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It’s not often I get to say “I told you so” but this just happens to be one of those occasions.
Back in September I (together with a good number of other blogs) ran a piece about American Airlines potentially cutting earning rates on British Airways and Iberia flights. And the news attracted a lot of attention.
In a nutshell what happened was that American Airlines published a new earnings chart (for flights taken on British Airways) on some of their foreign language sites. The new chart indicated that, from 1 October 2015, earning rates for flights taken on British Airways and credited to the American Airlines AAdvantage program would be more in line with what British Airways awards its Executive Club members. I.e earning rates were being slashed.
At the time, Gary Leff (View From The Wing Blog) got in touch with one of his American Airlines contacts to see what was going on and he received the following comment:
I believe this was actually just mistakenly pushed to the websites; I’ve never heard of these changes. I’m confirming now.
Later, the contact followed up with:
This was a mistake. If it hasn’t been fixed on the sites already, the team is working to fix it shortly. Thank you for pointing this out to us!
In hindsight that was a clever choice of words – and almost certainly deliberately misleading.
After I saw those comments from Gary’s American Airlines contact, I updated my blog post and posted this comment:
Update: Gary Leff (View From The Wing) is reporting that his contacts at American Airlines are saying that this was an error, no changes are coming and that this is being fixed as I type.
That’s quite a big error. As you’ll see from the article below [in the original blog post], they posted the tables to multiple, foreign, American Airlines websites and they even had a start date of 1 October 2015 on the tables. Something doesn’t add up, watch this space because I don’t think we’ve heard the end of this.
The next day, after I had a chance to mull things over, I posted “Did American Airlines Really Make A Mistake?” in which I said:
I have no insider knowledge so I can only speculate and attempt to make a reasoned argument for what I think has happened:
The new tables may have gone live thanks to some automated tool but they weren’t drawn up by a computer. And a computer didn’t type in the start date of 1 October 2015. That was all done by a human being and I don’t think there’s much room for doubt on that one.
I believe that the mistake that American made was in publishing the charts. I don’t believe that the charts themselves are a mistake at all. I think they’re very real.
And I concluded:
[I]t makes no sense for AAdvantage members to be rewarded better for flying on British Airways than British Airways’ own flyers. So change is coming. The only question left to answer is “when?”.
Well, we now have the answer to the “when?” question – 1 February 2016
Gary is back with news that the changes are back on American Airlines’ website (on the English language one) and this time they’re not claiming that it’s all a big mistake.
It’s funny how similar that second table is to the one that was a “mistake” back in September.
The changes summed up
- Deep Discount Economy Fares G, O & Q will earn 75% fewer miles.
- Deep Discount Economy Fares N & S reclassified as “Discount Economy” and will earn 50% fewer miles.
- Discount Economy Fares K, L, M & V will earn 50% fewer miles.
- Premium Economy Fares E & T will no longer earn a 10% “class of service” bonus
One very minor improvement:
- As Fares N & S have been reclassified as “Discount Economy” they will now earn 1.0 EQP/mile – a 100% increase.
No changes to earnings for First and Business Class Fares.
The changes apply to flights on Iberia too – there’s no escape!
What this means
Annoyingly these changes are actually worse than what British Airways did to its own flyers earlier on in the year. Yes, British Airways decimated earning rates at the lower (Economy) levels but they gave a little back by boosting earrings on premium cabin travel:
What they took from the”poor” they gave to the “rich” – hardly a nice thing to do but it wasn’t all take, take take.
Here, American Airlines has slashed earnings for all but the more expensive tickets and left everything else unchanged. It makes me wonder if I should credit future British Airways premium cabin travel to the Executive Club…I may even get status above blue!
I knew this was coming but the way American Airlines has gone about it has left a bad taste in the mouth. Gary Leff is the original Miles & Points blogger and has a huge audience of readers. His contact at American Airlines knew exactly what he/she was doing when claiming the charts were a mistake. There’s no way he/she went away, did the research and didn’t find out that the September charts were real. No way at all.
Technically it wasn’t actually a lie because, as I pointed out, the early publishing of the charts was a mistake, but the AA contact knew that a lot of people would read what Gary wrote and be placated….until American Airlines was happy to let the cat out of the bag for real.
That was underhand and unnecessary – they could have just told us at the time what was coming even if they weren’t quite ready. That would have been the honorable thing to do and would have even probably earned them a bit of credit for honesty. Now, however, they just look a lot shadier than they did yesterday. Welcome to the new American – looks like American, smells like Delta.