American Updates Mileage Earning Rates On Partner Airlines As Of August 1, 2016

Filed Under: American

In early June, American confirmed that the AAdvantage program would be going revenue based as of August 1, 2016. This was announced as part of some other changes for 2017, including the introduction of a revenue requirement for status. As of 2017, AAdvantage members will have to spend the following amounts on flights to earn elite status (not including taxes and fees):

  • AAdvantage Gold: $3,000
  • AAdvantage Platinum: $6,000
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro: $9,000
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum: $12,000


The addition of mileage earning based on revenue rather than distance flown didn’t come as a surprise, given that it was originally announced late last year, except they hadn’t yet indicated when the new system would go into effect.


Mileage earning on partner airlines gets a bit complicated under a revenue based program. While American can easily track how much your American ticket costs, they can’t as easily track how much you paid for your ticket on a partner airline, for example.

As a result, airlines typically modify their mileage earning chart on partner airlines when programs go revenue based. Miles for tickets booked through partner airlines are typically still accrued based on distance flown rather than how much you spend, but they reflect the reduced earning rates in general.

American has now published new AAdvantage mileage earning rates for travel on partner airlines as of August 1, 2016. You can find all the new earnings rates on the individual airline partner pages, so let’s just look at a couple that I’m especially interested in.

For travel on British Airways, here are the mileage earning rates through July 31, 2016:


Meanwhile here are the rates as of August 1, 2016:


We’re not seeing huge changes with British Airways, other than that the “H” fare class goes from earning 100% base miles to 50% base miles, which is pretty rough.

For travel on partner airlines, elite qualifying dollars are accrued as a percentage of the distance flown. You’ll note that American’s EQDs per mile flown are significantly lower than on Delta, though. Delta SkyMiles offers the following earning rates on their transatlantic joint venture partner, Virgin Atlantic:


As you can see, just about across the board Delta offers more elite qualifying dollars on Virgin Atlantic.

Meanwhile for American’s partner Qatar Airways (my favorite airline to fly to earn American miles), here are the mileage earning rates through July 31, 2016:


Then here are the rates as of August 1, 2016:


Again, we’re seeing significant changes here, mostly negative. “R” and “I” fares no longer earn a 25% class of service redeemable miles bonus, while “B” and “H” fares go from earning 100% base miles to 50% base miles.

Qatar Airways has a lot of reasonable premium fares, so let’s crunch the numbers on the below discounted business class trip, covering 20,498 flown miles:


Through July 31, 2016, you’d earn:

  • 30,747 elite qualifying miles
  • 25,623 redeemable miles

As of August 1, 2016, you’d earn:

  • 30,747 elite qualifying miles
  • 20,498 redeemable miles
  • $4,100 elite qualifying dollars (more than double as much as you’d otherwise earn)

Earning rates on other partner airlines are largely similar to the above, so check out the AAdvantage partner page to see what the rates are like on your preferred airline.


Bottom line

None of these changes really come as a huge surprise. It’s sad to see the earning rates for premium cabins on some partner airlines be cut, at least when it comes to redeemable miles. However, for cheap premium cabin fares, you’ll still probably do better by flying partner airlines rather than American.

The only thing that surprises me is American’s low EQD earning rates on partner airlines, which are in some cases significantly lower than what Delta SkyMiles offers on partner airlines.

What do you make of American’s new mileage earning rates on partner airlines?

  1. I’m at least glad we will be earning EQDs on partners. Keeping my 1K with UA is so hard when I get nothing for all of my LX/SQ/TK flying.

  2. Has American published the method to be used to award AAdvantage miles for trips booked through AA Vacations? On previous trips, AAV has assigned a fare basis of zero for the flight portions.

  3. So what’s the sweet spot/most economical way to meet the EQD spend going to be – Business class/Full business fares? Qatar has usually had the best prices, is that going to be the way to go from preliminary thoughts?

  4. @ Ben — Thank you for the post. Portions of Gary’s post on this topic was incomprehensible…

  5. @ Gene

    I agree that Gary’s post incomprehensible. He used CAI-DOH-ATL as a fare example but used the mileage calculation for CAI-DOH-LAX. He rarely performs proofreading before he posts. Maybe if we embarrass him he will change.

