American Airlines Boosts Elite & Mileage Earnings On Qantas

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Earlier today, Executive Traveller wrote about Qantas “turbocharging” the points and status credits that its flyers can earn when flying with American Airlines. This got me wondering if American Airlines would do the same for AAdvantage members…and the answer is a resounding yes!

American Airlines has published new reward earnings charts for flights its flyers take on Qantas and credit to the AAdvantage program and the changes are overwhelmingly positive…but there is a very large element of a ‘smoke and mirrors’ exercise here.

a large airplane on a runway

When American & Qantas failed to get regulatory approval for their joint venture at the first attempt in 2016, both airlines immediately cut loyalty program earnings on each other’s flights.

Now that the joint venture has finally been approved both airlines are essentially restoring their respective earning rates to what they were a little over 3 years ago, and I strongly suspect that this has been a well-planned (if remarkably unsubtle) move to try to demonstrate to the regulators how an AA/QF joint venture is a positive thing for flyers.

It’s actually all a little tasteless and more than a little insulting but I’ll take a return to the status quo over yet more cuts any day.

The New Earning Rates

The new AAdvantage earnings are valid for flights taken from yesterday, 1 October 2019, and will encompass all flights from that date onwards regardless of when the booking was made.

Here are screenshots of the new earnings charts:

Qantas Transpacific Flights

a screenshot of a screen with numbers and a number of flightsAll Other Qantas Flights

a table with numbers and lettersHere’s what the old earnings chart looked like:

a screenshot of a graph

Here’s a comparison of the historic transpacific earnings to the new earnings effective from 1 October 2019 (click to enlarge):

a table of numbers and percentagesAmazingly, for an American Airlines award chart update, there is no bad news here at all (as far as I can see) and plenty of good news to go around.

  • Cabin bonuses have increased by up to 5x
  • All Business Class and First Class fares now earn more Elite Qualifying Miles than before
  • The cheapest Economy Class fares earn twice as many Elite Qualifying Miles as before
  • All First Class fares earn 2x as many Elite Qualifying Dollars as before
  • All Business Class fares (other than the very cheapest) earn more Elite Qualifying Dollars

Sure, there’s not an incredible amount of love here for the Economy Class cabin but no one is going to be worse off and a lot of people will be a lot better off than they have been for the past 3 years.

a seat in a plane
Qantas New A380 First Class – Image courtesy of Qantas

Bottom Line

It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that American Airlines is only giving back what it took away from flyers in 2016, and it’s doing so in a very unsubtle effort to show the regulators that its JV with Qantas is truly good news for flyers.

The fact that flyers are (mostly) no better off now than they were pre-2016 when there was no JV in place doesn’t appear to be something American or Qantas want to dwell upon…and that’s hardly surprising.

Still, as I said earlier, considering we’re far more accustomed to watching as airlines cut benefits and cut earnings it makes a nice change to actually see a significant improvement to an earnings chart…albeit a very cynical one.

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