This morning, I posted that American Airlines has announced the details of the 2015 AAdvantage program. Overall, I think the news is good. AAdvantage will remain a program that most American Airlines loyalists recognize. Further, while there are some pockets of potential disappointment for US Airways elites, I think that on the whole, there’s good news for them too. I posted most the highlights this morning, but it never hurts to review a few details.

  • The new AAdvantage will maintain three status tiers, Gold, Platinum, Executive Platinum. For legacy Dividend Miles members, their four tier system will transition to three with Silver transitioning to Gold, Platinum and Gold transitioning to Platinum, and Chairman’s Preferred transitioning to Executive Platinum.
  • Effective January 1, 2015, the requirement to qualify for Executive Platinum by segments will rise to 120 from 100 for the 2016 membership year. Other qualification requirements remain unchanged for the AAdvantage program.
  • Once the programs combine in the second quarter of 2015, all elite members will receive complimentary, auto-requested upgrades on eligible American-marketed and operated flights less than or equal to 500 miles(emphasis mine)

new aadvantage program, combined aadvantage program, 2015 aadvantage program,

Where Flyers May Be Disappointed

  • No more “just over” 500 mile exemptions for upgrades on the AA side.
  • The 75K Platinums on the US side will ask where’s the incentive to fly beyond 50K.
  • No more complimentary upgrades at the low and mid tier for US flyers for flights over 500 miles.
  • The extra 20 segments may be a struggle for some legacy Executive Platinums.

Why Flyers Should Not Be Disappointed

  • Complimentary 500 mile upgrades for all elites is an enhancement on the AA side, and in my opinion, a great compromise for US flyers. (Factoid: AA tells me that the percentage of flights with a 2-class cabin on routes of 500 miles or less that are eligible for a complimentary upgrade is 34 percent of departures.)
  • Executive Platinums will get 8 VIP upgrades good on any fare. US Chairman’s Preferred will get their 2 Chairman’s upgrades, and then 8 VIPSs when the programs merge.
  • US mid tier elites (former Gold and Platinum) will receive 100 percent bonus miles for their flights rather than 50 percent, and 75 percent respectively.
  • Lower tier elites will have a better shot at longer-haul upgrades they care about most.

Last week, I made some predictions (really, just guesses for the sake of discussion) as to what the new program might look like. I came pretty close. I missed on the 3 tier vs 4 tier elite system, and I did not foresee comp 500 mile and less upgrades for all. On the whole, I think there is much more here to like than dislike. I think that AAdvantage is taking the right approach here, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. That’s not to say we won’t see more change down the road, but I feel like this is the best approach for the near term as the airlines integrate their operations and their loyalty programs? MJ says: brAAvo! 🙂

-MJ, October 28, 2014