American announced in the Fall that they’ll start awarding miles for flights based on price of ticket rather than distance flown in “late 2016.”
There will be a cap of 75,000 miles earned per ticket — the same as Delta and United — so for expensive premium cabin tickets it will be desirable to book two one-ways rather than a roundtrip.
Expensive short trips earn more than they do now. Long trips even at reasonably high fares will earn fewer miles. Overall American claims that they’ll award fewer miles for flying than they do now — but the same number that they were awarding prior to implementing premium fare bonuses. (For this to be true AAdvantage members must on average be spending about 20% more on their tickets than non-members — although ticket prices have been falling.)
American Airlines Airbus A321T at New York JFK
Though we were originally told changes would come in late 2016, there have also been references to “the second half of 2016” which is the language American used in its most recent SEC form 10-K filing. That’s got members worried. One of the most frequent questions I get is when this change will happen, with customers even booking away from American now on the fear that it could happen July 1 (which is, of course, in “the second half” of the year).
I do not expect a change July 1. American announced in late 2015 that we’d see changes in late 2016, but not a specific date for the change, because at that time they did not know when they’d do it. It requires significant changes in IT to make happen, followed by testing. And IT is hard.
What I’ve been told this week is that American isn’t prepared to share a date certain at this point, but that they will provide a couple of months’ notice before the change goes into effect. They do not view the statement back in November that it would happen later this year as ‘the notice’ that they need to give to members (as some commenters have speculated).
- we still don’t know when
- it’s not about to happen
- we’ll get notice before it does.
- Update: After I scheduled this post One Mile at a Time addressed the question and suggests you should plan for July 1 though he thinks August or September is more likely. At this point I wouldn’t be planning for July 1.
It’s worth remembering that, while there will be some change in mileage accrual from flying with AAdvantage, that about two thirds of AAdvantage miles are earned from things other than flying American.
And contra American Airlines President Scott Kirby’s comments in earnings calls about changes to American AAdvantage driving higher revenue, Delta doesn’t believe revenue-based changes to SkyMiles are a contributor to higher revenue. At least Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan isn’t going revenue-based soon.