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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.

aa-a321-first-class

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.

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Comments (35)

  • AA says:

    So if flights for say March are booked before the end of the month, the old TP structure will still apply?

    • Max says:

      According to the FT thread, any flights after 12 January, even if booked before 12 November will be adjusted to business rates.

      • Joe C says:

        As above, the thread is pure speculation – nothing has been announced about earning/redeeming rates

        • gumshoe says:

          Even if BA does reduce TPs, as many expect it to, surely it would have to honour the current TP levels for bookings made before the announcement for flights after January 11th?

          Arbitrarily taking away something you’ve paid for is, after all, normally frowned on by the courts, trading standards etc.

        • Rob says:

          It is based on an internal AA memo and BA.com will credit whatever fare code it sees.

          • gumshoe says:

            That may be so but if I’ve paid for a First Class flight on the basis that it earns me 210 tier points, I expect to receive 210 tier points.

            If, thanks to AA deciding to arbitrarily move my booking to another fare code, BA only gives me 140 tier points, I am not getting what I paid for and was promised when I booked.

            If BA are compensating passengers for the withdrawal of free food & drink on short haul, I’d expect them to do the same here.

          • Stan says:

            It has nothing to do with BA, the changes are made by AA. If your ticket had already been issued with a fare code you will get the same amount of points as expected.

  • Tina Hammond says:

    Dreadful news. It would be interesting to learn where else in the world this quirk still exists, ie within Arabia, but with larger distances!

    • Max says:

      I remember the good old days of the BA Fifth Freedom flights between BAH-DOH and AUH-MCT where you would earn full First TP on these very short flights. BA reduced the TPs a few years ago.

  • sprout7 says:

    Could someone point me in the direction of the FT thread where this is being discussed? thx

  • tangey says:

    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.

    • Rob says:

      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.

  • Londonbus says:

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

  • Calz says:

    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

  • vol says:

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

    Raffles, do you have such an article?
    🙂

  • Tim says:

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