American's AAdvantage to move to revenue-based system in 2016

23 Nov 2015 by Clement Huang

American Airlines’ (AA) frequent flyer programme AAdvantage will shift to a revenue-based system in the second half of 2016.

The change means that once implemented, all “Big Three” US carriers (AA, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines) will have made the change from a distance-flown accrual system to a revenue based one.


Similar to both Delta and United, AAdvantage members will earn award miles based on the price of the ticket purchased (inclusive of base fare plus carrier-imposed fares, but excluding government-imposed taxes and fees), as well as their individual elite tier level.

Entry-level members will receive a standard rate of five miles for every US dollar spent, while Gold members will gain seven miles. Platinum members will earn eight and Executive Platinum members will receive 11 miles. 

The new system is skewed to favour higher tier AAdvantage members that pay top dollar for flights on the carrier’s premium cabins. Passengers that opt for cheaper, discounted tickets are almost guaranteed to be earning fewer miles than before.

The revenue-based system also extends to the way in which members qualify for elite status on the AAdvantage programme. While individual flight segments will continue to be awarded as they do now, the earning rate of Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) will be revised to remunerate members that purchase higher fares over others.

Booking class

EQM/mile American

EQM/mile Delta

EQM/mile United

Full-fare first/business




Discount first/business




Full-fare economy




Discount economy




Award redemption levels are also set to change next year. While AA notes that the redemption rate for tickets booked to certain destinations will be reduced by as much as 40 per cent, this is primarily for destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America, as well as short-haul flights within the US and to Canada. Award redemption levels on other routes, particularly those to Asia and Europe will increase due to changes to market pricing and demand.

“A significant percentage of our flights are less than 500 miles, so offering a lower MileSAAver option only makes sense for our customers,” said Suzanne Rubin, president of AAdvantage. 

“Other routes will be adjusted to match increased customer demand, including routes that feature our world-class A321T and 777-300ER aircraft.”

For more information, visit

Clement Huang

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