Advance bookings for fall and winter flights to Europe must be soft, because American and British Airways are offering bonus miles to spur sales.
Through January 31, 2016, members of American’s AAdvantage program and British Airways’ Executive Club can earn up to 125,000 bonus miles for flights on American, British Airways, Finnair, or Iberia between the U.S. and Europe.
While the “up to 125,000 bonus miles” headline is an attention-getter, the potential earnings for most travelers are considerably more modest. Here’s how the bonusing works:
- First or business class – 25,000 bonus miles for every roundtrip, up to 125,000 bonus miles after five roundtrips
- Premium or full-fare economy class – 7,000 bonus miles for every roundtrip, up to 35,000 bonus miles after five roundtrips
- Other economy-class fares – 2,000 bonus miles for every roundtrip, up to 10,000 bonus miles after five roundtrips
Those “other economy-class fares” are the discounted coach fares that most travelers purchase. And of course, most travelers don’t make multiple trips to Europe within four months. So, for the great majority of Europe-bound flyers, the promotion amounts to a 2,000-mile bonus after a single roundtrip. Not a world-changer, but better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
The question then becomes whether to earn the bonus miles in the program of American or the program of British Airways. Given the onerous fuel surcharges imposed on many award tickets in British Airways’ program, AAdvantage will be the clear choice for most.
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This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.