Q – We were just reading about American Airlines going bankrupt and it sent shivers down my spine. My husband and I  been saving Advantage Miles for years and we’re planning on using the 250,000 miles we’ve accumulated for several trips we have planned in the next 24 months. We’re in our seventies and not very familiar with how these things work. Our travel agent says we should just “stay calm” but the news doesn’t sound too good. We have good credit scores so we will take your advice about getting those certain American Express or Visa cards. But what if we were planning on using miles to fly American next June. Couldn’t they just change the rules and make it harder to get seats using the miles? Or, they could end the program all together.What should we do, this is really getting us frustrated. Any advice would really be appreciated..

A – Your travel agent’s advice to remain calm is sound. But there are some steps you ought to take to protect yourself while remaining in a state of calm.  You can use some of your miles to cash in for an open ticket coupon that will have a one year validity. You might also consider using your miles for one or two domestic vacations on American. We do think, as regards flights to Europe, that American will be making it harder to cash in mileage for upgrades and free flights given the anticipated decline in availability. There will be route reductions and some routes may be served with smaller aircraft. Unprofitable routes will be eliminated. This all adds up, in our opinion, to a reduction of between 15-20% in available overseas mileage seats on American flights in 2012. But that is nothing more than an educated guess. No one knows what will come out of this bankruptcy. The vast majority of aviation analysts take the view that this is really what American needed to do to remain competitive going into the future. And don’t rule out a potential merger. So, get rid of 50% of your American miles, enroll in one of the mileage credit cards we’ve recommended that allow you to transfer miles from your account to several major airline, join at least one other airline mileage club program, and request your mileage seats 11 months to the day prior to your scheduled flight. Do all of those things and you will be fine and, by the way, so will American. Watch American’s web site, AA.com for some significant new offers we expect to be available on January 2nd.