American Just Published How You’ll Earn Qualifying Dollars on Partner Airlines. And Devalued Some Miles-Earning, Too.

Earning American AAdvantage elite status is going to require minimum spending next year in addition to miles flown. That is, earning status in 2017 that will expire January 31, 2019 will need:

  • $3000 for Gold status (in addition to miles/segment)
  • $6000 for Platinum status (in addition to miles/segment)
  • $6000 for Platinum status (in addition to miles/segment)
  • $9000 for Platinum Pro status (in addition to miles/segment)
  • $12,000 for Executive Platinum status (in addition to miles/segment)

We can expect there to be an exemption of some kind based on spend with an American AAdvantage co-brand card, but we do not yet know how much spend, whether the exemption will apply even to top tier status, and whether spend with non-US credit cards will count.

There is no exemption for customers based outside the U.S.

American Airlines-marketed flights will count towards the Elite Qualifying Dollar requirement based on the fare and any carrier surcharges. So if you fly American Airlines with an American flight number, or you fly a partner like Japan Airlines with an American flight number, the fare value will count.

Like Delta, they are also making it possible to earn qualifying dollars when flying on partner airlines. American will not get the data on the fare for each segment if the flight doesn’t have an American Airlines code on it, so they’re going to award qualifying dollars based on distance and fare class.

And American published the charts for earning elite qualifying dollars on partner airlines today.

For instance, here’s the chart for British Airways:

But wait… Elite qualifying dollars aren’t relevant until 2017. So why exactly does this new chart with elite qualifying dollars-earning go into effect August 1?

Because on the same day American starts awarding redeemable miles based on the price of a ticket they’ve also made changes (devalued) mileage earning on partner airlines again (they just published changes to British Airways and Iberia earning in November and then again a few weeks later).

At the same time American has published partner qualifying dollars-earning charts they’ve snuck in some redeemable mileage-earning devaluations as well. For instance British Airways “H” fares earn 100% of flown miles through July 31. Starting August 1 they only earn 50% of flown miles.

Here’s the 100% earning on H fares — that goes away August 1:

H fares receive fewer redeemable miles on Cathay Pacific and Qantas as well. Update: I’ve gone through the partner earning charts and some are devalued by as much as 75%.

The good news though is that the cheapest premium economy fares earn 20% of flown miles as elite qualifying dollars, and the cheapest business fares earn 25% of flown miles as elite qualifying dollars.

Unfortunately it doesn’t hold true for all airlines. For instance the cheapest business class fares on Qatar and Qantas earn 20% of flown miles as elite qualifying dollars. And the cheapest business class fares on Japan Airlines earn only 14%!

Nonetheless, the best strategies for those who aren’t spending enough with American to earn elite status and if we don’t get the requirements fully waived via credit card spend, will be:

  • Business class mistake fares on partner airlines
  • Cheap business class fares on partner airlines

Instead of doing just mileage runs for elite qualifying miles, or like in the old days where it actually made sense to take trips to earn the redeemable miles (those days really did exist), there will be flyers taking elite qualifying dollar runs.

Let’s take a look at a one-way business class fare on oneworld airline Qatar Airways from Cairo to Atlanta.

That’s 8740 flown miles.

Qatar Airways D fares earn 25% of flown miles as qualifying dollars.

This $1355 ticket (which is just $1208 in fare and surcharges) earns 2117 qualifying dollars. In other words, this partner business class ticket has nearly twice the value of spending the same amount of money on an American Airlines flight.

And, of course, you’re flying Qatar.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Appears to me American either doesn’t want to offer free flights or doesn’t want my business. Either way I am starting to think about United Airlines at this point. UA has a better alliance and isn’t getting as stingy as AA.

  2. There are some rather advantageous EQD earning rates on certain discount economy fares on certain partners. For example a random search of JL fares DEN-NRT in October, shows fares at ~$1150 (Base + carrier surcharges) in Q class. Routing through DFW, thats about ~14000 miles, earning 1400 ish EQDs (10%). Fying AA marketed flights on the same day, same route, are priced about the same but would earn 1100 or so EQDs. Not as good as business of course. But still useful – for those of who are flying for work or other non running purposes.

    And that’s not even the best example. I’m quite fine with this system – noting that I consider RDMs to be essentially irrelevant.

  3. @gary
    Gary
    What does earning on LAN marketed flights in terms of redeenable base miles looks like after aug 1?
    Do the rules apply also if I fly lan marketed but AA operated and I credit to AA number?
    If they did not change that it can be good strategy to earn more redeemable miles after aug 1
    Tks

  4. Good grief! This is too complicated for 99% of fliers to comprehend and retain. That’s just the way the airlines want it.

  5. I checked my Qatar trip ex-CMB for next year and it’s in I class. That means only 20% multiplier, and they axed the 25% RDM class of service bonus. Laaaaaame

  6. @Gary –

    Ok. So if I book a ticket for next year on BA thru their website, but it’s a codeshared AA flight, I’m still gonna get the BA EQD and not AA EQD. Correct?

    When it’s published at 20% EQD of a flight, it makes me think I’m gonna get 20%- of $$ paid. But it seems in essence, it’s 20%+

    Kind of right???

