Yesterday American AAdvantage Updated its Terms and Conditions for Revenue-Based Earning

Back in November American announced that they would mimic Delta and United with mileage-earning for flights based on cost of your ticket instead of miles flown in “late 2016.” That was subsequently revised in future communications to be ‘the second half’ of 2016.

At this time 500 mile minimum redeemable miles earning (but not elite qualifying miles earning) for elites will go away.

The actual change goes into effect for travel (not tickets purchased) August 1 onward. American-marketed flights, whether on American-issued tickets or partner-issued tickets, will earn based on the price of the ticket (inclusive of fare and surcharges, but not taxes).

The change to mileage-earning for flights doesn’t affect credit card earning, or any of the 6 in 10 AAdvantage miles earned for things other than flying

And it doesn’t change redeemable mileage-earning for flights marketed by partners, those still earn based on distance and class of service (although American has reduced earning for discount classes of service for many partners). It also doesn’t affect American tickets sold with vacation packages, bulk fare tickets, or student tickets.

American announced all of this early last month. They’ve just now brought their terms and conditions up to speed on this change. There’s nothing new, per se, simply ensuring that de jure matches de facto.

For travel August 1, 2016 or later, travel on any eligible purchased, published fare ticket on an American marketed flight (flights sold under an American flight number) will earn mileage credit based on the ticket price (base fare plus any mandatory carrier-imposed fees). Mileage credit will not be earned on government imposed taxes and fees or on optional airline fees such as, but not limited to, change fees, ticketing fees or charges for products such as seats or checked baggage. Some types of fares, such as those sold in conjunction with a vacation package or tickets where the actual fare is not disclosed like consolidator, bulk fare or student tickets, will earn mileage credit based on a percentage of distance flown as determined by the booking code purchased. In the event the necessary ticket/fare details are not be available at the time of posting of your mileage credit, you will earn mileage credit based on a percentage of the distance flown as determined by the booking code.

Partner marketed flights (flights sold under a partner flight number) will earn mileage credit based on a percentage of distance flown as determined by the booking code purchased.

For any flights that earn mileage credit based on a percentage of distance flown, the distance is determined on the basis of nonstop distances between the airports where your flight originates and terminates. On connecting flights with different flight numbers, the distance of each segment will be used. On single-plane, through, or change of gauge flights, the nonstop origin-destination distance will be used and credit for a single elite qualifying segment will be given.

Here’s what the changes mean and how they may affect you.

The terms and conditions have not been updated at this time to reflect next year’s requirement for minimum spending to earn elite status in the 2018 program year.

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. Long term, this will result in less regional flights.

    Living in Allentown, I would routinely fly ABE-PHL-DFW-IAH on business, if only to rack up an extra 1000 EQM each way. Without the 500 mile minimum, I’ll take the much more convenient PHL-IAH direct flight. Maybe AA won’t care because the direct flight is more expensive, but it will undoubtedly reduce demand for those shorter legs.

  2. @Gary
    gary, one question
    If I fly on a LAN marketed flight operated by american with my AA FF number , do I earn based on AA new mileage chart or do I earn 100% as per the earning rules on LAN as described on aa site?

    the site clarifies the other option (AA marketed but LAN operated) but not what happens if the flight is LAN marketed but AA operated

    I realize I may not have all my AA PLA benefits like MCE access or domestic upgrade, but it seems earning is still at 100% base miles


  3. Any idea how miles will be calculated if my itinerary starts before Aug 1 and finishes after?

  4. @Pat – this doesn’t affect EQMs, only redeemable miles. AFAIK, elites still get 500 mile minimum EQM per segment.

  5. Screw American. We are not sheep or lemmings. The airlines pocketed $42B in profits. Especially after the lower cost of fuel they have not passed on to the general public any noticeable base fare reductions. “Is this the way American civil aviation should be?” Many an answer…….let’s think about breaking up the big legendary carriers……a radical move. Oh, by the way. Didn’t we bail out these guys to the tone of $5B? What did we get for that? Talk about ingratitude.

  6. So, after August 1, will a ticket issued by a Oneworld carrier (and flown on the same carrier) also earn EQM based on the fare paid?

    For vacation packages sold by AA, can one book 1 night hotel with a ticket validity of 30 nights or longer and yet get the full EQM based on the distance flown?

    If one buys a ticket issued by a non alliance carrier (say, SK) that includes an AA flight segment, how will the EQM for that flight get calculated?

    What is the best way to beat the system that AA has now imposed on us?

  7. @Enjoy Fine Food

    …you do realize that Gary’s use of the word “ensuring” is correct, right? Since he’s not talking about GEICO et al., the word “insure” doesn’t apply.

  8. 500 miles redeemable, is what, $5-$10 max? Most segment flights already increase the cost and the calculus of time versus driving to the closest city restricts the value to a subset of travelers that can both make the schedule work and spend more money. Airlines have been increasingly targeting money spenders, so this seems like a bad move towards pleasing those people. Plus, the regional carriers should be complaining big time

  9. Addendum…In a previous comment I stated that we bailed AA to the tune of $5B. That was for all carriers in light of the 911 aftermath. When all the American civilian carriers needed government aid to help them survive.

  10. Robert Milton said “Screw American. We are not sheep or lemmings.”

    Agree 100%. Not much they could do around the edges to make loyal to them after 2/18 when my EP runs out.

  11. Good reasons to get on board private ownership of aircraft. Think of all the waiting you won’t need to do with your new aircraft. Tsa, bags, delays cancelations, pilots not showing for work.

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