American Cutting Mileage Earnings Rates On British Airways

Update: American is claiming that these charts were a “mistake,” and that they won’t be adjusting mileage earnings rates as of October 1, 2015.

Reader Bas pointed out something interesting in the “Ask Lucky” forum, which suggests American AAdvantage will be cutting mileage earnings for travel on British Airways and Iberia as of October 1, 2015.

AAdvantage mileage rates on British Airways/Iberia being cut

If you check the AAdvantage earnings pages on many non-English aa.com pages, you’ll see the new rates referenced. For example, I went to American’s Spanish website (and selected Spanish as the language), and then used Chrome to translate the text.

Here’s what it shows for AAdvantage earnings rates for travel on British Airways as of October 1, 2015:

AA-BA-2

For reference, here’s what the current accrual chart for travel on British Airways looks like:

AA-BA-1

We’re seeing drastic cuts for mileage earnings for discounted economy tickets. Specifically:

  • K, L, M, N, S, and V fares will accrue 50% AAdvantage miles rather than 100% miles
  • G, O, and Q fares will accrue 25% AAdvantage miles rather than 100% miles

Manchester-9

We’re seeing similar changes to AAdvantage earnings rates for travel on Iberia as of October 1, 2015:

AA-IB-3

As you can see, earnings rates for discounted economy tickets are being cut from 100% to 25-50%.

While the new charts aren’t reflected on all countries’ sites yet, I think it’s safe to assume this change is legitimate, and they’re just in the process of updating charts.

What does this mean for the transatlantic joint venture?

What makes this move interesting is that American, British Airways, Finnair, and Iberia have a transatlantic joint venture, so in theory they try to add as much “metal neutrality” as possible, whereby you don’t have a huge incentive to choose one airline over another. They share revenue and codeshare, so don’t have much of a stake in which airline you actually fly.

TATL-JV

So what does this mean for AAdvantage members? Hopefully it doesn’t mean that AAdvantage mileage earnings rates will be slashed similarly for travel on American. I doubt they will be, at least in the immediate future.

Instead my guess is that these changes were pressured by British Airways. Keep in mind that British Airways cut their Executive Club earnings rates similarly earlier in the year, whereby discounted economy fares went from earning 100% Avios to earning just 25-50% Avios.

Avios-Earning

Shortly thereafter, Alaska Mileage Plan made similar changes to mileage earnings rates for travel on British Airways, whereby discounted economy fares went from earning 100% miles to earning just 25-50% miles.

Mileage-Plan-BA-2

What’s strange, however, is that both British Airways Executive Club and Alaska Mileage Plan greatly increased earnings for paid premium cabin travel, in particular for first class. However, the new AAdvantage award chart has none of that upside — there are no increased mileage earnings for paid first or business class travel.

British-Airways-First

Bottom line

These changes are of course negative, and it’s unfortunate to see AAdvantage earnings rates fall out of harmony even within the transatlantic joint venture.

I assume at some point American will adjust their earnings rates somewhat, either to follow the lead of Delta and United in going revenue based, or slashing earnings rates for discounted tickets similar to British Airways. However, in the meantime AAdvantage members flying discounted economy tickets have a big incentive to fly American over British Airways/Iberia.

To what degree will these AAdvantage changes impact your travel choices?

Comments

  1. I have two flights booked on BA TATL later this fall that would have pushed me over the explt level. What recourse do I have at this point? Will they allow me to Cancel and rebook with AA?

  2. Same boat as Alex here — I HATE devaluations like this. My travel isn’t even that far out; it’s in NOVEMBER and it’s been planned for 5+ months!!

    I can only hope that this only applies to tickets purchased after October 1, and not travel after October 1.

  3. Talk about no notice. I already have travel booked for the remainder of the year on BA prime flights that I was counting on for my EXP qualification. I sure hope AA will waive change fees to change them to AA coded flights to restore my mileage earning.

  4. It is possible someone accidentally published a page that they had considered the rate change, and it was never used, and that was quickly corrected.

    Seems like it could have been when BA changed Earning; AA was going to change earning but then decided not to and someone just accidentally uploaded it, because it’s definitely down.

  5. @Scott, it would be quite the accident if the same page was mistakenly published on the Spanish, Dutch and German AA microsites now wouldn’t it?

  6. It is not down. You can still see it on the Dutch AA website. Don’t forget to also change the language. Otherwise it won’t show up.

    Its already online for quite now. Someone on a Dutch forum mentioned it around 5 days ago.

  7. Would this mean that the 500 mile min for Elites would disappear too? I hope not – I have some VERY short (CDG, MAN) BA connections out of LHR next year

  8. Is the EQP based on actual miles or accrued base miles? If it is based on accrued base miles, then if I am earning 50% base miles that means my EQP is 0.5 of actual miles flown based on 1.0 EQP earning rate?

  9. I am booked to fly VCE-MAD-JFK on Iberia in O on October 11th. Will call AAdvantage CS tomorrow as if the earning has been cut by 75% I will be demanding a refund or rebooking on to AA metal.

  10. I’ve echoed this for a long time; AAdavantage in it’s current form WILL NOT BE THE SAME. Some have said that if and when the changes do occur, AA would give enough time for flyers to adjust. NO WAY! Look when they increased the number of sectors required to retain status? 2/3 months time. Look at this move. 6 days notice????

