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, 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.
Let me start by saying that nothing has been officially announced (but when did that ever stop an airline?!) so this is just speculation based on pretty compelling evidence.
A keen-eyed reader of the One Mile At A Time blog has spotted that American Airlines have published a new earnings chart (for flights taken on British Airways) on some of their foreign language sites.
The changes to the chart would seem to indicate that, from 1 October 2015, earning rates for flights taken on British Airways and credited to the American Airlines AAdvantage program will be slashed to be more in line with what British Airways awards its own long-suffering Executive Club members.
The current chart for flights flown on British Airways and credited to AAdvantage looks like this (click to enlarge):
And the chart you see above is the one you will currently see if you view any of American Airlines’ worldwide websites in English. But it’s what happens when you view some of the same websites in their native language that’s interesting.
Taking American Airlines’ Spanish website as an example:
If you view the site in English and check the earning rates you’ll see the same table as above but, if you view the site in Spanish, a second table appears:
A quick look at this new table reveals some unpleasant devaluations.
- The three cheapest economy fare classes (the ones most of us try to book!) will go from earning 100% to 25% of base miles flown
- The next four economy fare classes will go from earning 100% to 50% of base miles flown.
- There is no increase in earning rates for premium cabin fares.
They’ve taken a hatchet to the earning rates on Iberia too (click to expand):
It’s worth reiterating that nothing has been announced by American Airlines and, following their sudden and sneak changes to the AAdvantage program that were met with so much anger, you’d think that American would have learned their lesson – so it this a glitch?
The Spanish website isn’t the only one to show this new table. The Dutch website shows the same new table as do the Italian website and the German website too. This looks like it’s real.
If this devaluation comes to pass (as I strongly suspect it will) it won’t be unexpected, but the stealthy way it has been introduced is going to anger a lot of flyers. Alaska Airlines already devalued its earnings rates for British Airways flights back in May and there was no way British Airways would carry on allowing travelers who credit their flights to AAdvantage to earn more than British Airways Executive Club members…..but a bit of warning would have been nice.
The problem for many (including myself) isn’t that we’re now going to earn fewer AAdvantage miles when we fly British Airways, it’s that we’ll now earn less miles towards AAdvantage elite qualification.
If you earn AAdvantage status using Elite Qualifying Points (EQP), you’re actually marginally better off under the new chart because two of the economy fare classes (S & N) will now earn 1.0 EPQ per mile rather than 0.5 EQP.
If, however, you earn AAdvantage status using Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM), you’re going to be a lot worse off. EQM are earned at the same rate as base miles so economy travelers will see their earnings towards elite status cut by as much as 75%.
By this year-end I will have earned around 20,000 of my 100,000+ American Airlines EQM by flying on British Airways economy fares. Had this new chart been in force from the start of the year I would have earned just 5,000 EQM.
Just in case you think that, by some miracle, elite qualifying miles won’t be affected by this change, take a look at what happens when you attempt to view the elite qualifying criteria on the foreign American Airlines websites:
It could be a coincidence….but I doubt it.
If (when) this comes to pass it will be a worse devaluation than the one that happened for Alaska flyers or even British Airways Executive Club members (BAEC).
While we all get equally crushed by the changes to the earnings on most economy fares, Alaska and BAEC flyers get substantial increases in miles earned for premium cabin travel – so far there’s no sign of a similar increase for AAdvantage members.
It will be interesting to see how this pans out and when American plans on announcing the change. There’s only a week to go before we reach 1 October 2015 so, presumably, we should hear something any day now. The fallout will be interesting to watch.
Are you going to be affected by this devaluation if/when it happens? If so will it change your travel patterns?
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