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American Airlines delays big changes to earning miles and Loyalty Points, for now

American Airlines really doesn’t want you shopping around, but the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier is now delaying the previously announced changes to booking travel experiences that would encourage flyers to transact directly with the airline.

It teased many of these updates in the past several months, but things like earning miles and Loyalty Points will soon only be possible when booking through an American-approved channel. That may not include some popular third-party booking channels like corporate travel booking sites.

The changes will now go into effect July 11 instead of May 1, as originally reported.

American Airlines told TPG:

“We’ve decided to extend the update to the way customers earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points on flights to July 11. This extension gives an opportunity for those agencies to complete the transition. We’ll continue to work closely with travel agencies to support them through this transition for our mutual customers.”

It was clear that companies needed more time to get the systems in place to allow customers to keep earning American Airlines AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points.

You’ll find some details of the now-delayed changes below. We’ll have more on the new booking policies in the coming days.

Earning AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points


Starting with tickets issued July 11, American will exclusively award AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points for flights booked through select partners and preferred travel agencies.

American didn’t share the full list yet — that’s expected to drop in June. However, the carrier did outline the three booking channels that will qualify for earning miles and status credits:

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Basic economy tickets will earn miles and Loyalty Points exclusively when booked directly with American.

For the average traveler, this move means that any trips booked through non-preferred travel agencies will no longer earn miles or Loyalty Points.

It remains to be seen which agencies will qualify as “preferred,” but hopefully, this includes some of the biggest names.

This could be especially big news for those who like to redeem transferable credit card points directly through the American Express, Chase and Capital One platforms.

Hopefully, these partners will be on the list because otherwise, booking through those portals may no longer earn miles or status credits.

All told, this is a big move from American — the first of any U.S. airline to limit mileage earnings to certain booking channels.

From the airline’s perspective, the move makes sense. It allows the carrier to keep tighter control of the overall experience, and it can lead to additional upsell opportunities, such as upgrades and preferred seats, during the booking process.

In a statement to TPG, American Airlines said:

“Customers are at the center of what we do. American is evolving to give our customers the travel management experience they have come to expect, and we’ve invited the industry to come along with us. We’ve seen a great response from agencies increasingly adopting modern retailing technology and many have already achieved preferred retailer status. The majority of our indirect bookings are now made via an agency with NDC capabilities, and the current list of agencies beyond 30% NDC bookings is already impressive. We anticipate even more who are on the cusp of meeting the threshold to do so very soon, which will provide customers with excellent preferred agency options to go along with our offerings on aa.com.”

It remains to be seen if other airlines match, but this move shouldn’t necessarily be surprising to industry insiders. In recent years, the carrier has been rethinking how it conducts business with travel agencies, forcing many of them to adopt the latest tech standards if they even want to sell American flights.

“We want to just make sure that customers understand what they’re getting when they book with their specific agency. … So it’s really for the customer so they understand that there is a better way to find products and understand what they’re buying,” Scott Chandler, American’s senior vice president of revenue management and loyalty, said in an interview with TPG earlier this year.

American raised checked bag fees


Back in February, the airline also announced it was raising checked bag fees across the board, effective immediately.

The new fees for domestic flights are:

  • $35 for the first checked bag purchased online
  • $40 for the first checked bag purchased at the airport
  • $45 for the second checked bag purchased online or at the airport

Short-haul international flights, including Canada and Mexico routes, have a different fee structure:

  • $35 for the first checked bag purchased online or at the airport
  • $45 for the second checked bag purchased online or at the airport

With this move, American now holds the title of the most expensive checked bag fees of all the major U.S. network airlines.

Alaska Airlines raised the first checked bag fee from $30 to $35 just a few weeks before, and now American is one-upping its Oneworld partner.

Not to be outdone, JetBlue also raised its baggage fees and then went one higher saying it was instituting dynamic pricing in its baggage fees. In other words, if you fly during busy periods, you can expect to pay higher costs for each bag.

“We haven’t adjusted domestic baggage fees since 2018. Due to inflationary pressures, we are making our first adjustments since that time,” Chandler explained to TPG.

The good news is that American will maintain all the existing bag fee waivers that it currently offers.

Those with AAdvantage or Oneworld elite status or those flying in a premium cabin will continue to receive their allotment of complimentary checked bags, as will those who hold one of American’s cobranded credit cards.

With this move, American is making it more attractive to pick up one of the carrier’s credit cards to avoid the higher first checked bag fee. We’ll see if this actually translates to more sign-ups, though.

Note that the aforementioned bag fees exclusively apply to standard-size checked bags. Bags that exceed the standard dimensions (62 linear inches) and weight restrictions (50 pounds) will be on the hook for additional fees, as you can see below.

American’s new overweight and oversize bag fees

Along with the increased bag fees, the airline changed how it priced overweight and oversize bags.

Previously, any bag heavier than 50 pounds but lighter than 70 pounds would cost an additional $100 to $200. (The same is true for bags bigger than 62 linear inches.)

Now, that fee will be broken down into two bands, as the following table shows.

Checked item Previous fee Travel on/after April 17
Bags between 50 to 70 pounds $100 to $200 For bags between 50 and 53 pounds: $30
Bags between 50 to 70 pounds $100 to $200 For bags between 53 and 70 pounds: $100 to $200
Bags between 70 and 100 pounds $200 to $450 $200 to $450
Bags more than 62 linear inches For bags between 62 and 126 inches: $150 to $200 For bags between 62 and 65 inches: $30
Bags more than 62 linear inches For bags between 62 and 126 inches: $150 to $200 For bags between 65 and 115 inches: $150 to $200
Items that are both oversize and between 50 and 70 pounds overweight $250 to $400 $30 to $200 (one single fee instead of two)
Items that are both oversize and between 70 and 100 pounds overweight $350 to $650 $200 to $450 (one single fee instead of two)

As part of the move, American is reducing the oversize limit from 126 linear inches to 115 linear inches; this means that the biggest bags will no longer be accepted on American flights. Javelins, pole vaults and hang gliders will also no longer be accepted.

More AAdvantage-only benefits


At the beginning of the year, American shared its big 2024 loyalty update, which included news that some benefits would soon be restricted to AAdvantage members.

The airline made good on that promise with the following news:

Several other AAdvantage-only perks and benefits, such as free 24-hour holds and the ability to purchase lounge passes, were announced in January.

Though American says these benefits are now an exclusive perk of being an AAdvantage member, the airline used to offer all of these perks to every traveler, regardless of AAdvantage membership.

As such, American seems to be focused on growing its member base with these new benefits. It appears the airline is moving full steam ahead with adding new perks and restricting access to other benefits for AAdvantage members.

Bottom line

American is making some major changes to how you do business with the airline, but it has delayed some of those changes a bit longer.

The carrier will limit the ability to earn miles and Loyalty Points depending on how you book your flights beginning in July. We’ll have a deeper dive into these changes in an upcoming story.

In the meantime, the carrier is adding more perks and limiting certain benefits to AAdvantage members as it continues to double down on its mission to boost loyalty program sign-ups and engagement.

The carrier has long said that loyalty program members transact more with the airline, and with these announcements, American sweetened the deal to encourage people to become an AAdvantage member, book directly with the carrier and sign up for a cobranded credit card.

Whether this happens is anyone’s guess, but it sure seems to be the airline’s focus right now.

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