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American Airlines Makes Drastic Change to Mileage Earning Rates on Partners

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Back in June, American Airlines announced that it was switching to a revenue-based mileage program effective August 1. However, the carrier didn’t clarify whether or not this change to earning award miles on AA flights would mean changes to earning award miles on partner airlines as well.

At the time, American Airlines’ announcement only mentioned that earning award miles on partner airlines would still be calculated the same way: Flight Miles x Fare Class Rate

On most flights marketed by partner airlines, you’ll earn award miles based on a percentage of the flight distance and the fare class of your ticket.

Last night, American Airlines made changes to the rates used to determine AAdvantage award mileage earnings on partner flights. These changes are drastic and affect almost every partner airline, but the changes come without any announcement or notice from American Airlines. Worst of all, the changes go into effect in just two weeks!

Positive Changes

Cheers if you
Good news if you booked the Etihad Residence, as you may now earn AAdvantage award miles based on 4x the distance flown.

There are a few positive changes as part of these unannounced modifications. No surprise, they’re mostly for first and business-class flights. These rates apply to flights both operated and marketed by the airlines below, including those operated by partners. For example, a first-class flight ticketed by Finnair but operated by AA will earn 300% of the miles flown (Finnair does not offer a first-class cabin of its own).

Below are all of the positive changes we found. Note that the “Increase” and “Decrease” columns below represent a percentage of the flight distance, not a percentage increase from previous earning rates.

Airline Fare Class Cabin Previous Rate New Rate Increase
Air Berlin J Business 125% 150% 25%
Air Berlin T Business 110%
Alaska Airlines F First 150% 175% 25%
Alaska Airlines R Economy 25%
Etihad Airways P First 400%
Etihad Airways Z Business 100%
Etihad Airways G Economy 25%
Fiji Airways J, D Business 125% 150% 25%
Finnair F First 300%
Finnair A First 150%
Finnair J, D, C Business 125% 200% 75%
Hawaiian Airlines J, P Business 125% 150% 25%
Hawaiian Airlines K, L Economy 0% 25% 25%
LAN Airlines C Business 125%
Royal Jordanian J Business 125% 150% 25%

Negative Changes

While there are some positive changes, there are many, many negative changes. Most of the negative changes are to economy flights, but some “discount” business class and premium economy classes are affected as well.

Here are all of the negative changes we found:

