Alaska Cuts Mileage Earning Rates On American As Of August 1, 2016

Filed Under: Alaska, American

The American AAdvantage program will be going revenue based on the earning side for flights as of August 1, 2016. This means redeemable miles will be accrued based on how much you spend rather than how much you fly (meanwhile elite qualifying miles will be earned based on how much you fly rather than how much you spend, but there will still be a revenue requirement… confusing, eh?). American going revenue based was first announced late last year, though it was only a few weeks ago that the date for the change was formalized.


What’s tricky is earning miles on partner airlines under a revenue based program. Typically partner airlines don’t know exactly how much you paid for a ticket, so they simply adjust mileage earning rates to something that roughly correlates to what you might otherwise earn on average for a given fare class.

Alaska Mileage Plan is a great program, especially given how many excellent airline partners they have.


For example, they partner with both American and Delta, so it’s a great program for crediting flights from both carriers.

American-787-Business-Class - 22

It should come as no surprise that Alaska Mileage Plan will adjust mileage earning rates for travel on American once AAdvantage goes revenue based, and it looks like that has finally happened.

Here are the Alaska Mileage Plan earning rates for travel on American as of August 1, 2016:


Meanwhile here are the old earning rates:


As you can see:

  • The earning rates for full fare first & business class are going up from 150% to 200%
  • The earning rates for discounted first & business class are remaining the same
  • The earning rates for more expensive economy fares are remaining the same
  • The earning rates for most discounted economy fare classes are decreasing from 100% to 25-75%

While this is a negative change, it was inevitable, and everyone should have seen it coming.

These are very similar to the changes in mileage earning rates that Mileage Plan made when Delta SkyMiles went revenue based. Here are the Mileage Plan earning rates for travel on Delta:


Bottom line

Mileage Plan cutting mileage earning rates for discounted economy travel on American is no surprise, as this consistently happens with partner airline programs when an airline’s own program goes revenue based. There will always be arbitrage opportunities, but the most obvious ones are closed pretty quickly. With the new earning rates, you’ll still want to crunch numbers as to which program is better, as it can vary from flight to flight.

I still plan on earning most of my miles towards American AAdvantage status from flying business class fares on Qatar Airways, which I think should continue to be possible. But that doesn’t help in this specific situation…

I don’t think we’ll see any major changes to Alaska’s earning rates for their own flights (since they haven’t gone revenue based), and also don’t necessarily think American AAdvantage will cut mileage earning rates for travel on Alaska.


What do you make of Alaska Mileage Plan’s new earning rates for travel on American?

(Tip of the hat to @single_flyer)

  1. Also, I find it interesting that finally AS has made a public announcement wrt SWU upgrades. It’s the first time I’ve seen a clear statement on C/R/X fare. Meaning before Aug 1, you’re still able to credit upgraded segments to AS and get business fare equivalent miles. Gone are the old good days

  2. @ Terence — Hmmm, I’ve credited plenty of upgraded flights to Alaska, and have always earned the economy miles.

  3. @lucky the catch is you don’t add FFP# at check-in. Then you follow up and mail the boarding pass with a C – they might treat C as J out of good will/lack of info. Deal is good till Aug 1 anyway.

  4. @ Ben — I think you have used that same Alaska picture 1,000 times now….can we get a another one, please? 🙂

  5. @Ben – for someone who rarely flies paid AA flights and then only occasionally for short, discount economy flights, where would you suggest now crediting the miles?

  6. “The earning rates for discounted first & business class are remaining the same”


    “P” class is GONE.

    “P” class is the inventory used for the domestic first class (sic) portions of discounted international business fares.

    If not a mistake, a YUGE devaluation.

  7. @Ben any word on the VX integration/when we could start earning AS miles while flying VX, or a conversion strategy? Might finally be time to start looking at those options

  8. Well there it is. No surprises here. Expected and exactly why I wasn’t jumping on the “leaving AA for Alaska” bandwagon.

  9. I had switched my non AS domestic flying to 100% AA. Now I guess it doesn’t matter between Delta and AA.

    As you said this is not at all surprising. I’ll try to stick to AS as much as possible.

  10. They are taking all the fun out of flying…….
    my MR days are gone..
    Im AA Lifetime Plat
    I fly AA 4x a year in econ and use miles to upgrade
    I fly AS 20 x a year in econ, should I credit those AS trips to Alaska or American?

  11. Not surprised at all. If you want status, fly us. Why should they give you status when you give all your money to another carrier?

  12. Crap. I already have credited half my flights this year to Alaska, and now will only have MVP Gold and Platinum, instead of top tier on either. Regardless the spending requirement for Exec Platinum will prevent me from getting status. I fly regularly (on the cheapest tickets possible) between Santiago, Chile and Fairbanks, Alaska, and my options are pretty much American/LAN/Alaska or Delta. It seems this will be my last year of top tier status 🙁 Any suggestions?

  13. Ouch. I had purchased tickets in August with Citi ThankYou points for family and paid for my flights to match. I was hoping the implementation from AA would have been later than August but checking my booking classes, I will be at 50% earnings.
    I presume the elite bonus will still be applied against whatever the RDM base was? e.g. 75K gets 125% against the earned RDM?

  14. @ dmodemd — Correct, you should still earn the 125% bonus redeemable miles for being a 75K Gold.

  15. @ Sean — I suspect it’s a glitch, as Alaska consistently makes mistakes with their Mileage Plan earning rates pages.

  16. Lucky, I have ticket (LAX-SYD-CNS-MEL-SYD-LAX) purchased through the website that is mostly codeshare with Qantas. I am a member and have about 40k British Avios, 120k miles with Alaska, about the same with American, and like 600 points with Qantas. I currently have it so that any miles are credited to Alaska. Does this still make the most sense? I see that Alaska credits 100% with Qantas but I’m not sure if that will happen seeing that it’s an AA itinerary bought through them. Thanks.

  17. Buddy M. you can only accumulate miles with Alaska if your Qantas flight is on Qantas metal. I learned it the hard way. =(

  18. Nobody should be surprised or disappointed by this. In the future, status on American will come from a combination of two things: your money in their bank and your butt in their seat. That’s it. Until then, we can either continue flying through Doha to get everywhere on a cheap J fare, or we can accept reality and move on.

    The airlines are saying loud and clear who they want to reward, and it’s not the crowd that’s blogging/bragging about to slip in through the back door. It’s the folks who are buying tickets with someone else’s money and limited price sensitivity. Find a way to join the latter group if you want to stay in the chips.

  19. “The earning rates for discounted first & business class are remaining the same” – nope.

    ‘I’ class fares will actually now get a 50% EQM and RDM bonus, instead of 25% today. So that’s an improvement.

  20. @Sam, All of the segments are on Qantas metal except the last leg (SYD-LAX). Three of the other segments have American airlines flight numbers but it says “Operated by Qantas Airways”. The other segment has a Qantas flight number and is on Qantas metal. So I guess my best bet is to stay with crediting it to Alaska and see what happens. None of my other options would seem to do better miles wise.

  21. This actually makes things easier for me now. As a AS loyalist, I would often choose AA over DL on non-AS routes so as to get 100% economy miles. If AA and DL earn the same, then I can choose based on cost, schedule and product. (I do like DL’s new planes….)

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