May 26 - American and JetBlue Add Reciprocal Mileage Earnings
Starting today, AAdvantage members can earn miles and elite status credits when flying on JetBlue. Likewise, TrueBlue members can earn points and Mosaic status credits when flying on American. This marks a deepening of the cooperation between the two airlines, which originally announced a partnership in July 2020.
Both AAdvantage mileage earnings and TrueBlue point earnings are based on the amount spent on the flight. That's similar to how you earn AAdvantage miles on American flights and TrueBlue points on JetBlue flights. However, this announcement makes JetBlue the only AAdvantage partner airline where flyers earn miles based on the fare paid, instead of based on the distance of the flight.
Mileage redemptions haven't been implemented yet, but both airlines have hinted that reciprocal mileage redemptions are coming soon.
March 31 - American and Alaska Announce Elite Benefits
On March 31, Alaska Airlines joined the Oneworld Alliance — the alliance that American Airlines helped found in 1999. Now that Alaska is part of Oneworld, American and Alaska elite members are guaranteed elite benefits when flying on any Oneworld airline.
However, Alaska and American expanded elite benefits beyond the minimum required by the alliance. In November 2020, the two airlines teased that reciprocal upgrades would be added in mid-2021. Now, the two airlines surprised travelers by adding these perks at the end of March.
Here's what you need to know about the reciprocal elite upgrade and seat benefits for Alaska and American elites.
Feb. 23 - American Airlines Adds Free Bags to Certain Fares
In an effort to provide more consistent offerings across its flight network, American Airlines announced it is changing its bag policies and introducing an entirely new type of fare known as basic economy plus bag. Here's the most notable changes to existing fares:
All premium economy fares will now come with two free checked bags on all routes.
All main cabin fares on long-haul international flights will now include one free checked bag.
American's newest ticket, basic economy plus bag, is designed to get people flying internationally again by offering low, non-refundable fares that avoid bag fees. Travelers can purchase the fare for flights to Asia, Oceania, India and Israel. Keep in mind that the company's flexible change policies do not apply to basic economy fares or long-haul international flights and many of American Airlines' co-branded credit cards come with free checked bags as well.
Jan. 29 - American Airlines Announces Limited Time Changes to Admirals Club Access
As of April 1, passengers flying in first or business class between the U.S. and the Caribbean (including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico), Canada, Mexico, and Central America — as well as those flying in a premium cabin on an international route — can access the Admirals Club lounges free of charge. Currently, the majority of passengers flying in premium cabins or on non-Flagship (first class) flights do not get access to the lounges, so this will make it a lot easier for more customers to enjoy Admirals Clubs.
Additionally, if you’re an Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro or Platinum AAdvantage member, as of April 1, you will have complimentary access to Admirals Clubs on international flights from the U.S. to Caribbean (including U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico), Canada, Central America and Mexico. Although American states that these changes are temporary, they are very consumer friendly so hopefully they will become permanent.
Dec. 15 - AAdvantage Members Without Status Can Now Board Early
American Airlines is adding an automatic perk for anyone who joins their free loyalty program. AAdvantage members without elite status will now board in Group 6, getting priority above passengers who have not registered with the program.
The real benefit of boarding early is the possibility of more overhead baggage space, so travelers with carry-ons won't be forced to check their roller bags at the gate. American Airlines co-branded credit cardholders will still board ahead in Group 4 or 5.
Dec. 10 - American Airlines Announces Elite Choice Awards for Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum Members
To incentivize flyers to qualify for Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum status in 2021, American Airlines announced that it will offer elite choice awards for these two tiers. A full list of award options to choose from is shown below:
In addition, in 2021, Platinum Pro members will also receive Oneworld Emerald status. Emerald is Oneworld’s highest tier and offers benefits like access to first and business class lounges, priority boarding and much more. Currently, Platinum Pro elites receive Oneworld Sapphire status, and only Executive Platinum elites have Oneworld Emerald status.
This announcement follows other customer-friendly changes implemented by American Airlines earlier in the year, such as:
All members receive an additional three months to earn elite status in 2021.
AAdvantage cardholders have an EQD waiver for Gold, Platinum and Platinum Pro upon meeting a $30,000 annual spending threshold, making it easier for members to achieve elite status.
Waived services charges when members book an award tickets through the reservation desk, and no redeposit fees on canceled award tickets.
Mileage expiry is paused until June 30, 2021.
Nov. 24 - The Wheelchair Weight Limits on American Airlines Are Gone
American Airlines has backtracked on a rule that effectively banned some wheelchair passengers from traveling on certain routes. The airline has now abandoned the weight restrictions on wheelchairs. Previously, American banned wheelchairs weighing more than 300 pounds on certain small jets, but complex motorized wheelchairs can weigh 400 pounds or more including the battery and motor. The change comes after a triple amputee was turned away at the airport in October due to the new wheelchair restrictions.
Nov. 10 - American Airlines Eliminates More Fees, Increases Flexibility
As airlines continue to evolve in the COVID-19 travel era, American Airlines has made another move to eliminate even more fees in hopes of providing customers with more flexibility in flying. Effective Nov. 11, AAdvantage members will no longer be charged service fees when they book an award ticket through American Airlines reservations. This means no matter how you book your award ticket, you will not encounter a service charge.
Also relating to award fees, American is getting rid of reinstatement fees, which were charged to customers when an award flight needed to be canceled and the miles redeposited back into their accounts. Lastly, American is extending its pause on mileage expiration through June 30, 2021.
Oct. 14 - American Airlines Increases Flexibility and Benefits for 2021
American Airlines announced today its AAdvantage program changes for 2021. These changes reflect the times and how airlines are adapting to woo flyers back to the skies while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The thresholds for earning elite status in 2021 are being reduced from the standard levels, and flyers will have 15 months (instead of the normal 12) to reach these elite status requirements. In addition, members can earn a waiver of the already reduced Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD) requirements through credit card spending.
AAdvantage elite benefits will also be more flexible in 2021: Instead of earning predetermined stated benefits, top elites will be able to choose from a menu of options that are best for their situation.
You can dive into the details of the AAdvantage program changes for 2021 in this article.
Aug. 31 - Delta, American follow United's lead, eliminate various change fees
American's policy (effective immediately) will apply to all domestic and short-haul international flights for first class, business class, premium economy and main cabin tickets. American's policy covers domestic flights (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) plus international flights to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
We will have further analysis on all these changes later today.
July 16 - JetBlue and American Airlines Announce New Partnership
American Airlines and JetBlue issued a surprise announcement today laying out a new strategic partnership that will provide more route options, especially for travelers in the Northeast. Benefits to flyers include a proposed code-share on around 200 routes currently operated by the individual airlines, which would allow travelers to combine these within a single itinerary for simpler ticketing, check-in and connections. American also announced it would resume international service from New York (JFK) to Rio de Janeiro this winter, as well as add service to Athens, Greece, and Tel Aviv, Israel. JetBlue will be adding to its presence in the New York City area with new flights at LaGuardia and Newark, as well as more flights at JFK.
Photo courtesy of American Airlines.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card