American Airlines is making it harder to reach its highest status level, Executive Platinum, which comes with four worldwide upgrades and a bunch of other benefits. Starting next year, flyers will need to earn $15,000 elite-qualifying dollars, or EQDs, up from $12,000 this year. This effectively means spending $15,000 on flights over the course of the year, though there are other ways to earn EQDs.
But one of those techniques is also getting gutted next year: Barclays has slashed the ability to earn EQDs via its American Airlines “Aviator” credit cards. Through this year, you’ve been able to earn $3,000 EQDs by spending $25,000 on the Aviator Red card. Those with the higher-fee Aviator Silver card could earn another $3,000 EQDs for spending another $25,000, meaning $6,000 total EQDs.
That makes a major difference in reaching the next status level, especially for those who fly a lot of long, cheap flights. But next year, Aviator Red cardholders won’t be able to earn EQDs at all, and Aviator Silver users will have to spend $50,000 on their cards just to earn $3,000 EQDs. That’s a major change. (Though still better than Delta, where you have to spend $250,000 on a credit card to waive its Medallion Qualifying Dollar requirement for Diamond status!)
The big picture: American (and most airlines) are increasingly reserving their best service and benefits for the customers who spend the most money, not just those who fly the most (or are the most “loyal”). That makes business sense. But in my case — and I still need to do the math, which I’ll happily share with you! — it will probably mean ditching the Aviator Silver altogether next year. And probably settling for lower status starting in 2020.