- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Miami International Airport, New York JFK Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Philadelphia International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Robert Isom
- United States
Earning miles is at the heart of any airline loyalty program. The American Airlines AAdvantage program is one of the leading programs globally – valuable not just for American Airlines flyers but across the oneworld alliance as well. Earning miles through flying is, of course, central to the program. But there are several other earning sources as well.
The AAdvantage program has changed a lot in recent years. Most notably, it has started to switch from a distance-based to a revenue-based mileage and status earning system (along with other major US airlines). So far, this is only applicable to American Airlines and JetBlue flights.
You have choices when deciding which loyalty program to use. Committing to earning in one program within an airline alliance will help you build up miles faster. Each program has its strong and weak points, though, and it is worth the effort to learn about these before deciding on the best for you.
Earning on AA flights is the most obvious source. Photo: Getty Images
Earning miles on American Airlines flights
Earning miles from flying remains the traditional bedrock of frequent flyer programs. There are more opportunities these days to earn from credit cards and elsewhere, but for those that get the most out of the program, flying is still likely to be a big part of earning.
Since the switch to revenue-based earning, all American Airlines flights will earn miles based on the ticket price. Miles are earned on part of the fare paid – including the base fare and carrier-imposed charges, but not on government fees and taxes. With low-priced economy flights, these taxes can be a significant part of the fare.
The earning rate per US dollar depends on your status in the AAdvantage program:
- Basic AAdvantage member: 5 miles per dollar
- AAdvantage Gold: 7 miles per dollar
- AAdvantage Platinum: 8 miles per dollar
- AAdvantage Platinum Pro: 9 miles per dollar
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum: 11 miles per dollar
Example from American Airlines for earning AAdvantage miles. Photo: American Airlines
Earning miles with partner airlines
Flights with partner airlines earn miles based on the booking/inventory code of the ticket. The only exception to this is JetBlue (including JetBlue operated as well as AA codeshares), where flights also earn miles based on the dollar ticket value.
The distance-based earning method applies to all other partner airlines, including all oneworld alliance airline members plus several other airlines. These include Hawaiian Airlines, Etihad Airways, and GOL Linhas Aéreas.
JetBlue offers similar benefits to AAdvantage elite members. Photo: Getty Images
The total miles earned are made up of:
- Base miles, based on the inventory booking code. This can be from 25% to 100% of the point-to-point miles flown. Some of the lowest booking codes may not earn any mile.
- Cabin bonus. Additional miles for booking in premium economy, business, or first class with most airlines. This ranges from 10% to 200%.
- AAdvantage status bonus. This applies on oneworld airlines and some other partners. AAdvantage Gold members earn a 40% bonus; AAdvantage Platinum earns 60%; AAdvantage Platinum Pro earns 80%; and AAdvantage Executive Platinum earns 120%.
With partner airlines, earning will be higher from premium cabins. Photo: British Airways
The base earnings differ for each airline. There are also regular changes – either due to AAdvantage program updates or changes in airline ticketing systems, cabins, and codes. For full, up-to-date details, it is best to check the listing on the AAdvantage website.
As examples, we include the earning tables (as of September 2022) for oneworld partners British Airways and Qatar Airways below.
AAdvantage miles earned for BA flights. Image: American Airlines
AAdvantage miles earned for Qatar Airways flights. Image: American Airlines
Credit card earning
Another common way to earn miles is through spending on credit cards. There are several American Airlines co-branded credit cards available in a number of countries. In the US, the main cards are the Citi AAdvantage cards and the AAdvantage Aviator Mastercards (each with a range of card options). There are also specific cards available in countries, including Canada, Mexico, and several countries in Latin America and in the Caribbean. There are no longer any AAdvantage credit cards issued in the UK or Europe (there used to be some options here).
These cards earn AAdvantage miles on all spending, with differing bonuses for certain categories and types of purchases (usually including bonuses for American Airlines purchases). Premium paid-for cards usually include additional benefits, such as free checked bags, priority boarding, inflight discounts, or Admirals Club membership.
Other earning opportunities
As with most frequent flyer programs, there are also a number of non-flying ways to earn AAdvantage miles. These include:
- AAdvantage shopping portal. AAdvantage offers an eShopping portal, where you can earn variable numbers of miles based on tracked spend at many online retailers. There are also regular bonuses and offers for cumulative spending.
- Hotel stays. Most major hotel chains offer the opportunity to earn AAdvantage miles. This is usually in lieu of points in their own programs.
- Car hire. AAdvantage has partnerships with most major car hire firms. With Avis and Budget, you earn a fixed amount per rental depending on your AAdvantage status (up to 1,250 miles for AAdvantage Executive Platinum members). Others offer a fixed amount per rental day or dollar spend.
- Dining program. By registering your AAdvantage account and credit card, you can earn 1 to 5 miles per dollar spent at thousands of US restaurants.
- Buying AAdvantage miles. This is not usually a great value way to accrue miles (although there are frequent promotions that improve the value). It can be useful, though, if you need to top up your balance for a specific reward target.
There are plenty of opportunities when traveling to earn miles. Photo: Getty Images
This has been a general overview of the many different ways to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles. Feel free to discuss the specific details or your feelings about how the program has changed over the years in the comments.