The Other Way American Airlines Is Quietly Changing Its Rewards Program

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Besides moving to airfare-based rewards, AAdvantage will have another (unannounced) change -- and it's a downgrade for most customers.

Come Aug. 1, American Airlines is adopting a revenue-based model for its AAdvantage loyalty program, a significant change from its current miles-based system. But the airline is also changing the rates used to determine how customers earn award miles flying with its partner airlines.

Didn’t hear anything about the new changes? You’re not alone. American Airlines didn’t make an announcement or notice about the new rates it’s using with partner airlines, even though they go into effect in less than two weeks, according to The Points Guy.

As a member of the “oneworld alliance,” American partners with more than a dozen carriers, including Qantas and British Airways.

“Until recently it was possible to earn 100 percent of American award miles on every partner revenue flight taken,” says Skift. “American’s new changes, however, effectively slash those earning rates for most classes of service outside of business and first class.”

The Points Guy crunched the numbers using the new rates and found that more than 180 partner fares will soon have their mileage earning rates cut by 10 percent to 100 percent. For example, if you have an upcoming Air Berlin economy flight or an Alaska Airlines economy flight, your AAdvantage award mileage earnings may nosedive by 75 percent.

Yikes.

On the other side of the coin, The Points Guy found that a mere 20 partner fares will earn more miles on American with the changes that take effect Aug. 1.

Although budget-focused fliers may agree with The Points Guy’s description of American’s most recent change to its frequent flyer program as a “customer-unfriendly move,” Skift points out that the overhaul of the AAdvantage program is mostly in line with other airlines, like Delta and United.

“With the latest changes, American’s loyalty program now seems to be on the same playing field with its competitors and their respective alliances, allowing American to compete based on its network, service and aircraft,” Skift says.

Read more about American Airlines overhauled frequent flier program here.

What do you think about American Airline’s most recent changes to the AAdvantage program? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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