American Airlines adjusts earning rates for Alaska flights, devalues Saver fares

Mar 10, 2021

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Alaska Airlines has been busy the last few months preparing for its entrance into the Oneworld alliance, which is happening at the end of March. For instance, it recently adjusted first-class and economy fare codes to align closer with Oneworld partners, impacting how you earn and redeem miles and elite upgrade prioritization.

However, it’s not just Alaska that needs to prepare. Existing partners that are also part of Oneworld have been making adjustments as well.

American Airlines has just published a new earning chart for Alaska Airlines-marketed and operated flights. While the changes only affect some economy fares, there’s one big devaluation: Alaska’s basic economy Saver fares no longer earn any elite-qualifying credit with American.

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Earning AAdvantage miles for Alaska flights

American has just published a new earning chart for Alaska flights on or after March 31, 2021 (the day Alaska joins Oneworld). The changes take effect retroactively, so if you previously purchased a ticket with one of these fare classes for travel on or after March 31, your reservation and earnings will change. Also, note that these earnings only apply to flights marketed and operated by Alaska. Alaska-operated flights booked with an AA flight number will continue to earn AAdvantage miles based on the American mileage accrual chart.

Although some fare codes have been renamed, there are no earning changes for first-class tickets. For instance, full-fare first-class tickets will continue to earn the same amount of miles and elite-qualifying credit, but under the fare code “J” instead of “F.”

The biggest change is that Saver “X” fares will no longer earn any elite-qualifying credit. This makes sense given that American doesn’t award elite credit for its own basic economy (B) fares either. They will continue to earn award miles at a rate of 25% of the distance flown, however.

Related: Where to credit your basic economy flights for maximum returns

Here’s a summary of the other changes:

  • Deeply-discounted “G” economy fares will now earn 25% base miles (instead of 50%) and 5% EQDs (instead of 10%).
  • “Q” economy fares now earn 50% base miles (instead of 75%), 1x EQMs, 10% EQDs (instead of 15%) and 1x EQSs.
  • “S” fares were downgraded from earning 100% base miles to 50% and 20% EQDs to 10%.
  • “L” and “K” economy fares were boosted and now earn 75% base miles (instead of 50%), 1x EQMs (instead of 0.5x), 15% EQDs (instead of 10%) and 1x EQSs.
  • “H” fares also got a nice upgrade. They now earn 100% base miles (instead of 75%), 1x EQMs (instead of 0.5x), 20% EQDs (instead of 15%) and 1x EQSs.
  • “V” and “M” fares saw no changes other than them now earning 1x EQMs instead of 0.5x.

Here’s a complete look at the new award chart for travel on or after March 31, 2021:

Cabin Purchased fares booked in Base miles Cabin bonus EQMs EQDs EQSs
First J 100% 75% 1.50 35% 1.0
First C, D, I 100% 50% 1.50 30% 1.0
Economy Y, B, H 100% 1.00 20% 1.0
Economy K, M, L 75% 1.00 15% 1.0
Economy V, S, N, Q 50% 1.00 10% 1.0
Economy O, G 25% 0.50 5% 1.0
Economy X 25%

Bottom line

Alaska’s entrance into Oneworld will come with some changes to how you earn miles when crediting to American. The biggest news is that American will no longer award any elite-qualifying credit for Alaska basic economy tickets. If you frequently book Saver fares and want to earn elite-qualifying credit, you’ll be better off crediting your flights to Alaska’s Mileage Plan program, which will continue to offer award and elite-elite qualifying miles based on 100% of the distance flown.

Featured image by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.

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