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American Airlines Adds Features To Mileage Program

source:CHICAGO author:Ann Keeton time:2009-05-12
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CHICAGO -(Dow Jones)- In a bid to strengthen loyalty to its AAdvantage Plus mileage program, American Airlines, a unit of AMR Corp. (AMR), is giving customers more choices when they redeem their frequent-flyer miles.

The new One Way Flex awards will allow customers to use miles one way, requiring half as many miles to qualify. Also, customers can combine different types of mileage awards on a single ticket, said Rob Friedman, president of the mileage program.

The flex awards program was developed in response to customers' requests, Friedman said.

The new features will appear shortly on the airline's Web site.

AAdvantage remains the industry's largest frequent-flyer program, Friedman said, even though Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) last year overtook American as the world's largest airline by passenger traffic.

Airline mileage programs have expanded over the years to include other partners, such as hotels, car rental firms and retailers. While airlines don't say how much income they get from frequent-flyer miles, the programs are worth millions of dollars.

At American, "last year, 4.8 million awards were redeemed," Friedman said. Of those, 3.1 million were used for airline tickets. The American Airlines program has more than 60 million members, and adds about five new members every day, Friedman said.

On the AA.com Web site, customers now will be able to cash in their frequent- flyer miles in either Spanish or English.

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