Last summer I wrote American Reveals its Frequent Flyer Program Data to the SEC: Here’s What We Learn.
American Airlines has consistently revealed key metrics for the AAdvantage frequent flyer program in their 10-K SEC filings. And that let me build a spreadsheet showing how many members of the program there are, how many miles outstanding and redeemed for a given year, and what percentage of miles were accrued through partners rather than from flying.
What we see in the numbers is that American has had success in printing miles, selling them to partners, but also redeeming them. And the number of miles outstanding really hasn’t grown especially quickly over the years. So there’s not a situation of ‘too many miles chasing too few seats’ though if anything at the moment it’s ‘too few seats’. Planes are full and saver awards harder to come by.
And I concluded,
But even with planes full, there’s hardly any sort of crisis by historical standards — and thus little need to upend the structure of the program the way that United and Delta have been doing to theirs.
Reader Hillrider just commented that the airline’s 2014 10-K filing is now available (.pdf).
[T]he new numbers are eye-popping (809.0b outstanding miles and 287.1b issued), but that’s because they’re reporting both AAdvantage and Dividend Miles together (since they were destined to be merged 1:1).
So you should probably add a new metrics to your spreadsheet, which is number of outstanding miles per units of ASM and number of issued miles per unit of RPMs — the trends would be very interesting to see (the latter would show by how much “too many miles” are chasing too little awards).
Other 10-K metrics of interest are the number of one-way redemptions (7.9m in 2014) and what is the % of total RPMs that are flown under award redemption (5.5% in 2014, massively down from 8.2% in 2013).
The most relevant data is on page 20 of the 10-K.
As of December 31, 2014, AAdvantage and Dividend Miles had approximately 809.0 billion outstanding award miles. During 2014, AAdvantage and Dividend Miles issued approximately 287.1 billion miles, of which approximately 61% were sold to program participants.
I didn’t see the total number of members included in the filing. I suspect that’s because they hadn’t fully de-duped the member files between the programs at the time of the filing. It should total somewhere around 100 million members.
I appreciate the prompt from Hillrider and heads up about the new 10-K. I’m not sure it makes sense to simply add the new numbers to the old chart, including US Airways Dividend Miles makes the numbers really incomparable to past data.
It’s also not really fair to look at outstanding miles per total seat miles operated by the airline, because it ignores partner flights (and American does add and remove partners, e.g. in recent years adding Etihad while breaking up with El Al) and indeed partner demand for American’s seats.
It does depend what question you’re trying to ask though. Indeed, I have little interest in redeeming American miles for American flights but it certainly matters as a metric for understanding the program as a whole since most people do redeem their miles that way.