Massive DevAAluation of American Airlines Chart March 22, 2016

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American Airlines has announced a massive devAAluation of its award chart for awards booked on or after March 22, 2016. (It also announced negative changes to status and revenue-based award mile-earning on paid flights.)

The only two things I like about the announcement are that a few prices go down slightly and that we were given solid notice. You have just over four months to book awards on the current American Airlines award chart. On March 21, 2016, you will be able to book awards at the current prices for travel through February 16, 2017.

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

(That means you have time to get the  Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® and spend $3,000 on each in the first three months to earn 106,000 American Airlines miles you can spend on the current award chart.)

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This is, however, a massive devaluAAtion, especially in the premium cabins, in line with United’s bloodbath that was announced Halloween 2013 and took effect in February 2014. American has also, for the first time, started to charge different prices for awards on its own planes versus awards that fly partners like United does. So far there are only a few such differences and for not many miles, but I do not like that precedent one bit because partner flights are often much nicer.

Let’s look at the changes.

American Airlines Economy Chart

This left half of this chart shows the current one way prices in thousands of miles for flying American Airlines flights in economy compared to the prices for booking the same awards on March 22, 2016. Good differences are in green, and bad differences are in red. The right side shows the price for off peak awards now and next year.Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 10.40.05 AM

The best change is that direct American Airlines flights that are 500 miles or less will be bookable for 7,500 American Airlines miles next year. Of course you can book those same awards for 4,500 British Airways Avios now (going up to 7,500 Avios in February), so that isn’t even that great of a deal.

I do like that Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico are getting cheaper, and that American’s flight to Hong Kong will have an off peak price next year.

Price increases are mostly minor except that off peak awards to Japan and Korea are getting 30% more expensive and that off peak awards to Southern South America are going away completely.

You will notice that flights to Canada and Alaska, which used to be the same price as flights within the continental United States now have their own more expensive price. United made this change for Alaska in 2014.

Partner Economy Chart

This chart is set up just like the last one except that it shows the prices now and in March 2016 to book partner flights with American Airlines miles.

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The Middle East and Indian Subcontinent were too expensive, and they are getting cheaper. That’s good, but it hardly makes up for the elimination of most off peak awards on partner metal (only Europe remains, and it gets more expensive.)

You can also note that the drop in price we see to Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico on the American Airlines metal chart does not apply to partner awards.

Business Class Chart

Since there is no off peak Business Class award, this chart has American Airlines metal awards on the left and partner metal awards on the right. The prices are identical except that booking partners doesn’t get the discount for sub-500-mile domestic flights, and you pay extra to fly partners to Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

The higher price on the slashes within the continental United States and to Canada are only if you fly a three-cabin plane. Three-cabin planes operate between New York and San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver (Cathay Pacific), and occasionally on other routes like Los Angles to Miami. Three-cabin Business Class features a flat bed. Two-cabin flights operate all other routes and price at the lower price.Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 7.39.28 PMBusiness Class awards go way up in price, mostly in the 15-30% range. Australia and New Zealand awards are the worst hit, going up 28%.

First Class Chart

I saved the worst for last. This chart is like the previous one with AA-metal awards on the left and partner-metal awards on the right. You may have picked up that my color coding has red numbers when a change is negative and a red box when it is really negative. This chart has 100% red boxes.

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  • American Airlines First Class from New York to Los Angeles or San Francisco is going up 54% to 50,000 miles one way.
  • Cathay Pacific First Class from New York to Vancouver is going up 69% to 55,000 miles one way.
  • American Airlines First Class on its 777-300ER to Brazil or Europe is going up 36% to 85,000 miles one way.
  • Japan Airlines First Class from the United States to Japan is going up 28% to 80,000 miles one way. Relatively that’s a better deal than awards to Europe or Southern South America.
  • Cathay Pacific First Class from the United States to Hong Kong or Southeast Asia is going up 63% to 110,000 miles one way.

    Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 1.42.22 AM
    Cathay Pacific First Class
  • Qantas First Class from the United States to Australia is going up 52% to 110,000 miles one way.
  • Etihad First Class was already expensive to the Middle East or India and now it goes up another 28% to 115,000 miles one way.

    Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.55.33 PM
    Etihad First Class

Aspirational products just got put out of reach by American Airlines. What a bummer!

Other Sweet Spot Awards

I wrote about five sweetspots on the American Airlines awards chart that don’t touch the USA. How did those fare?

1. Europe to Middle East/Indian Subcontinent/Maldives in First Class

  • Is 40,000 miles one way
  • Will be 62,500 miles one way, +56%

Bye bye, cheap awards in Etihad A380, Qatar A380, and Qantas A380.

2. Middle East/Indian Subcontinent/Maldives to East Asia (Asia 1 or 2) in Business Class

  • Is 30,000 miles one way
  • Will be 40,000 miles one way, +33%

3. Korea/Japan to Australia/New Zealand in First Class

  • Is 60,000 miles one way, no change on March 22, 2016

Still a cost-effective way to fly Japan Airlines First Class

4. Southeast Asia to Australia/New Zealand in First Class

  • Is 45,000 miles one way
  • WIll be 50,000 miles one way, +11%

5. Africa to Europe in First Class

  • Is 50,000 miles one way
  • WIll be 80,000 miles one way, +60%

Bye bye, cheap British Airways A380 First Class awards.

Two bonus devAAluations:

  • Australia to Middle East (Qantas or Etihad A380) in First Class goes from 60,000 to 100,000 miles
  • Australia to Europe (Qantas or Etihad A380) in First Class goes from 80,000 to 115,000 miles

Bottom Line

American Airlines has massively increased the number of miles you will need to book Business and First Class awards starting March 22, 2016. Its chart will go from far better than Delta’s and United’s to just being in the same ballpark.

