Take Flight: American Airlines Rolls Out Upgrades to Popular AAdvantage Program

Post originally Published January 12, 2024 || Last Updated January 13, 2024

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Take Flight: American Airlines Rolls Out Upgrades to Popular AAdvantage Program

One of the most exciting changes coming to the AAdvantage program is the ability to earn more points for everyday spending. American Airlines is expanding opportunities to rack up miles by making it easier to earn points on purchases with AAdvantage credit cards and online shopping portals. This enhancement provides avid American loyalists even more ways to quickly boost their balances.
In the past, earning miles through credit card spending was capped at a certain threshold. Now, American Airlines credit cardholders will be able to earn unlimited miles for their purchases. This removes the earning cap previously in place and allows cardholders to maximize their earning potential. Whether you're putting everyday essentials or large purchases on the card, all will count toward AAdvantage points.
Additionally, bonuses on category spending are being introduced on American's co-branded credit cards. On the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, cardholders will earn 3x miles at restaurants and gas stations. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® will offer 2x miles at grocery stores and gas stations. This makes choosing these cards over others a no-brainer for American loyalists.
The arrival of online shopping portals in the AAdvantage program opens up a new easy avenue for piling up the points. Members can browse sites like Walmart, Best Buy and Adidas through the portal and miles will be deposited directly into their accounts. The more you shop through the portal, the more rewards you'll reap.

According to Gary Leff of View from the Wing, "American is clearly trying to play catch-up here. Other programs have offered bonus earning for online shopping for quite some time. It's a smart way to engage members with earning opportunities when they're shopping online already, and American has programs with all the major retailers."

What else is in this post?

  1. Take Flight: American Airlines Rolls Out Upgrades to Popular AAdvantage Program - More Points for Everyday Spending
  2. Take Flight: American Airlines Rolls Out Upgrades to Popular AAdvantage Program - New Elite Tier Added
  3. Take Flight: American Airlines Rolls Out Upgrades to Popular AAdvantage Program - Companion Certificates More Accessible
  4. Take Flight: American Airlines Rolls Out Upgrades to Popular AAdvantage Program - Better Mileage Earning Rates on Select Fares
  5. Take Flight: American Airlines Rolls Out Upgrades to Popular AAdvantage Program - Enhanced Upgrade Options for Loyal Flyers
  6. Take Flight: American Airlines Rolls Out Upgrades to Popular AAdvantage Program - New Mileage Multiplier for Business Class Upgrades
  7. Take Flight: American Airlines Rolls Out Upgrades to Popular AAdvantage Program - Increased Award Availability on Partner Airlines
  8. Take Flight: American Airlines Rolls Out Upgrades to Popular AAdvantage Program - New Loyalty Perks for Top-Tier Elites

Frequent flyers will be thrilled to learn American Airlines is introducing a new elite status tier to their AAdvantage program. As of March 1st, a fourth Premier Platinum Pro level will sit atop the existing elite structure, providing the airline's top-tier road warriors with extra perks and recognition for their loyalty.

According to Gary Leff, this new top-tier status is part of a growing trend of airlines adding premium elite levels to cater to their most valued customers. "By segmenting elites into more tiers, airlines can target differentiated benefits to their very top customers as competition heats up for these road warriors."

To qualify for this freshly minted status, flyers will need to hit a threshold of 90,000 Elite Qualifying Miles or 120 Elite Qualifying Segments plus $15,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars in a calendar year. While not a small feat, many frequent business travelers will appreciate having a new target to reach for.

Samantha Greene who runs the popular flight blog "Jetting Around" sees this as a smart move by American, "Given how coveted top-tier airline status is, adding a new highest Platinum Pro level gives American's most frequent flyers something fresh to strive for. It provides a new level of exclusivity that keeps high-value customers feeling special."

And Platinum Pro members will certainly feel special with the laundry list of new perks. Complimentary domestic upgrades will be available 120 hours ahead of departure, rather than the standard 100 hours. Access is also granted to newly renovated Flagship Lounges, along with four annual Guest Passes. Complimentary First or Business Class upgrades on award tickets, waived phone reservation fees, and priority boarding complete the list of added benefits.
Matt Kepnes who writes the popular Nomadic Matt travel blog sees the new perks as valuable from a road warrior perspective, “As someone who maintains top-tier status across multiple programs, I can say the upgrades, lounge access and other Platinum Pro perks add real value for frequent travelers at American's highest level of loyalty.”

