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One unique American Airlines benefit is the ability to redeem a reduced number of miles for travel to or from select airports if you have certain co-branded credit cards. The cities are updated each month, and various discounts are available, depending on which card you have. Currently, you can take up to 7,500 miles off a round-trip award (either in economy or business), but given the new 7,500-mile award level AA is introducing on March 22, the airline has confirmed that these discounts will change as well (since a 50% discount is likely a bit too generous in AA’s book).
March 22 Program Changes
Most of the March 22 AAdvantage changes aren’t so great for travelers, but there is one addition in particular that we’re happy to see. AA will be adding a new redemption level for flights that are less than 500 miles each way — so a hop from New York to Boston will run you 7,500 miles each way in economy, rather than the standard 12,500. These new redemption levels match those offered by British Airways, following that program’s own devaluation last month.
Of course, the challenge here is that AA’s current Reduced Mileage Award discount amounts to 7,500 miles off a round-trip award, which would cut the award price in half when you’re booking travel to a destination less than 500 miles from your origin airport. While we’d love to see AA stick with that discount, it’s a bit too generous, unfortunately, so American will be making a tweak to the program. Here’s what an AA rep had to say:
With the new award chart going live on March 22, introducing a lower redemption level for short haul flights (≤ 500 miles) = 15,000 roundtrip, we’re updating our RMAs. The current Reduced Mileage Awards (RMAs) for cardholders (7,500 and 5,000 RT discount) will run through March 31 based on the current award chart. Due to technical challenges, no RMAs will be available for short haul (≤ 500 miles) redemptions from 3/22-3/31. We’ll have more information on the RMAs for short haul awards later this month.
So while we do know that you won’t be able to save 7,500 miles on these short-haul routes, it’s not clear how much you will be able to take off, instead. My guess is that you’ll save 5,000 miles with some cards and 2,500 with others, but that remains to be seen. Unfortunately Reduced Mileage Awards will not be available for short-haul redemptions from when the program changes on March 22 through the end of this month.
Which Cards Are Eligible for RMAs?
If you have one of the following cards, you can save 7,500 miles off of a round-trip award ticket (or 3,750 off one-way):
- Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
- Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard (as well as the old Visa and Amex versions)
- CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Select Visa or MasterCard (not accepting new applications)
- CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard
- AAdvantage Aviator Silver/Red/Business MasterCard (not accepting new applications)
Or, you’re eligible for 5,000 miles off of a round-trip award ticket (or 2,500 off one-way) if you have one of the following:
- Citi/AAdvantage Gold MasterCard (as well as the old Visa and Amex versions)
- AAdvantage Aviator Blue MasterCard (not accepting new applications)
It’s a bit of a bummer that AA’s changing this discount program for short-haul awards — while the new 7,500-mile level is a welcome addition, it would have been even more attractive when paired with a 3,750-mile discount (7,500 miles round-trip). If you’re planning to travel on a sub-500-mile award flight that’s eligible for the RMA discount this month, be sure to book by March 22. Otherwise, you’ll almost certainly come out ahead by waiting until April.