American Airlines Overhauls Frequent Flier Program

Photo (cc) by Bernal Saborio G. (berkuspic)

American Airlines is following in the footsteps of Delta and United, transitioning its frequent flier program to benefit big spenders.

Beginning Aug. 1, the 100 million members of American’s AAdvantage program will earn mileage rewards based on the dollars spent on a ticket instead of the distance they travel.

In a statement, American’s chief marketing officer, Andrew Nocella, says:

“American Airlines is evolving AAdvantage to continue our tradition of having the best loyalty program in the world by rewarding our most loyal customers with the benefits they value the most.”

Although AAdvantage members will earn a minimum of 5 miles for each dollar spent on base fares and carrier-imposed fees beginning on Aug. 1, “gold” members will earn 7 miles per dollar and “executive platinum” fliers will earn 11 miles per dollar.

American also announced plans to introduce “platinum pro,” a new elite status category between “platinum” and “executive platinum.” It will earn 9 miles per dollar spent.

Favoring big spenders is a move that is sure to infuriate many AAdvantage members who regularly fly with American but also try to score a good deal on airfare.

According to Money, as airlines shift their rewards programs to benefit big spenders, it becomes clear which type of customers they value most.

Essentially, customers who shop around for bargain flights in the hopes of accumulating miles are being punished with these new programs. At the same time, the big spenders traveling on expense accounts will find it easier to pile up enough points to trade in for “free” flights. Granted, they’re “free” only after you (or your company) have spent a ton of cash with the airline.

For more, check out “The 5 Best Frequent Flier Programs.”

What do you think of American Airlines switching to a revenue-based frequent-flier rewards program? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.

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