American Sets New Loyalty Restrictions, Plans Preferred Agency Status

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American Airlines AAdvantage loyalty program members, outside of AAdvantage Business members or contracted corporate travelers, beginning May 1 no longer will earn miles or credits for flights booked outside of American, its partners or a “preferred” travel agency, the carrier announced Tuesday.

“If you are booking through the AAdvantage Business program regardless of how you book through it, or if you are booking through one of our corporate contracts, you will earn miles,” American SVP of revenue management and loyalty Scott Chandler told BTN. “Otherwise, you need to be booking direct, or booking through somebody who is in the agency preferred program.”

An exception is American’s Basic Economy tickets, which will earn miles or points only when booked directly with American and eligible partner airlines.

Agencies will qualify as “preferred” if as of April 21 it books at least 30 percent of its American Airlines volume through New Distribution Capability-enabled channels, Chandler said. “It’s pretty simple.”

American managing director of retailing Neil Geurin called the change “one more incentive for travel agencies to develop better technology, which will make it easier for the corporate customer themselves to know what products and services are available to them and to have better clarity and understanding of what their options are.”

American Baggage Fee-Increases

American also announced increased fees for checked baggage on domestic flights, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, effective Feb. 20. 

The fee for the first bag booked online has increased to $35 from $30. If checked at the airport, the cost is now $40, up from $30. The fee for a second checked bag has increased to $45 from $40, whether booked online or at the airport. For Canada and short-haul international flights, the first checked-bag fee is now $35, up from $30. The second-bag fee is now $45, up from $40.

Bag fees for South America, except Guyana, transatlantic and transpacific routes remain the same, according to American.

AAdvantage status members will continue to receive complimentary bags on American flights, and most AAdvantage credit card members also get their first eligible checked-bag free on domestic American itineraries, according to the carrier.

Same-Day Standby, Trip Credits

In addition, American reiterated that as of March 1, AAdvantage members will be able to stand by for free for an earlier domestic flight. It also announced that as of March 11, AAdvantage members will have six months longer than non-members to use trip credits when canceling trips online. 

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