Sign of what’s to come

On Monday American Airlines announced that as of January 1st customers who purchase eligible First or Business Class tickets will receive bonus miles based on class and fare type during 2015.  To make things a little more complicated, how many points you get depends on your status. This will be a great bonus for those business travelers whose employers pay for forward cabin seats for longer flights.

Will you receive the bonus miles if you upgrade into business or first class?  According to American Airlines upgrades from a purchased Main Cabin ticket into the Business or First Class Cabin will not receive the bonus promotional miles. If you purchase a Business class fare and then upgrade to First, you will receive the bonus promotional miles based on the original Business class fare you booked.  The full PR release can be read here.

Here’s further breakdown of the bonus miles earned per flight segment.


Bonus miles are great, but I probably will never qualify for this promotion because when I’m sitting in business or first class it’s because I upgraded to get there.   But those who are lucky enough to have their company pay for business or first class seating, or can afford to do so on their own dime, are getting rewarded pretty nicely considering that the bonus is in addition to what is typically awarded.  United and Delta both now have revenue-based frequent-flier programs.  In my opinion this is a move towards that same direction.  Good for American in offering this bonus and not just jumping right in to the revenue based program, but it has to be only a matter of time before American will be all in.

What does this mean?  For many, including myself, it looks as if accruing miles will become harder and harder as time goes on.  My strategy is going to be the same as it was when American changed its award redemption options: earn and burn.  Although a change to a revenue-based program shouldn’t necessarily affect points you currently have, it’s clear that these loyalty programs can change any time without regulation so it’s best to spend them while you have them.

Readers, what are your thoughts on American Airlines announcement? 

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