  7. @Melinda – if you buy an American Airlines-operated flight with a British Airways code on it then it earns based on fare class and distance, not spending.

  8. As noted upstream, you Jeff’d your example…

    Since I gave up on UA loooong ago and credit my few DL flights to AS, here’s a total newbie question:

    In your (Jeff’d) example, the CAI-DOH flight is in first (“A”) and the DOH-LAX is in biz (“D”). So the EQD’s should be:

    CAI-DOH: $427
    DOH-LAX: $2077
    TTL: $2504

    And still even more confusing to me, flying out of either SJO/MGA is that most of my tickets would be 001 (AA) tickets. So even flying on the partners, the fare details would pass to AA so which would control — what AA sees or the partner chart?

    Definitely will be doing EQD runs — can free agent for the “domestic” stuff but my Asia/ME flying will be partners.

    Thoughts?

  9. Last year I set out to hit Plat on real flights (no mileage runs) and I did.

    But this nonsense is out of control, I will not attempt to maintain status after this – it’s ridiculously over complicated now and American’s goal is to make it far harder to achieve status.

    I have been willing to jump through hoops, but setting the hoop on fire after you tell me to start running is no good. Yeah it’s their obstacle course, but I’m not running it anymore.

  10. There will also be flyers who abandon American as an airline of choice. In my opinion, the “Delta-ization” of American Airlines has removed whatever incentives were left to be loyal to this airline. I’ve already been burned by using miles to book flights post-change, and it’s likely a better deal to just buy a ticket outright than attempt to use American award miles. For all it’s faults, United still runs a better mile awards program. My future plans include using up all my American miles and “flying the friendly skies” of another carrier for award travel. As far as ticket purchase, I’m going with whatever air carrier has the best deal. Sadly, with American, the juice is no longer worth the squeeze. Happy profits, y’all!

  11. This year, I will loose my Diamond status on DL (where I am also a MM) as I simply gave up on them after the last few devaluations. I will fly them when convenient, or when they’re cheap, and will use my lifetime Platinum Elite status with Flying Blue to possibly (but probably not) get a perk. I switched my allegiance to AA as they had not made the change yet. I am on my way to reach Platinum with them this year but that will be the end of that. AA will go the way of DL in my booking pattern (choosing price and convenience over anything else for my 150,000 miles/year).

    On UA, some folks here mention them as a viable alternative. Not me. Due to corporate guidelines from one of our clients I flew them almost every other week CLT – ORD v.v. from january of this year. They were literally late every other flight, often both ways, and anywhere from 30 minutes to 4+ hours. Cancelled on my once. I understand a plane is a mechanical object and can break, and I understand weather can be a factor. But UA seemed to have so much “bad luck” with mechanics and weather that they lost my business. I am still flying that sector a lot, but now on AA, where I have more choice of departure and arrival times, and much (MUCH!) fewer delays. Yes, they are not as cheap as the corporate rate through my client, but I wasted too much of my time waiting to see if UA would actually deliver me more or less at the contracted time as promised.

    I have been a global flyer and a frequent one at that: DL 1,300,000, AA 750,000, UA 100,000, Flying Blue: Lifetime, BA 175,000 and then there are other where I don’t keep track (like LH when I lived in Germany). But I simply don’t care about status anymore, as clearly the airlines don’t care about loyalty anymore. Adios game. Hello cold, hard cash and convenience decisions. If you don’t care for me to fly “you” I don’t care who I fly.

  12. @Gary, thanks for the clarification 🙂

    So interesting, cause AA has a better business class that the standard BA, so will take advantage of the BA flight sale with AARP discount for next year. But will fly the codeshared AA flight.

    So if I’m going to hit EXP again next year, I won’t spend a dime on American. I know I’m not the only one going with the strategy, but how dumb on AA’s part. What’s their strategy? Will put all my $$ to carriers that offer me a better EQD’s at a faster rate.

  13. With such poor mileage earning, $12000 spend, fewer (4 SWU ) and an increased award chart. Oh also forgot about fewer domestic upgrades too, why bother with Executive Platinum.

  14. American is beating me to death. Every year it’s getting harder to attain status. I give up. I have actually paid almost $1,200 the past few years just to upgrade my status. Never again. It’s time to shop.

  15. One thing that I noticed…

    EQD’s for Exec Plat are $12K… however if you hung on to your Aviator Credit card, you can generate spend:

    AAdvantage® AviatorTM Red, AviatorTM Blue and AviatorTM Business MasterCard® accounts can earn up to $3,000 EQDs by spending $25,000 on qualifying net purchases during the calendar year.

    AAdvantage® AviatorTM Silver MasterCard® accounts can earn up to $6,000 EQDs by spending $50,000 on qualifying net purchases each calendar year. They’ll earn $3,000 EQDs after spending $25,000 on qualifying purchases and another $3,000 EQDs after $50,000 on qualifying purchases.

    (source: https://www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-program/aadvantage-program-updates.jsp )

    HOWEVER…

    If you have the Citi card, no deals.

    Seriously, WTF?

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