American Airlines, the biggest airline, is joining the rest of the legacy carriers and others by changing its frequent-flier model. The changes will make it easier to gain award miles for the passengers who spend more for their tickets, but those who travel mainly on discounted fares for long hauls may not be able to obtain rewards as quickly as they used to.

The new change is called a payment-based model for free award seats, and American is the fifth air carrier to make this move. Delta, United, Southwest and Jet Blue previously had announced similar changes to their awards program.

A spokesman for American explained that the "airline is looking to reward its most loyal and most valuable customers" — meaning those who spend the most money to fly.

Since they became common some 30 years ago, frequent-flier programs have been based on mileage. The longer the flight, the more FF miles you would gain. But no more.

Now, they are being based primarily on the amount you pay for the ticket, and gaining the most from this change is the business traveler or other customer who often buys a ticket just a few days before the trip. And these trips usually always cost the most.

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American has just completed its merger with USAirways and said that was the reason its FF changes couldn't be implemented sooner. The new plan also affects travel on AA's subsidiary, American Eagle, which flies in and out of Rochester International Airport.

American also announced there will be forthcoming changes in the number of miles it will take to redeem free flights. It said some mileage totals will be "reduced by 40 percent" by March of next year. There are few details yet.

New York spending big bucks for tourists

New York State is dedicating $50 million to efforts to market and promote the state as a destination for domestic and international tourism.

The amount is one of the highest — if not the highest — amount any state is spending for its tourism promotions.

The money will go to tourism marketing programs like the successful "I Love New York" campaign and will feature TV and online ads. The money also will fund promotions for transportation options for upstate tourism and on targeted international campaigns to boost tourism from Australia and Puerto Rico, two areas the state has identified as potentially key markets.

The state says tourism had a $100 billion impact on New York's economy last year and is responsible for 1 in 12 jobs in the state. Last year, New York attracted 277 million tourists, reports the Associated Press.