American Airlines First Class Avios redemptions to get cheaper but tier points cut

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For people who look to earn British Airways status via a tier point run – booking a specific flight primarily because of the number of tier points earned – it seems like the biggest gravy train is pulling out of the station.

Two class American Airlines domestic flights in the USA are sold as ‘First’ and ‘Economy’.  More importantly, the premium seats are coded as First Class.

(EDIT: article amended as F is 4x and not 3x. I was still living in a pre-devaluation world!)

This has two consequences, one good and one bad:

Avios redemptions on AA which book into two-class domestic First Class require 4x the standard number of Avios, which makes them ludicrously expensive compared to what you get (see the photo below of A321 First Class seats)

Cash tickets booked on AA in domestic two-class First Class earn First Class tier points.  This means that flights under 2000 miles earn 60 tier points whilst flights over 2000 miles earn 210 tier points.  A dedicated tier point runner could construct an itinerary via numerous 2000+ miles segments to maximise the tier points earned.  Note that such tickets must be booked with an AA flight number and NOT a BA codeshare flight number for this to work – BA codeshare bookings earn Business Class tier points.

From 12th November, for travel after 12th January, AA is changing the way it tickets First Class flights on two class aircraft.


Whilst the front cabin will still be called First Class, tickets will book into J, D, I or R fare classes.  These are all business class fare buckets.

This should mean:

You will only need to pay 2x rather than 4x the economy Avios price to fly up front

You will only earn 40 or 140 tier points, depending on distance, on cash tickets

There will be no changes to how international flights or three-class AA domestic flights are ticketed.

You can find more information in this Flyertalk thread with the information quoted above shown, via an internal AA menu, in post 254.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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  1. Conversely, this is good news for those who only fly occasionally, and mostly using points. It’s quite likely for those that tier points are not of interest. So it’s simply a 25% reduction in the avios required to fly up-front on domestic AA planes. It’s a bit of a unicorn sighting for any award programme to see a genuine reduction in points required, even if it is by-product of the change and not the reason for it.

    Mind you, Avios eligible AA awards ( MileSaaver ) are a LOT harder to find these days.

    • Agreed – I can only benefit from this, I don’t see any scenario where I’d be paying for AA tickets unless some obscure business trip came up.

  2. Londonbus says:

    I take it K-UP/Y-UP fares didn’t exist on these routes?

  3. Gutted, only just completed my first ever TP run back in April with my sister. On the way back we went OGG-PHX-PHL-DUB – 560 TP from just those flights and a return Business class journey from Dublin to Hawaii for only £1200 – was a great trip! Thanks raffles for sharing that route

  4. A bit OT, but can anyone suggest a ‘cheap and cheerful’ points run for BA

    Raffles, do you have such an article?

  5. Booked a SAN-LAX return today on, travelling in first on 15th Jan
    Any ideas if I’ll get 40 or 60 TPs e/w?

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