The End of Cheap US Status Runs

usa-status-runsThe United States has traditionally been a popular destination for frequent flyers looking for an inexpensive path to Qantas status. Two classes of service are offered on most American Airlines domestic flights, where the premium cabin is marketed as “First class” rather than the usual “Business class”. Domestic First class tickets on American are typically inexpensive, and until now they have earned Qantas points and status credits at very generous “First class” rates. So, the United States has been a good place to complete so-called status runs.

But all of this is about to change. From 11 January 2017, American Airlines flights in “First class” will earn Qantas points & status credits at the lower “Business” rates. This represents a 33% reduction in status credits for exactly the same product.

Basically it represents a 33% reduction in SC earn on two class flight domestic AA flights for thse booed in “First”. It changes one booking I have from $1.70 per SC to $2.30 … still better than can generally be done around Oz.

Customers with existing American Airlines bookings in First class are already being contacted about the changes.

AA have started to re-classify existing bookings from First to Business. Previously we had people booking in P class, and AA have just changed those bookings to I Class. So the change is being made retrospective.

The changes do not just affect Qantas flyers. Domestic First will also soon earn at Business levels if crediting to any other partner airline program, including British Airways Executive Club.

One exception will be bookings in First class on American Airlines’ trans-continental A321T flights between Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. As these flights offer both Business and First class, First class tickets will continue to earn at the higher rate.

This change does not affect American’s international flights. There is also no change to domestic American First Class flights booked as codeshares with a “QF” flight number. These continue to earn at the lower “Business” rates.

The QF codeshares always booked into a Business Class fare bucket, so they won’t change. It’s just the AA flight numbers that are being amended.

Although these changes will make it harder to achieve status cheaply in the USA, there is some good news. The number of Qantas points required to redeem for a First class flight within the USA will also soon be reduced to “Business” levels. This means that award flights will become around 33% cheaper!

The silver lining most saw coming: Z class bookings on non-transcon will be moved to U, which should translate to cheaper redemptions.

It’s also great news for those using Qantas points to book a Oneworld Award ticket in Business class. Previously, booking in First class within the USA was not an option, leaving passengers stuck in Economy. This will no longer be the case.

Very much on the upside though, Classic Awards and One World Awards are likely now a lot more attractive in the LOTFAP.

Find out more about these changes, and join the forum discussion HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]