While I don’t think we’ll see a full blown award chart devaluation from American anytime soon (they’ve done enough damage to the program in the past few years), American has announced some (fairly minor) updates to their award pricing, which involve both Canada and Hawaii.
They’re both good and bad news, so let’s look at the details:
American is lowering some award pricing to Canada
Currently American has separate award pricing for travel originating in Canada. For tickets booked as of January 16, 2019, American will be aligning award pricing from Canada with award pricing from the lower US 48.
This will result in lower award costs in some cases, and no change in other cases. This seems logical enough. Redemption options to/from Canada are fairly limited, as American no longer has a relationship with WestJet.
The only oneworld destinations served in Canada are Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, so it doesn’t really make sense that they’d be a different award zone.
Just to give a couple of examples of the changes we’ll see:
- Currently a Canada to Asia 1 one-way business class award costs 65,000 miles, while in the future it will cost 60,000 miles; it never made sense that a Japan Airlines award from Vancouver to Tokyo cost more than an award from New York to Tokyo
- Currently a Canada to Asia 2 one-way business class award costs 72,500 miles, while in the future it will cost 70,000 miles; it never made sense that a Cathay Pacific award from Vancouver to Hong Kong cost more than an award from New York to Hong Kong
So this is a positive development, in my opinion, as we’re not seeing any price increases here, but rather just decreases in some markets.
The cost of Japan Airlines business class awards from Canada to Asia is decreasing
American is raising some award pricing to Hawaii
American is also adjusting premium cabin award pricing to Hawaii for tickets booked as of January 16, 2019.
American says that the demand for lie-flat seats to and from Hawaii is high, so they’re adjusting the award chart to reflect the demand increase and will be differentiating between lie-flat and non-lie-flat seats.
For travel originating in Hawaii, here’s their first & business class chart for tickets booked through January 15, 2019:
Then here’s their first & business class award chart for tickets booked as of January 16, 2019:
As you can see:
- The cost of saver first class award tickets is increasing from 40,000 miles to 55,000 miles one-way
- If the award includes travel on an aircraft with lie-flat seats in the US and Canada, the business premium cabin award pricing on a saver ticket will be 7,500 miles higher
- If the award includes travel on an aircraft with lie-flat seats in the US and Canada, the business premium cabin award pricing on an AAnytime ticket will be 20,000 miles higher
So a roundtrip saver level first class ticket from the lower 48 to Hawaii with flat beds will go from costing 80,000 miles to costing 125,000 miles. While the AAnytime pricing isn’t increasing for non-flat beds, for flat beds you’re paying an extra 20,000 miles each way.
The cost of flat bed awards to Hawaii is increasing significantly
On balance I’d say these changes are a wash, at least for those looking to maximize miles.
It’s great for Canadians that some award prices will be decreasing, because the higher pricing never made much sense.
The Hawaii changes are no doubt negative, though at the same time American hardly ever makes saver level premium seats to Hawaii available. So while the price increase is unfortunate, between the lack of saver availability and the high standard pricing, it never struck me as a great deal. For those booking standard awards, the cost is increasing by 20,000 miles in each direction if you book a lie-flat seat.
What do you make of these AAdvantage changes?