Skip to main content

American Airlines makes major change to loyalty program to get you to book direct

American Airlines
TDelCoro / Openverse

The way travelers earn loyalty points and book flights is about to change significantly, thanks to a series of significant policy shifts by American Airlines. Starting May 1, the airline has announced a new rule in its loyalty program (American’s AAdvantage program), which will only award miles and loyalty points for bookings made through “preferred” travel agencies. This update represents a significant shift in how travelers will approach booking flights and maintaining loyalty statuses.

An American Airlines plane in flight with clouds in the background
max lewandowski/Pexels / Pexels

What’s changing for the American Airlines loyalty program?

The preferred status of travel agencies is now linked to their use of the New Distribution Capability (NDC). This change is nudges travelers to book directly with American Airlines or through specific agencies that align closely with their new booking systems. To be considered preferred, agencies must jump through all sorts of hoops, including new NDC usage thresholds.

Impact on travelers

As a frequent flyer, I’ve always valued the flexibility of booking through various platforms, often choosing the one offering the best deal or convenience. However, with this new policy, the ability to earn AAdvantage miles and points becomes tied to how and where the booking is made.

  1. Reduced flexibility: For those of us who often shop around for the best deals, this change could limit our options. We might find ourselves confined to booking through a narrower range of agencies or directly with American Airlines to ensure we earn those valuable loyalty points.
  2. Incentive to book direct: There’s a clear push for direct booking with American Airlines. While this might streamline the booking process for some, it does raise concerns about decreased competition and potentially higher prices in the long run.
  3. Corporate travelers and leisure travelers diverge: The exemption for contracted corporate travelers and AAdvantage Business program members creates a divide. Leisure travelers, who often rely on a variety of booking platforms, might feel the pinch more than their corporate counterparts.

The broader implications

This policy shift is a strategic move that impacts the entire travel ecosystem. Travel agencies, especially smaller or independent ones, might struggle to meet the NDC thresholds, potentially leading to a loss of business or even closure. For the tourism industry, this consolidation of booking channels could mean less diversity and competition, which could mean higher prices and less comfort.

American Airlines’ decision to revamp its loyalty program by privileging certain booking channels is a significant pivot in the travel industry. For us, the travelers, it forces us to change how we book flights and earn loyalty rewards. While this may streamline some aspects of booking, it also raises concerns about flexibility, competition, and the broader impact on the travel and tourism sector. Adapting to these changes will require a new level of savvy in how travelers plan, book, and travel in the future.

Sarah Joseph
Sarah is a lover of all things outdoors. With a bright sense of adventure and a heart for the mountains, she is always…
The best North Carolina beaches: Vacation in one of these gorgeous paradises
Take a relaxing trip to one of these gorgeous North Carolina beaches
Shoreline of Nags Head, NC

Nags Head, North Carolina Nathan Anderson via Unsplash

Visiting the beach puts you in touch with nature and with your soul. Listening to waves crash as the sun rises, taking in the salty air, and listening to the seagulls are a sensory treat, letting you escape the hustle and bustle of the everyday. Being on the coast puts you at peace. 

Read more
Need travel inspiration? These are the absolute best places to visit in July
Add these destinations to your summer bucket list

Summer is in full swing, and the month of July offers a perfect window for your next great travel adventure. From vibrant cities to warm beaches, July offers something for every travel preference. Whether you are on the hunt for a domestic getaway or an international adventure, our carefully curated list of the best places to visit in July is sure to inspire your next summer escape. These are the destinations that will ensure your July vacation is nothing short of extraordinary. 
Provence, France

Average July temperature: 82ºF to 86ºF

Read more
What to do in Nashville: Don’t miss out on these incredible activities
Need help planning your trip to Music City?

Looking pretty, Music City. Are you thinking about taking a trip to Nashville this year? Nashville offers a rich blend of culture, history, and entertainment that promises a memorable experience for every visitor. Whether you’re a music enthusiast looking to explore iconic venues or a foodie ready to dive into delicious Southern cuisine, Nashville has something for you. If you aren’t sure what to do in Nashville, TN, we’ve got you covered. Here are just a few of the best things to do in Nashville, Tennessee.
Take a stroll down Lower Broadway

Lower Broadway consistently makes the list of the top things to do in Nashville. This vibrant stretch, often referred to simply as “Broadway,” is lined with honky-tonk bars, live music venues, and busy eateries that showcase the best of Nashville’s legendary music scene. Lower Broadway is not only the heart of Nashville’s nightlife but also a hub where famous musicians bring their flair to the local scene. Jason Aldean’s Kitchen + Rooftop Bar offers a mix of Southern cuisine and stunning rooftop views, while Blake Shelton’s Ole Red combines great food with live music. 
Indulge in some hot chicken

Read more