American Is Still Offering Bonus Miles For Premium Travel In 2016

I realize this is something which is probably obvious to many of you, though I still get questions about it all the time, so I figured I’d address it here.

Last year American offered two awesome promotions to incentivize people to fly paid first & business class with them:

The reason American offered this promotion was pretty obvious. This was a response to Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus switching to revenue based frequent flyer programs, which is extremely rewarding for paid premium cabin travelers, but less rewarding for others. By adding these two promotions, American was making sure they weren’t losing premium cabin flyers to other airlines based on their frequent flyer program.

As most of you probably know by now, American AAdvantage is making some major changes this year, including switching to a revenue based frequent flyer program in the second half of the year.

2016-AAdvantage-Program

As of that date, American will award the following number of redeemable miles per dollar spent on base airfare:

  • Non-elite: 5 redeemable miles per dollar spent
  • Gold: 7 redeemable miles per dollar spent
  • Platinum: 8 redeemable miles per dollar spent
  • Executive Platinum: 11 redeemable miles per dollar spent

No exact date has been announced for the switchover yet, but I’d guess it’ll be pretty darn close to July 1.

With that in mind, I think it’s worth recapping which promotions still apply until then:

American’s bonus redeemable miles offer

American is continuing to offer bonus redeemable miles for travel in paid first & business class. This promotion will continue to apply until American’s revenue based frequent flyer program kicks in during the second half of the year.

American-Premium-Cabin-Bonus

You earn bonus miles for every segment in paid first & business class, ranging from 250 miles to 12,000 miles per segment. You’re automatically eligible for this promotion — there’s no registration required. Here’s the earnings chart:

Non-elite AAdvantage membersAAdvantage Gold & PlatinumAAdvantage Executive Platinum
Medium and Short-haul flights less than 3,000 miles
Discounted Business Class I
250250500
Medium and Short-haul flights less than 3,000 miles
First / Business Class F, A, P, C, J, R, D
5005001,000
Long-haul flights greater than 3,000 miles and JFK-LAX/SFO
Discounted Business Class I
1,0001,0003,500
Long-haul flights greater than 3,000 miles and JFK-LAX/SFO
First / Business Class F, A, P, C, J, R, D
6,0006,00012,000

A few days ago I wrote about how I’ve booked enough travel to basically requalify for Executive Platinum for 2016, and much of it is using cheap first & business class fares. For example, I’m flying from Los Angeles to New York to Miami to Bogota in paid business class, which will earn me 10,000 bonus miles roundtrip thanks to the above promotion (in addition to the miles I’d otherwise earn).

So when you’re looking at discounted first & business class fares for the rest of the year, be sure you’re factoring in the above redeemable miles bonus.

American-A321
Earn bonus redeemable miles for travel in American first class

American’s increased elite qualifying miles

With the 2016 AAdvantage program, American has eliminated elite qualifying points as a method of elite qualification. Instead you can qualify either based on elite qualifying miles or elite qualifying segments. Essentially they’ve simplified the program, with no downside (at least when it comes to this aspect of the program).

Last year’s bonus promotion on elite qualifying points has become the new standard earnings rate for travel on American:

American-Elite-Miles

As you can see, you earn three elite qualifying miles per dollar spent in full fare first & business class, while you earn two elite qualifying miles per dollar spent in discounted first and business class.

American-First-Class-Sydney - 11
Earn bonus redeemable miles for travel in American first class

Bottom line

The first half of this year is a fantastic time to travel on discounted first & business class tickets on American. You’re still earning miles under the traditional scheme, but there are big bonuses for first & business class travel. The promotion for elite qualifying points last year has become the new norm for qualifying for status, which is great news. That’s permanent, so will apply even when American starts awarding redeemable miles based on revenue rather than miles flown. Flying just 50,000 miles in discounted business class will earn you Executive Platinum status.

Hopefully this clarifies any confusion people had.

Comments

  1. Think there is a typo in the elite mileage section. Assuming you mean EQM per mile flown and not per dollar spent.

  2. Is this something you have to sign up for, or is it automatically applied when you book your business class flights?

  3. Really liking the promotions American is having at the moment. Last week I did a roundtrip from Amsterdam to New York and onwards to Buenos Aires in business (I-fare) and the same way back on a good deal I found on FT (about $1500 for the whole itinerary), and earned a total of 84,417 miles, 40,000 of which were bonus miles (4 x 3,500 and 2 x 500 for the offer in this blog post and 25,000 just for flying transatlantic in January)

  4. It’s quite stark how RDM different the earnings will be once the change to fare-based earning kicks in. I also have one of those $1500 I-class business-class fares booked between Europe and South America – outbound to be flown in May, Inbound in November. Here’s what I’ll earn for each way of the trip:

    Outbound: 26319 RDM = 8586 base miles + 2147 Class of Service Bonus + 8586 EXP Bonus + 7,000 = 26319
    Inbound: 8250 RDM = 8250 revenue based miles [maximum, presuming a “fare” of $750 for the return portion.

    Even at the highest possible earning rate (for EXP), in the revenue based system, for this itinerary, I’ll end up earning less than 1 RDM for each mile flown. And that’s in business! A real drag.

  5. Does this work for BA flights that I credit to my AA frequent flyer number? I booked 4 of the great business class BA fares and have been wondering whether to credit to BA or AA.

  6. Yeah, I’m really disliking the whole revenue-based earning airlines have switched to.. I used to earn a ton of award miles on United before they made the switch last year, now I barely earn any since I typically fly on the lowest fares I can find. Luckily AA won’t switch until June so I plan on doing as much of my upcoming trips on American to earn as much miles as I can before they screw things up too.

  7. Lucky – I took advantage of the BA Cash + miles deal from a few months back. I’m flying BA from IAD-LHR-ATH and back on AA BCN-JFK-DCA all segments in “I” business class. Would you recommend crediting to American or Alaska? No status with AA, MVP with Alaska.

  8. Do I get bonus miles for flying Cathay J JFK/HKG rountrip paid, or does this apply only American ticketed and operates flights?

    Thanks!

  9. The best deal though was the 25,000 bonus miles for RT to Europe in business/first, including discounted business. That ended today (Jan 31st) and not extended.

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