Every 6 Months The List Of Travel Agencies Whose Tickets Still Earn American Airlines Miles Will Change

American Airlines announced today that they will stop awarding miles on tickets booked through most third party travel agencies starting in May. Basic economy fares will only earn miles if booked directly through American. However AAdvantage Business members and corporate contract travelers will be exempt from this policy.

What stood out is that American isn’t even telling us which agencies will be able to issue tickets that earn miles (at least as long as the tickets aren’t for basic economy fares). Instead they say they’ll release the list in late April.

Which Agencies Will Still Issue Tickets That Earn AAdvantage Miles?

Several readers have expressed concern, for instance wondering whether their company’s booking tool will qualify, since their company no longer has a contract with American? (American fired a lot of their corporate accounts, believing they’ll generate as much or more revenue at lower costs without corporate discounting.)

The mystery is that the system which decides which agencies can issue tickets that earn miles won’t spit out the data until after April 21. And the list will change every six months.

  • Agencies have to have a current American Airlines incentive agreement, adopt New Distribution Capability (that allows selling ancillary services like paid seats), and hit certain thresholds for these ‘NDC’ bookings.

  • Those agencies that have at least 30% of their American Airlines flown bookings sold through NDC by April 21 will qualify. Targets will rise semi-annually to 50% at October 31, 2024 and 70% at April 30, 2025.

“The qualification window for NDC adoption is every six months: if an agency is unable to meet the April 21, 2024 qualification window, then October 31, 2024, will be the next opportunity to become a preferred agency,” according to AA. “If progressive NDC thresholds are not met, agencies will be removed from the preferred agency program at the beginning of the next qualification window, and travelers will not earn miles and loyalty points. Agencies must meet the next NDC milestone to requalify. All fares booked through preferred agencies, except Basic Economy fares, are eligible to earn miles and loyalty points – both on NDC and EDIFACT bookings.”

American Airlines believes that any agency that “embrace[s] NDC” will go “way past that number” required for its tickets to earn miles. I would expect, for instance, that Expedia will be able to meet American’s thresholds though someone who knows more about their use of NDC versus traditional booking might correct me.

On the other hand, I’d expect that most foreign travel agent bookings will not. A customer booking through an American Airlines partner like Qantas or Japan Airlines will be eligible to earn miles in the AAdvantage program. A customer booking through a brick and mortar agency abroad may not.

What You Can Do If Your Ticket Doesn’t Earn AAdvantage Miles

If you’re stuck booking through a corporate tool that isn’t using NDC or doesn’t meet American’s thresholds, you’ll want to credit the miles to another program like Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan – which this year eliminated the requirement to fly a minimum number of segments on Alaska’s own planes to earn its status, and where status is recognized even when flying American – including for upgrades.

(HT: Golden Rule Travel)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Generally this type of nonsense happens from Marriott. Somebody at AA should get shitcanned for this debacle of an announcement with no thought to their biggest clients. Business Travelers

  2. Why is it such a big deal that they are not providing the list until April? It’s still in time for the May policy change? It gives time for more agencies to qualify.

    Also, it’s not that the list of travel agencies will change in a wholesale way every 6 months. Rather, there will be updates (additions & perhaps deletions) from the list made on 6 month intervals. Seems reasonable.

  3. @Mets Fan in NC: They’re probably thinking that if someone hasn’t left them by this point, they’re not going anywhere either way.

  4. This is going to result in all sorts of confusion and complaints among the consumers (not to mention a nightmare to implement). I don’t expect this policy can last for very long.

  5. @ Mets fan, Gary left out quite a bit of info. Log into AA.com. There’s info concerning corporate business travel, and it’s not that bad.

  6. Can someone (or AA themselves) just tell me if this affects those of us who book via Concur for work? I would surely think not, because that would be incredibly stupid of AA.

  7. @Kyle, that was my initial thoughts too. It may be the partner TMC’s using Concur to book travel that’s got to meet the thresholds. Surely, AA isn’t that stupid, but then again, it is AA we’re talking about.

  8. I wonder if this program will run afoul of government regulations due to it picking winners and losers using the points and mileage program to favor some ticket sellers and not others. Maybe the loss of equal opportunity will finally lead to regulation of the points and mileage programs. One scenario is having to rebook and the ticket seller lost the favored designation so the passenger is collaterally damaged by losing mileage and/or points.

  9. AA isn’t providing a list of preferred vendors until April giving those that are not preferred vendors ample opportunity to grease the right palms at AA

  10. Hilarious, yet clAAsic move by AA. This will cause nothing but chaos within indirect distribution circles, which will do nothing other than place AA on most agencies blacklist. They don’t want to deal with this just as much as customers do. NDC is not even close to the maturity level needed to replace traditional distribution technology, yet.

  11. AA will simply send traffic to DL, UA, SWA and low cost carriers. Maybe they want the low yield traffic gone to fill up with higher yield pax?

  12. This actually makes me laugh . So , buy a ticket that doesn’t earn AAdvantage miles and credit to a partner that AA has to compensate ? ???? Yet , the AA Analysis Paralysis can’t do what is necessary to create a competitive Million Miler program to reward lifetime loyalists / spenders .

  13. @Kyle and @DunkinDFDubya –
    Concur bookings, at least at the organization I work for, are forwarded to an external agency for processing. For my employer, they are sent to American Express GBT. Presumably, it would be the agency that would need to hit the requirements.

  14. The only upside I can see is that I often can’t use the mileage portals anyway because I can’t pay for premium seats there. Since airlines are pricing this way now, the portals need to adapt if they want the bookings.

  15. @Kyle,
    @Ryan is correct. Concur is a booking platform. Your company could use one of the hundreds of travel agents that use the concur platform. My old company used concur, and the travel agent was BDC travel, my current company uses concur, but AdTrav was the agent. My wife’s office ALSO uses concur, her travel agent is American Express Global.

    This is going to be a dumpster fire, since not all the concur agencies may “meet the numbers” so you’ll never know if you’re going to get credit for the flights or not.

  16. This is yet another way American Airlines is dismissing it’s loyal corporate travelers. First, the overall rewards are almost non-existent with the addition of the Aviator card and the number of people trying to get upgrades. American Airlines obviously could care less for the many customers who may not have a choice to book directly based on their company’s travel booking platform/agency. I cannot be the only one who will switch airlines and thus stop using the credit card. I will not be flying almost weekly and not getting miles. Unfortunately I’m at a major AA hub, but I will start using another airline even when I have to do connections. If our companies do not give us a choice, it’s goodbye to AA (both flying and credit card use). I hope this backfires. They are definitely hoping that companies will switch to a preferred agency for their employees to be able to still fly AA. Just think about this…I have been a very loyal customer for over 25 years flying well over 2 million miles…now they are saying, we don’t care if you keep flying with us. Sad!

Comments are closed.