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Those who fly on partner carriers and accrue miles to AAdvantage won't be happy with American's new unannounced changes to its loyalty program.

Last month American Airlines finally changed its loyalty program, AAdvantage, to lock step with its peers and adopt a revenue-based model for issuing frequent flyer miles. 

It was an expected and yet disappointing change for many loyal AAdvantage members, who are still in the process of adapting to the new system. Just this weekend, however, American made more updates to reconfigure how flying with partner carriers accrues miles with AAdvantage — and many of the earning rates have been slashed.

One of the big benefits of flying a legacy carrier such as American, Delta, or United is the ability to earn benefits and miles on partner carriers from their respective alliance partners oneworld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance. American, a part of the oneworld alliance, partners with over a dozen carriers such as British Airways and Qantas, and until recently it was possible to earn 100% of American award miles on every partner revenue flight taken. American’s new changes, however, effectively slash those earning rates for most classes of service outside of business and first class.

The Points Guy ran a thorough audit on the upcoming changes and found that around twenty partner fares — three of which are in an economy cabin — will soon earn more miles on American. By contrast, about 180 partner fares will soon have earning rates slashed from between 10% and 100% (with apologies to the passengers flying in Royal Jordanian “N” class who will now earn 0 miles for their flights).

Rate changes go into effect on August 1 and according The Points Guy, were unannounced.

Already, members of AAdvantage are expressing ire, with some members of FlyerTalk now calling it the “worst of the three U.S. programs” and commenters on The Points Guy expressing rage.

Even so, many of American’s changes match what Delta and United have put into place over the last two years. Last January, Delta made a handful of changes to its SkyMiles program on a similar scope to what American plans, while United, often a follower in the loyalty program space, has made similar cuts.

With the latest changes, American’s loyalty program now seems to be on the same playing field with its competitors and their respective alliances, allowing American to compete based on its network, service and aircraft. While budget-focused consumers may not agree with the direction or the timing of the loyalty program updates, American should now be free to make more improvements to its hard product.

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Tags: aadvantage, american airlines, frequent flyer miles, loyalty

Photo credit: The current Economy Plus domestic seats on American Airlines. The carrier just cut mileage benefits from its alliance airlines. American Airlines

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