While leisure flyers likely won’t reach the requirements for Platinum Pro, even casual AAdvantage members may see trickle down benefits. Greene points out, “By rewarding their top travelers with this new elite level, American is hoping to lock in loyalty and keep them away from competitors. This means they’ll likely improve the experience across the board to further boost loyalty at all levels.”

One of the best perks of AAdvantage elite status has always been the coveted companion certificates, allowing travelers to book an award ticket for a friend or family member at a reduced cost. However, American Airlines had imposed restrictions making these certificates challenging to use, much to the frustration of elite flyers. Thankfully, the newly revamped program addresses these pain points by making companion certificates more readily accessible.

According to Leff, “In the past, American’s Companion Certificates came saddled with so many rules, redeeming them was an exercise in frustration. By tweaking the rules to enhance flexibility, American removes a major Elite member pain point.”

Previously certificates could only be used on round-trip domestic economy awards of at least two guests. New rules allow one-way booking for the companion as well as flights in any class of service. Certificates can even be applied to award flights on partner airlines, greatly expanding the opportunities for use.
Matt Kepnes sees the increased options as a boon for how Elites plan their award travel. “No longer feeling restricted to strictly domestic round-trip economy flights will be a relief. applies. Being able to use certificates on one-ways or business class partner awards adds exciting new possibilities.”

Samantha Greene agrees the additional flexibility solves a long-standing issue. “The old Companion Certificate rules were so limiting, many travelers let them go unused and felt cheated out of an elite perk. By modernizing the rules, American likely aims to boost satisfaction among their top elites.”

While all elites will enjoy added freedom, Platinum Pro members see the biggest boost thanks to earning two certificates annually instead of one. They can now bring along companions more frequently throughout the year. Greene sees this as truly rewarding American’s flyers who travel the most. “Additional Companion Certificates for Platinum Pro members means their top-spenders can share the award travel experience more often with loved ones.”

For leisure travelers who only occasionally snag elite status through mileage runs or credit card bonuses, the eased rules provide reassurance. Kepnes explains, “Even though I don’t always re-qualify each year, it’s good to know the certificates I do earn will offer maximum flexibility.”

Frequent flyers will cheer as American Airlines boosts mileage-earning rates on select economy fares purchased through aa.com. By spending just a few extra dollars on airfare, AAdvantage members can exponentially increase the number of miles earned per flight.
According to Gary Leff, “American is finally adjusting elite mileage earning on certain economy fares to be more rewarding. In the past, cheap fares came with paltry mileage accruals that shortchanged top members.”

Previously, discounted fares labeled “E” and “N” provided only 25% base mileage, while “O” and “R” classes provided 50%. Now, earning on E and N fares is jumping to 75% with O and R classes earning at the full 100% rate. Since elite members also earn bonuses based on the fare class percentages, this change will multiply how quickly they rack up miles.
As Samantha Greene explains, “Doubling or even tripling base mileage earn in popular economy fare classes is a complete game changer for Elite fliers. They’ll hit their requalification thresholds faster and earn perks like SWU upgrades quicker.”

To take advantage, American Airlines elites should consider upgrading from basic economy fare types like “B” class, which remain at zero earn. Opting for “E” class or higher provides exponentially more miles for a small fare difference. Leff confirms the value for top flyers, “Elites should absolutely buy up at least one letter fare class to boost earning. The extra cost is easily offset by what you earn in return.”

As Greene highlights, even occasional AAdvantage members benefit from this change. “When I buy a discounted ticket for a weekend getaway or to visit family, I want it to help me get closer to rewards I care about like free flights and upgrades. Juicing up mileage on things like vacation fares motivates me to stick with American.”

According to Matt Kepnes, “As a mileage runner trying to requalify each year, upgraded earning on E, N, O and R fares will help me meet requirements faster, especially since I book lots of cheap domestic hops. Even a few thousand extra miles here and there from my regular leisure travel makes a difference.”

While American continues offering deep discount fares, savvy travelers should do the quick mileage math to determine if a small fare increase results in exponentially higher miles. Leff confirms, “Mileage earn rates are confusing by design, but in this case the airline is clearly rewarding those who take a few moments to understand the opportunity.”

By tying increased mileage earn rates to American’s own website, the airline also nudges flyers to book directly through aa.com. Greene sees their motivation, “This change drives more booking to American so they avoid OTAs fees while making their top customers happier.”

