American Tells Me I’m Earning More Miles With Revenue-Based Accrual, But It’s Not Really True

I received an email from American telling me how the new revenue-based earning is for a customer like me, because on one trip I where I actually bought first class I earned almost as many miles as I would have before (miles which don’t go as far because they devalued their award chart).

On your recent flight to DFW on […], you earned even more American Airlines AAdvantage® award miles than in the past.

That’s because you now earn more when you spend more on American-marketed flights. And, as an AAdvantage® Executive Platinum member, you earn 11 miles for every U.S. dollar you spend (includes a 120% mileage bonus).

This is the first email of the sort that I’ve gotten. They don’t send you an email when you earn fewer miles.

It’s also only true from a certain point of view. I flew Washington National – Dallas – Austin. They’re telling me about the miles I’m earning for the one segment. Remember, now under the fare based mileage accrual method they allocate your fare across each flight segment and then award miles based on that breakdown.

I flew a cheap buy up to first class. Coach was expensive, and coach non-stop on United and even Southwest was more expensive.

Here’s what I actually earned before the changeover to revenue-based earning in August for Washington National – Dallas: 3980 miles, not 2980. American is comparing earning to what they offered two years ago, not what they offered before the change to revenue-based.

And here’s what I earned for the Dallas – Austin segment before the changeover to revenue-based earning: 2001 miles.

So I earned 5981 miles for a similar one-way back in July. Let’s compare that to my November trip: 5610 miles.

I actually earned 371 fewer miles on a first class ticket between DC and Austin under their new revenue based earning, and American is tell me how great the new system is for me… by not pointing out all the other times I earn fewer miles.

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 »

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  1. Really, really misleading on AA’s part. Yes some will occasionally benefit from the new system, but the large majority of the time it’s a serious devaluationf for most customers. That they go out of the way to send you a junk email on the one occasion there’s sort of a benefit (but in your case not really), is tacky on their part.

  2. You’ll earn more miles if you’re Gold or EXP booking a cheap partner fare (more bonus miles) and on overpriced hub to hub and underserved routes

  3. I can’t wait for the “Come back we missed you !” emails when they realize my Plat spending and earning is exactly 0 in 2017. Multiplied by pretty much every one of your readers.


  4. Yep. Only got one of these emails the second half of the year despite requalifiying for EXP. I for one, as I knew full well going into the new program, am earning no where near as many miles on average. In fact I would think it might be as low as 50% as many on average.

  5. Airlines lie. And then they lie and th n they lie some more. How do you know when an airline executive is lying? The same way you know a politician is lying– their lips are moving.

  6. Received the same on an overprice leg into YYZ. One segment maybe earned more miles but the trip did not. AA is losing this EXP, being a free agent will save me connections I used to take on AA for a loyalty program that was worth it. Combine that with only marginal operations and it’s free agent time on Alaska, SW, UAL, Delta and when convenient AA. Total of $30k annual spend on airfare.

  7. PS, Mr Parker will miss the HVFs just like United did when Smisek “enhanced” mileage plus. UAL has still not recovered its margin performance to peers as HVFs departure is at least part of it. Airlines have short memory….

  8. The opposite happened to me. Bought three $10+k fare through my company’s travel agency to Europe and aa only credited based on distance arguing that these were bulk fares that they weren’t able to see the fare. Ironically all these tickets were invoiced by aa to my Amex. I would or should have earned 225k mikes and instead received around 60k. Didn’t get an email saying that I lost out on 165k miles though…
    Using the same agency another ticket did earn miles based on fare so I am not sure how to be certain whether I will accrue based in one or the other methods. Seems to me that some major corporate aa deals will not get the upside of the new program. Do you have any insight into this?

  9. Well, since they don’t send you emails when you earn less, you won’t be getting many emails like this, no matter how they chose to count.

  10. Moochelle Obama (a racist, and a liar) says there’s no hope now. But in reality, this is the first time we’ve had hope in 8 damn years!

    I can see the mileage comparison with American then (without Obama) and American now (with the Obamas still there ’til power goes to Trump).

  11. I recently did three LGA-MIA-SCL round trips in paid J, each ticket being roughly $5700. As an EXP, I earned over 62,000 miles for each trip. As a paid J EXP traveler, I quite like the new system.

  12. Pretty clueless email, agreed.

    But here’s the thing. Yes, I am earning less RDMs. But it doesn’t change my purchasing behavior (nor would it if I was earning more). Because RDMs have little to nothing to do with why I am flying or why I choose one carrier over another.

  13. In Nov 2015 I flew SAN-ORD-PEK and earned 16,606 including EXP elite bonus. In October of this year I flew the same routing on a comparably-priced ticket, as an EXP, and earned 2,926 miles — less than 18 percent of the miles I earned last time. Coupled with increases to awards, most of us are getting far, far, far less benefit than we used to. Nuff said.

  14. I am very tempted sending an e-mail to AA about how few miles i have earned on my recent flight vs. the old system.

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