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American Airlines will start upgrading award tickets and prioritizing by EQD on May 20th
I’m currently an American Airlines Executive Platinum, and as a result I received an email updating me to the new benefits and changes to the American Airlines Aadvantage program. The long and short of it is American Airlines will start upgrading award tickets and prioritizing by EQD – in other words their new program will prioritize how much you spend with the airline over how much you fly it. This isn’t exactly new news, but the timing of it is newly announced. You can read straight from AA here.
The new program is going to make getting into these seats much more difficult for those who don’t spend a lot with the airline.
I’ve had a great track record clearing as an Executive Platinum this year. Getting a lie-flat product across the country is amazing, but will it happen for me going forward if I’m not a mega spender? That’s a good question.
Here’s information straight from AA.com detailing how American Airlines will prioritize upgrades by Type, EQD, then Booking code, and finally Date/time of request.
The first priority will be Type of Upgrade
- SWUs or System Wide Upgrades will be First priority along with Mileage Award upgrades
- 500 mile upgrades on purchased tickets will be processed next
- Finally 500 mile upgrades on award tickets will be processed
2nd they will process 12 month Rolling EQD
EQD means Elite Qualifying Dollars. These are dollars spent on the base far exclusing fees, taxes, etc. Each elite level now has a requirement of dollars spent in addition to Elite Qualifying Miles or Segments that members must reach to keep/reach status.
They are introducing the 12 month rolling EQD through the following process:
- EQD that WOULD HAVE been earned from August 1 to December 31, 2016
- EQD that HAVE been earned from January 1st to NOW
- EQD earned from Aadvantage Aviator Mastercard cards
3rd they will prioritize by booking code: AA published a list below
Finally they will use Date and Time
This is fairly self explanatory, but if two members are equal in upgrade eligibility 1 though 3 it will come down to when you bought your ticket and requested your upgrade right down to the second I would presume.
Also Starting May 20th, Executive Platinum and Concierge Key will be able to use 500 mile upgrades to upgrade themselves or companions on award tickets. If you’re eligible for a comped upgrade – that will be processed as well.
Here’s a look at those policies. If you have a reservation that has a passenger who doesn’t qualify for a comped upgrade:
- Flight Under 500 miles – NON ELITE
- Flight OVER 500 miles- If you aren’t Concierge Key, Executive Platinum, or Platinum Pro – you MUST REQUEST the 500 mile upgrade be used.
Upgrades for award tickets will be processed AFTER purchased tickets. ONE companion may also be upgraded and will be given the priority status of the sponsor account. The 500 mile upgrades will be deducted from the SPONSORS account, but the number will be based off Companions status.
If you’re flying less than 500 miles and your companion is Elite…no 500 mile upgrades will be deducted. If it’s over 500 miles and your companion is Non-Elite, Gold, or Platinum they will deduct one 500 mile upgrade for every 500 miles of the flight.
We knew that this was going to happen at some point this year, but overall is a big hit to Elites who don’t spend a ton of money. Even if you are an Executive Platinum and have hit the minimum $12k yearly EQD to maintain status, you will be BEAT OUT for the UPGRADE by someone who has spent $12,001 EQD EVEN IF THEY JUST BOUGHT THEIR TICKET AND YOU BOUGHT YOURS A YEAR AGO. That would irritate me to no end.
There are positives to redeeming award tickets and it’ll be nice to upgrade a companion on an award ticket as well, BUT how often will those upgrades actually clear? They will be prioritized SO FAR DOWN THE LIST that the HOPES of an upgrade will probably outweigh the PRACTICALITY of it CLEARING.
The big question it presents to me and I would assume most people who aren’t BIG TIME corporate premium cabin travelers is whether or not it’s worth aligning your flights with one specific airline, and certainly if that airline is going to American. If you fly quite a bit, and are just say “looking for international lounge access” it may be worth your while to align with a partner like BA and enjoy Alliance benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding, etc BUT NOT earn domestic status. Just thoughts at this point, but thoughts that I am thinking more seriously about going forward.