Why I Don’t Trust American Airlines Any More

the tail of an airplane

TravelingForMiles.com may receive commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on TravelingForMiles.com are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. TravelingForMiles.com does not include all card companies or all available card offers.

Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission which helps contribute to the running of the site – I’m very grateful to anyone who uses these links but their use is entirely optional. The compensation does not impact how and where products appear on this site and does not impact reviews that are published.

I’ve already been pretty clear that I’m disappointed with the changes that American Airlines announced to the AAdvantage program on 6 June but that’s not where my issue with the airline lies. The AAdvantage program is American’s to do with as it pleases so, irrespective of how anyone feels about what they’ve done to it, we have to grin and bear it – the airline has every right to change its rewards program in any way it likes.

What it shouldn’t have the right to do is to keep AAdvantage members dangling in suspense waiting for clarification on issues that directly affect the bookings they may want to make.

Over the past year American Airlines has been singularly brilliant at making announcements that only provide half of the information that American Airlines flyers need. I’ve mentioned this a number of times before but a couple of the highlights bear repeating.

American Airlines & The Premium Economy Announcement

American Airlines Premium Economy

American announced that it was going to introduce Premium Economy cabins on long-haul international routes back in early December 2015 but to this day the airline still hasn’t announced what this will mean for international upgrades, whether Business Class cabins will get smaller and what the fate of Main Cabin Extra will be.

All of these things can have a serious impact on the value of American Airlines status (especially top-tier Executive Platinum status) and it would be very helpful if travelers knew what the airline has in mind before they decide if they should continue to fly with American in 2017.

We’re now over 4 months into the 2017 booking period and we’re still waiting for news.

American Airlines & The AAdvantage Changes Announcement (Part 1)

Back in November 2015 we found out that changes were coming to the AAdvantage program through a series of leaks and, when American finally came out with an announcement, we were told that AAdvantage would be moving over to a mileage-earning revenue based system…..but the airline couldn’t tell us when that would actually be other than saying it wouldn’t be until “late 2016”.

To compound this, American also announced that, although they couldn’t tell us when the changeover would be, the change in how we earn AAdvantage Miles would be effective for all flights after an unspecified date regardless of when the tickets were booked.

This meant that, between 10 November 2015 and 6 June 2016, anyone booking flights with American, for travel after June 2016, had absolutely no idea whether they would be earning miles under the old system or the new system….and they just had to live with it.

It’s not like the differences between the two systems are minor either. As I showed in a post in November, a lot of travelers will be seeing their AAdvantage Miles earnings drop by over 50% under the new rules.


As if those two half-baked announcements weren’t enough, American Airlines is now back at it again…..

American Airlines & The AAdvantage Changes Part-Announcement (Part 2)

Finally, on 6 June, American Airlines gave us more information on the changes it would be bringing to the AAdvantage program and, as well as surprising almost all of us with some of the announcements, it once again failed to provide AAdvantage members with all the information we need.

We were finally told that the new mileage earning rates would come into place as of 1 August but the airline also confirmed that it couldn’t tell us what the mileage rates would be for partner marketed flights until 15 July!

Why on earth not?! What have they been debating since November last year?

How can it take an airline 3 announcements over a period of 9 months to tell its flyers just how badly most of them are going to get screwed over?

Knowing what the earnings on partner airlines will be is extremely important for anyone wanting to work out the best way to book fares going forward. 

We know that American Airlines will be awarding miles based on cost from 1 August but, as most of the excellent Business Class fares we’ve been seeing over recent weeks can be booked though American or any number of its oneWorld partners, it would be very useful to know what miles we can expect from partners before we choose who to book with.

I asked the American Airlines Twitter team about this earlier today and here’s the exchange we had:

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 10.29.43

Firstly I should commend the @AmericanAir Twitter team for their speed of response…they really are very good when it comes to that.

