American Airlines Rewarding Premium Cabin Tickets in 2015

American Airlines announced yesterday that they would be awarding paid business class and first class tickets with more miles in 2015.  There aren’t a whole lot of parameters and it’s open to all travelers, though elite members earn more than regular members.  Here’s a copy of the chart:

American Airlines

For passengers who normally buy premium cabin tickets, especially if it’s on an expense account, this is a very nice plus.  It’s also a very direct nod to the tactics being employed by Delta and United where they are rewarding their top-tier customers while reducing earning rates for lower elites and general members.

The difference here is that American isn’t penalizing lower elites or general members, just not giving them as many more miles in 2015 for these tickets.  And, American isn’t rewarding a passenger who spends $1,500 on coach versus someone who spent $1,200 on discount business class tickets.

This is mostly a blunt instrument to attract and retain high-value customers.  By not moving to a revenue-based program, I think they’ve helped reinforce to some degree the loyalty of folks on the low and middle portions of the frequent travel spectrum.  Until now, there wasn’t really anything to address folks at the top.

I’m guessing at least part of this implementation (and maybe a significant piece) was the lack of technology to contemplate a more nuanced solution.  American has a ton of priorities surrounding the integration of US Airways and while this is also a high priority, my guess is that they were trying to find a way to address this issue without investing a ton of resources that are needed in a lot of other places.

The other thing that seems evident to me is that this continues to allow American to hedge their bets and observe the competition.  Just because United copied Delta’s move to a revenue-based program (like, really copied it) doesn’t make that the right path.  American has the AAdvantage (couldn’t resist the pun) of being able to watch and see what works and what doesn’t.  It’s a huge advantage for them that they should take.  Offering more miles to high-revenue customers is likely a good effort to buy time and retain their key elites while watching the other guys.

There’s a lot more to come before we see the end of the story in regards to how American Airlines will ultimately structure the largest frequent flyer program in the future.  Some folks think this is a stronger indication American Airlines will eventually move to a program (here’s a good post by Wandering Aramean outlining that).  I am not a believer that those decisions have been made.  The AAdvantage cheerleader in me hopes they don’t, but I don’t believe there are enough compelling data points today to suggest that either status quo or the Delta/United method are absolutely the best decision.

There’s still a spot here for American to blaze their own path.  I hope they do.


The post American Airlines Rewarding Premium Cabin Tickets In 2015 was published first on Pizza In Motion.

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