American Airlines has raised a loyalty program … in Alaska

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American Airlines announced its new loyalty program “Loyalty Points” and thus raised that of Alaska. Here’s why.


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Loyalty points announced

American Airlines has announced its new frequent flyer program. While increasing the number of points required for status in the new program, the airline has made things “easier” by allowing customers to earn through a number of additional ways such as spending on credit cards on specials. co-branded products, purchasing through shopping portals, booking hotels through its reseller program, or finally, flying.

Some are championing the change because heavy consumers of American Airlines credit cards can now raise their status without flying or compensate for the shortage of flights by shifting their transactions to American Airlines channels.

“Most points count” – No they don’t

It’s pitched by American Airlines PR and others – with a straight face – that “most points count”. Let’s explore this further.

Now that loyalty points can be earned with credit card spending, maybe you should go out and get one of these cards, they come with signup bonuses usually between 40 and 80,000 points. That’s a big head start, but signup bonus points don’t count. You could argue that they don’t matter to other airlines either, but that would leave out the very successful Southwest Rapid Rewards program which includes ALL points earned for the Companion Pass, by far the most domestic flight benefit. valuable for frequent travelers.

That’s okay, just move your purchases to the Advantage online portal. Except that only base points count and the bonuses that these sites sometimes offer don’t count either.

What about ancillary purchases? For many travelers, buying a restrictive coach with a better seat, purchasing an onboard meal, or even wifi all contribute to the passenger’s total spending with the airline, which Americans want to encourage. Those don’t count either. They do it to Spirit.

Credit card bonus spending categories should really matter, but they really don’t.

The list goes further, but generally speaking most points do not contribute to status.

Example of earning loyalty points

Imagine that a new exuberant Loyalty Points member wants to start right away with the new program. They will start from scratch and plan a trip to see their mother for Mother’s Day.

  • They subscribe to the American Airlines co-branded credit card (bonus of 50,000 points)
  • They buy a gift for their mother for $ 100 with a 3x bonus on the American Airlines shopping portal (400 loyalty points in total)
  • They buy a plane ticket for $ 400
  • They pay for a seat assignment, a snack and wifi on the plane ($ 75)
  • They spend $ 1,000 on the credit card

This newly created super fan would only earn 1,575 loyalty points towards status, although his account accumulates 52,825 loyalty points to spend. Through all of these actions, they may feel like they are on their way to Gold status with American at 30,000 points, but they would be woefully wrong.

Alaska moves to the forefront

As of last year, there are two members of the oneworld alliance in North America. Alaska Airlines’ MileagePlan has the same alliance partners and more outside the alliance. Its earning rates are higher, its status requirements are lower, and its redemption rates are also lower.

For those who would argue that Alaska just doesn’t have enough flights, and certainly not enough long-haul international flights, don’t worry – Alaska’s elites are still earning status miles on flights with American Airlines. High-level elites with Alaska can also use the same eVIP system-wide upgrades that American attributes to its own Executive Platinum flyers, but only two instead of four.

Let’s say you’re a domestic traveler who spends every other week on the road. Depending on the cost of your plane ticket, you may or may not achieve top status with American, but your odds with Alaska are much better. With American, the cost of the fare is the basis of the loyalty points earned, but travelers, especially business travelers, have little or no control over the cost of their travel and many have little flexibility in booking a flight. or a more expensive class of service.

This same traveler might want to take a trip to South East Asia every year, my family loves Hong Kong and Thailand. Traveling on US business class tickets will cost 140,000 miles while Alaska is 40% cheaper and earns faster.

The choice is clear.

Conclusion

American Airlines, which launched its new frequent flyer program, has made a big change for frequent flyers. The choice to switch to Alaska Airlines MileagePlan full-time is not a given. The program is more rewarding, awards miles faster, and requires fewer redemptions. Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci is expected to send a bunch of flowers to his friend Doug Parker from American Airlines, provided he does not purchase them through the American Airlines shopping portal.

What do you think? Do new American Airlines loyalty points encourage travelers to upgrade to Alaska Airlines MileagePlan?

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