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May 1, 1981: American launches AAdvantage

May 1, 1981: American launches AAdvantage

Old May 2, 21, 8:04 am
  #1  
Moderator: American AAdvantage, TAP, Mexico, Technical Support and Feedback, and The Suggestion Box
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: NorCal - SMF area
Programs: AA LT Plat; HH LT Diamond, Maître-plongeur des Muccis
Posts: 62,876
May 1, 1981: American launches AAdvantage

“Today in Aviation, American Airlines (AA) introduced one of the first frequent-flyer programs in the industry, AAdvantage, in 1981. A year later, AAdvantage became the first loyalty program to partner with a foreign airline, allowing members to earn and redeem miles on British Airways (BA) flights to Europe.” — Airways Magazine

(Att that time AA miles could not be used or earned between the UK and US flying on BA - though they could between Canada or México, etc. and U.K. - nor could BA miles be earned flying AA US <—> UK.)
Links:

Airways Magazine: https://airwaysmag.com/airlines/amer...es-aadvantage/

The Points Guy FFP history): https://thepointsguy.com/guide/evolu...lyer-programs/

How early did you join AAdvantage? How have you taken advantage of AAdvantage? Reminiscences?
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Old May 2, 21, 8:22 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: BNA (Nashville)
Programs: HH Gold,
Posts: 4,592
A member since December 18, 1986. Maybe the second program I joined after NWA’s WorldPerks.

Last redemption was snagging a biz class award BNA-FRA that included a return on the British Airways non stop LHR -BNA.

No current status and they keep telling me my 14,000 miles are going to expire in October, but I played that anniversary game and won about 5000 miles which haven’t been added to the account yet.
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Old May 2, 21, 8:59 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 69
I've been a member since 1999. There have been many trips, revenue and award, but the most memorable recent award redemption has to be the three J seats on BA metal (TLV-LHR, LCY-SNN-JFK), including the late BA1 service, several years ago.
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Old May 2, 21, 9:41 am
  #4  
Moderator: American AAdvantage, TAP, Mexico, Technical Support and Feedback, and The Suggestion Box
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: NorCal - SMF area
Programs: AA LT Plat; HH LT Diamond, Maître-plongeur des Muccis
Posts: 62,876
My turn, I guess...

I joined early on, accumulated (and spent most of) close to 6 million MM (and more award) miles, and was aided by AA subsuming my TW Aviator account (that afforded me AAdvantage Gold for life). My best spends may have been:

Honeymoon for two friends in JL First to Bangkok

Business awards round trip for two friends near ADL, ADL-MRY, LAX-ADL and ADL-MEX return.

Qantas return Business awards for us (two) three times.

Bringing my sister in law from BDL to SJC, return from SMF, to see my wife when it appeared she was near death near San José. (My wife made it, though it was on the third attempt to wean her off ventilation that worked.)

25th anniversary in domestic F BDL-DFW-HNL (lie flat) return to my sister-in-law, combined with a Hilton Honors stay in HHV where I was able to get them upgraded for a week in a Diamond Head view junior suite in the Rainbow Tower.

Honeymoon in domestic F PHL-DFW-KOA, KOA-HNL and HNL-DFW-PHL for my wife’s nephew and new bride.

Several others involving AA, BA, CX, LA, etc. for us or others over the years. AAdvantage has saved us a metric crapton of money or allowed some memorable gifts.
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Old May 2, 21, 10:00 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: US AA LT Gold
Posts: 242
FWIW Amtrak is exactly 10 years older to the day (5/1/71). Happy birthday to both.
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Old May 2, 21, 10:50 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: ORD, HKG
Programs: UA*G, AA PLT, HHonors Diamond, Marriott Gold
Posts: 9,865
Originally Posted by bitterproffit View Post

No current status and they keep telling me my 14,000 miles are going to expire in October, but I played that anniversary game and won about 5000 miles which haven’t been added to the account yet.
the official rules said it already miles and some other prizes won't be added in your account til 8-10 weeks after the game end on May 3rd, so you wont see those miles til July
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Old May 2, 21, 10:56 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: JFK/LGA
Programs: AA Plt Pro/5 MM, BA Blue Bayou, HH LT Diamond
Posts: 5,222
Member since 1990. I also had an Aviator account, that i was able to pump up with a few hundred thousand Amex MR transfers in the 3-6 weeks before the combination. That was one of my best CC plays with AA, other was in 2011 using DC to top up my wife's account to ~1 MM while CC miles still counted for LT status (I was already LT PLT.) This game is not as much fun as it was ~10 years ago. Far fewer angles to work.. But I've got 3 million miles to spend, so i ain't going anywhere.
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Old May 2, 21, 10:58 am
  #8  
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Frisco, TX
Programs: The Airline Run by Doug P
Posts: 22,060
the first time I redeemed advantage miles was in June of 1996 when I was living in Cleveland. CLE-JFK on a Saab 340 (!) and over the pond to LHR on a 762. I hated flying to LHR at the time as it was quicker to get where I was going from LGW. Also if memory serves only UA and AA were flying to LHR at that time. CO, TW, DL, NW, and US were all flying to LGW.
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Old May 2, 21, 12:21 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: DCA/IAD/SFO/SJC/JFK/NRT/LHR/BOS/etc
Programs: AA (EXP, 3 MM), Hyatt Globalist, Taj InnerCircle Silver, MLife Noir, former LHW-Aurelian
Posts: 248
Per AA I joined in 1989-- must have been on a flight from SAN to SJC or SFO my freshman year of college.

