American Airlines revamps loyalty rewards program

Less than two months after Delta Airlines revamped its loyalty rewards program, American Airlines has announced loyalty program changes that offer breaks for some travelers but cut out some freebies for others.

Unlike the overhaul made at Delta, American will continue to base its rewards points on how many miles you travel. Delta's program now calculates points based on how much money you spend on air travel.

The changes announced Tuesday by American attempt to more closely align the rewards rules of the carrier and US Airways, which are in the process of merging to become the world's largest airline.

"We are harmonizing our two carriers' policies and doing so with the goal to remain competitive with global domestic and international carriers," said Andrew J Christie Jr., a spokesman for American Airlines.

In general, the changes give American more flexibility to raise rates for flights on specific days, based on demand, said Brian Karimzad, director of Milecards.com, a website that compares travel rewards programs.

Under the previous American program, the airline had a loyalty structure with two redemption rates per flight, he said. The new program will includes up to five redemption rates per flight, Karimzad said.

Also, American is reducing by one the number of complimentary checked bags allowed per flight to AAdvantage Gold members and Dividend Miles Platinum and Gold members. For example, AAdvantage Gold members who previously got two free checked bags now get only one per flight.

But the carrier is also adding a free checked bag to passengers flying to and from South America.

Some of the changes were made effective Tuesday, while others take effect on tickets sold after April 23. Other changes start with travel on June 1. For details about the changes, loyalty reward members with American Airlines and US Airways can go to this website.

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