Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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.

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.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

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You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

Huge 60,000 points sign-up bonus (until 9th April) and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (34)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • 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 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

  • Londonbus says:

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

  • 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.

  • 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, travelling in first on 15th Jan
    Any ideas if I’ll get 40 or 60 TPs e/w?

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