American Airlines Drops BA and Iberia Mileage Earning Rates

Nov 3, 2015

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Effective for flights on or after February 1, flights sold by British Airways and Iberia will earn just a fraction of the American Airlines miles that they currently earn. TPG Contributor JT Genter explains the changes to these mileage charts.

As if the recent unilateral cancellation of flights, mediocre response to cancelling 24-hour holds, and restrictions to same-day flight changes weren’t enough, American Airlines has made another flyer-unfriendly move. Yesterday, American Airlines posted new charts for earning American Airlines miles for flights booked with British Airways and Iberia flight numbers. These changes will apply to flights on or after February 1 2016.

Although the changes haven’t been officially announced, one American Airlines AAdvantage agent I spoke with was able to confirm these changes, noting that there will be an announcement soon.

British Airways

American Airlines AAdvantage earning for British Airways flights - cropped
The current and adjusted mileage charts for British Airways fares.

On flights booked with British Airways flight numbers, the “World Traveller & Euro Traveller” fares are the ones affected by this change:

  • K, L, M and V fares earn 50% less Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) and 50% less Elite Qualifying Points (EQP)
  • N and S fares earn 50% less EQM, but the same EQP.
  • G, O and Q fares earn 75% less EQM and EQP.

Say you booked an incredible 24,910-mile itinerary from Houston (IAH) to Johannesburg (JNB) on British Airways for just $838. If your O-fare flights are January 25-31 2016, you will still earn 24,910 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) and 12,455 Elite Qualifying Points (EQP) if these flights are credited to American Airlines. If the same flights are flown just a week later, they will earn just 6,228 EQM and 3,114 EQP!

Since redeemable miles (RDM) — the miles that you earn through credit cards — are also based on the Base Miles number, you will also earn just one quarter of the RDM from this itinerary than you would have otherwise.

Iberia

American Airlines AAdvantage earning for Iberia flights - cropped

Similarly, for flights with Iberia flight numbers, the economy fares are also the only ones affected by the change:

  • B and H fares actually earn slightly more EQM and/or EQP, depending on the itinerary.
  • K, L, M, V, W, Z and A fares earn 38-50% less EQM and EQP.
  • G, N and S fares earn 38-50% less EPM, but earn 0-25% more EQP.
  • O, P and Q fares earn 69-75% less EQM and EQP.
  • E fares no longer earn any credit

Before this change, there were separate mileage charts for flights “between Spain and the U.S./Puerto Rico and Mexico” vs. “Other” flights. With this change, at least the Iberia chart has been simplified so that fares earn the same mileage, simplifying the calculations a bit.

If you have booked economy flights on British Airways or Iberia departing after January 31st, the AAdvantage Customer Service agent I spoke with suggested that you email Customer Relations. They may be able to enter an exception to the new rule so that your flights can earn mileage at the rates applicable at booking.

Considering only 10% of flights are booked outside of 90 days, it does seem that American Airlines is trying to avoid making changes within this important 90-day window.

Also, the American Airlines agents I spoke with were quick to point out that there are no changes to British Airways- and Iberia-operated flights booked with American Airlines flight numbers. Only the flights booked with BA or IB flight numbers have been affected by these changes.

It can’t hurt to ask for more credit for BA flights!

While this is an unwelcome devaluation on the earning side, thankfully no changes have been made to American Airlines redemptions. That means the 50,000 AAdvantage miles you earn after spending $3,000 in the first three months with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard credit card still take you just as far — especially during the current prime Off-Peak season.

These changes come just 11 days after American Airlines’ quarterly conference call. During the call, American Airlines president Scott Kirby hinted at coming changes to the AAdvantage program, saying “We think we have the best loyalty program in the world and we look forward to making it better.”

Since the airline had just announced the highest quarterly profit in the company’s history, some analysts on the conference call were less than pleased to hear of any changes. One analyst even expressed his frustration: “How do we know that you guys aren’t totally blowing up yourselves in the process?

Let’s hope that these mileage chart changes are the only negative changes to the AAdvantage program coming down the pipe!

Do you have a booked or planned flight that is affected by this change?

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