AAdvantage Cutting Earnings Rates On British Airways & Iberia

Filed Under: American, British Airways

In late September I wrote a post entitled “American Cutting Mileage Earnings Rates On British Airways.”

At the time, many of American Airlines’ non-English language websites showed reduced mileage earning rates for travel on British Airways and Iberia as of October 1, 2015. However, this wasn’t reflected on American Airlines’ English language websites.


Hours later American removed those references from the website, and claimed it was a “mistake.” Well, it seems that by “mistake” American really meant “whoops we published that prematurely,” because the changes are happening.

AAdvantage earnings rates on BA/Iberia changing in 2016

American has now updated their mileage earnings charts for travel on British Airways and Iberia as of February 1, 2016.

Here’s the AAdvantage earnings chart for travel on British Airways through January 31, 2016:


And here’s the AAdvantage earnings chart for travel on British Airways as of February 1, 2016:


Here’s the AAdvantage earnings chart for travel on Iberia through January 31, 2016:


And here’s the AAdvantage earnings chart for travel on Iberia as of February 1, 2016:


As you can see, these new charts mirror exactly what American published at the time, which they claimed were a mistake.

Best I can tell, those are the only airlines on which mileage earnings rates are changing.

These changes aren’t surprising

These changes don’t surprise me much, given that they very closely reflected British Airways’ devaluation from earlier in the year, whereby select economy fare classes earn just 25-50% of flown miles.


What’s missing, unfortunately, is that British Airways improved the mileage earnings rates for paid premium cabin tickets (some paid first & business class earnings rates went up by 100%), though American isn’t adopting those changes. Instead they’re basically copying the negative changes but not matching the positive changes.

After British Airways’ program changes, Alaska Mileage Plan followed shortly thereafter for earnings rates on British Airways, so I figured it was just a matter of time until American matched.

I can see both sides of this:

  • On one hand, American and British Airways have a transatlantic joint venture, so it’s silly to award significantly more miles for flying one carrier over another
  • On the other hand, it also doesn’t make sense that you earn 100% mileage through American AAdvantage, while you earn just 25-50% mileage through British Airways Executive Club


Bottom line

This is a terrible change. For discounted economy tickets on British Airways you will literally earn a quarter the number of AAdvantage miles you were earning before.

As stated above, there really is no easy solution here.

Does it make sense for American to award more miles when you fly American rather than British Airways, given that they have a transatlantic joint venture with revenue sharing? Nope.

At the same time, does it make sense for AAdvantage to award 4x as many miles for travel on British Airways as Executive Club does? Nope.

So the only logical conclusion this leads to is that we’ll eventually see some drastic program chart changes which make mileage earning more “fair”… you know, like a revenue based program. 😉

But in the meantime AAdvantage members have a huge incentive to book American over British Airways for travel in discounted economy.

How will these AAdvantage earnings rate changes impact your travel? What do you make of the “big picture” implications of this change?

  1. Though I’m sure it’ll never happen, I’d love to see an alliance that mandates 1:1 accrual for butt-in-seat miles. Of course, I’m sure that would be disastrous for alliance membership, but we’re getting to the point that one can seriously ask “What’s the point of the alliance?”, other than for foreign domestic travel but on a single carrier’s ticket.

    I think Alaska has the right idea: lucrative partnerships but with no alliance ties.

  2. I’m surprised higher earning rates for premium cabin travel weren’t a part of this change. Crediting CW and First travel on BA to BA or AS seems to be way more rewarding, at least from a miles perspective.

  3. If we have flights booked on BA metal but sold on AA.com as codeshares would they follow this new chart or the standard AA one?

  4. It’s interesting that EQP accrual won’t go down–and will even increase for some economy fare classes.

  5. As far as I can tell (hopefully understanding this correctly!), I can still earn the AA mileage earning rate on BA if I book it as a codeshare (eg: Fly BA from LHR-JFK, booked as AA flight number). If so, this isn’t so bad because the fares are usually the same – obviously that doesn’t help where there is no codeshare, but fortunately for me that doesn’t apply to many flights.

  6. It seems to me that BA had to offer extra earning on business and first class fares given the significant increases to the ‘cost’ of awards they implemented. AA is still at the old rates (eg. 50k each way in trans-Atlantic business class compared to 75k with BA, from the West Coast). So, the higher earning on BA is balanced out by higher mileage award costs (in terms of the miles one needs). So, isn’t the difference between the two in earnings and award levels relatively minor?

  7. The word in the cabin is AA is going to a revenue based model for 2016 and they are lowering partner earning rate so people don’t earn more on BA for mile based earning.

  8. At least Finair is still mile for mile. Helsinki is my new favorite European destination. Anyone know how is the one world lounge there?

  9. @Jackie If that’s true, then AA will have broken its own word on giving plenty of advance notice about changes. Further, as Lucky noted, the main purpose of this change seems to be to match what BA itself implemented earlier in the year.

  10. There is no OW lounge in HEL but the airport is very modern and nice. The Finnair lounge is decently stocked as well. It is not surprising to see AA change the earning rates on BA code flights. BA has done the same on AA for a while now. It is very interesting as both are founding members of OW and work closely together than the others.

  11. Hi Ben, Thanks for sharing this not unexpected news. Could you please clarify whether the new policy applies to tickets booked on AA as BA codeshares?

  12. I switched to AAdvantage from BAEC in the hope I’d earn enough before the inevitable devaluation. My next big flight, which would have taken me to the threshold, is February 2nd – perfect timing!

  13. Hi Ben,

    As I understand it we can still travel on a BA flight codeshare as long as it is ticketed with an AA flight number? That would earn 100% of miles in discount economy (unless of course AA announced program changes in the new year).

    With that in mind, I’d like to book a flight from Heathrow to Mumbai on BA but with an AA ticket number. AA states they codeshare on this route but I can’t seem to be able to book this flight on American’s website. Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks

  14. I hold BA bronze status which is same as AA gold. My membership year just got dtarted for BA and I have a trip this week domestic and then a round trip flight to India in Feb. I don’t hold any status with AA.

    Does it make sense to stay with BA or switch loyalty to AA? I usually fly economy discount or deep discount.

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