    Putting on my speculation hat. My guess is only Y, B, and H fares will be the only fares allowed to use the SWU, which is probably a good thing. At least there will be a better chance to use them on HKG-DFW. And of course, it’s going revenue base. all in the name of being competitive with the market.

  11. I’ll be a happy bunny as long as the 500 minimum miles rule is in place. Short hops to the Continent is where this change in policy will impact me most. But with the 500 min miles rule, this change is negated.

    The change however has some very positive impacts:

    1) The decision-making process when flying transatlantic will be more streamlined and effective. Aadvantage need only to consider AA marketed flights when booking in coach, since booking on BA codes leaves you short-changed.

    2) As an AU-based customer, the decision to fly QF instead of BA to SIN is now more compelling. Previously flights to SIN on BA codes offered a good option for mileage runs. While the BA option was good, it required a lot of forward planning to lock in cheaper inventories. Again, other options can now be explored, which is perhaps less time-sensitive.

  12. A rather obvious change as there’s no way they can offer 100% earning on BA fares when BA only give 25% to its own members.

    Rather annoying though as I hoped my flights would sneak in before they did!

  13. Can someone post the link to the updated earnings chart? I’ve check the aforementioned German, Dutch and Spanish sites and don’t see it. Maybe it’s because I’m using my phone… Thanks

  14. Lucky,

    If it is a flight operated by British but marketed and sold by American with an American flight number, then whose earning rate rules apply?

  15. @TIS,

    Regardless of the operating carrier, AA marketed flights will accrued EQM/EQP in line with AA rates.

  16. @Tony – entirely disagree. Please tell us what competitive advantage AA would gain by assimilating itself into a rev-model like everyone else, when as of right now they are differentiating themselves by NOT doing so ?!? I was a United elite and now do not fly them at ALL, moving all my biz to AA, like many other people here have. You think AA is “not being competitive with the market” by picking up thousands of additional customers they’d have never had prior ?!? What do you base your opinions on ???? I’d ask the United CEO for HIS opinion on how that genius move to copy Delta is working out, but he is no longer with United these days …

  17. I don’t know why many of you are upset. Why do you expect an airline to give you 100% miles while you travel on the cheapest possible tickets? I think AA will change their rules for AA flights as well within a few months. While many people says that AA will move to a revenue based FF program I think they won’t but they will significantly reduce the miles for cheap tickets and will increase for premium tickets just like BA did.

  18. Lucky-
    Over 6 months ago I booked my family on an ORD-LHR-CPT trip through BA. I will clear EXP without the miles from this trip- but my husband (who relies on base miles vs EQP) will not. The booking classes look like this:
    ORD-LHR on AA (O)
    LHR-CPT on BA (O)
    CPT-LHR on BA (V)
    LHR-ORD on BA (V)
    Assuming this new fare rule applies for bookings made before, but flown after October 1st, will he still get 100% base miles for the first OHR-LHR segment on AA hard metal?.. or because it was booked through BA, each segment (irrespective of the carrier), will earn only the new discounted mileage?
    Not sure I have any recourse to cancel these tickets and rebook through AA (in hopes of saving him a mileage run later) given that I booked via BA and it was AA who made the changes.
    Thanks for any input!

  19. @31583 People “expect” an airline to give them a 100% bonus when they travel on the cheapest tickets because that’s what the airline has historically done. Should we have expected something like this to happen? Sure. Alaska did this back in May so it was only a matter of time before AA followed suit. But wondering why people expect an airline to give them something that they’ve been giving them for years seems like a strange thing to wonder about.

  20. @Ziggy History is history. Generous airlines are history. It’s just not profitable. Thinking that everything remains the same for life while we’re talking about for-profit companies seems like a strange thing. It was so obvious, seriously. Ben and other experts has been talking about this for months if not for years. Other airlines has changed already. This type of generous milage accrual rates are not sustainable. You can earn miles with so many things nowadays. Credit cards, debit cards (yes indeed, there are countries where debit cards earns miles also), hotel stays, car rentals, grocery shopping, etc. You can earn miles on virtually any expense. You can easily earn 2-5k miles per month if you spend $1,000 a month.

    What you lose now because of the 25% rate is not a big deal if you maximize your earnings on your daily expenses. For instance if you book a 2,500 miles long flight that earns you 625 miles but you can easily earn 2k miles in a month.

    Yes, I must admit that it’s not good but it has been expected by everyone(!).

  21. @31583 No one is saying it wasn’t expected to happen….but people are still allowed to be annoyed/irritated when it does happen (and despite AA’s claims that this is an error we all know it’s still coming).

    Also, I’m not sure you’ve noticed the real big issue here which has nothing to do with the number of redeemable miles (RM) American will give us for flying on BA. The issue is how many Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) we’ll get for flying on BA – that’s the big hit and it’s not something that any amount of spending on a credit card is going to solve.

  22. I am flying 20k miles on BA in a couple of weeks and crediting to AA. I also signed up for the Platinum challenge on AA. I guess those plans are moot now.

  23. @NatX – ” I’d ask the United CEO for HIS opinion on how that genius move to copy Delta is working out, but he is no longer with United these days …”

    Smisek was fired because of the federal investigation, not because of anything related to the FF program.

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