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Double American Miles, for New Yorkers Only

American's latest promotion manages to be both big and small at the same time.

The bigness: double miles for all American, American Eagle, and AmericanConnection flights, through December 31.

The smallness: To earn the bonus miles, flyers must be AAdvantage members with mailing addresses "in the Greater New York area." That, according to American, means a member must reside in the states of New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut.

What's going on here?

Two things. First, this is in part a response to Delta's systemwide double-mile promotion, which requires use of an American Express card but has no geographic restrictions on eligibility.

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And second, the promotion is designed to highlight American's premier New York-area gateway, JFK Airport, where the airline has reportedly spent $1.3 billion to renovate its terminal. While the offer applies to flights departing and arriving anywhere in American's route network, the great majority of American's tri-state customers will be flying out of JFK.

Still, this seems like a poorly conceived promotion.

If the goal was to increase traffic to and from a particular airport, American would have done better to simply offer extra miles for flights departing from or arriving at that airport, with no limits on travelers' state of residence. And if the move was principally a counter-response to Delta's offer, the geographic targeting again seems misdirected.

The state requirement will undoubtedly encourage a rash of address changes by AAdvantage members gaming the system to earn the bonus. (For the record, I have no idea whether such opportunistic changes will work—American may have adjusted its system to automatically disqualify members with last-minute address changes—and as a matter of principle, I would never advocate acting fraudulently.)

There's no reason for New Yorkers to quibble, though. For the next five months, they'll be busy earning bonus miles.

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