American is Changing Earning Rates on Bulk Fares

American Airlines is now operating under a revenue-based earning system, where you will earn miles based on the price of your ticket. Additionally, in order to qualify for elite statuses in 2017, you will also need to fulfill an elite-qualifying dollar (EQD) requirement. Currently, award (redeemable) miles are awarded as such:

  • General AAdvantage Members: 5 miles per dollar
  • Gold AAdvantage Members: 7 miles per dollar (40% bonus)
  • Platinum AAdvantage Members: 8 miles per dollar (60% bonus)
  • Executive Platinum Members: 11 miles per dollar (120% bonus)

Buying Special or Bulk Fares to Earn Miles Based on Distance and Bypass EQD Requirements

Earlier in the year, I wrote about a “trick” where you could potentially bypass the EQD requirement. This involves buying “bulk” or “special” fares, which is usually the kind of fare you’d get if you redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou points. You don’t need to redeem points for the entire flight; I redeemed just a very small portion of points as an experiment, and my flight was credited as a bulk fare ticket would.

You can also get bulk fares or special fares if you purchase them through a discounter or consolidator.

AA tickets booked via the Citi ThankYou portal earns miles as "special fares"

The trick was also a nice way to earn redeemable miles based on the distance flown, and not the cost of the ticket. This can be huge in some situations. For example, buying a $500 flight from Los Angeles to London will earn 2,500 redeemable miles for the general public or 5,500 miles for Executive Platinum members . Sure, that’s a cheap flight, but at around 10,911 butt-in-seat miles round-trip, you’re definitely losing out compared to earning miles based on distance flow.

If you book the ticket as a “bulk” or “special” fare, even the cheapest ticket would earn 50% of the miles in distance flown, and you will earn elite bonuses on top of that. So the same Los Angeles to London round-trip ticket, if booked as a “special fare,” will earn the general member 5,456 miles, and the Executive Platinum member 12,003 miles. In this situation, you are earning more than double the miles if your ticket has a bulk fare.

American is Updating Earning Rates for Bulk Fares

American Airlines is updating the earning rates for “bulk” or “special” fares, for travel on or after January 11, 2017. This is the new earning chart:

The earning rates for bulk fares, for flights departing after January 11, 2017.

The earning rates for bulk fares, for flights departing after January 11, 2017.

Meanwhile, this is the chart for travel through January 10, 2017.

The earning rates for bulk fares, for flights departing before January 11, 2017.

The earning rates for bulk fares, for flights departing before January 11, 2017.

The earning rates for any First Class tickets are not changing. However, there are some minor changes to earning rates with selected Business and Economy tickets. Here is the summary of the changes for bulk and special fares:

  • Business
    • D and R Classes: Class of Service Bonus decrease from 50% to 25%
    • I Class: Class of Service Bonus decrease from 50% to 0%
  • Economy
    • H and K Classes: EQD/mile increase from 10% to 20%, and award mile increase from 50% to 100%
    • L, M, W, and V Classes: EQD/mile increase from 10% to 15%, and award mile increase from 50% to 75%

I think this is actually a positive change for Economy passengers (which is pretty rare these days). Unfortunately, for Business Class passengers who buy bulk/special fares, they will no longer earn a “Class of Service” bonus on I, D, and R fares.

Minor (but Positive) Changes to Tickets with Missing Fare Details As Well

I didn’t talk about tickets with missing fare details, since it’s actually a pretty rare occurrence. But earning rates on those are getting a slight update as well. Here is the new chart, effective for travel on or after January 11, 2017.

The earning rates for tickets with missing fare details, for flights departing on or after January 11, 2017.

The earning rates for tickets with missing fare details, for flights departing on or after January 11, 2017.

Meanwhile, here is the earning chart for travel before January 11, 2017.

The earning rates for tickets with missing fare details, for flights departing before January 11, 2017.

The earning rates for tickets with missing fare details, for flights departing before January 11, 2017.

Here is the summary of the changes for tickets with missing fare details:

  • First
    • F, A, and P Classes: EQD/mile increase from 30% to 40%, and Class of Service Bonus increase from 50% to 100%
  • Business
    • J Class: EQD/mile increase from 30% to 40%, and Class of Service Bonus increase from 50% to 100%
    • R and D Classes: EQD/mile increase from 30% to 35%, and Class of Service Bonus increase from 50% to 75%
  • Economy
    • Y Class: EQD/mile increase from 20% to 25%, and Class of Service Bonus increase from 0% to 25%
    • H, K, L, and M Classes: EQD/mile increase from 20% to 25%, and Class of Service Bonus increase from 0% to 25%
    • V Class: EQD/mile increase from 15% to 20%, and award mile increase from 75% to 100%

Overall, these are positive changes for everyone!

Takeaways

I consider this to be a small, but overall pretty positive update from American, which is something I rarely say nowadays. With special (including bulk) fares, Business Class passengers ticketed in I, D, and R class will see their class of service bonuses go away. However, the earning rates of both award miles and EQD/mile are going up for quite a few Economy fare classes.

With tickets where fare details aren’t available when miles post, there is no reduction in earning rates for anyone. However, for selected First, Business, and Economy passengers, the EQD/mile, award miles, and class of service bonuses are going up. This means you can potentially fly less to fulfill he EQD requirement, which will be welcoming news to some people.

Have you earned American Airlines miles through booking “bulk” or “special” fares?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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