American Airlines has two frustrating, little-known rules for frequent flyers who like to redeem miles in one program and use the benefits of elite status from another – or who want to use their AAdvantage elite benefits while flying American, but earn miles in another partner frequent flyer program.
- You’re not allowed to switch out your frequent flyer number and accrue miles with a partner after you’ve used benefits of your AAdvantage elite status.
- You’re not allowed to use AAdvantage elite benefits when traveling on American through a partner award redemption.
The most common ways you might run into this are,
- Redeeming British Airways Avios for travel on American Airlines, and wanting to use your American Airlines elite status for extra legroom seats, priority boarding, and free checked bags (or even upgrades)
- Buying an American Airlines ticket, using your AAdvantage elite status to assign extra legroom coach seats, but preferring to earn miles for the trip in an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account.
While many other airlines let you switch account numbers at will, American’s rule is not to do so. Some agents may do it anyway when asked. But when an agent refuses, they’re actually following the rules.
Mileage Earn and Burn writes about using the Finnair website to pull up a British Airways-issued award and change the frequent flyer number in the reservation. And this reminds me that while I’ve covered this many times over 7 years,/a> it may not be common knowledge.
In the past I’ve had intermittent success with the Finnair website as well as the Royal Jordanian website, oneworld members both. And for similar problems (albeit not the result of such explicit rules) booking United Airlines award travel with programs like Avianca LifeMiles or Air Canada Aeroplan, the Lufthansa website has been useful.
I’m certainly not encouraging anyone to violate program rules but it’s interesting to know what self-serve tools are available on the internet for managing one’s reservations.