We’ve entered a travel world where sadly innovation has for the most part been replaced with imitation. Why go against the grain with a unique program, a unique seat or a unique way of rewarding travel when you can just copy the moderately successful competition? American just announced major changes to it’s loyalty program and here’s EVERYTHING you need to know…

You’ll Earn Miles Based On Money, Not Flights From August 1st…

Matching many of it’s US competitors, American is switching to a revenue based system for earning miles. Whereas in the past you’d earn miles based on the distance of your flight, you now earn based on the money you spend. The only thing that stays the same is that you’ll get a bonus for being an elite frequent flyer or buying tickets up front. This effectively ends the idea of buying a really cheap ticket to somewhere far away to earn tons of miles. Entry level members will earn five miles per dollar spent, Gold seven, Platinum eight and Executive Platinum eleven. 

Your Upgrade Priority Is Also Now Based On Money, Not Just Status…

Upgrades are one of the main enticements for loyalty. The new tiebreaker for upgrades is spending, uprooting a system purely based on elite status. This can’t be seen as unfair, but it certainly will penalize frequent economy or discount business flyers versus those whose employers pay for refundable full fare business or first class tickets. Top tiers will still have priority over lowest tiers, but if someone spends more than you, they’ll be the one sitting up front.

There’s A New Elite Status In Between Platinum And Executive Platinum…

Starting January 1st 2017, you can qualify for an upgrade status in between the current 50,000 mile a year Platinum and the 100,000 mile a year Executive Platinum. Platinum Pro will be a new tier at 75,000 miles, with priority over Platinums featuring additional benefits such as complimentary upgrades without needing to cash in 500 mile upgrade certificates. 

New Spending Requirements To Earn Elite Status

Another knock to savvy travelers who maximize their earning without spending a fortune comes in the form up spending requirements for each elite level. Though these changes won’t go into affect until 2017 (they don’t affect earning this year for next year) they will mean that you’ll need to spend a certain amount on top of flying a certain amount of miles. You’ll need to spend 3k for Gold, 6k for Platinum, 9k for Platinum Pro and 12k for Executive Platinum. 

Upgrades On Domestic Award Tickets For Executive Platinum’s…

Sometime in 2017 Executive Platinums will become eligible for upgrades even on award tickets. That’s great news for top tier elites and adds potential value to low cost redemptions. Turning a 25,000 mile ticket into business class is nothing to cry about and that’s now possible. 

The BEST Strategy Going Forward

This is a weeding out of a bloated program (which perhaps is extra bloated by how easy it is to earn status with things like status challenges). Status will matter more than ever in terms of earning as will spending itself. Essentially, the best way to move forward is to hunt for business class deals, hitting your spending requirement with just a few tickets while receiving extra bonus points and miles for flying in a premium cabin. Hit your status early in the year to trump others in spending and status.

HT: xJonNYC on Twitter…