Choice is good. We all like to have choices. American Airlines decided to give the Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum Members a big thank you for their loyalty, and that “thank you” is Loyalty Choice Rewards. We will examine Loyalty Choice Rewards from the American Airlines AAdvantage Program, and you’ll probably decide that the choice is rather simple.
Loyalty Choice Rewards – American Airlines AAdvantage
Loyalty Choice Rewards is a bonus perk for American Airlines AAdvantage® program members who earn at least 125,000 Loyalty Points and fly 30 segments. As you climb the Loyalty Point Ladder, you will get additional choices.
There are currently 20 choices that range from retail items (Bang & Olufsen products), AAdvantage Miles, Gifting Status, Systemwide Upgrades, and charitable donations.
125,000 Loyalty Points will also earn you AAdvantage Platinum Pro® oneworld® Emerald status. This status level might be considered the “sweet spot” for those that do not believe they can earn 200,000 Loyalty Points.
Earning Loyalty Points
You earn Loyalty Points as you earn eligible AAdvantage® miles when you fly, use an AAdvantage credit card for purchases, and via multiple partners and partnership programs.
The short story is that you do not have to be a road warrior or constantly fly to reach status levels on American Airlines. The entire AAdvantage Program values credit card spend as much (or more) than inexpensive airline tickets.
Of course, if you fly on high revenue fares, you will accumulate Loyalty Points at a rapid pace, especially once you have status and get additional bonus points based on status level. For example, AAdvantage Executive Platinum® members (the highest public tier that requires 200,000 Loyalty Points) get a 120% status mileage bonus when they fly.
Pay Attention To Your Segments
If only you just had to reach 125,000 to get Loyalty Choice Rewards, life would be easy. But, to unlock Loyalty Choice Rewards, you must also fly at least 30 eligible flight segments. You can easily track your segments under the PROMOTIONS heading when viewing your AAdvantage® account online.
Make Your Choice – Loyalty Choice Rewards American Airlines AAdvantage
Yes, you do have a choice, but many of the choices are not particularly fabulous. The most valuable selections are the Systemwide Upgrades and the ability to gift AAdvantage Gold Status.
SWU – Systemwide Upgrade
Since American (at this time) processes upgrades (on AA Metal aka AA Flights) from Economy Class to Business Class and not Economy Class to Premium Economy, there is immense value if you can clear an SWU from an Economy Class Fare.
Enjoy a confirmed upgrade from most Business fares to First and most Economy or Premium Economy fares to the next class of service (Business or domestic First) anywhere American flies.
Systemwide upgrades can be used for one-way travel for up to 3 flight segments on American Airlines marketed and operated flights.
You can also use SWUs to upgrade AA flights from Premium Economy to Business Class, though you might be better off using miles in this instance, depending on the fare class.
You will also now be able to use SWUs on British Airways, but only Premium Economy will upgrade to Business Class (Club) and Economy to Premium Economy.
Understanding the Value Of Your Choices
Using Gary Leff’s valuation of AAdvantage Miles (0.013), you can easily calculate that choosing 30,000 AAdvantage Miles is worth approximately $390. An upgrade from (lower priced) economy class to business class on long-haul flights can easily be valued at $1000 to substantially more. Be sure to review all of the terms and conditions for SWUs.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX – Comfortable Wireless ANC Over-Ear Headphones sell for around $480 on Amazon USA, so that is a slightly better value than the 30,0000 miles if these were indeed headphones you desired.
You are much better off donating $200 directly to your favorite charities since it will also be easier to document the charitable donation via cash for potential tax purposes. Admirals Club Day Passes are available for $50 each, so six would be worth $300.
Determining the valuation of AAdvantage Gold® status is a bit more discretionary. Still, the benefits can be quite valuable combined with authorized user Admirals Club access for the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card. For those that fly often but not often enough to gain status, complimentary preferred seats (and Main Cabin Extra at check-in) and free checked bags can enhance your travel experience and save you some coin. You also have the (rare) chance of a US Domestic upgrade and the “added bonus” of getting to see your name (often) listed as number 26 (or higher) on the upgrade list (pun intended).
High Earner Family Member Focus – Loyalty Points
Remember, for many families, all focus on Loyalty Points will be the high-status earner to focus on higher Reward Levels for Loyalty Points. You receive more choices at 200,000, 350,000, 550,000 and 750,000 Loyalty Points. So, giving a significant other Gold Status might be the “smart play,” instead of splitting your (non-flying) Loyalty Points earning.
Tips and Tricks – Loyalty Choice Rewards
Do Not claim your SWU (Systemwide Upgrade) reward until you are ready to use them. The expiry of the (redeemed) certs is based on the date you request the reward. Of course, pay close attention to the expiry date for choosing Loyalty Choice Rewards.
If possible, try to find available space to apply the SWU upgrade and process the upgrade at the time of purchase. You can often use ExpertFlyer to set alerts or to check upgrade availability.
When looking for upgrade space on British Airways, if you can find BAEC Award Availability in the class of service you are upgrading to, you should be able to clear your SWU on British Airways. This benefit (upgrades on BA) is pretty new, so expect a “bit” of confusion. (I am personally looking forward to testing this functionality soon.)
There will be opportunities to participate in elite status challenges. You should always be aware of how the 30-segment rule will apply to these challenges when going to accelerated Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum Status. Note this is a broad-stroke commentary since challenges will vary yearly; know the rules before committing.
Gifting is Dope!
You can gift SWUs to family and friends. This is a super valuable feature; be aware that a gift to a non-status passenger will have lower priority if the upgrade goes to the waitlist for clearance. This includes the place on the waitlist on the day of departure.
Do not overlook the transcon flights, where you can also upgrade from business to first class on the A321T Premium Transcon Flights.
Loyalty Choice Rewards are probably the most valuable benefit of American Airlines Status. Hopefully, this discussion brings a bit more clarity concerning your decision-making process when choosing your rewards. Just remember, things are changing at AA, including a new business-class hard product that will be introduced in 2024. I also expect an eventual “shift” in how AA deals with upgrades and the application of SWUs regarding economy and premium economy classes.