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Today, American Airlines announced a 2015 mileage promotion that will offer bonus miles to AAdvantage and Dividend Miles members for eligible first and business class fares. This is huge for those who fly American and pay for premium fares and frankly I’m surprised that it isn’t targeted and lasts the entire year.
In a jab against United and Delta who will be slicing back mileage earning for many flyers in 2015, bonuses will be earned based on the distance flown, the fare purchased, and the member’s elite status level, and will apply to all 2015 travel on American Airlines and US Airways flights, and those operated by partner airlines like British Airways, Iberia, Japan Airlines, and Qantas.
Bonus amounts range from 250 miles per segment (on flights under 3,000 miles in first or business class for members with no elite status) to a hefty 12,000 miles per segment (on flights over 3,000 miles in full first or business class for Executive Platinum or Chairman’s Preferred members). Any bonus miles you earn will be in addition to the base mileage earned, as well as any status or class of service bonuses. The chart below shows the bonus mileage awarded for different scenarios.
Notably, flights between New York (JFK) and both Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) are counted as long-haul flights in this promotion. That means lower tier AAdvantage and Dividend Miles elites flying those routes in first and business class will roughly double their mileage earnings, while top-tier elites will earn roughly triple the normal amount. For example, an AAdvantage Platinum member on a business class JFX-LAX fare would earn 6,180 normal miles plus the extra 6,000, for a total of 12,180 miles in each direction. Meanwhile, an Executive Platinum member would earn an extra 12,000, for a total of 18,180 miles each way. That’s a pretty substantial bonus.
This promotion doesn’t require registration; bonus miles will be automatically credited to your account after you complete eligible travel. Itineraries booked previously should be eligible so long as you meet the other requirements.
Shot Across the Bow
In an apparent jab at United and Delta—who transition to revenue-based frequent flyer programs in the new year—AAdvantage President Suzanne Rubin is quoted as saying “A mile flown continues to be a mile earned in AAdvantage.” American Airlines and US Airways seem to be targeting United and Delta elites, who may be disgruntled with the recent changes and I think this promotion shows that American is keenly focused on rewarding premium travelers (which makes sense since they’re the only carrier with 3 cabin first class JFK to Los Angeles, London and Sao Paulo). They’re also saying that traditional economy flyers continue to earn at the rates they’ve always enjoyed, so unlike Delta and United who are cutting back (dramatically in the case of economy international flyers), American is still saying their business is welcome.
As an American Airlines Executive Platinum flyer, I’m glad that American is being a leader in the space and not simply copying Delta (which is exactly what United has been doing). This makes sense since AAdvantage was the first frequent flyer program and will be the largest once the Dividend Miles program becomes a part of AAdvantage in the second quarter of 2015.
My only concern here is that with such an influx of new miles there could be an increased chance of an award chart devaluation. However, considering that will always be a risk, I’ll take increased earning and I will probably buy more premium fares now that there is a big incentive. A lot of my travel is last minute when first/business is not a whole lot more than economy, so I’ll probably be more inclined to shell out, especially when business class fares are super reasonable (like over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays).
My San Francisco Example
I have a San Francisco to NYC flight that I need to book in early January. Right now, first class is actually cheaper than business class at $1,014 one-way, which I think is pretty reasonable (crazy to think discounted business class costs more at $1,124.) I value AA miles at 1.7 cents a piece (minimum), so with this bonus, I’d earn 12,000 miles, plus 2,586 base miles, plus 1,93 (50% for P fare) plus 2,586 for 100% Executive Platinum bonus = 18,465 total miles, which at 1.7 cents a piece equals $314 in value. That’s a pretty nice “rebate” on $1,000 spend.
For the Delta and United flyers who face worse mileage earning and redeeming in 2015, you can request a status match/challenge to AA by following the details here. Remember, loyalty should go both ways and while no airline is perfect, I feel like American has the most generous program of any airline out there.
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Know before you go.
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