Revenue-based or mileage-based, the frequent flyer space is always interesting. Right now, there is no program more interesting to me than AAdvantage. While being the “father” of all the airline mileage programs always rates a certain amount of respect, it’s more than that. We should not be surprised that American didn’t follow Delta and United and institute a revenue based program this year, or likely even next year. The world’s biggest airline has a lot on its plate, and making the technological changes behind the scenes that are required to convert to a revenue based program are no doubt daunting. The act of merging two big programs, just as daunting, if not more.

So far, American has done right by AAdvantage. They’ve taken a staged approach to merging, and while I know there were a few nits here and there, I think the way the AAdvantage and Dividend Miles merger was counducted yielded near miraculous results. With its recent elite qualifying point promotion, AAdvantage has found a way to acknowlege the revenue contribution of big spenders without annoying others.

There is more than one example on the blog of my calling the “elite qualifying point” an alternative way to do things. American’s latest promo offers bonus EQPs for premium cabin travel. This is just one example of finding a way to provide superior rewards to high revenue customers to compete with Delta and United, who reward based on spend, in the context of a mileage based program.

The bottom line this Friday afternoon – the GrAAndDaddy still rules. While I remain unconvinced that we will not see a more revenue-based AAdvantage in 2017, perhaps sooner, I’ve always said they could go their own way. The advantage (no pun intended) of being last is you get to watch what works and what doesn’t for everyone else.


-MJ, April 10, 2015