On Friday evening—traditional timing for bad-news announcements that companies hope will go unnoticed by the public and unreported by the media—American published the new mileage-earning rates, effective from August 1, for travel on AAdvantage partner airlines.
As the timing would suggest, there’s more bad news than good news for AAdvantage members. While earning rates for a very few premium-cabin fares will increase, the great majority of travelers, who fly on discounted coach fares, will earn fewer miles after the change.
On Hawaiian Airlines flights, for example, AAdvantage members will earn 150 percent of flown miles for Business Class, versus 125 percent currently. But many coach fares that currently award 100 percent of flown miles will only earn 50 or 75 percent of flown miles beginning next month.
Note that the changes take effect based on travel date, not the date travel was booked.
It’s all in keeping with American’s conversion to a spend-based earning scheme, and a renewed focus on disproportionately rewarding the airline’s most profitable customers. And while the changes represent a disappointing devaluation of the program, they’re not unexpected.
Both disappointing and unexpected is American’s handling of the change, giving members just over two weeks’ notice of such an impactful program modification, with no news release or email notification to AAdvantage members. Sneaky at best, sleazy at worst.
Reader Reality Check
How will these changes affect your loyalty to American and the AAdvantage program?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.