Earning miles and loyalty points with American Airlines will soon become more difficult, after the airline announced changes this week.
The airline said Tuesday that it would begin limiting which tickets purchased through third parties, such as travel agents or online booking sites, are eligible to earn AAdvantage miles and loyalty points.
It is the first airline to do something like this, urging customers to buy tickets directly from its website. This means that you do not have to pay commission.
Starting May 1, American will only award points for flights booked through select partners and “preferred agencies,” which it will reveal in a list in April.
It’s the latest change to a major airline loyalty program, after Delta was forced to backtrack after controversially adjusting its program last year.
American Airlines announced it would begin limiting which tickets purchased through a third party are eligible to earn AAdvantage miles and loyalty points.
“We want to make it more convenient for customers to enjoy the value and magic of travel,” chief commercial officer Vasu Raja said in a statement.
“Booking directly with American not only provides the best experience possible, it’s also where we offer the best rates and is most rewarding for our AAdvantage members.”
The change should not affect corporate travelers or AAdvantage Business members, the airline said, who can still earn points on flight bookings no matter where they book their tickets.
But the average traveler who books a basic economy ticket will only earn miles and loyalty points by booking exclusively with American.
Hotel chains like Hilton and Marriott do something similar: they only credit points for loyalty programs when you book directly.
According The boy with the pointsThe change could especially affect those who like to redeem transferable credit card points through bookings with American Express, Chase or Capital One.
If they are not on American’s preferred partner list, this could mean that booking through these platforms no longer earns miles or status credits for customers.
American has yet to confirm who, including major travel companies like Expedia or Concur, is and isn’t on that list yet. That information is expected in April, before the new rules take effect in early May.
“American Airlines wants to cut out the middleman,” The Points Guy editor-in-chief Clint Henderson told DailyMail.com.
‘The airline has been moving away from third-party booking sites for some time, but they are now taking more extreme measures.
‘American is working on the theory that they no longer need third-party salespeople like travel agents. They don’t want to have to offer discounts or give commission to another company and think they could get that business on their own.’
The airline introduced a new rule requiring customers to purchase tickets directly from the airline if they want to earn frequent flyer points (Pictured: CEO Robert Isom)
He added that the move means American can make more money by booking directly, as it can sell customers other products such as early boarding, better economy seats or even first class seats.
American’s two main rivals, Delta and United, still allow points regardless of whether a flight is booked.
“If it works, and there’s not much evidence of that so far, other airlines could eventually do the same,” Henderson added.
But there is a big risk for Americans here, too. It could be kicking some companies in the foot that refuse to comply with the new rules and conduct business elsewhere.’
“We just want to make sure customers understand what they’re getting when they book with their specific agency,” Guy Scott Chandler, American’s senior vice president of revenue and loyalty management, told The Points.
“So it’s really for the customer to understand that there is a better way to find products and understand what they’re buying.”
Booking directly through an airline can also make things easier for consumers, said Kathleen Bangs of flight tracking platform FlightAware.
“I’m not entirely surprised to hear this, as I have often advised airline travelers that if they want the quickest and easiest service with airlines, they should purchase their tickets directly through the airline,” the former pilot said. to DailyMail.com.
“That way, if you have to make a change or the airline has to make changes, the process will be easier.”
The change comes as American also sparked backlash after raising the cost of checked bags for the first time in nearly six years.
Passengers will now have to pay $40 to check a bag at the airport for domestic flights, or $35 if they pay online in advance, the company announced Tuesday. Previously, both options were $30.
American also sparked backlash after raising the cost of checked baggage for the first time in nearly six years as it looks for ways to boost revenue amid declining airfare costs.
The fee for a second checked bag will also increase from $40 to $45 both online and at the airport, putting American’s baggage fees among the highest.
A family of four going on vacation this summer (carrying one suitcase each) will pay $280 for a return trip within the U.S. if they pay online, or $320 at the airport.
It is the first time the airline has raised baggage fees since September 2018 as it looks for ways to boost revenue amid declining airfare costs.
Charging for baggage is a tactic that began with low-cost carriers like Spirit and Frontier more than 15 years ago. Major airlines like American, Delta and United used to include baggage in the fare price, but now all impose additional fees.
Customers took to social media following the news to express their frustration over the changes.
One user on X, formerly Twitter, said the fare increase was a “reason to boycott” the airline.
“American Airlines is doubling down on everything that’s wrong with passenger air travel,” another user wrote.