Why Did American Refuse to Give Me Miles for Flying?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
“Reader Questions” are answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.
TPG reader Jeff recently tried to credit a flight to American AAdvantage, but the airline said he couldn’t, as he tells us in an email message…
My fiancé and I recently took a trip to Bali. When we requested the miles to be credited to American, we were told the tickets were in an ineligible booking class. Are we getting short changed?TPG Reader Jeff
American has made significant changes to its frequent-flyer program in the last year. Tickets booked with AA are no longer awarded miles based on the distance flown, but rather on the amount of airfare paid. So in most cases, leisure travelers are earning drastically fewer miles than they previously did.
However, even with the new changes, the booking class isn’t relevant for flights on American’s planes — you earn between 5 and 11 redeemable miles per dollar spent depending on your level of elite status, no matter which class you’re in (elite miles are another story).
So what’s going on here? The first clue is in the destination — Bali. American doesn’t fly to Bali, so that means there’s some partner flying in here somewhere. It could be entirely on a Oneworld partner from the US to Bali, or partially on AA to a connecting city and then from there to Bali on a partner.
In this case, we can find out by taking a quick look at American’s response to the request for miles, which Jeff was kind enough to send along…
The letters “CX” tell us what we need to know — it’s a flight on Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong (HKG) to Bali/Denpasar (DPS). Now, if this was ticketed as an American flight — meaning booked under an AA flight number as a codeshare and simply operated by Cathay — then it wouldn’t matter because you’d earn miles based on American’s standard mileage accrual system.
But since it was booked using a Cathay flight number, it’s a different story. In that case, the ticket would be credited under a partner chart, and partner charts are based mostly on the old system of distance flown, but also with the added variable of… booking class. And this is where we get the bad news, because when we take a look at American’s chart for Cathay Pacific flights…
Uggghh. As you can see on that very last line, there are a whole slew of booking classes on Cathay Pacific for which American won’t award any miles at all, redeemable or otherwise. In fact, it’s pretty much most of the cheap economy fares that people buy, which is why AA doesn’t want to give any miles for them. It’s almost certainly the case that this Cathay ticket was booked in one of these classes, so that’s why American’s saying it’s ineligible for miles.
An alternate option might have been to credit the flights to a different mileage program, such as Cathay’s own Asia Miles program, which awards miles for almost all booking classes. However, Asia Miles are not terribly valuable, so maybe a better option would have been crediting to British Airways, which also accepts many booking classes on both Cathay and American.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Jeff, but at least now you know what to look for the next time around. Thanks for the question, and if you’re a TPG reader with a question you’d like answered, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or send an email to email@example.com.
Featured images courtesy of Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.