Aviation

Different ways to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles

  • American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from above

    American Airlines

    IATA/ICAO code:
    AA/AAL

    Airline type:
    A full-service carrier

    Hub(s):
    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 of foundation:
    1926 year

    Alliance:
    one world

    General Director:
    Robert Isom

    country:
    United States

Earning miles is the essence of any airline loyalty program. The American Airlines AAdvantage program is one of the world’s leading programs – valuable not just to American Airlines flyers, but across oneglobal alliance too. Earning miles through flying is, of course, central to the program. But there are other sources of income.


The AAdvantage program has changed a lot in recent years. In particular, it began to move from a distance-based salary system to a salary system based on income and status (along with other major US airlines). So far it concerns only American Airlines and JetBlue flights.

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You choose which loyalty program to use. The promise of earning in one program in an airline alliance will help you earn miles faster. However, each program has its own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s worth making the effort to learn about them before choosing the one that’s best for you.

AA flight earnings are the most obvious source. Photo: Getty Images


Earn miles on American Airlines flights

Earning miles for flights remains the traditional basis of frequent flyer programs. There are more opportunities to earn with credit cards and elsewhere these days, but for those who get the most out of the program, flying is still likely to be a big part of their earnings.

After the transition to revenue-based earnings, all American Airlines flights will earn miles based on the cost of the ticket. Miles are credited for a portion of the fare paid – including the base fare and fees charged by the carrier, but excluding government fees and taxes. On low-cost economy class flights, these taxes can make up a significant portion of the fare.

The US dollar wage rate depends on your AAdvantage status:

  • AAdvantage Basic 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

An example from American Airlines for earning AAdvantage miles. Photo: American Airlines

Earn miles with partner airlines

Flights with partner airlines earn miles based on booking code/ticket inventory code. The only exception to this is JetBlue (including operated JetBlue as well as AA codeshares), where flights also earn miles based on the dollar value of the ticket.

The distance-based earning method applies to all other partner airlines, including all oneglobal alliance airline members plus several other airlines. These include Hawaiian Airlines, Etihad Airwaysand GOL Linhas Aéreas.

JetBlue offers similar benefits to AAdvantage elite members. Photo: Getty Images

The total number of miles earned consists of:

  • Base miles based on inventory booking code. This can range from 25% to 100% of point-to-point miles flown. Some of the lowest booking codes may not earn any miles.
  • Cabin bonus. Bonus miles for economy class, business class or first class bookings on most airlines. This ranges from 10% to 200%.
  • Advantage status bonus. It refers to oneglobal airlines and some other partners. AAdvantage Gold members receive a 40% bonus; AAdvantage Platinum earns 60%; AAdvantage Platinum Pro earns 80%; and AAdvantage Executive Platinum earns 120%.

With partner airlines, the salary will be higher in premium cabins. Photo: British Airways

Basic earnings are different for each airline. There are also regular changes, either due to updates to the AAdvantage program or changes to ticketing systems, lounges and codes. For complete, up-to-date information, it’s best to check the list at AAdvantage website.

As examples, we include income tables (as of September 2022) for oneglobal partners British Airways and Qatar Airways below.

Advantage miles earned on BA flights. Image: American Airlines

AAdvantage miles earned on Qatar Airways flights. Image: American Airlines

Earnings on a credit card

Another common way to earn miles is through credit card spending. Several American Airlines credit cards are available in a number of countries. In the US, the main cards are Citi AAdvantage cards and AAdvantage Aviator Mastercards (each with different card options). There are also special cards available in countries including Canada, Mexico and some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. There are no more AAdvantage credit cards issued in the UK and Europe (there used to be some options here).

These cards earn AAdvantage miles on all spending with various bonuses for certain categories and types of purchases (usually including bonuses on American Airlines purchases). Paid premium cards usually include additional benefits such as free checked bags, priority boarding, boarding discounts or Admirals Club friendship.

Other earning opportunities

As with most frequent flyer programs, there are also several ways to earn AAdvantage miles without flying. These include:

  • AAdvantage shopping portal. AAdvantage offers an e-shopping portal where you can earn varying amounts of miles based on tracking spending at many online stores. There are also regular bonuses and offers for aggregate spend.
  • Accommodation in a hotel. Most major hotel chains offer the opportunity to earn AAdvantage miles. This is usually in lieu of points in their own programs.
  • Car rental. AAdvantage has partnerships with most major car rental companies. With Avis and Budget, you earn a fixed amount per rental based on your AAdvantage status (up to 1,250 miles for AAdvantage Executive Platinum members). Others offer a fixed amount per rental day or dollar costs.
  • Lunch program. By registering your AAdvantage account and credit card, you can earn between 1 and 5 miles per dollar spent at thousands of US restaurants.
  • Buying AAdvantage miles. This is usually not a very profitable way to accumulate miles (although there are often promotions that increase the value). However, it may be necessary if you need to top up your balance for a specific reward goal.

There are many opportunities to earn miles while traveling. Photo: Getty Images

This was an overview of the different ways to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles. Feel free to discuss specific details or your feelings about how the program has changed over the years in the comments.

https://simpleflying.com/american-airlines-aadvantage-miles-earning-guide/ Different ways to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles

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