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A partner benefit that allowed many of American's frequent flyers to earn status through co-branded credit card spending is vanishing next year.

Series: Business of Loyalty

Travel Loyalty News

The Skift Business of Loyalty covers the world of hotel, airline, and other consumer loyalty programs in the travel industry. Read more coverage of loyalty here.

Earning elite status through a co-branded credit card is about to become harder for AAdvantage loyalty program members. Last week, American slashed a key benefit on its Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard that allowed passengers to earn credit towards elite status after annually spending enough on the card.

American’s move come just weeks after news that United is making it more expensive to reach the top tier of its MileagePlus loyalty program.

Access into the walled garden of airline elite status is clearly getting tougher. Between American closing loopholes with its partners and United flat-out increasing the price of entry, legacy carriers seem to be telling customers that only the heaviest spending passengers will earn the best treatment.

That may make sense for now, considering how successful airlines have been at raking in revenue this year. But as NPR’s Scott Simon pointed out last week, “You’ve got to expect the Group Twos of life to notice.”

— Grant Martin, Business of Loyalty Editor

Skift Stories and More Expert Insight

Hilton Debuts New Hostel-Inspired Brand, Motto: It’s not being marketed as a “hostel on steroids,” as Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta once described it, but Motto by Hilton is more or less a lot of what we’ve seen before, albeit with a few twists.

American Airlines Makes Elite Status Harder for These Credit Card Holders: In what appears to be a growing trend among legacy carriers this month, American Airlines is moving the goalposts for how some travelers on the airline earn elite status in its AAdvantage loyalty program.

American Air Tells Analysts It Needs to Get Passengers to Buy More Expensive Seats: American Airlines reported the best third-quarter revenues in its history on Thursday, at $11.6 billion, but executives admitted they still trail their two biggest competitors when it comes to wringing extra cash from each passenger.

Southwest CEO: ‘Number One Priority’ Is Controlling Costs: Southwest Airlines department heads will have to trim their wish lists in 2019.

A Cautious Hilton Unlikely to Buy Belmond: Hilton is the kind of hotel company that’s adamant about sticking to its guns. It says the future outlook looks fairly solid — unless, of course, fears of a looming recession come true.

British Airways Owner Hasn’t Quite Given Up Hope on Landing Norwegian: The CEO of airline group IAG is hinting there is still a chance it could buy low-cost long-haul rival Norwegian.

Cathay Pacific Suffers Massive Data Breach: Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. became the target of the world’s biggest airline data breach after a hacker accessed credit card, passport, and personal details of some 9.4 million customers.

JetBlue’s Battle to Remain Dominant in Boston: A few years ago, Delta Air Lines expanded in Seattle and tried to take share from Alaska Airlines. Surprisingly, Alaska has held on to most of its customers. Now, Delta is trying a similar strategy in Boston. JetBlue has a big customer base there. Will JetBlue’s loyalists stick around?

Howls Over Hyatt Program Changes: Hyatt Hotels this week is telling members of its World of Hyatt loyalty program about some changes coming to award redemptions effective Nov. 1, affecting suites, upgrades, and points and cash redemptions.

Details about Alaska Airlines’ New Basic Economy Fares: In January, Alaska Airlines announced it would follow in the footsteps of competitors in selling deeply discounted, fee-heavy, and highly restrictive “basic economy” fares. Months later, the airline said it is ready to launch the product, and we’re finally getting details of what its new “Saver Fares” will look like. At a glance, the new fares offer more flexibility than what other carriers are including in similar bargain basement tickets.


Skift Business of Loyalty Editor Grant Martin [[email protected]] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.

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Photo credit: FILE - This photo July 17, 2015, photo shows the tails of four American Airlines passenger planes parked at Miami International Airport, in Miami. 160239

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