Alaska To Cut Mileage Earning Rates On American Flights Starting August 1, 2016

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Alaska Airlines has unveiled new mileage earning charts for partner American Airlines' reflecting the AAdvantage move to a revenue-based earning model. We wrote a full summary of the significant changes announced for American Airlines AAdvantage Rewards program last week but as a quick recap, American will move to a revenue-based loyalty program on August 1, meaning the amount of miles earned per flight is based on the cost of the ticket instead of the distance flown.

Per Alaska Airlines:

Beginning Aug. 1, 2016, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members will accrue miles at a new rate when they fly on American Airlines flights. As the AAdvantage program shifts to a revenue-based loyalty program, accruals on American for Alaska frequent fliers will change to better match American’s new program. The miles a flier accrues will be calculated using a combination of the percentage of distance flown and fare class. This means some fares will earn more or fewer miles than before.

MileagePlan cuts mileage earnings on American flights

Like most frequent fliers following the news, deep down I knew this was likely to happen, but secretly, I was hoping for a loophole somewhere. However, it looks like we are all flat out of luck as Alaska has announced changes in how miles awarded takes effect for all travel on American Airlines starting August 1, 2016.

Alaska clarifies that last point on a page dedicated to the changes.

Regardless of the purchase date, American Airlines tickets with travel dates on or after Aug. 1 will earn miles using the new structure.

Earning Alaska MileagePlan Miles Before August 1, 2016

As a MileagePlan Member flying on American Airlines before August 1, you will receive 100% of the miles flown in economy class, 125% in business class, and 150% in first class. It is one of the most simple miles allocations in the game, and you can count all miles towards your MVP status.

Alaska Airlines Milage Plan earning rates for American Airlines operated flights taken through July 31, 2016

Earning Alaska MileagePlan Miles On or After August 1, 2016

On August 1 as AAdvantage enters its new revenue-based earning era, the number of miles earned by Alaska Air's MileagePlan members on American Airlines flights will also change. Miles allocation will depend on the fare class of the ticket within the cabin booked.

The new structure will continue to use distance as the basis for the earn rate, however, discounted economy fares will earn miles at a lower rate. The range of earning miles will start at 25 percent of distance flown for discounted economy tickets and range up to 200 percent of distance flown for first class tickets.

Alaska Airlines Milage Plan earning rates for American Airlines operated flights taken on or after August 1, 2016

How Will The Change Impact MileagePlan Members?

On the whole, it looks like fewer miles overall, and as expected, the damage leans heaviest on the lowest fare classes. There is some good new for first and business class fliers as they will either receive roughly the same or in the case of full fare premium cabin tickets (J or F), earn substantially more.

Alaska supplied the examples below to illustrate how the changes will affect differing fare classes.

Sample flights

Mileage Plan member flying American Airlines marketed/American Airlines-operated Seattle to Dallas-Fort Worth (1,660 flown miles) segment flown in ‘F’ class:

  • Before Aug 1: 2,490 Mileage Plan miles
  • Starting Aug. 1: 3,320 Mileage Plan miles

Mileage Plan member flying American Airlines marketed/American Airlines-operated Seattle to Dallas-Fort Worth (1,660 flown miles) segment flown in ‘O’ class:

  • Before Aug 1: 1,660 Mileage Plan miles
  • Starting Aug. 1: 415 Mileage Plan miles, however, this flight will actually earn 500 miles under Alaska’s 500 minimum mile guarantee

It's good to see that Alaska will retain the 500-mile minimum in place for those shorter hops across between cities.

Final Thoughts

Although it was to be expected given American's move away from distance-based earning, it doesn't mean we have to like it.

There is, however, one solid-gold lining to come out of all the communications from Alaska over the previous 24 hours, and that is the continued and public reassurance that MileagePlan will remain a distance based loyalty program well into the future.

How will Alaska's new mileage-earning rates on American effect you? Let us know in the comments.

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