  6. This is such a stupid move on the part of AA. For people outside USA it will be better to travel in partner companies instead of AA itself. This year I have done countless r/t with them on GRU-DFW, GRU-JFK and GRU-LAX, plus DFW-HKG and the transconroutes.
    So by the next year, in order to qualify for ExecPlat I will be giving my money to JJ/LA/IB/BA to be able to reach this EQD… It really does not make any sense to me.

  7. All that means is AA will devalue eqd partner earnings next year if they find that too many exp are earning via partner flights

  8. Hey Ben slight error — you said [Qatar] “C” and “D” fares no longer earn a 25% class of service redeemable miles bonus, when in fact it’s R and I which got the boot. I should know (he chuckled ruefully) as I just checked and my Qatar flights next year are I.

  9. Are the elite mileage bonuses also going away (100% EXP+PLT; 25% GLD) when flying on oneworld partner carriers? If so, that would be a massive drop in award mileage earned for higher tier elites: on the sample itinerary above, you’d only get 20,498 miles as opposed to 40,996 for flying on that QR I ticket after Aug 1 as an EXP.

  10. @Ben –

    Ok. So if I book a ticket for next year on BA thru their website, but it’s a codeshared AA flight, I’m still gonna get the BA EQD and not AA EQD. Correct?

    When it’s published at 20% EQD of a flight, it makes me think I’m gonna get 20%- of $$ paid. But it seems in essence, it’s 20%+

    Kind of right???

  11. @ Melinda — Correct, that’s my understanding, at least. If it’s a BA ticket number you should earn based on distance flown. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

  12. @ Andy — It’s certainly possible, but I don’t necessarily assume so, as we haven’t seen that on other airlines. What’s the real cost of people accruing Executive Platinum status through partner airlines if they’re not actually flying American?

  13. @ Bryan — Well we’ll see if there’s a credit card waiver, but if there’s not, I’d say EQDs through discounted business class on partner airlines is the way to go.

  14. @ Matt — That’s a great question. Haven’t heard about that one way or another as of now.

  15. @ Danny — I wasn’t trying to shame Gary (hell, turns out MY grammar in the comment above is incorrect.) I do think Gary’s writing has gotten much sloppier, as he tries to frantically keep up with the full-time bloggers. Ben would never publish some of the babble that Gary posts, so I always appreciate Ben’s thorough, thought-out, well written posts. When I need to go back and research a topic, I always include the name of this blog in the search, NOT VFTW.

  16. @ Danny — More bad grammar on my part! Hey, but I receive no compensation for writing comments… 🙂

  17. How do minimum mileage guarantees work on partner airlines for AA?

    Despite AA’s website explicitly saying “elite members will earn at least 500 miles for flights under 500 miles on American Airlines and American Eagle (including codeshare flights booked as an American Airlines flight number) and participating AAdvantage and oneworld airlines”, I was only given 250 EQMs for a flight from LHR-GVA.

  18. Dear Lucky,

    Let say you buy Business class international D fare all from, but one segment indicate travel with JAL (Flight number listed as AAxxxx / AA code share 4 digits with JAL)
    -Do you earn EQM x 2 times?


  19. If we still get the 100% bonus for being PLT and EXP then the change in premium cabin earning on partners is not that negative of a change.

  20. @ Ben — to clarify: mutli-flight itineraries ticketed by AA will accrue “revenue” (for the purposes of status) according to the airline on your flight number, not the ticket stock? e.g. I can still buy a OneWorld Global Explorer ticket from the American RTW desk, issued on AA ticket stock, but if it mostly consists of flights on partner airlines using their flight numbers, then my revenue spend will be calculated as a proportion of the mileage, not a fraction of the cost of the ticket. Is that right?

  21. As an AA exec plat who lives/works in Shanghai now, I do find the lack of an EQD exemption a bit unfair. I travel quite a bit within mainland China for work and there are no oneworld carriers who fly domestically (there’s Dragonair [soon to be Cathay Dragon] and Cathay Pacific, but they pretty much only fly to/from Hong Kong). So, none of my domestic travel accrues mileage/EQD on AA.

    That didn’t matter in the past, as I’d accrue enough EQM from my trips back home to the US to requalify. But that’s much more difficult with the $12K EQD requirement.

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