American’s New 2015 Mileage Bonus and the Big Strategic Move it Represents

American is introducing new bonus miles earning on top of the current program for purchasing premium cabin tickets.

Already the AAdvantage program awards:

  • Miles based on distance flown
  • Bonus miles for elite frequent flyers
  • Bonus miles for more expensive tickets

In 2015 they will layer on more bonus miles for premium cabin tickets — more bonus miles for longer flights, and bigger bonuses for higher tier elites… up to 12,000 miles per segment, built into the program for the coming year.

No registration is required, and these bonuses can be earned on American or US Airways flights or on codeshares operated by British Airways, Iberia, Finnair, Japan Airlines and Qantas.

Instead of going revenue-based like United and Delta are doing, Alaska Airlines is awarding elites and premium cabin fares with more bonus miles. Alaska sees the move by United and Delta to award miles based on ticket price as a strategic opportunity to win business from them.

We already know that American won’t be going revenue-based as they integrate programs with US Airways. But they’re now trumpeting this. Along with this new program to award more miles to premium cabin tickets, AAdvantage President Suzanne Rubin underscores the difference (bolding miine).

As the largest airline in the world, with a global network that spans 54 countries, our frequent flyer program must also be the best in the business. A mile flown continues to be a mile earned in AAdvantage, and now we’re going to reward customers even more when they purchase a First or Business Class ticket.

She’s very clear in this statement: Earning a mile from flying a mile is a key element of being the best frequent flyer program.

Now they’ll provide even more bonus miles for premium fares in 2015 — without immediate changes to the award chart. (And while more miles means higher award prices overall, since all flying only amounts to a third of miles awarded this should be just noise overall for the redemption chart.)

Here’s a Primer on the 2015 American AAdvantage Program, and Merging it With US Airways Dividend Miles.

See also:

And it’s worth noting in this context that next year American increases the mileage bonus for business class fares from 25% to 50%, and also that US Airways Gold and Platinum members will see their elite bonus increase to 100% (from 50% and 75%, respectively). So American is doling out more miles to premium customers and elite frequent flyers, even before this new bonus they’ve just announced.

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. If they’re going to target the cost-no-object sector of the market, wouldn’t the logical way to do this be through offering a better product, rather than awarding more miles? If someone is doing paid F or J to Asia or the Middle East, for example, I doubt that a few more AA miles is going to win them over from a carrier from either of those regions.

  2. “Instead of going revenue-based like United and Delta are Delta are doing, Alaska Airlines is awarding elites and premium cabin fares with more bonus miles. Alaska sees the move by United and Delta to award miles based on ticket price as a strategic opportunity to win business from them.”

    Do you mean American not Alaska?

  3. @Dan no – I was talking about what Alaska has already laid out. It’s interesting to see both American and Alaska lay out this strategy.

  4. @CW American’s inflight product is quickly improving (fully flat, reverse herringbone, all aisle access on their 777s and full flat all aisle access on 767s, plus improved inflight entertainment and international wifi). But frequency program matters as well.

  5. Most important of all would be: can you get a TATL Saver award in a Premium cabin, or even better 2 Saver award seats in a Premium cabin, with points from flown miles.

    And the answer continues to be: most probably not.

    A pair of Anytime FC TATL award tickets on AA metal costs anywhere from 560,000 to 700,000 SkAA Pesos…

    So who cares if you get a few more nearly worthless miles from paid fares?

  6. This appears to be a good way to differentiate AAdvantage, reward high spenders, and not piss off the bulk of flyers who buy coach (or discount business in I). If AA maintains this going forward, I think it will be a win for them. I have a good friend who has been 1k on United but is switching to AA because of the reduction in RDM on UA.

  7. Regarding the comments about AA’s hard product quality: yes, AA has been improving the seats, but the food quality has gone way down. Even in F on flagship, heavily-booked premium routes such as DFW-HKG, I’ve seen many pictures and reports of inedible, dog-food quality meals. There’s no excuse for that in F (or even J).

  8. @Randy the food isn’t great for sure, but having just flown American’s first class internationally a few weeks ago I can tell you that your characterization is quite hyperbolic 😉

  9. @Robert Hanson – yes, we’ve rather gotten from comments to other posts that availability on American’s own flights across the pond are of particular frustration to you! 🙂

  10. This is a brilliant move by American and the One World Alliance. Can’t wait for 2015.

    Impeach Obama would make 2015 perfect.

  11. I just flew AA flagship F LHR-JFK and thought the food was quite good. Easier to judge when you can actually experience the product 😉

  12. @ GaryLeff – You are kidding him good-naturedly but Hanson is doing exactly what you preach – you frequently urge people to remind Delta and United how their new revenue-based models suck. Shouldn’t one do that in the case of AA if they aren’t releasing adequate award space? Is there really a difference between a program you no longer earn any usable quantity of miles in and one that you cant redeem with for your chosen routes? Personally, I like his tenacity.

  13. If you bought the AA ticket as a discounted business class booking code I, you would only get 14000 miles, not 48,000 miles.

  14. I agree with those here who voice dissatisfaction with AA’s premium-cabin food options. I just flew J class DFW-HKG and back, and the food was, to put it charitably, pretty bad. Good news about the bonus miles, though.

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