American Airlines pushes direct bookings; ACTA responds

Earlier this week, American Airlines made the decision to limit the ways its customers can earn rewards.

Starting with tickets issued on May 1, 2024, American customers will only earn miles and loyalty points if they book directly with American and eligible partner airlines; book travel anywhere as an AAdvantage Business member or contracted corporate traveller; or book through preferred travel agencies.

Basic Economy fare tickets will only earn when booked directly with American and eligible partner airlines. American will share a list of eligible preferred agencies on its website in late April.

“We want to make it more convenient for customers to enjoy the value and magic of travel,” said Vasu Raja, American’s chief commercial officer. “Not only does booking directly with American provide the best possible experience, it’s also where we offer the best fares and it’s most rewarding for our AAdvantage members.”

AAdvantage members will also continue to earn miles and Loyalty Points through non-airline partners, like the AAdvantage eShopping, AAdvantage Hotels and AAdvantage Events platforms and more.

ACTA responds

American Airlines’ decision to limit traveller loyalty points accrual to direct bookings and a select group of travel agencies effectively marginalizes a vast number of travel agencies and travel advisors, says ACTA.

“This move undermines the principle of fair competition and creates an uneven playing field, disadvantaging both consumers and many travel agencies,” said Wendy Paradis, ACTA president. “ACTA strongly objects to the recent policy change announced by American Airlines regarding its AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points program.”

The American Airlines policy announced earlier this week states that effective May 1, 2024, only direct bookings with American Airlines and selected partner airlines, along with a specific list of preferred travel agencies will qualify for earning traveller loyalty points.

“ACTA views this change as a significant departure from equitable business practices and a direct threat to the healthy competitive environment that has long benefitted consumers and the travel industry alike” said Paradis.

ACTA is urging American Airlines to reconsider this policy change and work collaboratively with the entire travel agency community to foster a healthy, competitive environment that benefits all stakeholders.