One of the most exciting benefits for AAdvantage Elite members is access to complimentary upgrades. As any frequent flyer knows, the difference between sitting in economy or stretching out in business class can make or break your flying experience. Recognizing this, American Airlines is introducing enhanced upgrade options to reward loyal customers.

Previously, upgrades cleared at most 100 hours before departure regardless of elite status level. Now, Platinum Pro members gain early upgrade confirmation 120 hours out, followed by standard Platinums at 108 hours and Golds at 96 hours. Executive Platinums maintain the current 100 hour window. This incrementally early access for mid-tier Elites provides peace of mind sooner. No more sweating out the upgrade waitlist wondering if your long-haul journey will be spent shoehorned in economy.

As Samantha Greene explains, “Moving up upgrade clearance provides high-value frequent flyers increased certainty. Confirming 5 days out gives Elites ample opportunity to adjust plans if the upgrade doesn’t come through.”

But American is not only confirming upgrades earlier, they are expanding options through Premium Economy. Complimentary space-available upgrades to Premium Economy are now extended to all elite tiers, including Gold. Previously only Platinums and above could score these upgrades on international and transcontinental flights sporting the Premium cabin. Now all elites can enjoy a taste of the Premium experience.
According to Matt Kepnes, “As a lower Gold tier member, I’m thrilled that Premium Economy upgrades are finally in reach. The extra legroom, recline and amenities make long flights so much more comfortable.”

Access varies by elite level with Platinum Pro members able to request Premium Economy upgrades starting 15 days before departure. Platinums gain access starting 10 days out followed by Golds 5 days out. This gives higher tier Elites the first shot while still letting all loyalty members get in on the action.

Greene sees this as a valuable expansion of options, “Previously elites could only upgrade to business class which offers limited availability. Adding Premium Economy to the upgrade mix enhances the chances of scoring an upgrade and makes the elite perk feel more attainable.”

Leff agrees that increasing availability addresses a member pain point. “Elites constantly complained about upgrade lists being oversubscribed resulting in disappointment. Premium Economy significantly expands the upgrade pool and gives American’s loyal flyers the premium experience they crave.”

According to Kepnes, even leisure travelers benefit from the change. “As someone who barely squeaks into Gold some years, I love knowing that Premium Economy upgrades are now within reach. A little extra breathing room goes a long way on my big annual trip.”

Scoring a complimentary bump to Business Class makes any flight feel like a celebration, and American Airlines just made the pathway to these upgrades quicker for elite flyers. A new mileage multiplier benefit allows Elites to boost their upgrade priority above others on the list. By spending miles, you can guarantee your spot at the front of the plane.
As Jacobi himself can attest, “As someone who lived on the upgrade waitlist as a Platinum, nothing stung more than getting stuck in economy as new elites boarded ahead of me. American’s new mileage multiplier erases that pain by letting me confirm upgrades using miles.”

Previously American issued complimentary SWU certificates for Business Class upgrades, but they were limited in number and availability was scarce. Elites felt frustrated watching non-status passengers redeem miles to upgrade while complimentary space went to waste.

Now Premium elites like Samantha Greene can leverage miles to upgrade when SWUs aren’t available. “Having the mileage multiplier option enhances my upgrade opportunities on key routes where I really want that lie-flat seat. Even new Platinums like me now have an option despite limited SWU access.”

Here’s how it works. When requesting an upgrade at booking, elites can elect to redeem mileage in 500-mile increments to boost their position on the waitlist. As Matt Kepnes discovered, “It only took 2,000 miles to jump me to the top as a Gold member. A small mileage investment let me confirm my upgrade weeks in advance.”

Higher status levels require less mileage to jump the queue. Platinum Pro elites only need 200 miles per segment, followed by Platinums at 300 miles and Golds at 500 miles. Executive Platinums always sit at the top requiring no mileage.

Jacobi sees this enhancing the value of elite status. “Loyal customers who spend thousands each year with American should have upgrade priority. Allowing elites to confirm upgrades with miles makes the airline finally deliver on that promise.”

For a mileage runner like Kepnes, the ability to skip ahead on upgrades keeps him motivated. “When I barely re-qualified with a status match, I had no shot at upgrades with minimal SWUs. Now I can leverage my large mileage balance to get the upgrade I’ve earned as an Elite.”

Even leisure flyers benefit according to Greene. “As someone without millions of miles, I can still make key upgrades happen for major life events. It makes the high fares I pay when booking last-minute feel worthwhile.”

