The long wait is over and the news is out. We now know what to expect for the American Airlines AAdvantage program for 2015. And, generally speaking, not much has changed. That’s mostly because American is keeping the rules separate for flights operated by the US Airways or American Airlines parts of the company. But there are a few other interesting changes to note. The changes are set to take effect in “the second quarter of 2015” so no specific date yet on when things change, but it is coming soon.
The American Airlines AAdvantage program will continue with only 3 tiers for elite status going forward; for US Airways Dividend Miles members this means dropping the 75k level. And for the travelers who earn by segments – arguably the hardest way to qualify, the top tier of Executive Platinum gets harder with a 120 segment requirement rather than 100.
Upgrades are probably where the program remains the most confusing. The main takeaway is that the 500-mile upgrade instruments will remain in the new program. Executive Platinums will still receive unlimited upgrades while Gold and Platinum members will need to use e500s for most upgrades. For flights shorter than 500 miles, however, all AAdvantage elites are eligible for complimentary upgrades now. This is an interesting give from the program, though it is not clear just how many routes are offered of that distance with a 2-cabin layout. It is definitely something new and different to consider.
The 8 SWUs/eVIP upgrades will continue to be issued for Executive Platinum members. They will be valid on all flights system-wide for trips of up to 3 segments.
Also, still no complimentary companion upgrades for top elites; this is something which Dividend Miles folks will need to adjust to.
Flights on US Airways metal will not require 500-mile upgrade instruments going forward in the new program, though that is just an interim step until the end of 2015 when operations merge and then US Airways name goes away.
One other change for US Airways flights is that AAdvantage elites will no longer receive instant upgrades on Y and B fares; those will shift to be processed during the upgrade window rather than at time of booking.
One significant change to the elite benefits for Executive Platinum members is that same-day changes will now be free on AA metal. Personally this was a big gap in the program to me and the company apparently was listening, even if not really to me. This change takes effect in January 2015, ahead of all the other planned changes. Beyond that the complimentary snack & drink when in economy remains for Executive Platinums and free access to Main Cabin Extra seats remains for Platinum and Executive Platinum. Gold can buy MCE at 50% off in advance or get it for free on day of travel.
Travelers in business class will now receive a 50% bonus in earning rather than 25%. That’s a nice plus. And the elite bonus for Platinum members will remain at 100% which is an upgrade for Dividend Miles Gold and Platinum members who are now going to be AAdvantage Platinum. Bonus earning on other partners mostly holds steady as well.
Really not a ton of changes quite yet. And for AAdvantage members almost no changes at all. The Dividend Miles members will need to get used to no longer having unlimited upgrades at the lower tiers and the segment warriors on AAdvantage will have to accept that their lives just got 20% more challenging. I can be slightly annoyed that there are still two very different levels of operations going on, and I would imagine that many Dividend Miles members who reached 75k last year are going to be frustrated to see that they get nothing different from the 50k members, though they will earn more bonus miles than the old 75k tier so that’s a bit of consolation to them.
But mostly not a lot of “big” news here. And that’s probably a good thing.
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