Last summer American Airlines joined Delta and United in awarding miles for flights based on the cost of a ticket rather than the distance you fly.
- Short, expensive flights earn more miles
- Long, average-priced flights earn fewer miles
- Mileage-earning on cheap long haul flights is almost a waste.
- Fewer miles will be awarded after this change in total than were awarded before it.
We’ve seen New York – Hong Kong on sale for as little as $354 roundtrip. If that itinerary involved flying American Airlines, a customer without elite status would have earned 19,023 miles roundtrip before August 1, 2016. Now a $276 fare (excluding taxes) will earn 1380 miles. Sad!
If you’re going for American Airlines AAdvantage elite status, you’re still going to credit your cheap flights to American because you’ll need the elite qualifying miles flown. And elites do earn more miles for the same ticket price, at least.
But if you aren’t an elite (giving you a reason to credit to American), and your ticket isn’t super expensive (where you’ll earn as many miles as before), it’s worth considering other frequent flyer programs that American partners with to credit your miles to.
At first you had 3 choices where the cheapest American Airlines tickets still earned 100% of flown miles.
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Etihad Guest
- Finnair Plus
Cathay Pacific was eliminated from this club in the spring. And now Etihad no longer awards full mileage, either.
The other side of the Etihad trick is still valid, though. Etihad still charges the same number of miles for American Airlines flights that American itself used to charge prior to the March 22, 2016 devaluation.
Both American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer to Etihad, and Dallas Tokyo remains 100,000 miles roundtrip in business class while Dallas Hong Kong remains 135,000 miles roundtrip in first.
That’s if you can find availability of course, though American promises that availability will improve.
Meanwhile if you want to continue to earn 100% of flown miles when buying cheap American Airlines tickets, your only remaining option is crediting to transatlantic joint venture partner Finnair.
However I don’t view this as a viable option for most since you won’t be able to top off a Finnair Plus account with transfers from major bank currencies.
(HT: Meir W.)