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AA celebrates 25 years of reward program

American Airlines is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the AAdvantage(R) program—the world’s first frequent flyer program. When American Airlines launched the AAdvantage program in 1981 with just under 300,000 members, some may have viewed the idea as just another short-term marketing promotion.

But 25 years later—and more than 50 million members strong—American Airlines is celebrating the AAdvantage program’s silver anniversary.

“As the first program of its kind, we’re planning several promotions and events to celebrate this milestone and extend sincere appreciation to our members, partners and employees for the program’s continued success,” said Kurt Stache, President of AAdvantage Marketing Programs.

“The AAdvantage program consistently ranks high as an influential factor in customer choice, and we will work to continue to provide value to our loyal customers.”

The program has grown to include a wide range of products and services that offer numerous opportunities to earn miles.


Members can earn miles with more than 1,500 companies, including more than 35 hotel chains, more than 20 airlines, eight car-rental companies, 18 financial-service companies, and more than 150 brand name retailers.

In addition, members can earn miles when making purchases with one of more than 60 affinity card products in 41 markets around the globe.

Last year, more than 129 billion miles were redeemed, representing four million awards to more than 850 AAdvantage award destinations worldwide. Miles can also be redeemed for upgrades to First and Business Class cabins or for things like AmericanAirlines Vacations packages, Admirals Club memberships, hotel stays, car rentals, golf outings, spa services, magazine subscriptions, or even savings for college.

The AAdvantage program may have been the first of its kind, but it has been a quarter century of innovation and enhancement that have truly made it the airline industry’s largest and most robust travel awards program.