Four (Minor) Changes Coming To American AAdvantage

When I got an email from American letting me know of some updates to AAdvantage, I was immediately worried and expected the worst. So I was relieved when I actually read through the changes and realized that they’re not really bad. They might even be somewhat positive.

American has just announced four updates to AAdvantage, as follows:

Fiji Airways & Malaysia Airlines awards now bookable on aa.com

It’s great when airlines make it easy to actually ticket award reservations, so I’m a fan of when airlines add more partner award bookings online. This is something American is fairly good about, though they do still have some airlines that aren’t bookable on their website.

As of today there are two fewer airlines in that group. Fiji Airways and Malaysia Airlines award tickets are now bookable on aa.com. They tell me that they’re working on adding more partners in the future.

Changes to mileage reinstatement policy

For tickets booked as of November 1, 2018, customers wishing to refund and reinstate their award tickets will need to cancel those tickets prior to the scheduled departure time. You don’t actually have to pay the fee and redeposit the ticket as of then, but rather just have to cancel.

This seems like a reasonable policy to me, given how many people just completely no show award tickets, when those seats could have gone to someone else.

Iberia mileage accrual changes

Currently AAdvantage members traveling on flights marketed by Iberia and operated by American or British Airways in first class with booking code “F” earn AAdvantage miles and elite qualifying miles. However, those traveling in booking code “F” in economy do not. This is an inconsistency that arises due to how complex fare classes are, and that codeshare flights only make this more complicated.

As of September 18, 2018, AAdvantage members will earn elite qualifying and redeemable miles on Iberia marketed flights when traveling in the main cabin with booking code “F.” Specifically, members will earn 50% of the miles flown as both elite qualifying and redeemable miles. Furthermore, elite qualifying dollars will be calculated as 10% of the distance flown.

With this American is basically just fixing an oversight, so that’s good news.

Minor changes to Easter Island awards

Currently many AAdvantage redemptions to/from Easter Island break into two awards and are pricing inconsistently, because of American’s zone based award chart.

For bookings made as of November 1, 2018, all travel to Easter Island will require a separate award, and in many cases it will save people AAdvantage miles.

With Easter Island being a separate zone, you’ll now pay the following number of AAdvantage miles for one-way direct travel to Easter Island (there are flights from Santiago and Papeete):

  • Santiago to Easter Island: 17,500 miles in economy, 30,000 miles in business class
  • Papeete to Easter Island: 17,500 miles in economy, 30,000 miles in business class

Currently Easter Island is simply considered to be part of the South Pacific region. This means that if you wanted to fly business class from the US to Santiago to Easter Island, you’d end up paying 140,000 miles one-way (57,500 miles from the US to Santiago, and 82,500 miles from Santiago to Easter Island). So that same award would now cost 87,500 miles.

Bottom line

Like I said, whenever I hear about changes to AAdvantage, I assume the worst. But these are mostly positive changes, in my opinion, at least mildly so. More partners online is a good thing, the Iberia mileage accrual changes are positive news, most people will be better off with Easter Island being considered a separate zone, and the only negative change is to redepositing awards, and even that change seems fair enough.

Comments

  1. The change to Easter Island awards does close the opportunity for a 15k trip from Australia to Easter Island (Via AKL and PPT on Air Tahiti Nui and LAN), all within the South Pacific zone! This was almost impossible to pull off anyway though.

  2. I wish that they would take away the rule, that says you have to fly westward on CX if you want to book an award from the US to Asia. What if some of us hate CX and prefer another OW airline?

  3. That’s good news! For us based in South America it also means we can fly to Papeete for 60k miles in business, instead of the 82.5k required before! Plus, we could add a stopover in Easter Island. Wow that’s a hell of a trip. Thanks, for sharing, Ben!

  4. “For tickets booked as of November 1, 2018, customers wishing to refund and reinstate their award tickets will need to cancel those tickets prior to the scheduled departure time. You don’t actually have to pay the fee and redeposit the ticket as of then, but rather just have to cancel.” I read that as forfeiture of the miles that were previously reinstated with or without fees. Your interpretation is from an EP’s perspective I guess? Can’t imagine Douggie let go the revenue of award change and cancellation from general members.

  5. I haven’t been able to find any SCL-IPC award seats on either BA or AA websites for any date in the upcoming 11 months. Has anyone else had any luck?

  6. I remember when BA had its region-based chart and Easter Island was considered part of South America. Had a great little trip through South American, including Easter Island, on LAN for 80,000 round trip in business!

    Those were the days!

  7. @ tim — There is indeed very little award space on the route, unfortunately, it’s not just you. Often a cheap paid business class ticket is the best way to get there. Members of LATAM’s own loyalty program also have access to more seats.

  8. @ Terence — The point was that you can cancel a ticket and then later decide to redeposit it, rather than applying it towards a future ticket. That’s the case whether you’re Executive Platinum or not. But basically you just have to let the airline know you won’t make the flight before it’s supposed to depart.

  9. I’ve been looking for flights to Easter Island for 4 or 5 years, and have still yet to find a single reward seat on any date!

  10. I may be in a minority, but I happen to disagree that “more partners online is a good thing.” I think it is probably a net bad thing, not a net good thing, particularly when referring to one of the big four US domestic frequent flyer programs (including Aadvantage).

    When folks put their destinations into AAdvantage online and see, for example, that Malaysia airlines is a redemption choice, then more folks will suddenly be looking at Malaysia award availability. This, when combined with the ease of online booking, will almost certainly increase the competition for available Malaysia award space and so reduce the available award space. I would much prefer to have more award space, even if that means searching for it elsewhere and booking it by phone with American airlines agents.

    So, please, American . . . . DO NOT make CX space or QTR space bookable online!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *