To Protect Your Miles, Be Careful How You Book

Earlier this month, American Airlines announced that beginning May 1, it will require travelers to book directly with the airline, partner airlines or “preferred travel agencies” in order to receive points in its loyalty program.

The unprecedented move confused many travelers eager to protect their mileage currency, prompting posts like this one on X: “@AmericanAir your news about earning miles/loyalty points is a bit concerning — we’re loyal to you no matter who we book through!”

In an email, a representative of the airline said that the approved list of travel agencies would not be published until April.

While there is much to be determined about the new policy, a battle for customers between the airline and third-party ticket sellers, which includes online travel agencies like Orbitz, has emerged. Here’s what travelers should know before booking their next flight.

What are the new points rules at American?

Currently, the biggest domestic carriers — including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and American — award points and miles to members of their loyalty programs on most tickets regardless of where they are sold.

American’s new rules state that in order to receive miles and points, travelers must book through its website, a Oneworld partner airline or approved travel agencies (with exceptions for those enrolled in its business program, which targets small companies, or with a corporate contract).

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