There is still time to earn and burn at current priced.

Earn

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

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Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

Burn

Book by March 21, 2016 for travel through February 16, 2017 at the current award chart prices.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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85 COMMENTS

  1. you mentioned economy off peak to southern south america goes up from 20K to 22.5K. But I see that off peak to southern south american no longer exists on new award chart. Where did you get 22.5K?

  2. JFK-YVR J and F are actually hit harder than you posted. If it’s 3 cabin flight, you have to add additional 7500 miles each way. So, CX F on that route is 62.5K, and not 55K

    • Thanks for catching that Business Class is more expensive than my chart showed. I have corrected it.

      I disagree that First Class is more expensive than my chart said. AA’s site says “+If the award includes 3-cabin aircraft in the U.S. and Canada, the Business/First Levels will be 7,500 miles higher than what is shown in the chart above”

      “Business/First” does not mean Business and First like you might imagine. It means Business only. It is the term AA uses for its Business Class chart (because it doubles as the domestic First Class chart.”

    • You cannot be approved without an actual business unless you want to commit fraud, which is a bad idea. You don’t need a huge business to be approved. Just apply with a sole proprietorship and your SSN and you may be approved.

  3. AA needs to hear loud and clear from their members how angry we are. This one-two punch of less earning and a massive devaluation is awful. A flood of calls and e-mails will not undo this mess, but hopefully it will cause them to hesitate on another round of bad news.

  4. Yikes. This sucks! The one bright point I see is that short economy flights are cheaper, and this comes at a time when American finally flying to my home airport in Albany again. So that could be handy. But still, this blows. I’d never use 110k miles to fly first class to Asia, even on Cathay.

    • That flight will be as cheap or cheaper with Avios, so I like the lowering of prices to Central America more, but the improvements are tiny compared to the devaluations.

  5. Hey Scott,

    I’m trying to plan out a few AA redemptions before the devaluation. I’d like to book BKK-HKG-LHR-KEF, but I’m not sure it would be allowed since I can’t find a published fare for it on Cathay’s website. Can you provide any insight as to wether this would be allowed, or if I’d have to stop the award and LHR and then book LHR-KEF separately?

  6. […] There are two Business Class seats and seven economy award seats you can book with American Airlines miles on nearly every flight from May 2 through October 19, 2016, the last day you can currently book with American Airlines miles. Business Class is only 30,000 miles one way from the United States to Northern South America, including anywhere in Peru. (And amazingly this price won’t go up next year when the devAAluation happens.) […]

  7. Not sure where you get such cheap Business Class AA awards to China. I tried from MSP, DFW, or SFO to HKG on the AA website and the cheapest for any of these in Feb and Mar is 140k each way. Where do you find 55k flights?

  8. Not only has AA increased mileage requirements on some routes but since the full merger with USAir saver level awards to Europe ( Paris specifically in my case) have become non-existant unless willing to travel on BA, pay huge fuel surcharges and longer travel due to an extra stop in GB. This is a major devaluation of AA miles! Where are FF seats on AA flights from JFK, Boston, Chicago direct to Paris?

  9. Scott, this is the best organized summary of the devaluation I’ve seen. Can you link to the spreadsheet you used? That’ll allow us to sort and see which awards were most impacted.

  10. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  11. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  12. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  13. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  14. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  15. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  16. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  17. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  18. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  19. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  20. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  21. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  22. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  23. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  24. I am a loyal subscriber and I am trying to book a non stop flight (for my daughter to come to a wedding shower) from NYC to LAX leaving NYC 4/1 in the morning and returning LAX 4/3 afternoon arriving in NYC at midnight. The prices are $500 plus which seems expensive. I could get these flights for 80,000 AA miles. I have no plans to use AA miles for a big trip right now. What is your advice? Keep the miles in case there’s an opportunity to use them or use them now? Should I wait and see if flights get cheaper? I only have 80K miles and always fly economy. Thanks in advance for your advice.

    • Do not redeem 80k miles for a domestic roundtrip. That’s awful. You should be able to get r/t biz or first for 50k or 65k. Wait for Saver award space.

      That’s only 0.6 cents of value per point. They are worth 1.7 or so cents. Do NOT make this redemption.

  25. […] Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart. […]

  26. Hey Scott, Love your site, emails and your e-book. I’m getting pretty bummed out with the American program in general. I have a decent amount of Aadvantage miles and Avios. In addition, I am tied into American quite a bit with the Prestige card and the Executive Platinum Black Card. Platinum status also. Just wondering which airline’s (or alliance) program you like best if I were to change my allegiance. Any help would be great. We like traveling to Europe, Caribbean and within the states.

    • Continue to fly the airline that is most convenient for you. You can look into crediting those flights to Alaska Airlines, which offers a little more value than American at the moment because of American’s negative changes. But long term, I would expect Alaska to follow American, so it might be best to just grit your teeth and stick with American. There is still great value in the program. It is just in different places.

  27. I booked an award flight to Europe pre-devaaluation. Today I tried to call and change the routing slightly (instead of a split EWR/JFK connection, I want to fly directly into & out of JFK) and they wanted to cancel & rebook my entire award ticket using the new rates. Does this sound correct to you? I’ve changed routing on United tickets after their devaluation and never had to pay the new fare.

  28. AA will pounce on any variation to your original ticket pre-devAAluation to screw extra miles out of you. Why? Because they can. I have had them allow that particular change in the past, although it did not involve extra AA miles. You need to HUCA and hope you get a more sympathetic agent.

  29. Yes it does sound correct but if you call back and get a sympathetic agent they can try. If not call back again. Then again

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