Starting January 1, 2017 the American Airlines AAdvantage program is switching to a revenue based structure. With the announcement of a revenue based AAdvantage program American Airlines also introduced several changes to status levels. The most notable change was the introduction of a new level, called Platinum Pro. Platinum Pro aims to fill the large gap between Platinum and Executive Platinum. By filling this gap American hopes to retain customers who often pursue status with alternate airlines after reaching 50,000 miles.

In order to qualify for Platinum Pro, travelers must earn 75,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or fly 90 Segments and spend at least $9,000 a year with the airline. With the most recent “enhancement” to the AAdvantage Program, American has introduce “Elite Qualifying Dollars” which is simply a less intimidating way of saying a Spending Requirement. With the introduction of EQDs, American has dropped the rule stating that at least 4 of those flights be flown on American Airlines operated flights. This opens the door for international travelers traveling on OneWorld partner airlines to credit their flights to the AAdvantage Program.

By introducing Platinum Pro, American has matched the other legacy carriers’ frequent flyer programs. Platinum Pro helps to retain customers that fly between 75,000 and 100,000 miles annually. In the past, if a frequent traveler reached 50,000 miles and knew they would not reach Executive Platinum, often they would start flying with a different airline to earn a low level of status to make travel on an alternative airline more enjoyable. That generally requires just 25,000 miles. Platinum Pro incentives customers to keep flying with American to earn this new status.

Upgrade priority has also changed slightly with the AAdvantage chances that take effect in 2017. Executive Platinum domestic upgrades still clear 100 hours prior to departure, but now Platinum Pro members’ upgrades can clear up to 72 hours out and Platinum upgrades clear just 48 hours prior to departure. The biggest change however is that upgrade priority changes based on EQDs. Again, this is a polite way of saying those who spend more money are treated more favorably.

Personally, I like the addition of Platinum Pro. The gap between Platinum and Executive Platinum was simply too vast especially if you knew you would not make the 100,000 mile requirement to attain Executive Platinum. However, I am extremely disappointed by the AAdvantage Program switching to a revenue based earning structure. Generally, my corporate travel policy requires me to book quite inexpensive flights and when I travel personally, I always look to see where I can go based on low cost. I honestly do not believe I will spend over $6,000 on airfare next year let alone the $12,000 required to attain Executive Platinum. Also, because the tickets I purchase are so inexpensive, I doubt that my upgrade priority would ever be enough to be upgraded domestically. I am actively researching new frequent flyer programs to join or if it makes sense to credit American Airlines flights to an alternative OneWorld partner airline, but for now I will continue to fly with American because of convenience any my existing status.

For the official program changes from AA, please click here.