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American Airlines Changes AAdvantage Policy: What You Need to Know

Travelers will only see reward miles and points on bookings made with American or its preferred travel agents

by Lauren Smith

April 25, 2024

American Airlines AAdvantage / Photo: Courtesy of American Airlines

Starting in July, American Airlines will only award AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points to those travelers who have booked their flights directly with the airline, select partner airlines, or one of American’s preferred travel agents. This means passengers who book through other travel agents may not earn points within the AAdvantage frequent flyer program.

However, note that there are a few exclusions to this policy. Passengers who opt for Basic Economy fares cannot earn miles and points when booking, even with preferred travel agents. They will need to book directly with American.

On the other hand, companies registered with the AAdvantage Business program or with contracted corporate agreements with American will still earn points and miles regardless of how they book. However, businesses not enrolled in the program may find their preferred corporate travel booking site excluded from July.

Photo: Courtesy of Brandon Wade for American Airlines

Remembering that this new policy will apply to bookings made on or after July 11 is important. Existing reservations made with third parties or non-preferred travel agents will still earn miles and points, even if the flight departs after July 11.

A Change of Plans

Initially, American Airlines had planned to introduce these changes on May 1, but the implementation has been delayed so that more travel agencies can earn “preferred” status with the airline.

The carrier has not yet revealed its list of preferred travel agents but reportedly wants agencies to adopt New Distribution Capability (NDC), a new standard for transmitting data between airlines and third-party resellers developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), aimed at reducing airlines’ costs.

In a statement to The Points Guy, American Airlines said: “We’ve seen a great response from agencies increasingly adopting modern retailing technology, and many have already achieved preferred retailer status.”

“The majority of our indirect bookings are now made via an agency with NDC capabilities, and the current list of agencies beyond 30 percent NDC bookings is already impressive. We anticipate even more who are on the cusp of meeting the threshold to do so very soon, which will provide customers with excellent preferred agency options to go along with our offerings on”

American Airlines Premium Economy. Photo: Courtesy of American Airlines

Beyond that, it’s no secret why American Airlines is restricting the distribution of AAdvantage rewards currencies. The airline is trying to shepherd passengers to its own booking facility, where its costs are lower, it has more control over the booking experience, and it can upsell customers on extras such as preferred seats, upgrades, and additional baggage.

Still, American Airlines is the first major U.S. carrier to limit the allocation of points in this way. It remains to be seen whether its competitors will follow.

While the new change may inconvenience some travelers and travel agents, it’s minor compared to the bottom-up overhaul of the AAdvantage program American Airlines implemented in March 2022.

That transformation introduced Loyalty Points as a new currency, replacing elite qualifying miles, segments, and dollars to earn elite status (AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, etc.)

However, AAdvantage members still getting to grips with that change may resent the latest tweak, especially if their preferred travel agency isn’t one of America’s.