American Airlines AAdvantage Status Explained: The Basics

Attention: this information is now out of date.  The AAdvantage program described below has changed effective January 1, 2016. People are always saying things to me like, “Hey Andy, why are you always going on about airline status?” and “Ow, quit standing on my foot!” I can offer no help on the second, but I’m here to help you out with the first.  First, an introduction to airline loyalty. Airline Loyalty Programs There are two flights, nonstop, from DFW-LGA (New York’s LaGuardia Airport).  One is $638 roundtrip, the other $517.  Quick, which one would you pick?  $517, right?  Here’s the crazy thing about airline programs: many people would say wrong.  For those who value airline status perks, a very common response would be “what airline?” because it has a direct effect on their miles balance or qualifying status on their preferred airline. Airlines value loyalty, and they’re willing to pay for it.  If they didn’t have loyalty programs that conferred benefits to some passengers (that fly more often and/or spend more money with that airline), it would be a race to the lowest price, at which point all airlines lose money (even moreso than many do already).  So, airlines give you an incentive to keep choosing their airline, even if you’re paying more money to do so.  Things like free bag checking, exit row seats, all the way up to free upgrades to Business/First Class (on international flights!).  If you travel a lot for work or for pleasure, elite status can… read more


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