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Struggles & Strategies With AA Awards Before The Devaluation

American Airlines tickets
Written by Charlie

There are a lot of valuable AA awards that are about to cost you more miles! Here are some of the struggles and strategies I am using for booking all I can before it is too late.

Advertiser Disclosure

With the devaluation of the AA award chart in just one week, many people are doing their best to get their awards locked in before the turn of the calendar to March 22. For sure, there are some struggles getting it done!

Struggling With AA Awards Before The Devaluation

Background

American Airlines used to be the program that I did not play with as much as others since Delta (originally) served my scheduling/routing needs better and then United replaced it with the awards (and lower fees for easier travel to/from Europe) so AA was never high on my award accounts. That does not mean I did not collect AA miles (I did quite a bit) but just that I was not as vested in the program as I was the others.

That kind of changed last year when the easy path to AAdvantage Executive Platinum came out along with some great opportunities to rack up AA miles quickly. I have always liked and enjoyed using AA’s partner award chart but it wasn’t until the pending devaluation that I took my collecting of those miles a bit more seriously.

AA awards

A lot of AA partners to choose from for your AA awards

Booking Thoughts

  • I have enough miles to go anywhere in business or first class (and then some)
  • I have already booked all the trips I had plans for so these miles are leftover
  • My goal is to book one of the great business/first options remaining on the current chart before the devaluation strikes
  • Pick a location that would make for a great, beautiful run and/or race
  • Being Executive Platinum, I can cancel and redeposit later at no fee and use the miles for something else so this is not really an either/or situation right now and it gives me the freedom to book whatever I want
  • My schedule is very tight and I only have a couple/few days to be gone
  • The travel would be booked originating in Europe

Booking Destination Ideas

  • Europe – Africa is a fantastic 37,500 miles one way for business class!
    • But, for Cape Town, it requires going through London and paying the ridiculous fees and surcharges. Too bad Europe – Africa does not have an exception for Qatar.
  • Europe – Asia (1 or 2) is 57,500 miles one way in business class
    • My schedule would only allow me to hit one of the oneworld hubs and that is not really what I am looking for right now
  • Europe – South Pacific is 60,000 miles one way for business class
    • Already have a trip planned on this route so not interested again this year
  • Europe – North America is 50,000 miles one way for business class
    • Revenue flights are cheap enough leaving ex-Europe that it doesn’t make sense to use miles when I could buy the ticket and use a systemwide upgrade to business
  • Europe – South America is 70,000 miles one way for business class
    • That is a bit steep but will go up to 87,500 miles after March 21
AA awards

The current award chart for originating in Europe

So, I am still trying to figure out what I want to book! Again, I can always cancel later so booking does not mean that I have to fly it so I just want to get something booked for now.

My picks at this point?

  • Fly Cathay Pacific again
  • Travel to Cape Town
  • Travel to a Pacific island

Unfortunately, those do not exactly work together! 🙂

Strategies With AA Awards 

 Gary from View From the Wing confirmed back in January the kind of changes you can make post-March 22. Here is what they are:

  • You can change date and time without repricing the award, while keeping airlines and routing constant.
  • You can change routing without repricing the award, while keeping the airlines constant, with a few caveats. Basically you cannot break the fare. You cannot add a stopover. You’re going to have to stick with a legal routing for the primary carrier on the itinerary.
  • You cannot change award types, which means you can’t go from American only to flying partners. You can’t go from extra mileage award to saver award without a redeposit of miles and re-issue.

Here is the great news about this – anyone, whether you have status or not, can make changes to AA awards for free as long as you are 21 days out from the flight. The changes you are allowed to make fee-free are the ones above so you can book now and make changes to the schedule later to get dates that you really want (if they currently are not available).

Just remember that if you decide to cancel the award ticket altogether, it will cost you $150 for the first ticket plus $25 for other award tickets refunded at the same time (from the same account). For Executive Platinum members, it is free.

Summary

With the March 22 date coming for the devaluation, it is important to secure the awards now that you want before the prices go way up. It is a fun problem to have, namely, that I can travel anywhere in the world in business or first class with the miles I have. The “tough” part is just trying to decide where that someplace is going to be!

Thankfully, we have some leeway post-devaluation for changes. What are your strategies for award bookings and are there any awards you are especially anxious to book?

Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

2 Comments

  • Why all the booking ideas are mostly from Europe! Lol… 🙂
    Do you have any post or booking ideas from US west coast?
    When is the last day to make the booking before deval and does award flight in coach class affected too?
    Thanks!

  • >>Gary from View From the Wing confirmed back in January the kind of changes you can make post-March 22.<<

    That sounded great at the time, but since then many people have reported receiving the opposite answer from AA, that ALL changes will rebook at the higher award level. Perhaps the agents and supervisors saying this are wrong and mis-informed, or it may be their plan despite what a spokesperson said in January.

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