Got status ~15 years later on nonstop flights from SJC to JFK (remember that?) to spend time with the person who would later become my spouse. There was an ad in the NYT offering a free trip anywhere in the world on AA after two round trips from NYC to CA-- I acquired two of them after four visits and took her to MAD

Was just a few miles short of EXP at year's end; a Christmas day MR from SJC to LAX and back on the very next flight on the very same seat (attendant: "sir, weren't you just sitting there a few minutes ago?") put me over the edge.

First use of SWU was early the next year: SJC to LAX to LHR. The first flight had to return to the gate briefly so would likely have missed my connection in LAX. When we touched down the captain said on the loudspeaker, "Will folks please stay in their seat when we get to the gate so the passenger to LHR can deplane and make his flight." Exiting the plane an agent called my name and took me down the stairs from the jetbridge to the runway and ushered me into a waiting car that drove across LAX, around the planes, to the stairs leading up to the door of my next flight. Everyone on the plane looked at me, young and poorly dressed, as I took my seat in (upgraded) J. The man in the seat next to me gives me a quick look over and comments, "you are the person we've been waiting for?!"

Since that day I've had too many positive experiences with AA to count, EXP for consecutive 15+ years, and will always be loyal to the airline and their OneWorld partners. And unless I'm with my young children I always fly in a proper suit so that I'll never not 'look the part' of my status again...

Thanks for the 'trip down memory lane'!
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MasterPlanner is offline  
Old May 2, 21, 12:54 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 394
I reminiscence over the days where "flexibility" in AAward redemptions simply meant shifting your travel by a few days for a 90k round trip business class ticket to Europe during June or July on very reasonable routings.
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Old May 2, 21, 12:54 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: ORF
Programs: Amex Plat, AA, BA Silver, WN, Marriott, Choice Diamond, HHonors Gold, IHG Spire, Club Carlson Gold
Posts: 3,542
If you count mergers, I got into AAdvantage somewhere around 1984 when I joined the Piedmont Airlines FF program (Piedmont > USAir > USAirways > AA). The push by AAdvantage and other FF programs actually helped me with Piedmont. At one point before it started offering miles, Piedmont ran a promotion that I recall was "fly three, get one free"--in other words, three flights got you a free flight anywhere in Piedmont's system. After they started the promotion, however, the pressure to offer FF miles became too much to overcome, and they offered miles in this new aspect of their program while continuing to run the "fly three, get one free" promotion which ran until the scheduled end date, to disappear and never be offered again.

At the time, I was doing a lot of flying for work. I think I earned two or three flights as well as a decent bank of FF miles that then became USAir miles. I joined the AA program long before the merger with USAirways--probably around 1990--so by the time of that merger, I had a lot of miles in both programs. It remains the program where I hold the most miles.
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Old May 2, 21, 2:27 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 288
I found my original AAdvantage welcome letter during some recent cleaning/packing. I can't find it right now, but it was dated 1986. I was 5.

My mother was way into miles. After she passed away, I found folders full of manual calculations she'd done about what we'd earned and possible redemptions. From what I could tell, she was handling accounts for five family members when she passed. Unfortunately, she only tabulated miles and not what the actual flights were. What a bounty that would have been. Almost all of my travel was domestic or in the Caribbean until my 20s, so I don't have any wild redemption stories. And it wasn't until my late teens or early 20s that the mileage thing really clicked for me. But even though I don't have AA status anymore, I have definitely taken on the mantle as the earning/redeeming guru in the family.
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Old May 2, 21, 3:27 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: PHX, SEA
Programs: DL Silver, Avis President's Club, Hertz President's Circle, Global Entry (Former AA Plt/Gold)
Posts: 4,133
A member since around 2004, but as far as "took Aadvantage" I took FT advice for a platinum challenge and timed it for nearly 18mo, and enjoyed free MCE (mostly with empty middles since this was around 2014).

I was able to redeem a r/t Saaver business award for myself, and one way Saaver for my wife, totalling only 170k on a Dreamliner which is a fantastic hard product and the Lax flagship lounge is primo IMO (on par with a Centurion except probably some of the liquor).

​​​​​
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Old May 2, 21, 3:46 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Hawaii
Programs: AA PLT, AAdv since Day One
Posts: 2,621
Member since the first day, May 1, 1981. I had been flying AA on a few business trips before that but not a lot. Got a letter in the mail one day out of the blue around that date from, I think, Michael Gunn who was the head of Marketing at AA (?) saying in effect "Congratulations and welcome to the new AAdvantage program ...". OK, thanks, whatever. I lived in NY at that time so using AA was a logical choice. As others may have experienced, it has at times been a love-hate relationship over the 40 years but I still collect and use their miles. But here in Hawaii there are more choices that may make more sense depending on where we travel to.
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Old May 2, 21, 5:17 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: PWM
Programs: AA Gold,
Posts: 179
Originally Posted by Gig103 View Post
I was able to redeem a r/t Saaver business award for myself, and one way Saaver for my wife,​​
Damn... Why didn't I think of that? (Just Kidding Mrs. RT)
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