Huge Bonus for Business and First Class Europe Flights .. and a Really Crummy Thing British Airways is Doing

I just received an email from American promoting up to 125,000 bonus miles for Europe flights.

Earn American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles every time you fly round-trip between the U.S., Canada or Mexico and Europe on First Class or Business Class fares on American Airlines, US Airways, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia or OpenSkies.

Registration is required. Tickets already purchased will count for the American promotion as long as they fall within the eligible travel dates of September 23 through January 10. The promo code is USF14.

It turns out that British Airways is offering essentially the same promotion as well except that tickets already purchased before the promotion was announced do not qualify.

Here’s what the British Airways promotion says in their terms:

Existing bookings made prior to the promotional period do not qualify and this offer cannot be applied retroactively.

The American offer contains no such terms. Here’s their full language:

AAdvantage bonus mile offer is valid on American Airlines, US Airways, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia or OpenSkies operated and/or marketed nonstop flights for round-trip travel between the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe, September 23, 2014, through January 10, 2015. Offer applies only to AAdvantage members who are U.S., Canada or Mexico residents and who purchase and fly on eligible published-fare tickets. Flights operated by other codeshare partners are not eligible for this promotion. Bonus miles will be awarded based on the booking class purchased and can only be earned for a maximum of three round trips. Bonus miles do not count toward elite status qualification or AAdvantage Million Miler status. Registration prior to travel is required.

There’s no reference to having to register prior to ticket purchase, or disqualifying tickets purchased prior to September 23. I’m surprised to see this difference in terms.

I think it’s a pretty dreadful thing to tell a customer that has purchased premium cabin transatlantic flights that you’re giving out tons of bonus miles to other customers, that those who know about and register for the bonus and who have paid significant dollars for their tickets are ineligible because they were already your loyal customers. It saves the airline money by not giving out miles to people who were already buying their tickets, but it burns good will and potentially risks future purchases.

Lucky says that the two promotions have the same terms, including the exclusion of previously purchased tickets but that is not my read at all.

For completeness, there are also terms related to eligible fare classes but these are not really restrictive. Here are American’s terms for that, and they too make no mention of having had to make the ticket purchase after the start of the promotion.

Includes First Class and Business Class fares booked in F, A, P, J, R, D or I on American Airlines operated flights; Business Class fares booked in C, D or Z on US Airways operated flights; First Class or Club World (Business Class) fares booked in F, A, J, R, C, D or I on British Airways operated flights; Business Class fares booked in C, D, I or J on Finnair operated flights; Business Class fares booked in J, C, D, R or I on Iberia operated flights; Biz Bed (Business Class) fares booked in J, R, D or I on OpenSkies operating as British Airways flights.

You have a choice of programs you can credit to and earn the bonus — though I value American miles far more than BA ones, BA is better for short haul economy redemptions and American better for long haul premium cabin redemptions.

Of course, most of us aren’t buying paid premium cabin travel to Europe. But there are definitely some great sales during the promotion period, so it’s conceivable that some of you will.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m not surprised. AA is trying to bolster business and knows that every bonus mile it awards NOW will be worth much less once it devalues it’s award chart after it’s merger is completed.

  2. Cool…… anyone have a lead on which are the best city pairs, to earn the bonuses at lowest fares? I know it doesn’t exactly count as a mileage run, but I wouldn’t be opposed to a long weekend trip

  3. Not new. These promos have run many times before with the same terms as they do this time, BA being more restrictive than AA.

  4. Plenty of folks regularly buy business class tickets to Europe (we’re the ones that make upgrades so scarce ;)).

    So thanks for the heads up!

  5. You mean some people actually BUY airline tickets? Who knew? 🙂

    But if I had bought a refundable premium ticket from BA, I would for sure cancel it for a refund. Then buy another one that would qualify. And if I had purchased 3 not yet used tickets, you better believe I’d cancel and rebook all 3 for 125K extra miles.

    Ah, the Good Old Days when AA would run this exact same offer, except you got the exact same bonuses flying discount economy. Which of course was also multiplied by the Plat EX bonus.

    Yes I did do $300 r/t mattress runs to requalify for Plat EX. Plus 3 long weekends in Paris and Brussels. Not to mention enough miles for free Premium awards for summer vacation.

    And in those days, if economy wasn’t full, and it never was Nov thru Feb, they would block the seat next to you if you were EX Plat. 767, only 2 seats on the window side, no one in the other seat. Total of @265,000 miles, only $900 total for all 3 r/t flights. Sigh…..

  6. United Airlines pulls this lousy stunt all the time, excluding customers who already bought a ticket from benfiting from a promotion.

  7. What is so unusual (or unfair) about a promotional sale that isn’t retroactive? Why the whining? The whole point of a promotional offer is to change buyer behavior, not to reward previous purchases. Everyone knows that the person sitting next to them on an airline paid a different price than they did. This is nothing new, and it certainly isn’t unfair. We all play that game, airlines and passengers. It is called segmented pricing.

    Considering the fact that the whole purpose of your blog is to dispense travel information so that your readers will be better informed (and get better deals) than uninformed consumers, it seems a little more than inconsistent to criticize these marketing practices.

  8. @Andrew – Nothing new that COdbaUA pulls those tricks. So far AA/US are taking a measured approach. Lets hope is continues.

  9. Bring back regulation! In the good old days of flying, all prices were the same. The only thing the airlines had to sell was comfort, service and food. I’ll take that, along with safety, anytime.


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