While the “big three” US airlines have revenue based frequent flyer programs nowadays, that typically applies primarily when traveling with that airline, and not when traveling with partner airlines. For travel on partner airlines, mileage earning is still largely awarded based on a percentage of distance flown. Well, that will be changing shortly for American AAdvantage, as flagged by @olouie.
American’s revenue based earning on British Airways & Iberia
As of October 18, 2023, American AAdvantage will start awarding redeemable miles and Loyalty Points differently when traveling on flights marketed by both British Airways and Iberia. Specifically, AAdvantage will earn 5x miles per dollar spent on British Airways and Iberia flights, plus there are elite bonuses:
Miles will be awarded for ticket price, including base fares and carrier imposed surcharges. Government imposed taxes and fees will be excluded.
As a point of comparison, below is what AAdvantage mileage earning rates are like on British Airways through October 17, 2023.
Note that this move will be reciprocal, and British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus will also start awarding Avios for travel on American based on how much you spend, rather than based on how far you fly. However, they still award elite status based on a different metric.
What’s motivating this change to mileage earning now?
The timing of this change is no coincidence. As of October 18, 2023, British Airways Executive Club will begin awarding Avios based on revenue rather than distance flown, and Iberia Plus has already made this change.
American and British Airways have a close partnership, as the airlines have a transatlantic joint venture. Presumably airlines would like to award miles on partners based on revenue rather than distance flown, but this has been a technology issue.
With British Airways and Iberia also both making the change, technology is no longer a limitation, which is why we’re seeing this change now.
For most consumers, this probably won’t be good news. Airlines aren’t switching to revenue based frequent flyer programs because they want to be more generous. For savvy consumers, the opportunity to earn miles based on distance flown has been a great arbitrage opportunity. It has been a way to potentially earn more AAdvantage miles or Loyalty Points than you’d earn if booking the same itinerary with American.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar changes with other AAdvantage airline partners in the future. However, I imagine it could take some time before the technology catches that enables this on a more widespread basis.
As of October 2023, American AAdvantage will start awarding miles and Loyalty Points for travel on British Airways and Iberia differently. Rather than awarding them as a percentage of distance flown, they’ll be awarded based on how much you paid for your ticket, in the same way it currently works when flying with American.
What do you make of these changes to AAdvantage partner mileage earning?