Tuesday, June 03, 2014

AA Has Changes

AP- Airline travelers are adjusting to constant turbulence in frequent flyer programs. American Airlines is the latest to tinker with its program.

The changes aren't as dramatic as Delta Air Lines recent switch to basing rewards on money spent, not miles flown, but they are the latest example of airlines giving away less. American has made it tougher, as of June 1st, to redeem miles during busy travel periods, and to check a bag without a fee.

It's basic economics. During the Great Recession, when when airlines were struggling and many planes were half-empty, airlines lavished miles on customers who signed up for credit cards or made other purchases. Now the big airlines routinely fill 80 percent of their seats.

Still they are not reducing the value of their miles as much as United Continental did in November for international trips. The cheapest awards will remain available on more than half of all travel days but not on popular days such as the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

American members can redeem miles for an unrestricted "AAnytime" award at 20,00 miles, 30,000 miles or 50,000 miles each way instead of the old 25,000-mile flat rate. The less-flexible "MileSAAver" awards will continue to start at 12, 500 miles.

Miles requirements will change on many international trips and there will  be no more free checked bags for American Airlines passengers traveling on miles they earned or who paid full price for an economy seat. However, the charge for a second checked bag on trips to South America is being dropped.

UPDATE 11 June 14: United Airlines has announced changes as well and will reward its big-spending customers at the expense of bargain-hunting travelers who rack up miles with long-distance getaways.
While basic United MileagePlus members will earn 5 miles per dollar, awards for top fliers will depend on their status level. 7 miles for "silver", 8 miles for "gold", 9 miles for "platinum", 11 miles for "1K" passengers.

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