage Executive Platinum and Dividend Miles Chairman’s Preferred members will now receive a complimentary alcoholic beverage and snack item on US Airways flights in the Main Cabin, as they currently do on American.
Starting January 1, 2015, bonus miles for AAdvantage members on American and US Airways Business Class tickets will increase to 50% (up from the current 25%) to align with what Dividend Miles members receive today. Executive Platinum and Chairman’s Preferred members will also enjoy complimentary same-day flight changes on American Airlines.
Once the programs are combined in the second quarter of 2015, AAdvantage members will be able to redeem miles for upgrades and AAnytime Awards for travel on American and US Airways flights. Executive Platinum members in the combined program will continue to receive eight systemwide upgrades, and those upgrades will be valid on both American and US Airways marketed and operated flights, but will not be able to redeem on US Airways until the second quarter (which would be as soon as April 2015).
As an American Executive Platinum, I was eager to hear the about the new AAdvantage program, since American is one of my favorite airlines. When it comes to Dividend Preferred members, they will lose out on a bunch of upgrades, since unlimited upgrades are going away on flights more than 500 miles, unless they use 500 mile certificates, which Dividend Preferred members will receive next year. For those who qualify by segments, the increase for Executive Platinums to 120 segments per year is a big hurdles for those who qualify on that.
I did have the opportunity to speak to Suzanne Rubin, President American AAdvantage and asked if American would be adding in a revenue requirement. She told me that while anything is open down the line, they are really focused on combing the programs right now and that isn’t their goal, so rest assured that for 2015, American Airlines will not implement any sort of revenue requirement. This was a big sigh of relief for me knowing that revenue requirements won’t be part of the new program.
To me, today’s announcement sets American AAdvantge apart from United and Delta, which makes sense since I’ve always said AAdvantage was the first loyalty program and they shouldn’t just follow in the footsteps, and it doesn’t seem like they are going to.
You can view full details of the new 2015 AAdvantage program to see everything that’s being added. If you're a frequent American flyer but don't have status, additional perks that come with this card like first free checked bag on domestic AA itineraries, preferred boarding on American flights and 10% of your redeemed AA miles back (up to 10,000 miles each year) can be extremely valuable.
If you're a frequent American flyer but don't have status, additional perks that come with this card like first free checked bag on domestic AA itineraries, preferred boarding on American flights and 10% of your redeemed AA miles back (up to 10,000 miles each year) can be extremely valuable.