Collecting air miles in any frequent flyer program has its benefits — free upgrades, free tickets, access to lush lounges, and better customer service. For years collecting miles was pretty straightforward. You received one point for every mile flown. As you climbed the ranks of the loyalty program, you’d receive bonuses of 150 percent to 200 percent of miles flown. Otherwise, the system was egalitarian. If you got lucky and paid $99 on a discounted fare from Phoenix to L.A. and someone else paid $300 last minute, you both got the same number of miles at the end of the day. That’s no longer the case.
American Airlines will officially join Delta and United Airlines in anchoring their miles collection systems to awarding the miles you receive based upon the price you paid for your ticket. What does that mean? Well, basically, unless you pay full fare for your ticket, you’re outta luck maximizing your mile collection. According to Money, “Passengers who paid $218 for a budget fare on Delta earned between 20 percent and 43 percent fewer miles under the new, cost-based points system. Passengers who paid $751 for a coach seat on the same round trip earned between 97 percent and 176 percent more under the new system.” That’s a massive difference in not only cost but any incentive toward being loyal to a single airline.