Big American Airlines devaluation unleashed with no notice

American Airlines did an excellent job of wiping out a hard-earned reputation for good standards with its AAdvantage programme by announcing (or, more accurately, not announcing) a massive raft of changes.

With no warning, a new series of reward charts has appeared on the AA and US Airways websites.

To be fair, these charts – so far – do not have a huge impact on anyone in the UK who uses AA miles for oneworld partner flights.  It is not a great sign of what may come in the future, however.

American Airlines

You can find out full details at One Mile At A Time here and here if you are a serious AA collector.  In summary, though:

oneworld Explorer rewards are scrapped with immediate effect.  These awards allowed you to literally fly around the world for not much more than the cost of a return flight to Asia and were great value if you had the time to use them.  You could book up to 16 flights across different oneworld airlines for a fixed mileage cost.

Stopovers are no longer allowed at ‘gateway’ cities.   American only used to allow stopovers at a limited number of cities, and will now not allow them at all.  If you want a stopover, your flight will now be priced as two separate flights.

US Airways reward flights from the US to North Asia increase from 90,000 to 110,000 miles.  This eliminates the major ‘sweet spot’ in the US Airways chart.

American ‘Anytime’ awards (where you can guarantee yourself a seat as long as cash seats are still available) will no longer be 2 x standard miles and will move to a more flexible, and expensive, structure.

US Airways adds two extra price levels for standard awards, although the prices and the criteria for them are still not published.

Whilst these changes will be sending some US flyers and bloggers into seizures, the truth is that they do not have any real impact on anyone here who was, say, collecting 30,000 American miles for a one-way to the Middle East on Etihad.

There may well be more to come, of course, as US Airways management makes its presence felt at AA.  I would certainly be wary of making a major commitment to American at this time unless you have a very specific reward in mind.

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Comments

  1. Brendan Sweeney says:

    Losing the gateway stopover hurts. I was planning DUB-NYC-SFO//SFO-ORD-DUB where stopovers I’m NYC and ORD now won’t be possible.

    The worst out of all this is the trust issue. Now that people know that AA are capable of acting like this without notice changes their future behaviour.

    • I know, this hurts, we were planning Hawaii with stopovers in NYC and SFO, so disappointed !

  2. darrenf says:

    I had just spent £1500 on 106k AA miles when this happened. Ouch.

    • Idrive says:

      I need to check how this affects my plans…hopefully it won’t that much BUT…still it burns!

  3. Phillip says:

    It almost feels like BA had more to do with the changes than US Airways ever did! 😉

  4. Hi Raffles

    I’m sure you read the thread on FT about this. Interestingly, a number of posters put this round of devaluations and s to bloggers who put all the best earning ‘opportunities’ out there for all to exploit!.

    Clearly untrue!!!!

  5. James67 says:

    This should be a wake-up call. BA seems to be, at face value at least, the last remaining major carrier with reasonable mileage redemption rates. The high YQs have probably sustained this to date but how long can they resist the temptation to jump on devaluation bandwagon? My guess is not much longer, especially if the YQ lawsuits cannot be managed to their liking.

    Best Avios policy must now be burn when the sun is shining rather than save for a rainy day. If only there was premium availability. Last time I checked I could not find a single CW seat bkk-lhr in next 10 months. I remain suspicious BA is already devaluing their scheme by stealth. At least AA has preseneted their saaver rates but I suspect availability on these will be shifted to lowest anytime seats so likely more stealth.

    In future I am pribably going to take a more passive approach to collecting miles and just take best revenue ticmets available to me on a trip by trip basis. I’m well placed to do this travelling mainly to see Asia as Finnair, Malaysia, Sri Lankan, and Gulf carriers alwags have good deals somewhere amongst them. Have taken same approach to hotels over the past two years. I believe it has paid me and I have got to stay in some much nicer hotels too. It is getting to the stage we really must ask ourselves ‘does loyalty pay?’

    • The lack of BA redemption availability is a big issue, availability to BKK/SIN/HKG etc is almost non existent or consists of outbound only, no return availability – this is an issue when trying to redeem a BA 2-4-1 on a route you would actually want to take. Usually good availability to Seoul and Tokyo. Previously when I had researched it, looking 10 (ish) months ahead there had always been a decent amount of availability and it does feel as if BA have chosen to reduce it. Likewise i find a lot of MAS flights where there is only 1 seat in Biz available, previously there had often been 4.

      The BA booking site gives bizarre results, not showing availability on a search from UK to Asia, but then showing availability if you search starting at a European destination (flying you into LHR and then onwards using a oneworld carrier or BA).

      I have a nice stash of MR and Tesco clubcard points, which wont be getting redeemed to Avios until they can be used, Virgin may become a decent option. Hopefully this can be timed to make use of conversion bonuses, but i wont use a conversion bonus just for the sake of it should it mean having a bunch of points which i cant then redeem.

      • James67 says:

        Totally consistent with my ecperience. Either of BKK, SIN or HKG would do me. Can get the odd seat on latter but nothing on others. Was so bad I decided to tag on a vacation in Jspan to get back from TYO before Xmas. Am now using search every way possiblr to try and get somrthing next February. Lots on MH, AY and CX but sweet nothing onBA.One other infuriating aspect of BAcom is it will not give you departures late in the day. For example BKK-KUL/HKG-LHR it givescyou the morning BKK departures for same day arrivals but not evening departures for overnight flights which I prefer. This happens even when ivernihht flights are available.

  6. Gordon says:

    Over the 2nd half of last year i accumulated 200k miles with american via the 35k mbna card and 20k spg amex in both my and my partners names. The aim was 4 one way flights to the west coast of the US from Dublin, taking advantage of tax and charges of less than £10 each one way. Towards the end of last year and before i had accumulated the miles, saver flight availability on AA metal at 50k one way disappeared. All there was was was anytime flights at 100K one way. Now, as of the end of June the anytime flights have been repriced. Most cost 135k one way! and at busy periods cost as high as 180k! There are a few at 110k. As there hasnt been any saver flights now for about 5 months for AA on this route, the prospects appear to be a near trippling of the rate from 50k to 135k or more.

  7. Colin MacKinnon says:

    Oh well, the other week I posted that I thought – because of Explorer – the AA scheme was the one for me.

    Still, the 200k points I have acquired since the 35k AA bonus will still get me value of AA transatlantic and Australia because of connections.

  8. I was thinking about building a big balance and use it on the explorer award. Glad I didn’t. Because of this big devaluation I don’t feel bad anymore for using 30k on a flight to AUH in J.

  9. Kilburn Flyer says:

    Glad I managed to bag my MIA-LAX stopover LAX-MEL-PER
    in AA/Qantas First Class for December 2014.

    Reward price for that routing stays at 72,500 AA miles but stopover in LAX no longer possible which is a shame. I think it’s outrageous that they didn’t give any notice for these changes though, particularly how they completed failed to mention it in the email about reawrd re-pricing

  10. Kilburn Flyer says:

    *Completely

  11. GUWONDER says:

    AA and US have also reduced the free baggage allowance for various customers. Still trying to figure out what this means for BA-issued award ticket customers on AA-operated flights as even non-elites on such BA award tickets for domestic USA travel have a history of getting free checked bags. I wouldn’t be surprised if that benefits has become history or becomes history soon enough.

    • Brendan says:

      That has been gone for at least a year now. There is no free baggage on domestic AA for non-elites on Avios tickets

  12. pazza2000 says:

    With the US stopover’s no longer allowed; that’s my potential NY/LA/HNL trip out the window. Will now solely use my AA miles on a M.East redemption, let’s hope that remains as it is.

  13. Idrive says:

    I can not find the reward booking tool anymore i just get the normal cash booking engine, where shall i go? I used it last week but now….??? Did they also change the booking system??

    • idrive says:

      found it, so far the no stopover seems like no tragedy but obviously a cost now…it was fun before, I was planning according to that!

  14. Will now head somewhere else on holiday later this year. Was intending a month long vacation in America and whilst its still on my bucket-list the cheap hops using Avios given the recent merger / OneWorld tie up definitely sealed the deal for doing it this year.

    Oh well, that’s 4 less tourists visiting the USA. And by all accounts, their economy could really do with every tourist it can get right now !

  15. Have had a look at Aadvantage a couple of times in the last 5 years. Never quite added up for me (due to the difficulty in earning 200k or so quickly enough, from London). Lately, the credit card helped there but thankfully not enough!
    Over the last year or so the AA availability TATL in J has got terrible … so really there was no point anyway, except for partner awards. But partner awards weren’t bookable until t-330… so that was that.

    Now they’ve just gone and made the AA Program worse. I do think many of the FTers and bloggers have a point that the US authorities have allowed too many mergers and the Party-of-3 are taking advantage.
    The one thing in AAs favour over the BAEC debacle, is at least AA T&C permit a no notice change. Still, you need a shady Program director and company to go ahead and act so despicably.

  16. needroos says:

    Off topic question altert! – Now that CX Gold is not a AMEX Plat benefit, is there any point in keeping it in terms of waiting for something else to come along? I dont have much use for the hotel status benefits and while the travel insurance is good its not £450 worth. I guess the only think that is helpful is the Priority Pass but then again with CX Gold it hasnt been used much. I have already referred my partner for AMEX Gold. Is the next step BA AMEX? Cancel Platinum?

    • There was nothing like Cathay Gold as an Amex benefit before it came in, and I doubt it will be replaced. Even if it did, it would be something like Etihad Gold (an upstart airline wanting to win UK business by offering high income customers lounge perks) which would have no benefit when flying BA.

  17. “I would certainly be wary of making a major commitment to American at this time if you have a very specific reward in mind”

    should be :

    “I would certainly be wary of making a major commitment to American at this time if you DO NOT have a very specific reward in mind”

  18. Does anyone know what the rules on stopovers are when booking on another carrier like Etihad. Are stopovers permitted or would they be charged as two redemptions?