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:
For reference, here’s what the current accrual chart for travel on British Airways looks like:
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
We’re seeing similar changes to AAdvantage earnings rates for travel on Iberia as of October 1, 2015:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?