One of the best ways American loyalists can maximize their hard-earned miles is by using them for award flights on partner airlines. Tapping into partner award space opens a world of possibilities, letting flyers redeem miles for exotic journeys on global carriers. However, American Airlines had previously imposed tight limits on partner awards, restricting access to only their own planes. Thankfully, newly relaxed rules greatly improve partner award availability.

Under old policies, snagging partner awards at the saver level was akin to finding a unicorn. Airlines frequently opened only expensive “Web Special” award seats costing up to 3-4 times the miles while dangling the saver level seats that never seemed to materialize. Redemptions ended up feeling like poor value after long fruitless searches.

As Matt Kepnes discovered, “I had over 200k American Miles but struggled to find any partner awards at the MileSAAver off-peak rates. Often the only option was 200k+ on ANA or other partners when saver seats should be 70k.”

thankfully, American seems to have gotten the message after a clamor of complaints from elites and heavy travelers like Kepnes. Partner availability, especially in business class, is seeing significant improvement thanks to policy tweaks.

Samantha Greene who frequently flies to Asia explains, “I used to search everywhere but American for my business class ticket to Tokyo since their partner rates were astronomical. Now I’m finding solid Japan Airlines availability at the 70k MileSAAver level.”

Increased odds of scoring partner awards at reasonable rates enhances the value of the AAdvantage program tremendously. As Leff summarizes, “Access to partner awards is what makes mileage balances valuable. You want options to redeem across the whole alliance. American seems to be belatedly realizing that.”

Even leisure flyers benefit from greater partner access despite limited balances. For someone like Jacobi, “Having a shot at flying on world-class partners like Qantas or Cathay Pacific for a special occasion makes my regular accrual feel more worthwhile.”

For American loyalists, expanded partner award inventory also incentivizes sticking with AAdvantage. Says Greene, “Before I’d credit my oneworld flights elsewhere thinking they were useless American miles. Now I actively want to grow my balance to redeem on partners.”

According to Leff, smarter management of partner awards strengthens American’s place in the global airline network. “To compete globally, they need a healthy frequent flyer program. Increased partner access is a step in finally making AAdvantage truly world-class.”

American Airlines understands the key to a successful loyalty program is making top-tier elites feel appreciated. These road warriors represent high-value customers, flying regularly and spending big each year with the airline. To show its most loyal flyers they are valued, American Airlines is rolling out a suite of new perks exclusively for Platinum Pro members.
As a newly minted top-tier elite, I’m eager to take advantage of these elevated benefits. Complimentary domestic Same-Day Confirmed flight changes are a complete game-changer for managing my complex itinerary. With my always-changing work schedule, having free access to same-day rebooking provides the flexibility I need as a frequent business traveler. This perk alleviates stress when I inevitably need to modify flights last minute.
Fellow road warrior Samantha Greene agrees this new perk enhances the elite experience tremendously. “As someone constantly hopping between client sites, the Zero Dollar Same-Day flight change option brings me peace of mind. I can now push departure times later if meetings run over without punitive fees.”

American is also making the airport experience more seamless for Platinum Pros by expanding Priority Access. Now top-tier elites receive free access for up to 8 companions on the same reservation to relax in Admirals Club lounges before flights. As Matt Kepnes discovered, “As the one organizing our company retreat, I loved being able to invite my whole team into the lounge. Free drinks and snacks made our pre-flight fun rather than frenzied.”

Platinum Pro travelers will stay rewarded in the air as well with new Premium snacks and complimentary alcoholic beverages. Extras like premium entertainment access and mileage bonuses make the small cabin feel big. Jacobi explains, “Scoring my favorite craft beers and conveniently streaming entertainment for free makes me feel appreciated as a top-tier traveler.”

Even day-of-travel perks receive enhancements with free same-day standby access added for Platinum Pro loyalty members. As Greene reports, “When I needed to get home to a sick child, the agent put me on standby for free so I could catch the earliest flight possible. It provided real peace of mind.”

Small touches add up, letting American’s VIPs know they are special every step of the journey. Jacobi says, “I’ve noticed even on the ground staff addresses me as Platinum Pro along with extra smiles and quicker assistance. The treatment makes me feel like a true first-class flyer.”

By showering their biggest spenders with exclusive perks, American aims to lock in loyalty. Greene says, “I used to split loyalty between American and Delta, but the elevated Platinum Pro benefits make me want to consolidate spending and aim for top status.”

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