This was an inevitable occurrence (in fact, I had another post that was to post about this later today before this news, so check back later for that) but I do not think anyone expected the new American Airlines (with US Airways) to strike a blow at their award chart so soon. That they snuck it in without prior notice makes it even worse.
Let me say this first – these initial changes are unlikely to affect the majority of you. The changes do not affect the whole chart for the lower cost awards, so you will be able to continue booking your normal awards without much impact. The only thing this should impact for everyone is to think more carefully about whether you take advantage of this deal to purchases US Airway miles – the best deal for their use has just disappeared.
US Airways and American Airlines and the New Award Chart
American Airlines Increases Standard Awards
This is one of those changes that should not affect many of you. AA has hiked up the cost of their Standard Award prices. Standard awards are the awards to book any seat on the plane as an award. So, if there is one seat left on the plane, you can book it with the Standard Award. Most travelers are booking Saver awards (which are the awards priced at the amounts we are all used to). Regardless, AA has driven up the cost of those Standard Awards to more than double and close to triple (in some cases) the cost of a Saver award. Check the new chart here.
American Airlines Eliminates the oneworld Explorer Awards
This is one of those special awards that allowed the traveler to fly up to 16 segments and have many stops while only paying the mile amount in a proportion to the amount of total miles flown. For instance, if your total trip was between 14,000 – 20,000 miles, you could stopover in a number of cities in this trip for a total of 100,000 AA miles in economy or 130,000 AA miles in business. That is just one of the numbers allowed. All in all, it presented the traveler, who was striving to get the most value and visit as many places along the way, with exceptional value. I do not need to go into this anymore since, as of today, these awards no longer exist! That’s right – no warning.
American Airlines Eliminates Stopovers on Award Tickets (at gateway airports)
Up until today, American Airlines allowed travelers to have a stopover at their international gateway airports on award tickets (even on one-way tickets). This meant that you could fly an award from London to JFK, stay there for as long as you want, then continue on to (for example) Los Angeles after a few months at no extra cost. Now, this prices out the next segment at the normal rate. So, in the above situation, it will charge you an additional 12,500 miles (if in economy).
US Airways Eliminates the North Asia Sweet Spot
I have written before about the sweetest spot in the US Airways award chart for North American travelers – 90,000 miles in business class and it would allow a stopover in Europe (which would have cost 10,000 miles more if you treated Europe as your destination). They have hiked this up to 110,000 miles – an increase of 20,000 miles. Again – no notice! At that price point, you are better off spending the additional 10,000 miles to make the award first class.
What Does This All Mean?
Is this all bad news to see award changes made? To be honest, these (and more) changes were expected at some point. The part that makes it really bad is that they did this with no notice at all. To do that right in the middle of a promo where they are selling miles makes it even worse. How many people may have purchased miles yesterday to book their North Asia award booking only to find that it will now cost them 20,000 miles more? Legally, they have the right to make changes. From a customer service/loyalty point of view, it is a terrible thing to do and I truly hope it is not a sign of what is to come. Sadly, I feel it is. Make sure you check back later today for some more on my take on these and other things about the award charts.