Inside American’s Business Extra Program

American Airlines is running a promotion targeting business travel. Business Extra, a program geared towards small businesses, is offering new customers a chance to earn enough for a domestic roundtrip ticket if travel occurs before the end of June. The program, which operates similarly to a frequent flier mileage program for businesses, is open for enrollment without any initiation fee or minimum spend requirements each year.

American Airlines
The Business Extra program is running a generous promotion for new enrollees. Photo: Getty Images

What is Business Extra?

American Airlines, like many other airlines, offers a program geared towards small businesses that do not have the same level of travel as large corporations. Business Extra is a program that has been around since 2002.

The program works similar to a loyalty program– but for businesses. A company can register for Business Extra with no initiation fee in a quick process. Whenever someone from the company has to fly for work on American or one of its partners, the person traveling can earn miles for themselves and points for the business. Businesses earn one point for ever $5 spent on eligible flights.

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The Business Extra program would reward both frequent and infrequent business flyers. Photo: Getty Images

To join the program, companies only need to have a minimum of two employees that travel. Both employees do not need to travel the same amount nor to the same destinations. For most companies, joining the program is an easy process that can be done online.

Points earned can be redeemed for a variety of different things. Similar to loyalty miles, businesses can use those points for flights on American or some of its partners, upgrades to cabins, Admirals Club memberships or day-passes, or even getting Gold status in the AAdvantage program for its employees.

How does Business Extra compare to AAdvantage?

Below is a chart American Airlines has published comparing Business Extra and AAdvantage. One of the crucial things to note about this program is that a company can earn Business Extra points for work-related travel while individual flyers for that company can continue to earn AAdvantage miles for use as they see fit.

Inside American’s Business Extra Program
A comparison between Business Extra and AAdvantage. Photo: American Airlines

Currency-wise, Business Extra works with points while AAdvantage runs using miles.

What flights count for Business Extra?

Customers can earn Business Extra points on American flights and codeshare flights on British Airways, Iberia, Finnair, Japan Airlines, and Qantas, although some restrictions apply.

With this program, there are no minimum spend requirements per year. This gives companies flexibility– especially in this current time when business travel has gone down across the board.

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Flights on select American oneworld partners also net Business Extra points. Photo: Getty Images

When it comes to redeeming points for flights, American Airlines uses award charts. Depending on the type of award, where you want to travel, and which class of service you want to fly in, there are different point requirements for flights.

The current “Fly One Get One” promotion

For first-time enrollees, American Airlines is offering a big promotion. Taking an AA or AA-marketed codeshare flight before June 30th will net the company 2,000 Business Extra Points– enough for a domestic US roundtrip ticket in economy.

American Airlines Los Angeles
A domestic roundtrip across most of American’s network starts at 2,000 Business Extra points. Photo: Getty Images

A conversation with Julie Harner, Director of B2B Product Development

Simple Flying spoke with Julie Harner to get some more details on the program. One of the first things that we talked about was this new promotion that American is running.

The first thing Simple Flying asked about was about future promotions. Julie noted that the team does open up specials for companies or incentives to new companies in the program from time-to-time. American continues to keep options on the radar for offering small businesses additional incentives for joining the program. Sometimes this includes bonuses like the current promotion or else some other incentive.

American Airlines in Washington
The program has a dedicated staff that are always evaluating the market for new opportunities. Photo: Getty Images

In terms of the program itself, Julie emphasized that the program is available for businesses around the world. This includes the United States, Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Hong Kong, Latin America, and, as of May 11th, South Korea. Transatlantic partner, British Airways, partners with American as part of the Joint Business relationship. BA has the On Business program that is exclusive in the UK, Europe, and China.

The unique thing about the locations where Business Extra is available is that they are all strong American Airlines markets. This makes earning and redeeming Business Extra points easier onboard AA flights and select partner flights creating more opportunities for businesses and travelers.

Julie also noted that the team at American is always looking at expanding enrollment to other regions around the world. This is also true for flights. Although the current situation has put somewhat of a pause on expansion within the program, as flying resumes, stay tuned for further updates from the airline.

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Out of strong AA markets, businesses can get a lot of value from the program. Photo: Getty Images

One of the true testaments to a team’s work is how they respond in difficult times– especially times like these. American’s team has been communicating as best they can with each other and customers to help them get the full benefits of their program. They are working around the clock to get the most up-to-date information. This requires the team to lean on each other. According to Julie, the team has done an amazing job thus far, and she expects that work to continue.

Which one is right for my company– AirPass or Business Extra? 

AirPass is another widely-known program through American that can help business travelers. With AirPass, customers pre-pay for upcoming travel. For now, the buy-in has been reduced to $5,000 for enrollment. This automatically nets the passholder elite status. For Platinum, the buy-in is at $20,000, $25,000 for Platinum Pro, and $30,000 for Executive Platinum.

American Airlines Boeing 737
AirPass is a prepaid travel program. Photo: Getty Images

Companies that want more flexibility, no change or cancellation fees, guaranteed fare structure or pricing, along with other VIP privileges, should strongly consider AirPass, according to Julie.

If you are considering AirPass, American has dedicated representatives who can help you decide if the program is right for you. These representatives can look at a business’s travel history and determine the best program going forward. However, the lower buy-in is only available until June 30th. The standard rate for joining AirPass at the lowest tier is $10,000.

Are you considering joining either program? Let us know in the comments!