American Cutting Mileage Earning Rates On Partner Airlines In 2016

Filed Under: American

Earlier I wrote about the changes being made to AAdvantage in 2016, which impact just about all aspects of the program. These changes include elite qualification, earning redeemable miles, and award redemption rates.


In the second half of 2016, American will be shifting to a revenue based frequent flyer program, meaning award miles will be issued based on how much your ticket costs rather than how many miles you fly. At least that’s the case for travel on American. Presumably for travel on partner airlines you’ll continue to earn miles based on distance flown, though most likely at a fraction of the current rates.

One thing I missed in the earlier announcement is that American is cutting the elite qualifying mileage earnings rates for travel on many partner airlines as of January 1, 2016, which is only about six weeks away. This applies for flights marketed and operated by partner airlines (for the most part, flights marketed by American and operated by other airlines still accrue miles per American’s chart).

You’re about to earn fewer AAdvantage elite qualifying miles for flights on Alaska

In a vast majority of cases, travel in discounted economy on partner airlines will only accrue 0.5 EQMs per flown mile, rather than 1 EQM per flown mile.

For example, you’ll only earn 0.5 EQMs per mile flown in discounted economy on Alaska:


The same is true on airberlin:


And on Japan Airlines:


Previous changes were already announced to the AAdvantage earnings chart for British Airways as of February 1, though they’ve now made a separate chart for January 1-31, where economy is already getting a 50% cut in elite mileage accrual:


It’s worth noting that these are probably only the beginning of the cuts to partner travel. Here American is cutting elite qualifying mileage rates on partner airlines, which seems a bit backwards. All American flights, even in discounted economy, continue to earn one elite qualifying mile per flown mile. And that will stay the same even when award miles are issued based on revenue.

What is going revenue based in the second half of 2016 is the rate at which redeemable miles are accrued, and I suspect those will be cut drastically on partner airlines at that point as well.

Check out the full list of AAdvantage airline partners for all the details of changes in earnings rates.


Bottom line

This is a disappointing change, and likely only the beginning to cuts for partner airline mileage accrual. Here American is cutting elite qualifying mileage accrual on partner airlines while they increase it on their own flights. Later this year when American starts issuing award miles based on revenue rather than miles flown, I’d be willing to bet accrual rates on partner airlines will be impacted as well.

How much will you be impacted by the cuts in elite mileage accrual on partner airlines?

  1. Still Brutal. I wonder what happens to Elite bonuses on partner airlines.

    For example, second half of the year, if I earn 1 redeemable mile on a partner, do I get the Executive Platinum bonus of 2 redeemable miles. I doubt it. Brutal.

  2. Hi Lucky, I had a question about the amount of award miles you will earn on AA airline partners in the second half of 2016. Will the 100% elite mileage bonus on AA airline partners continue once the program goes revenue based for AA itself ?

  3. Bottom line they are trying to make more $ and give us less benefits.

    Its a negative shift and for those of us who have invested our $ and time growing our AA mileage accounts we will now have to spend more or get less of a return with the devaluation. So much for being brand loyal to American.

  4. So happy they make these changes to affect partner flights I’ve already booked when I could have booked them as AA flights. 🙁

  5. Where will your frequent flyer loyalty be going after this? Seems like you were primarily a oneworld guy because aadvantage was the best frequent flyer program, not necessarily because it was the best. So what frequent flyer program should people be loyal to? Any alliance, any country, any whatever.

  6. Do you expect Alaska to change their policy towards mileage accural on AA metal, similar to what happened with Delta? Sort of crossing my fingers that I can just credit things to Alaska…

  7. Hey Ben,

    Have you ever considered writing a post geared towards millennials with a serious case of wanderlust? How to get started including which cards provide the best benefits for individuals with base line credit and student loans, travel tips and warnings, etc. I’m not a frequent reader of your posts so I’m not sure if these are all things you’ve touched on previously.

  8. What I find strange is that the EQM for J on partner airlines is 1.25 to 1.5 per flown mile whereas it is 2 EQM for AA marketed flights. Those of us flying mostly partner airlines need to fly 66k miles instead of 50k in J to qualify for EXP. The least they could have done was to up the EQM to 2 on more expensive seats while reducing the EQM on discount economy.

  9. I might be asking a really noob question but if you book travel before the chart devaluation date and subsequently need to alter the dates of the flight, would we be subjected to the new chart as a result? I know there is no fees persay for changing things on AA but if the price goes up then they could be expected to try and recover the difference in miles right?

  10. Lucky, just think of all the new partner airline products you could review if you switched to DL/SkyTeam! Might be a good change for the blog. IIRC Star Alliance still isn’t an option 😉

  11. With the increase in the miles required for certain awards and considering AA’s no-fee for changing the flight date (as long as same class, origin, destination, etc.), would it be possible to book an award before March 2017 (at current rates) for a flight in January 2018, and then subsequently change the flight date to June 2018 without paying the new rates?

  12. This is only if we are booking with that partner, not through AA, correct? IE NRT-MNL booked through JAL credited to AA. Earns above. Books ORD-MNL. Segment on JAL still Earns full?

  13. This is really weird. Of course, Delta is no stranger to also devaluing its partner relationships with foreign airlines. I understand, to a degree, if Delta or American are flying the same route as the other airline but in many cases they aren’t directly competing for the same customer. This really, really undercuts the whole point of these airline alliances. Maybe they’ve become too big. I don’t know.

  14. Looks like the good days of earning miles with US based FF programs are coming to an end, especially for low fare, economy class travelers. This makes other foreign programs such as JL, KE, OZ, etc. more attractive for their mileage value for money. Certainly, FF gaming is not over, but the days of low cost high earning models will be very limited.

  15. For a loyal AA member living in London and flying a lot in coach on the European carriers (BA, Finnair etc.) I’m going to need to fly further to keep my status (tough to justify). I’ll give it a try, but my suspicions are that this spells the end of my loyalty to American.
    So long American!! Thanks for the ride!!
    Ben – where does one go from here?

  16. The devaluation should hit people smack in the face. People should just pay for what they want. This actually frees me up to be less loyal and earn miles like I never did before DL and UA started this…… charging to a credit card or series thereof. The elite status isn’t worth it any longer. If you simply bought that first class or business class ticket, you would save time, hassles, and headaches.

    Could you start advertising the upgradeable coach fares on a website? That might really make more sense for those who are looking to do better with these types of programs.

  17. @ Adam — It all comes down to which airline markets the flight (in other words, whether it’s a codeshare or not).

  18. Does BA marketed flights, flown on AA metal count as Oneworld code shares with reduced EQM or are they considered as AA flights for EQM?

  19. Looks like OneWorld, at least, is getting less connected. I think Star Alliance holds it better together as an alliance right now. Even though LH and SQ try to not share some things with passengers of their alliance partners that theoretically they are supposed to share.

  20. The boa Alaska companion cards were great to earn full Eqm now only earn half for discounted tickets which is bad . It’s still prettt easy to achieve exp.

  21. @Randy, I have the same question. Booked a few flights via BA to take advantage of the AARP discount. Some of the flights are on AA metal. Anyone know?

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