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American Airlines is making changes to its AAdvantage loyalty program, but not all passengers are onboard with the revamp. The revamp was announced last week and will begin rolling out as early as Aug. 1.
Under the current system, members earn points based on distance flown; the number of points earned is completely independent of the price paid for a ticket. After Aug. 1, however, the program will shift to a points-per-dollar system, meaning that customers will accumulate points based on the price of a ticket, regardless of the flight’s distance.
AAdvantage members will earn five points per dollar spent at the base tier, seven at a Gold tier, eight at Platinum, and a cap of eleven at the Executive Platinum top level.
“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,” said Andrew Nocella, American’s Chief Marketing Officer.
Not all members are happy with the changes, however. Many feel that the program is counterintuitive, penalizing fliers searching for the best deal on travel fare.
It’s easy to draw parallels between the AAdvantage backlash and that of Starbucks Rewards, which made a similar change earlier this year to combat the tendency for customers to game the system by splitting transactions.
Less polarizing for members, the American Airlines program is also adding an additional tier. Located between Platinum and Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro members will receive benefits including complimentary upgrades on North American flights. These upgrades are automatically requested on behalf of the member, ensuring that available upgrades are given to the airline’s most loyal customers.
Members of the Platinum Pro tier will also receive bonus points per dollar spent (nine miles per dollar spent, an 80% bonus) and two free checked bags. Unlike the changes to point accumulation, the newest AAdvantage tier will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2017.
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