Qantas will cut the number of frequent flyer points and status credits that travellers can earn on some American Airlines flights from this week.
The move is a strategic play in the airlines' renewed push to seek US Department of Transportation approval for a trans-Pacific joint venture.
A Qantas spokesperson said the current allocation of frequent flyer points and status credits on American Airlines' Sydney-Los Angeles flight was not viable without anti-trust immunity from the DoT for the Oneworld members' closer commercial relationship.
Codeshare dropped, points earning plummets
From February 1 2017 Qantas will no longer allow travellers to book American Airlines flights between Sydney and Los Angeles under a codeshare QF flight number.
This means passengers can book the AA flight only through American Airlines, which in turn sees them pocket drastically fewer Qantas frequent flyer points and in some cases, status credits.
In business class the earn rate for a one-way flight drops from 13,500-15,750 Qantas Points under the QF flight number (the number of points depended on the 'booking class' of your ticket) to a flat 9,375 Qantas Points, and 180 status credits rather than a maximum 200 status credits.
Likewise, first class passengers on the American Airlines flight will earn 11,250 Qantas Points per flight rather than the previous 18,000 Qantas Points.
Qantas says that travellers who have already booked the American Airlines flight as a Qantas codeshare (under flight numbers QF309 and QF310) will escape the changes, hoovering up points and status credits at the previous rates.
However, Qantas passengers booked to fly between Sydney and Los Angeles with American Airlines from October 1 2017 will be rebooked onto Qantas' own flights – which will also also deliver a full serve of Qantas Points and status credits.
Qantas will continue to codeshare on other 'non-overlapping' American Airlines routes, including Auckland-Los Angeles and more than 130 of American Airlines' domestic US services, with points and status credits awarded at the same rates as for a Qantas flight.
Most American Airlines economy fares to earn at 'discount economy' rates
A second round of changes from May 1 2017 will see some American Airlines fare types re-categorised within the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme, resulting in drops to the number of frequent flyer points and status credits that can be earned when booked on an AA flight number.
Further, the number of points and status credits awarded within each fare category will also be slashed, proving a double-whammy for passengers booked on AA flight numbers: even on fares which aren't changing categories.
For instance, economy class tickets belonging to the G, N and S categories will switch from the ‘flexible economy’ earning bracket to ‘discount economy’ across all American Airlines routes, while the number of status credits awarded on 'discount economy' tickets is too being cut.
On American Airlines' flights from Sydney to Los Angeles, these fares currently net 7,500 Qantas Points and 90 status credits – but as of May they plummet to a mere 1,875 Qantas Points and 20 status credits.
Likewise, H-class economy will slip from ‘flexible economy’ into ‘economy’ with a 50% hit to the number of Qantas Points and cuts of almost 80% to status credits, dropping to 3,750 Qantas Points and 20 status credits.
Other flexible economy tickets plus all bookings in business class and first class will see a 50% reduction to status credit earning rates, although the number of points earned on those fares remains the same.
That lowers your haul from 270 to 135 status credits in American Airlines first class, from 180 to 90 status credits in AA business class and from 90 to 45 status credits in AA flexible economy, each way, when travelling between Sydney and LAX from May 1.
What hasn't changed...
Fortunately there's no change to the number of Qantas Points needed to book American Airlines flights; and Qantas Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One flyers will also continue to earn their points ‘status bonus’ when booked on AA flight numbers.