American Airlines and Qantas improve mileage earnings, further expand codeshare

Oct 9, 2019

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American Airlines and Qantas are moving quickly to utilize their new joint-venture agreement — which received tentative approval in early June and final approval on July 19.

Executives from both airlines met last week to iron out details of how the new joint venture would work. Now, the two airlines are announcing improvements to mileage earnings and new codeshare routes.

Improved mileage and elite earnings

There’s some great news in this announcement for those looking to (re-)earn elite status on American Airlines. Effective for flights starting Oct. 1, 2019, American Airlines has improved the award mileage and elite earning rates for some Qantas booking classes. And it’s all good news; there are no downward adjustments, only improvements.

There are now two different earning charts for “Qantas-marketed” flights — meaning flights booked with a Qantas flight number — being credited to AAdvantage. The first chart is for flights between North America (except Hawaii) and Australia or New Zealand:

The second chart is for flights not protected by the joint venture between the two airlines. The good news here is that AA improved Elite Qualifying Mileage earnings on almost all flight fare codes. However, the EQD earning rate and the cabin bonuses are the same as before.

With these changes in place, you’ll now earn the same number of Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) whether you book the flight with American Airlines or Qantas flight numbers: 1x for economy, 1.5x for premium economy, 2x for business/first class (non-full fare) and 3x for full-fare business/first class.

Business/first class changes

Many of the improvements on the U.S.-Australia/New Zealand chart are for Qantas business- and first-class booking codes. The numbers bolded below indicate improvements:

Class of Service Code Base
Cabin bonus
Cain bonus
First F 100% 100% 50% 200% 1.5 3 30% 60%
First A 100% 100% 50% 100% 1.5 2 30% 60%
Business J 100% 100% 25% 125% 1.5 3 25% 45%
Business C 100% 100% 25% 125% 1.5 2 25% 45%
Business D 100% 100% 25% 50% 1.5 2 25% 30%
Business I 100% 100% 25% 25% 1.5 2 25% 25%

*Note that these earning rates are for Qantas-marketed flights between Australia or New Zealand and North America (excluding Hawaii).

As you can see in the chart above, the Elite Qualifying Mile (EQM) rate for all first- and business-class fares have been increased from 1.5x to 3x for full-fare and 2x for so-called discount business fares. The Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD) and class of service bonus is increasing for all fares except the cheapest-bucket “I” business class fare.

Economy changes

In addition, all Qantas economy fares will now earn 1 Elite Qualifying Mile per direct mile flown. Before these changes, Qantas economy fares would only earn 0.5x EQM. That’s great news for those looking to take advantage of a cheap Qantas economy deal to Australia as you’ll be able to earn elite status faster.

While most of the other earning rates are staying the same, there’s one exception: the earnings for S-fare economy tickets is being increased from a base mileage earning rate of 25% to a base of 50% of flight miles. The Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD) rate is also getting doubled from 5% to 10% of flight miles for these S-fare tickets.

Change to Qantas earning charts

Qantas has also improved its mileage- and elite-earning charts for American Airlines-marketed flights. As you can see in the chart, the Qantas Points and status credit earnings for flights with an AA flight number have been increased across the board:

New codeshare flights

American Airlines and Qantas are also expanding their codeshare partnership. This allows travelers a choice between booking flights as an American Airlines flight number or Qantas flight number on even more routes.

The five Qantas-operated transpacific flights are included in the codeshare expansion:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Sydney (SYD)
  • San Francisco (SFO) to Melbourne (MEL)
  • San Francisco (SFO) to Brisbane (BNE)
  • Chicago (ORD) to Brisbane (BNE)
Image generated using Great Circle Mapper.

In addition, Qantas is expanding its codeshare on more than 50 city pairs from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Chicago O’Hare (ORD). This expansion adds 28 new destinations to Qantas’ U.S. network, increasing the number of U.S. destinations bookable with a Qantas flight number to more than 100.

With the mileage-earning improvements noted above, it isn’t as critical as before for AAdvantage members to book an AA-marketed flight. Whether you book the flight with an AA flight number or Qantas flight number, you’ll now earn the same number of Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs).

However, award mileage and Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD) earnings are going to differ between the two ways of booking. So, make sure to check your mileage earnings for booking AA flight numbers and Qantas flight numbers when deciding which airline to book through.

Featured photo by Bloomberg via Getty Images.

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