When it comes to the price of award flights, American still beats the competition on a large portion of the map ó especially if youíre flying economy. And if thatís not enough, American offers discounts between 7% and 25% to various regions throughout the world during their respective low seasons. Plus, the recent addition of 7,500-point one-way fares for short-haul domestic flights is a considerable discount from the previous price of 12,500.
Live like a king on Americanís partners.
American counts among its partners three of the best premier products in the industry: Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Etihad. Flying Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong or from New York to Vancouver are two of the sweetest redemptions on the AAdvantage award chart. But the most aspirational experience of all is cashing in for Etihadís First Class Apartment to Dubai, which costs 115,000 each way under the new system. However, it should be noted that while Qantas flights will show up on aa.com, youíll have to check Cathay Pacific availability through British Airwaysí search tool, and Etihadís availability through the airlineís own website (look for Guest First availability). Then you can call American to book.
You wonít be punished for flying with those partners.
OK, so United has some pretty great partner airlines as well. But you also get punished for cashing in your MileagePlus points for premium seats on other Star Alliance airlines. For example, letís say you want to fly first class from San Francisco to Sydney using MileagePlus points. If United operates your flight across the Pacific, that flight will cost you 80,000 points. But letís say you want to fly a partner, like All Nippon Airways ó thatíll cost you a whopping 130,000 miles. With American, youíll pay 110,000 AAdvantage points whether you actually fly American or its more luxurious partner, Qantas. Delta wonít let you use SkyMiles to fly international first class on partner airlines.
Itís easier than ever to earn elite status.
Yes, under the new revenue-based system, frequent fliers will earn award miles based on the amount of money spent rather than the distance flown. But American decided not to follow Deltaís lead when it comes to earning elite status. Unlike Delta and United ó which both require loyalty members to meet a minimum spend threshold in addition to flying a certain number of Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) ó American will only requires the EQMs or EQSs.
The new system eliminates Elite Qualifying Points as a method of earning status, and instead of adding a spend requirement, American will award EQMs based on fare class, which means it will actually be easier for fliers to earn elite status under the new system. Economy fliers will still earn at least the one EQM per mile flown they earned before, but now business- and first-class fliers will earn additional EQMs for the more expensive fares.
Depending on who you ask, this could actually be a negative, as more elite fliers means more competition for upgrades and longer lines for elites. But if youíve never had status before and this allows you to get it, itís hard to complain.
You can earn EQMs without actually flying.
Normally, if you want preferential treatment from airlines, you have to work for it by getting on a plane. But American is one of the few airlines that will let you work the system quite a bit ó at least if youíre a big spender with good credit. The Citi Aadvantage Executive Card and Aadvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard (which is no longer available to new applicants) will each allow you to earn up to 10,000 EQMs per year ó though itíll require $40,000 in spending on each card. Thatís just 5,000 EQMs shy of gold status without flying a mile.