American Changed Mileage Earning on British Airways and Iberia Flights AGAIN!

In late September American accidentally published new, reduced mileage-earning rates for discounted British Airways and Iberia tickets on their foreign websites. The changes were supposedly going into effect October 1.

You won’t earn any miles on London Heathrow buses.

I didn’t sound the alarm at the time, because I checked with American and was told the new earning rates were published in error. And I was told that if they did something like that, it would be with more advance notice.

Still, the changes were quite specific. Someone mocked them up. They were at least under consideration. And it seemed reasonable to expect American to do something like this (though not with such little notice).

London Heathrow

The changes appeared back on the American website in early November, with an effective date of February 1. So we were given three months’ notice of changes.

Sort of.

They published new redeemable mileage and elite qualifying miles-earning for British Airways and Iberia for flights taken February 1 onward.

New AAdvantage Earning Rates for British Airways Effective February 1

New AAdvantage Earning Rates for Iberia Effective February 1

But then at some point after this American went back in and changed qualifying mileage-earning just for the month of January.

As an interim measure, in January you will still earn full redeemable miles on all British Airways fares… but not full elite qualifying miles.

For Iberia flights you will still earn full redeemable miles between Spain and the US/Mexico, but not other flights, and not full elite qualifying miles on all fares.

These were changes made to the website but not announced. And it was done with some amount less than 6 weeks’ notice.

When American is on the record saying that tickets begin getting purchased in earnest 90 days out from travel and when changes apply based on the date of travel and not date of purchase, this even seems like bait-and-switch. But then AAdvantage even changed its terms and conditions this year to “disclaim any duty of good faith and fair dealing.”

Since American’s website in early November specifically promised that the old earning rates would apply to flights taken “before February 1, 2016” in anything other than a post-Ginsberg world a customer who purchased travel on British Airways in detrimental reliance on that published promise would seem to have a reasonable claim for damages.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I have a question about these earning rates…I took advantage of that stacked sale on BA a couple months ago and have a business class round-trip from US to EU that will fly in May 2016.
    It was booked as a BA ticket, but on AA metal.
    Which earning structure should I use to calculate how many miles?
    Would it be better to credit the miles to AA or BA? (I’m AA Platinum, but have no status on BA)

  2. @Gary- When I first saw your headline, I thought you were going to write that AA made changes again ON TOP OF the changes we saw in mid-November when they released details of the 2016 program. Yes, the January earnings/EQM changes were made with only about 6 weeks notice, but we’ve known about this for about a month now, correct?

  3. @DJ – American will generally be more advantageous than BA, although you want to compare the awards you’d book, the mileage costs, as well as the miles you earn on the flight.

    Your mileage-earning will be based on the airline whose code appears on your flights, not based on the airline you fly.

    An American codeshare on british airways flights earns as though it were an American flight.

  4. @gary
    gary, I just bought a BA ticket for January, returning on January 31 expecting the old rules to apply
    what do you suggest I do in order to claim the full eqm?

  5. @doug you’re earn full qualifying miles flying british airways if it’s booked as an american codeshare. or if it’s in a booking class that earns full miles. if it’s a discount class on a british airways flight # that earns less than full qualifying miles.. you’ll earn less than full qualifying miles.

  6. @Gary
    Hi Gary, it is deep discount operated by BA so will earn only 50% EQM and full redeemablle miles as it is before Feb 1
    Question was if you think a call to EXP desk at AA will help getting full EQM

  7. Just one more reason why it’s a waste of time to be loyal to any one airline anymore. With AA & BA it’s nearly impossible to get decent biz or first class awards anyway. I guarantee you the day will come when these same airlines will be trying everything to get their former loyal customers back. I’m all for making big profits but now they’re just starting to get greedy and nickel and dime their best customers. Just today I got an offer from AA to pay to upgrade back to my old status. For just under $700 I can get my status for 2016. The perks they mention like free bags mean nothing because I can use my AA credit card and get free bags anyway. The other perks mean nothing because I would rather just pay for better seats when I book the flights instead of giving AA a big check now. In the past I would have immediately given them the $700 but not now.

  8. I was mad at Delta because of such issues and in 2015 made an effort to move away from them to become an AA Ex Plat. Now they are playing the same games as Delta and United do. Guess I should have stayed with Delta. At least their hard product is much better.

  9. @doug – i doubt it, though you could ask if it might be reissued as a BA codeshare without change fee. Or email AAdvantage customers service after the flight with a complaint and request for one-time exception. Long shots.

  10. I’m confused. EQPs are gone in 2016 so why are they publishing an EQP chart? As of 2/1/16 will “I” fares on BA earn 1.5 AA EQM per mile if purchased on BA ticket stock?

    Starting to regret buying the BA “I” flights during the fare sale as the AA operated flights seem to earn more EQMs.

  11. EQPs were listed for the ‘February onward’ chart at the beginning of November prior to the announcement that EQPs would no longer be used in 2016.

  12. No offense, but I can’t figure out of the life of me, based on how you have set up this post; what are the new changes??

    All these 0.50 earning was done the same day they announced changes to the program on Nov XX, Jan earned 100% RDM and most fares earned 50% EQM, Feb 1st, program became worthless.. nothing has changed in the past 30 days or did you just notice this now?

  13. @scott
    they added a new chart today, because when they announced in NOXX they said that it is business as usual until feb 1, but today they added chart where the miles flown in january are worth 50% in EQM
    no change in redeemable mileage earnings but change in EQM for january

  14. I do not know what day American changed this, but my point is that they changed BA earning on the website ~ November 3. And they said BA earning would remain the same until February 1 at that time.

    And then they changed it again some time after that for flights in January, with no announcement. And I didn’t notice it.

    Lots of other people didn’t notice it, either.

  15. This is old news. The website has been like that for the better part of a month (at least). I hate to side with Parker’s clowns, but you missed the boat on this one.

  16. These BA charts specifically for January were released at the same time all the other changes were announced for other AAdvantage airline partners. It happened in the second week of November.

    I wrote about them before Thanksgiving week.

  17. @Bob — A whole bunch of American exec platinums on my facebook feed were unaware of this, American didn’t announce it, so I don’t see how you can “side with Parker” on this. I wrote in the post that it was announced ~ 6 weeks in advance, two weeks after saying the old chart would be good until February 1.

  18. Well, I am getting stiffed on this change for January as well. I bought the ticket at the beginning of November and thought I would get full credit. I have to fly it as BA as AA does not code share to lovely Lagos. When did AA post the January changes? I am not clear on this.

  19. @Gary – Surprised you didn’t know this already, but you don’t deserve the crap here. Thank you so much for writing some negative press about AA. They definitely earned it on this one, and with your growing readership, I bet the PR team isn’t particularly happy about how AAdvantage handled this now.

    AA used to try to be different from the others. Now we know Parker *wants* to be just like the rest. It’s disappointing.

Comments are closed.