Skift Take

Who's in and who's out of American Airlines' new preferred agency program to date? The deadline extension seems to indicate their are some hiccups along the way.

American Airlines was poised to stop enabling customers of certain travel agencies to earn loyalty points on the airline’s bookings starting May 1, but said Tuesday it is extending that deadline until July 11.

The issue relates to American’s preferred agency program, and the requirement that a minimum of 30% of a travel agency’s bookings come from American’s New Distribution Capability fares.

These fares largely bypass global distribution systems, and is a cheaper and more efficient way for the airline to make its content available to travel agencies.

Many Travel Agencies Have Qualified

The airline said a large number of agencies have already qualified. So if you are a customer of that travel agency and you book an American Airlines flight, you would still be able to earn AAdvantage points. If your travel agency doesn’t make the list, then you’d have to book the flight directly on or use a one of the preferred agencies to earn the airline’s loyalty points.

“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,” said an American Airlines spokesperson in a statement. “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 As such, we’ve decided to extend the update to the way customers earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points on flights to July 11.”

The airline declined to specify which travel agencies have already qualified to be preferred agencies.

An Expedia Group spokesperson, however said: “We have an agreement with AA and have absolutely no reason to think we won’t be preferred.”

In a statement Wednesday, American Society of Travel Advisors President and CEO Zane Kerby welcomed the delay, but took some shots at American Airlines.

“While the fundamentals of American’s preferred travel agency program appear not to have changed, its postponement of the program is welcome news for the travel industry,” Kerby said. “Agencies and advisors most affected by this oncoming change have a couple more months to prepare. It seems that American may now admit to what we’ve expressed for months: its NDC technology was underdeveloped, and its implementation deadlines were both arbitrary and unrealistic.” 

Some agencies told the airline that they needed more time between learning that they qualified to be a preferred agency and the implementation deadline, and that was part of the thinking behind the extension.

Travelers booking American Airlines basic economy fares will still only be able to earn loyalty points when they book directly on or partner airlines.

Note: This story has been updated to added a statement from ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby.

Uncover the next wave of innovation in travel.
June 4 in New York City
See Who's Coming

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: aadvantage, american airlines, basic economy, loyalty, ndc, online travel newsletter, travel agencies

Photo credit: An American Airlines Boeing 737 taxis with the San Francisco skyline in the background. (Luke Lai/Flickr) Luke Lai / Flickr

Up Next

Loading next stories