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Is there something special about American miles? Named best of 2012 by frequent flyers

by on Tue May 1, 2012 • No Comment

American Airlines was named the best mile program in the United States in a vote among thousands of frequent flyers. The Freddie Awards, which have ranked loyalty programs worldwide for over 20 years, were announced last week near New York.

Why was American named best?

A few reasons…

  1. Generous reward availability. In independent studies American has been shown to offer more awards at the lowest published mileage rates than many programs. Usually only United rivals it for availability. And with domestic airfare higher than ever, getting a $500 ticket for just 25,000 miles can be an outstanding bargain. American is also good at making seats open on its international flights.
  2. Easy upgrades to business and first class. For international tickets, no one has a lower cost way to get into business class. It costs 25,000 miles each way with a $350 copayment off even the lowest fares for flights to Europe and most of Asia. So for less than $1,500 (ticket plus copay) you can often find yourself sitting in business class. That compares to a copayment of $550 each way on United. Delta doesn’t even let you copay — you must buy one of their most expensive fares to even attempt an upgrade, and that can cost $2,000 or more.
  3. A well regarded elite program. If you are fortunate enough (or unfortunate as your view may be) to fly 100,000 miles or more per year, American has what is regarded as the most generous top tier elite status among U.S. airlines. Its ‘Executive Platinum’ flyers report 90%+ upgrade rates for free on domestic flights, they get 8 upgrades for use on any international fare each year, and they offer top notch customer service.

This year, American unseated United Mileage Plus, which has traditionally won. United’s frequent flyers are upset at some changes made to the program as part of its merger with Continental. It still remains a generous program with good availability, but for now they’re giving the nod to the program that has yet to change, American. However American is taking advantage of the unrest among United flyers, and has started instantly matching the elite status of top tier United elite members. If you have 1K or Global Services status with United, go to this thread and you’ll find instructions on how to match your status on American.

As for the future…there is speculation American may merge with US Airways. If that happens, all mileage bets are off. You won’t lose any miles, but the rules could change, availability could become more scarce, and elite privileges may be diluted. But nothing is set in stone there and any change related to that is probably a few years a way.

So how can you take advantage of earning American Airlines miles today…

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