American Airlines is replacing its small business loyalty program Business ExtrAA with the new AAdvantage Business which is now available. Instead of having a completely separate program, small businesses will earn AAdvantage miles in their own account on top of the miles earned by travelers, and they’ll redeem miles just like consumers will.
That’s a simpler system, and there’s one clear benefit for travelers: they will earn one additional loyalty point towards their status per dollar spent when adding an AAdvantage for Business account number to their reservation. Today, travelers don’t receive any direct benefit from the business program, only the company does. However the new program is less rewarding for companies – and by a lot. So better for travelers, less rewarding for businesses.
This change makes sense on another level. Business ExtrAA was a sales program and now there’s not much of a sales organization at American. They’ve folded what’s left of sales into other parts of the organization, and they’re no longer going to run a separate business program. That’s fine! This new program offers a benefit to travelers, and may also help them acquire new small business credit card customers. But it could also have been more rewarding for companies.
Earning In The New American Airlines Small Business Program
Members of the new business program earn one additional loyalty point per dollar spent, so a general member earns 6 points per dollar towards status, while an Executive Platinum earns 12 points per dollar.
Businesses earn 1 AAdvantage mile per dollar spent in addition to the miles earned by travelers at the company, when the business’s account number is applied. This triples to 3 AAdvantage miles per dollar for those with the Citi-cobrand AAdvantage small business card (and only that card). This contrasts with earning 1 Business ExtrAA point per $5 spent in the current program.
When making a booking and an AAdvantage number is entered, American prompts the customer to answer whether the trip is for business or leisure for whether to credit this or not. I guess everything is really for business, if you work while you’re traveling.
Put another way, a traveler needs to answer whether they’re booked for business or leisure, when what they’re really being asked is “would you like this booking to earn points for your company and extra credit towards status for you?” I guess you might say “I hate my company enough to forego the status credit” but if that’s true I really hope you reconsider what you’re doing with at least 24% of your year.
A Lot Less Value For Business Spending
Right now in Business ExtrAA $3,250 in spending earns 650 points which can be redeemed for a confirmed domestic upgrade when purchasing minimum fare class (not valid on basic economy or N, O, Q or S fares). In the new program it’ll take $15,000 ($5,000 with CitiBusiness card) plus a $75 co-pay for a confirmed domestic upgrade.
AAnytime awards in the Business ExtrAA program are also a lot cheaper than the equivalent through AAdvantage.
- An AAnytime business class roundtrip award to Europe, Asia or Australia with Business ExtrAA requires $90,000 in spend currently. For Europe that includes any seat on British Airways.
- It takes $115,000 spend in the new program to get a saver British Airways business class roundtrip award.
- And it will often take $175,000 – $350,000 spend to get an American Airlines business class award in the new program…each way
Required spend amounts for an award through AAdvantage Business are cut by two-thirds (since earning from ticket spend is at three times the rate) for those businesses that have a CitiBusiness AAdvantage card.
It’s still the individual with that card that earns miles in their own account from card spend (and loyalty points from that spend), but the business earns two miles per dollar spent on tickets that have an AAdvantage Business account attached instead of one mile per dollar. Anyone engaging in the program is going to want the CitiBusiness card – and the cardholder earns an additional Loyalty Point per dollar spent on American as a traveler, too.
Nonetheless, eligible companies should certainly sign up even without the co-brand because American Airlines spend does provide rewards (even if less than before) and because employees benefit from attaching the account to their bookings via faster status-earning.
Qualifying To Participate In The Program
In order to participate in the program, a company needs at least 5 active, registered business travelers. Business ExtrAA had imposed a requirement of 3 unique travelers and $5,000 minimum spend in the preceding 12 months two years ago (with existing accounts grandfathered until January 1, 2023).
The $5,000 minimum spend requirement now applies in order for a company to redeem miles, though they can start earning right away. And that requirement is waived entirely for those with the CitiBusiness AAdvantage card.
How The Cutover From Business ExtrAA To AAdvantage Business Will Work
The new AAdvantage Business program is available today. You will no longer be able to accrue Business ExtrAA points after December 15, 2023 That’s also the last day to submit credit requests for past travel.
An AAdvantage Business account number can only be added at the time of booking when making a reservation through American Airlines. You cannot add it later. While it is possible for a travel agency to add the number to a booking they’ve made, agency bookings are not eligible to earn in the program.
Today Business ExtrAA numbers can be added at any time, even after travel. Of course there’s no built-in incentive for the traveler to add it. There’s also a cottage industry of scammers who collect ticket numbers of random passengers and submit them for credit to their Business ExtrAA account.
If you have an existing reservation with a Business ExtrAA number in it and want to switch over to AAdvantage Business, you’d need to cancel and rebook. Similarly, if you have any reservations past December 15 and you want to earn in a business program, you’ll have to cancel and rebook.
There Are No Longer Any Business.. Extras
AAdvantage miles accrued in an AAdvantage for Business account are the same as AAdvantage miles in a personal account. Redemption options are the same as for a regular member. However there is no status component to the program and no ‘loyalty choice awards’ or other threshold bonuses built into the program. So there are fewer features to AAdvantage for Business than for AAdvantage, and no features in AAdvantage for Business that are not part of AAdvantage.
That’s too bad because I’ve used Business ExtrAA points in the past to gift Admirals Club members and elite status, and those options are far more dear in the new program.
It’s also possible to confirm upgrades through Business ExtrAA online – something it’s not possible to do with mileage upgrades or other upgrade instruments. So for now at least we lose some functionality, too.
How The Program Will Work For My Odd ScenarioI am a Business ExtrAA member for a mid-sized company with 300 total employees, where I’m Chief Financial Officer. The account is tied to my AAdvantage number. At our budget level we’re using corporate cards rather than small business cards. I guess I could get a CitiBusiness AAdvantage card for the business and not use it.
However if I were to get a CitiBusiness AAdvantage card tied to my AAdvantage number for my travel-related LLC that would trigger the double earn rate as well.
On the one hand it’s odd to require larger companies to get products that aren’t really appropriate for them in order to gain value out of their business travel incentive program, but American has largely moved away from managed travel and Business ExtrAA was the self-serve version of that for smaller companies, larger ones used to do direct deals that mostly don’t exist anymore. Since they’re not incentivizing large business accounts in the same way, there’s a certain consistency with their internal logic to turn the program into an incentive for companies to take the small business credit card.