Just received an email from American Airlines announcing a significant, but expected change to the AAdvantage program. Effective January 1, 2009, AAdvantage members will accrue actual mileage for flights less than 500 miles. In other words, if your flight is 231 miles, that’s what you get. No more 500 mile minimums. Elite status members of the AAdvantage program are exempt from this change and will continue to accrue a minimum of 500 miles for each segment. You can review more details of this change on AA.com.

This change protects American’s best customers while potentially reducing the number of available miles in the “market” for seats. It could be a good thing in the long run and in a perfect world. Unfortunately, we all know the world isn’t perfect. So I’ll wait and see. For now, AAdvantage continues to be my miles program of choice with the best reward seat availability when I’ve tried to use miles.