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Meet the woman now in charge of American's AAdvantage frequent flyer program

March 11, 2022
3 min read
Meet the woman now in charge of American's AAdvantage frequent flyer program
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American Airlines has a new head of its frequent flyer program.

Longtime executive Julie Rath was appointed to a new role as vice president of customer experience, loyalty and marketing.

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Rath previously served as vice president of customer experience and reservations, a role in which she oversaw various parts of the airport and customer experience. Among other functions, she oversaw the teams that help rebook passengers after operational issues like weather disruptions. She also helmed the departments in charge of handling checked baggage.

AAdvantage has been without an executive head since the previous president, Rick Elieson, resigned in September after nearly 30 years at the airline.

AAdvantage was led in the interim by Heather Samp, the loyalty program's managing director, who will continue in the role and report to Rath.

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While Elieson focused solely on AAdvantage in that role, Rath's responsibilities also include marketing and various aspects of customer experience that she carries over from her previous role. She will report to Alison Taylor, American's chief customer officer.

"These remarkable leaders are each strategic, enthusiastic champions of the customer experience," Taylor said in a press release. "We look forward to the great strides we will continue to make in providing an easy, consistent experience for our customers under their leadership."

Read more: 7 elite status qualification changes TPG staffers hope to see in 2022

Rath has about three decades of airline industry experience. She began her career with Northwest Airlines in 1991, continuing with Delta Air Lines after its merger with Northwest, according to LinkedIn. She joined American in 2016 as the managing director of customer experience and customer service recovery.

Rath's appointment comes several weeks into an overhaul of the AAdvantage frequent flyer status program.

Under the new program, a new metric called "Loyalty Points" replaces the previous elite status benchmarks, Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) and Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs). Members earn Loyalty Points when they earn AAdvantage miles — one mile earned equals one Loyalty Point. While the requirements for each status tier are steep, making it more difficult to earn status through flying alone. On the upside, however, almost all mileage-earning activity counts towards status now, including credit card spend and the use of shopping portals.

Featured image by Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards Rate

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees