American Boosts Premium Cabin Mileage Bonuses For Non-Elites

Filed Under: American

As of 2015 we’ve seen both Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus switch to revenue based programs, whereby they’re awarding redeeming miles based on how much you spend on tickets, as opposed to how much you fly.

For a vast majority of consumers that’s bad news, since the overall intent of a revenue based program is to encourage people to spend more, and also to reward them less for what they’re flying already. Some people come out ahead under a revenue based program — in particular those primarily flying short distances, as well as those flying mostly on paid first and business class tickets.

American is keeping their AAdvantage program “traditional” for 2015, though has introduced a couple of promotions to basically give members the best of both worlds. For all of 2015:


In other words, you keep earning the same number of miles as before, but if you often fly in premium cabins you’ll just get a further “boost.”

As far as the first promotion for redeemable miles goes, the bonuses earned are based on status and fare class. The original announced bonuses were as follows:

Non-elite AAdvantage membersAAdvantage Gold & PlatinumAAdvantage Executive Platinum
Medium and Short-haul flights less than 3,000 miles
Discounted Business Class Z*, I
Medium and Short-haul flights less than 3,000 miles
First / Business Class F, A, P, C, J, R, D
Long-haul flights greater than 3,000 miles and JFK-SFO/LAX
Discounted Business Class Z*, I
Long-haul flights greater than 3,000 miles and JFK-SFO/LAX
First / Business Class F, A, P, C, J, R, D

Interestingly as of May 15, 2015, American AAdvantage has increased the bonuses for non-elite members traveling in premium cabins, as follows:


In other words:

  • The bonus for travel in first/business class (F, A, P, J, R, D) on longhaul flights has increased from 3,000 to 6,000 miles
  • The bonus for travel in first/business class (F, A, P, J, R, D) on short-haul flights has increased from 250 to 500 miles
  • A bonus of 250 miles has been added for short-haul flights in discounted business class (I)
  • A bonus of 1,000 miles has been added for longhaul flights in discounted business class (I)

What I find interesting here are the implications of American tweaking this program. The fact that they’re putting thought into this and switching around the bonuses a bit gives me hope that they may not necessarily switch to a strict revenue based program next year. After all, why invest the energy/resources into a program which is definitely going away?

But why would American increase the non-elite bonuses, specifically? Presumably AAdvantage wants to see if further incentivizing non-elite members results in a change of behavior. Whether they’re doing that because they feel they’re presently not rewarded enough or whether they’re just doing it to “test the waters” remains to be seen, though.

Earn bonus miles for flying in American’s 777-300ER business class

Bottom line

While I’m not a fan of the direction American is headed in terms of their onboard soft product, I’m thrilled with the way AAdvantage has been run. Here’s to hoping this is a sign that AAdvantage isn’t necessarily headed in the same direction as MileagePlus and SkyMiles.

What do you think American’s motivation is for increasing non-elite premium cabin bonuses, and do you think AAdvantage will go revenue based next year?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. People’s behaviour is not going to be influenced by little tweaks. It takes years for the flyers to even understand how the current base system works. AA will have to give in to the new model unfortunately. The question I have is: when will they stop calling them “miles”?

  2. They already have eqp, if they move to it full time then they will singlehandedly move to revenue based earning without reengineering everything.

    Most other airlines already penalize you for lower fare bucket

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