American Airlines Is Weeks Away From Eliminating Fixed-Price Award Tickets
Back in December, American Airlines shared that they planned to eliminated fixed-price awards in 2023, and make all award travel on American Airlines ‘web special’ variable pricing.
We now have a window into when this change will occur. American Airlines shared internally that these awards “will be sunset in multiple phases over the next several weeks.”
A spokesperson I reached out to emphasized that “several weeks” is key, and the changeover isn’t imminent. But this should give us a sense of timing for their current roll out plan.
Here’s the text of of the internal communication, which is about how agents handle AA20 employee and family discounts which apply both to revenue tickets and also to award redemption.
Sadly, eliminating fixed-priced redemptions is not good for members. Even if web savers are sometimes cheaper than saver awards, there has been no downside for the customer in keeping the saver level.
Back in December, American promised they’d still have an award chart but wouldn’t preview what that would look like, and promised that the last seat would always still be available on points at some price.
While we still don’t know what the award chart will look like, whether it shows a ‘starting at’ price or reports on recent costs of actual redemptions, it likely means eliminating a commitment to specific value for your miles.
It also means that when they raise prices they don’t need to ‘publish an updated chart’ which informs members. Whenever other airlines have eliminated fixed price redemption charts, the temptation to raise redemption prices has been irresistible.
In practice MileSAAver and AAnytime awards have been chipped away at for several years and were mostly already gone.
- American rarely published saver awards for long haul international business class on their own flights. The loss here probably won’t change how you should actually redeem your miles.
- The AAnytime award price was the cost you could always count on in a worst-case scenario. Although in truth, since April 2014 they’ve had multiple levels of AAnytime pricing, with the higher tiers unpublished anyway.
AAdvantage Managing Director Heather Samp confirmed to me in December that “at this point” partner awards will still price based on an award chart. That’s often what’s most important to those looking for the most value from their miles.
- We do not yet know yet, however, how variable pricing awards will work when combining an American Airlines flight and a partner flight (say, Austin – Los Angeles on American and Los Angeles – Tokyo on Japan Airlines).
- And we don’t know what inventory will be available for partner airlines redeeming their miles for travel on American, since that has historically booked into MileSAAver award inventory.
If you’re traveling internationally, you’re better off redeeming your AAdvantage miles for travel on partners like Iberia and Japan Airlines to get the best deal – not on American – nearly any time those airlines have award space available, if you’re looking to travel in business class to Europe or Asia. For as long as the partner award chart remains, and there’s a reasonable method for incorporating American’s flights into a larger itinerary, I’ll be happy enough.
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