One of the draws to frequent flier programs has been the perk of getting to earn miles based on the miles you travel to earn a free ticket. But the face of frequent flyer programs has been changing and American Airlines is the latest to join the ranks of carriers making adjustments to the benefits and how they are earned.
Their revamped program will now be based on how much a passenger spends rather than how far they fly. This move was announced in mid-November and follows similar adjustments made by Delta and United Airlines, changes which benefit business travelers who purchase expensive, last-minute tickets.
Changes in Reward Chart
American Airlines reward chart changes will affect flights booked after March 22.
Domestic roundtrip tickets will remain at 25,000 miles, but flights going from the U.S. to Canada and Alaska will go up to 30,000 miles roundtrip. Off-peak flights to Hawaii will also become more expensive going up to 40,000 miles from 35,000. Peak flights are staying at 45,000.
Other flights going up in price include long-haul flights to South America, Europe and Asia.
Domestically, the biggest change in the American’s frequent flyer program is the introduction of new 15,000 roundtrip awards for short flight of 500 miles or less.
American spokesman Casey Norton said “the most-popular awards aren’t changing. At least 75 percent of the award tickets booked would not cost more under the new system.” However, it may prove more difficult for infrequent travelers to earn miles.
Interpreting the Changes
How do all these changes translate into real life? Starting in the second half of 2016, a non-elite member of American’s loyalty program won’t earn miles based on miles, but on how much they paid for their ticket. They will earn 5 miles per dollar of airfare (excluding government taxes and fees).
This means those of us who watch for the deals and grab those deeply discounted advance-purchase tickets lose out while someone dishing out the big bucks to snag a last-second ticket on that same route will earn thousands of miles.
How much you earn will depend on the program you’re enrolled in. Elite fliers will earn seven, eight or 11 miles per dollar based on their status tier.