But, secondly, I should point out how wrong it is that American has published mileage earnings charts for travel on partners (without an expiration date on them) and is seemingly unwilling to guarantee that those charts will be valid for bookings made today. UPDATE: American updated the charts in June

Why This Annoys Me So Much

I have absolutely no doubt that American Airlines knows the answers to all of the issues I’ve mentioned above but, because it doesn’t suit their purposes, they’re choosing not to share that information with their flyers. And they don’t seem to care too much how that affects their customers.

Somewhat amusingly American pointed out that, by announcing when the new rules will come into place in early June, it has given flyers nearly two months notice of the changes to AAdvantage. That’s nonsense and disingenuous of the airline to even suggest that.

For 8 months American’s flyers were booking flights not knowing when the changes would be coming and, if the airline really wanted to give real notice, it would have said that the new rules would only affect bookings made after 1 August.

The key to all of this is the phrase used by the American Airlines Twitter team:

Mileage will be earned at the rate of the date of travel

That phrase implies zero notice for travelers and, before anyone jumps to American’s defence here, let’s be very clear that saying that something will happen at an unspecified time in the future does not classify as giving notice.

American Has Been Going This Way For a While

It’s been fashionable, in the miles & points world, to bash Delta for it’s seemingly never-ending devaluations to SkyMiles and the zero notice it often gave to it’s flyers…and Delta deserves everything it got and gets. But American is starting to get away with things just as bad.

In April 2014, without notice, American eliminated oneworld Explorer Awards and eliminated stopovers at gateway cities – two very big benefits of the AAdvantage program.

In September last year American deliberately misled its flyers when it brushed off speculation about changes to the British Airways earnings chart before introducing those changes a month and a half later.

I said at the time that the blogging community as a whole wasn’t giving American a hard enough time about that incident and, in my option, the same thing is happening here.


Back in November American had an opportunity to give us all a heads up about the introduction of a minimum spend requirement, the introduction of a new status tier and the changes to upgrade priorities but it chose not to.

Even one of the most respected sources for all things AA, JonNYC, had this to say about the news we got on 6 June:

[M]y take on it is it’s worse than expected for most members/most here and more “comprehensive” than I personally expected.

That’s how much of a surprise American pulled on us and surprises aren’t what members of a rewards program want….at least not these kinds of surprises.

Bottom Line

Keeping information from flyers appears to be the new norm at American Airlines and that’s bad news for AAdvantage members.

If the airline wants to destroy a once fantastic loyalty program that’s entirely its business and, while that’s our loss, it’s also something we just have to live with.

But I’m not sure just how much I want to deal with an airline that deliberately misleads and deliberately withholds information and then acts as if it’s doing the right thing. If a corporation isn’t honest or open about what it’s doing with its rewards program then that program rapidly becomes less and less useful to the consumer…and that’s what I feel is happening with AAdvantage.

Next year will be my 6th year of holding Executive Platinum status and it says a lot that, as yet, I don’t have a single flight booked on American for 2017. That’s not to say I won’t book with the airline – I’m not going to cut my nose off to spite my face – but it does mean that I’m looking very closely at my options and American keeps giving me reasons to look harder elsewhere.

iOS users can get all of Traveling For Miles’ content Free on Apple News (click here)


  1. […] I said a few weeks back that I don’t trust American Airlines any more and the airline doesn’t seem to be doing much to make me feel any better about it. American has become very adept at making announcements that only give customers half the information they need and equally adept at announcing changes to the AAdvantage program for which it then can’t give an implantation date…..but now management have gone one better. American Airlines has managed to remove a published benefit before it ever even came into force! […]

  2. […] I’ve made no secret of my feelings towards the American Airlines hierarchy following the changes to the AAdvantage program but I’ve also pointed out that I’m not really sure where else to turn if I want to earn and burn miles in a loyalty program that hasn’t already been decimated. Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan is a go-to program for a lot of disenchanted AAdvantage members but that program doesn’t work so well if you have travel patterns like mine…so I’m a little bit stuck […]

Comments are closed.