American Is Realigning Fare Codes, And It Could Be Good News

Filed Under: American

American recently took delivery of their first Boeing 787-9 featuring a premium economy cabin, which they’ll soon begin flying internationally. However, as of now they’re just selling the premium economy cabin as economy, since it will take them a while to be fully set up to sell premium economy. There’s a lot they still have to decide on:


Well, as part of the above “project,” American will be adjusting the fare classes they use for first class on two-cabin domestic flights:

  • This schedule change will happen in late 2016, for travel starting in early 2017
  • Domestic two-cabin first class will continue to be marketed as first class
  • Fare classes will change as follows (again, only for two-cabin domestic flights):
    • The “F” booking class (full fare first class) will change to the “J” booking class
    • The “A” booking class (discounted and upgraded first class) will change to the “D” booking class
    • The “P” booking class (discounted first class) will change to the “I” booking class


For the most part this is all stuff happening on the back end, so there shouldn’t be a lot of implications for passengers. I’m not entirely sure I get American’s logic with these changes as they relate to premium economy, since American is still using the “F,” “A,” and “P” fare codes on other flights. So it’s not like they’re truly “freeing up” any fare codes.

The one area where this could be good news is with redeeming British Airways Avios. If you’re redeeming Avios, rather ridiculously you’ve historically been charged the first class price for domestic two-cabin flights on American, even though the first class pricing is intended for three-cabin first class.


While American will continue to market the forward cabin as first class, the underlying fare codes will finally be for business class. So I think there are good odds that we’ll finally see two-cabin first class awards on American prices at the business class price rather than the first class price when redeeming British Airways Avios.

Still, with the changes BA has made to their program the past few years, that’s perhaps not quite as significant anymore. In other words, while a transcon flight in economy costs 12,500 miles, the business class price is 37,500 miles, while the first class price is 50,000 miles. Paying triple miles for business class still isn’t a good deal.

Unfortunately on the flip side, odds are also that British Airways will begin awarding fewer Avios for domestic travel on American. British Airways issued Avios based on the first class fare bucket for two-cabin first class, rather than “adjusting” it down to business class.

So whether or not this is good news is largely dependent on whether you primarily earn or redeem partner miles for travel on American.

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. Yeah but BA will now earn Avois at business vs first. Also the A bucket was both a revenue FC fare and an upgrade bucket so it will affect confirming upgrades on domestic flights with miles/SWUs. The good is very much out weighed by the bad on this IMO

  2. Will BA be changing the Tier Point and Avios earning schedule for AA domestic 2 cabin service to reflect earning at the First Class rate?

    Or is this an act by AA to close down a lucrative loop hole by assigning First Class on a 2 cabin service as de facto Business Class.

  3. Paying 20k Avios for a midcon in AA F, however, is… not so bad. Or 15k Avios for F for up to 1150 miles. That’s JFK-MIA or SEA-LAX/PHX. It’s a viable option if you’re cash-poor/Avios (or transfer point) rich, the coach fare is a bit dear, and you get things like extra checked baggage tossed in for free.

  4. Also means that when you but intl J, you will stay in J on the domestic connection on a 3 class plane; right now, you get F on a 321 or 77W transcontinental.

    Ryan is 100% right, more bad than good.

  5. Given that Avios are fairly useless, 75k r/t for domestic AA isnt THAT bad. I value them at 1.1 cpm and AA at 1.4 cpm, so using 75k Avios is equivalent to using 59k AA.

  6. @Ben,

    If AA is still calling these flights First Class despite allocating Business Class inventory, why do you think BA is going to allow redemption at the Business Class rate?

    Please explain how you’ve come to that conclusion.

  7. So does this mean the transcon flights LAX/SFO-JFK will be 50K Avios in F? As well as the MIA-LAX on the 77W?

  8. They are freeing up the X fare code for comp/500mi upgrades to First, because those will now use R, which has been for comp/500mi upgrades to Business.

  9. Might be good news for redeemers but for the BA and QF status runners this is immensely bad news. Not sure if I’ll maintain OWE post-2017.

  10. Yeah, this is awful if you’re a BA TP runner, even more so with the changes to AA’s program which make “cheap” status there impossible. Guess I’m going to have to redeem points for F on INTL legs to get free access to that sweet sweet champagne.

  11. I have made use of the 210 tier points to help me attain status with BA. I am certain these changes mean that going forward, I will only get 140 Tier Points towards status. I think Ba, AA and the OneWorld alliance are doing everything in their power to lose me as a customer. From next year, I am just going to shop on the basis of fares.

  12. Yes, currently the only way for me to have qualified BA Gold Guest List was with all the 210 or better Tier Point earnings on AA. For example, JFK to LAX 40 tier points to Philly, then 210 to LAX or through Phoenix. Will quickly book the last of these runs on the “old” class. This of all the devaluations over the past few years, is absolutely the worst for any BA member who also traveled in the States.
    Thanks Lucky for the heads up and warning. That is appreciated.

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