Airline Fare Class Cabin Previous Rate New Rate Decrease
airberlin H, K, M Economy 100% 50% 50%
airberlin L, V, S Economy 100% 25% 75%
Alaska Airlines M, H Economy 100% 75% 25%
Alaska Airlines Q, L, V, K, G Economy 100% 50% 50%
Alaska Airlines T Economy 100% 25% 75%
Alaska Airlines U Economy 100%
British Airways H Economy 100% 50% 50%
Cathay Pacific R, E Premium Economy 110% 100% 10%
Cathay Pacific B, H Economy 100% 75% 25%
Etihad Airways W Business 125% 100% 25%
Etihad Airways B, H, K Economy 100% 50% 50%
Etihad Airways M, Q, L, V, U, E Economy 100% 25% 75%
Fiji Airways I Business 125% 100% 25%
Fiji Airways B, H, L Economy 100% 75% 25%
Fiji Airways K, M, O, Q, S, W Economy 100% 50% 50%
Fiji Airways G, V Economy 100% 35% 65%
Fiji Airways N, T Economy 75% 35% 40%
Finnair H, K, L, M, P, V, T Economy 100% 50% 50%
Finnair A, G, N, O, Q, R, S, W, Z Economy 100% 25% 75%
Gulf Air D, I Business 125% 100% 25%
Gulf Air B, H, K, L, M, X Economy 100% 50% 50%
Gulf Air E, N, O, U, Q, V, S, W Economy 100% 25% 75%
Hawaiian Airlines V, B, S, N, M Economy 100% 75% 25%
Hawaiian Airlines I, H, G Economy 100% 50% 50%
Iberia H Economy 100% 50% 50%
Japan Airlines I Business 80% 70% 10%
Jet Airways J, Z, I, P Business 125% 100% 25%
Jet Airways M, T Economy 100% 50% 50%
Jet Airways U Economy 100% 25% 75%
Jet Airways N, L, Q, S Economy 50% 25% 25%
LAN Airlines D, I, Z Business 125% 100% 25%
LAN Airlines W Premium Economy 125% 110% 15%
LAN Airlines P Premium Economy 125% 100% 25%
LAN Airlines H Economy 100% 75% 25%
LAN Airlines K, M, L, V Economy 100% 50% 50%
LAN Airlines X Economy 100% 25% 75%
LAN Airlines S, N, Q, O, G, A Economy 100% 25% 75%
Malaysia Airlines Z Business 125% 100% 25%
Malaysia Airlines H Economy 100% 50% 50%
Malaysia Airlines K Economy 70% 50% 20%
Malaysia Airlines M Economy 70% 25% 45%
Malaysia Airlines L, S, V Economy 50% 25% 25%
Qatar I, R Business 125% 100% 25%
Qatar B, H Economy 100% 50% 50%
Qatar K, M, L, V Economy 75% 50% 25%
Qatar G, N, S, Q Economy 50% 25% 25%
Royal Jordanian I Business 125% 100% 25%
Royal Jordanian N Economy 100% 0% 100%
Royal Jordanian B, H, K, M, S, V Economy 100% 50% 50%
Royal Jordanian Q Economy 50% 25% 25%
SriLankan Airlines D, I Business 125% 100% 25%
SriLankan Airlines B, P, H Economy 100% 50% 50%
SriLankan Airlines K, W, M, E Economy 75% 50% 25%
SriLankan Airlines L, R, V, S, N, Q Economy 75% 25% 50%
TAM Airlines I, Z Business 125% 100% 25%
TAM Airlines B Economy 100% 50% 50%
TAM Airlines X, B, K, M, N, Q, O, H Economy 100% 50% 50%
TAM Airlines L, V, S, G, A Economy 100% 25% 75%
WestJet Q, L, M Economy 100% 75% 25%
WestJet P, G Economy 100% 50% 50%
WestJet X, D Economy 100% 30% 70%

For those not counting, that’s 180 partner fare classes that have been negatively adjusted.

What to do about the changes

If you've got an upcoming Air Berlin economy flight, your AA mileage earnings may have dropped 75% overnight.
If you’ve got an upcoming Air Berlin economy flight, your AAdvantage award mileage earnings may have dropped 75% overnight.

To see confirm whether or not you’re affected by these changes, check to see if you have any flights after August 1 that have an American Airlines’ partner flight number. If so, check the fare class on your ticket and compare it to the chart of changes above to see if your ticket is impacted by these changes.

With past changes, American Airlines has been unwilling to “grandfather” the rates in effect when you booked your flights. However, considering the last-minute nature of these changes, you can certainly contact American Airlines to voice your displeasure with the changes.

If your flights have been drastically effected, you might want to consider crediting these flights to another airline’s mileage program. The website Where To Credit is a great tool to review the possibilities. Make sure to double-check the rates on the airline’s website, as Where To Credit may not have all recent changes updated.

Bottom Line

American Airlines changes reflect their focus on catering to business and first class travelers.
Yesterday’s American Airlines changes reflect the airline’s focus on catering to business and first class travelers.

We’re disappointed to see American Airlines devalue its AAdvantage earning rates yet again. However, it’s especially disappointing that American Airlines made these negative changes without an announcement and just two weeks before the new rates go into effect. After all, most travelers don’t wait until two weeks prior to a trip to book their flights.

Since American Airlines doesn’t retroactively apply the award mileage rates in effect at booking, this means there will be many travelers who are adversely affected by these changes. While most travelers don’t consider award mileage earning rates before booking a flight — unless you’re doing a mileage run — slashing the award miles travelers would have otherwise earned is a very customer-unfriendly move.

Are you affected by these changes?

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