Reader Question: “Do I Receive More Miles For Flying In Business Class?”

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Most travelers understand the concept that when you fly, you accrue miles. However, many travelers don’t understand how to calculate the amount of miles they are going to obtain for flying.

In fact, the overwhelming majority of flyers don’t check their profile after completing their flight to ensure any miles posted, let alone confirm the correct amount of miles have posted. 1TP subscriber Jo asks:

“This concept has always confused me. I am a healthcare consultant and often fly from Chicago to San Francisco (for leisure and work). When I fly in business class (for work), the amount of miles that post to my account is different from the amount of miles I receive when I fly in main cabin. It’s the same route, the only difference is the cabin. Do I receive more miles for flying in business class?”


This is a great question and you’re spot-on in your analysis!

When you buy an airline ticket, there is a fare class (represented by a letter of the alphabet) that is associated with your ticket. Most consumers don’t pay attention to this aspect but it could mean the difference between receiving 100% of the miles and 25% of the miles even if you’re sitting in the same section of the plane.

The concept can be best explained with an example. Let’s say that you are flying from Chicago to San Francisco on American Airlines and these are the 3 options you have:

Depending on your preferences, you may purchase the basic economy fare because it’s more cost effective than the other cabins (albeit more restrictive).

You may choose the main cabin (economy) fare because it’s not as restrictive as basic economy and allows you to pick a seat while making your reservation.

Again, depending on your preferences, you may purchase the First Class seat (aka domestic business class) because…well, it’s just $80 more and provides a lot more space to work or relax.

Let’s say you select the 1:35 PM flight. You’ll notice that each of these Fares classes/booking codes are displayed below:

Basic Economy = B
Main Cabin = O
First = I

American Airlines has a booking code chart that will determine how many miles you receive for your revenue ticket. In the case that you purchased First (code I), you would receive 100% of the miles. But you can also see from the chart that if you had purchased Business “D,” you would also obtain a 50% bonus in addition to the base 100% of the miles.

Interestingly, you could be sitting next to someone in economy and they could be receiving 100% of the miles while you are receiving 25% of the miles (Code Q vs Code Y).


Every airline has a list of fares codes and an associated % of miles that a passenger should receive.

PRO TIP: ALWAYS consider all of the options! Many consumers believe business class tickets are unbelievably expensive and never even consider looking in the business class column. But I’ve purchased business class tickets that were cheaper than economy. In some cases, business class may only be a few dollars more expensive but the amount of miles (and comfort) you receive is exponentially more.

Many passengers overlook how easy it is to accrue miles (e.g. I accrued miles for going to lunch), but you should never miss the opportunity.

Do you know how many miles you should receive on your flight or just accept the amount when it post to your account?

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