Last week, American Airlines revealed their new award chart that will kick in this coming March. While there was a lot of dismay and attention devoted to the premium cabin devaluations (there were some positives – look for that post later), many people may have overlooked the fact that American Airlines went to work on geography and reassigning countries.
American Airlines Shuffled Countries Around
When it comes to geographical locations, you never want to use an airline award chart to figure out where a specific country goes! Just check out this post to see how different programs assign two different countries for award purposes – really different!
Well, American Airlines took their map and reassigned some countries as well, while adding new ones to the mix. This, on the whole, is not really helpful for anyone redeeming miles and actually hurts one route quite severely. Let’s see what they did.
The Caribbean Is Here!
Under the old partner award chart, the Caribbean and the countries in it just didn’t exist. Now, they have added it along with all of the countries. I am not sure why this just got added now as you could book awards to the Caribbean before but now it is here!
The South America region is split up into two separate award regions – Region 1 (the northern part) and Region 2 (the southern part). These regions stayed the same with two exceptions. One is that they pulled Manaus, Brazil out of Brazil (and therefore out of Region 2) and placed it by itself in Region 1. This means that any award flights from the US to Manaus will cost 20,000 miles instead of 30,000 miles under the new chart.
The other exception was the addition of the Falkland Islands to Region 2. Before, it had not existed on the chart.
Europe Is Safe
No changes were made to the European geography.
Middle East / Indian Subcontinent
Here is where they began to reassign/add some countries. For starters, they have placed Palestine on the list – it had not existed before. Next, they added the British Indian Ocean to the list. The only place within that designation that actually has an airport is Diego Garcia. Diego Garcia is a UK naval base and (according to Wikipedia), as of March of this year, is the only inhabited island in the British Indian Ocean. The inhabitants are naval personnel and contractors so I doubt this assignment to the award chart will have an enormous impact on most AA travelers. But, if you need it, it is part of the Middle East / Indian Subcontinent.
They have also pulled Bhutan out of Asia 2 and placed it in the Middle East / Indian Subcontinent. Under the new award chart, that means that it goes from what will cost 37,500 miles one way in coach and 110,000 in first to 40,000 miles in coach and 115,000 miles in first (business stays the same). So, not a huge change except for how they will let you route according to their routing rules.
The one that is actually a bit painful for one particular route is the moving of Sri Lanka from Asia 2 to the Middle East / Indian Subcontinent (this actually makes sense as it is right off the coast of India). From North America, that hurts a bit because Sri Lanka was a nice place to fly to so that you could pay less in miles on your way to the Maldives (which you could purchase a cheap ticket for). This change will not be a huge increase as it will match Bhutan above but it will have an affect on your routing choices from the US as well.
But, it is very painful for Australians that fly to Sri Lanka as the removal from Asia 2 causes a huge increase – it goes from 30K in coach, 40K in business, and 50K in first to 42.5K in coach, 80K in business, and 100K in first. Those are some big increases for our friends in Australia to have to deal with (check out this post from Miles to the Wild for more information).
Finally, they also added Yemen to this region.
Africa did not see any drastic changes but only the additions of some names to the list: Comoros Islands, Mayotte, Djibouti, and Sao Tome & Principe.
Asia Region 1
Asia Region 1 remained unchanged with only 3 countries listed there – Japan, Korea, and Mongolia.
Asia Region 2
As I mentioned above, Asia Region 2 saw the loss of Bhutan and Sri Lanka from its membership. Also, it saw the removal of Guam as they moved that to the South Pacific. The difference there will be felt in coach and business as coach goes from 37,500 miles to 40,000 miles and business jumps from 70,000 miles to 80,000 miles one way.
They also added Macau and Timor-Leste to the list while removing Saipan.
Except for the removal of Guam, nothing else was taken from the South Pacific region. Instead, it seems that they just discovered the Polynesian islands as there were a lot of them added to the list. They didn’t exist in geographical categories before so they have just been added in now.
While there are not a lot of big changes, the most severe is the allocation of Sri Lanka to the Middle East / Indian Subcontinent region. For those flying from Australia, that is big. For everyone going from the US, that will still have an impact as you will not longer be able to transit Asia – meaning no Cathay Pacific to Sri Lanka. Since that was a route that many heading to the Maldives liked to take, that will no doubt be a disappointment but at least Qatar and Etihad are good options for them now.
Whenever airlines change things, it always pays to keep an eye out, even if it is just geographical designations. Some airlines have very good sweet spots on those charts so it pays to pay attention.