A major american airlines devaluation on their AAdvantage mileage program was
announced implemented without warning yesterday. A series of changes happened overnight and thousands of frequent flyers were greatly affected. None of the changes are positive in my opinion, thus the changes certainly point to a devaluation.
Here are the major changes that occurred yesterday in the AAdvantage Mileage program and my thoughts on each change. I’ve listed the biggest devaluations first.
- American has eliminated stopovers at the gateway city on AAdvantage awards. This change is definitely the worse of all the changes. I almost always build in a free one-way to my AA international trips. I’ve booked or taken NRT-LAX(stop)-HNL, HNL-LAX(stop)-LHR, HKG-LAX(stop)-ORD and PPT-LAX(stop)-YYZ. Stopovers also price out to be two separate awards such as LAX-HNL(stop)-HND.
- US Airways has raised the cost of Dividend Miles business class redemptions between the US and North Asia from 90,000 miles to 110,000 miles. This is probably one of the best values for business class, especially since you can route to North Asia through Europe. I’ve booked a few of these trips such as NRT-LAX-IAD-VIE-NRT. However more practically, my family travels to North Asia often and we’ve booked dozens of these awards for 90K. It’s sad to see this go without any warning.
- American has eliminated distance based oneworld Explorer awards. These awards let you book a 16-segment trip around the world for a decent amount of mileage. These awards are very advanced award bookers that want to plan a round the world trip with multiple stops. Many people including I don’t have the time to take such a long trip, so I would say this affects very few people. For the few people who use this award, this is a major blow because they simply cannot book their dream trip that they might have been planning.
- American has created multiple tiers of AAdvantage AAnytime standard award levels. For a majority of us more savvy travelers, this really doesn’t matter because we never book at the standard award level. However, many people less savvy do book the AAnytime award and will be disapppointed when the award has gone up 10-25%. Even though I’ve never booked an AAnytime award, I always so the rate as a backup for an emergency.
- US Airways has created multiple tiers of Dividend Miles standard award levels. For us savvy travelers, these standard award increases don’t affect us much.
I’m sad to see these changes, but at the same time I expected the North Asia 90K award to go away soon. However, I did not expect AA to take away free stopovers, one of the biggest strengths in the AAdvantage program. The biggest blow to us is that AA did not warn anybody at all and just made a bunch of changes for the worse. At least United warned everybody when their award chart would change. For AA to devalue their program without notice is very deceitful in my opinion.
I will continue to participate in the AA program, but I would be very cautious of more devaluations. This major American Airlines devaluation proves that no loyalty program is worth trusting and to use your miles as soon as you can. Miles are worthless if they are not redeemed.