American Airlines will link frequent flier awards to fares, not miles

By Mary Schlangenstein

Bloomberg News


American Airlines will join Delta and United in basing its loyalty awards on the amount spent for a ticket, rewarding elite passengers who pay more, rather than by miles flown.

The shift from the long-standing system of awards earned by miles flown will occur in the second half of 2016, American Airlines Group Inc. said in a statement Tuesday. Travelers with higher standing in the AAdvantage frequent-flier program will earn more credit for each dollar spent.

American joins Delta Air Lines and United Continental Holdings in adopting such a change, a move the carrier put off while focusing on its 2013 merger with US Airways. American’s loyalty program is the largest in the industry, with about 100 million members.

The airline last year sweetened awards for passengers buying the most-expensive tickets under a one-year plan that rewarded discount-fare buyers as well as elite passengers.

American also will reduce the amount required to redeem some awards by as much as 40 percent and trim redemption levels for a range of destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, American said. Award miles required for certain flights to Asia and Europe will increase. Those changes occur in March.

American is the dominant carrier at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Charlotte is the airline’s second-largest hub, after Dallas/Fort Worth.