American Airlines Just Made a Major Change to Its Loyalty Program

The news comes after United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and JetBlue's own loyalty program makeovers.

Courtesy of American Airlines
Courtesy of American Airlines
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Nearly every airline in the travel industry has revamped its loyalty program as of late, including Delta, JetBlue, and United. Now, American Airlines is joining the trend. Here's the kicker. The carrier's new and improved AAdvantage program will let passengers start unlocking rewards before they even earn status. 

On the heels of JetBlue's own loyalty program makeover, which includes reward-earning opportunities for the airline on your AA flights, too, American Airlines is nixing its mileage earning cap for flights, as well as introducing new perks at different qualifying tiers, USA Today reports.

"It's a complicated loyalty space out there across different loyalty programs," AAdvantage Managing Director Heather Samp told USA Today. "Our focus was simplicity." 

Here's how it works. Once an AAdvantage member earns 15,000 loyalty points, they can start boarding with Group 5 for the rest of that membership year, but they can also bump up to Group 4—along with other perks—for one trip or snag five preferred seat coupons. Not a bad deal. 

"Think of loyalty points as something that you constantly accumulate throughout the year. They're never spent," Samp said. "Once you get to one of our loyalty point reward thresholds, the benefit is unlocked or the choice is unlocked."

According to the outlet, the Executive Platinum status is earned when you hit 200,000 loyalty points, while other rewards are available at 550,000, 750,000, 1 million, 3 million, and higher. Once you hit 550,000, you can choose between two perks, like bonus redeemable miles, a systemwide upgrade, lounge passes, or even the ability to gift Platinum status. 

There is one bummer. American Airlines is increasing its threshold for the lowest AAdvantage tier. While it previously required 30,000 points for Gold status, you now need 40,000.

"We're creating a more meaningful travel rewards program for our AAdvantage members," American's Chief Commercial Officer Vasu Raja said in a statement. "Only our members will have access to everything American has to offer."

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Megan Schaltegger is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist.