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.
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.