American’s Lack Of Award Availability Is Inexcusable

Filed Under: American, Awards

This is unfortunately nothing new, though I think it’s worth highlighting every once in a while, just to point out how bad things have gotten.

American used to be by far the best of the big US airlines when it came to the number of saver level award seats they made available on their own flights. It was something that really set them apart. Over the years that has changed in a way that’s completely unacceptable.

I understand that airlines want to avoid giving away “free” seats as much as possible, given the opportunity cost of doing so, when they could sell them for cash otherwise. However, airlines have to balance that with the massive profits they’re earning from their loyalty programs, and realize that there’s a correlation between how they treat their members and how much they earn from the programs. In the case of American, they’ve gotten downright punitive when it comes to award availability. There’s simply no excuse for it.

Name whatever route you’d like, chances are that award availability on the route is awful. But perhaps there’s nowhere that’s more evident than between New York and Los Angeles, which are flights operated by American’s A321s.

Between now and the end of 2017, there’s not a single flight from New York to Los Angeles or from Los Angeles to New York that has a saver level seat in first or business class. Not one. Not a single one.


It would be bad enough if American only rarely made first or business class award seats available in advance, but the part that makes this truly inexcusable is that there’s never even any award seats available day of departure. These are mostly flights that don’t have anyone on the upgrade list to first class (since there’s usually confirmable upgrade space available), so the flights end up going out empty, or usually just with employees in first class.

Take one of American’s flights this evening from New York to Los Angeles, which has one seat occupied in first class.


Or a flight this evening from Los Angeles to New York, which has just two seats occupied in first class.


Yet there’s no award space. It’s one thing if this were an anomaly or something, but rather this is just business as usual for American, and it’s infuriating.

To add insult to injury, last year American devalued their award chart, and raised the cost of A321 first class between New York and Los Angeles from 32,500 miles to 50,000 miles one-way. At the time award availability wasn’t great, so I thought to myself “well, maybe this will cause them to make more award seats available.” 50,000 miles is a pretty penny to pay for a saver level domestic award seat.


Instead the opposite occurred, and award availability has become even worse. But now I’m just confused. Why did American bother raising an award cost by over 50% if they never intend to make any seats available at the saver level?

Let me again emphasize that I understand why airlines are making fewer seats available, given that they can sometimes otherwise sell them. However, there’s a difference between that and not making any seats available. They’d rather let seats go out empty in masses than to make them available to members, even after they raise award costs by over 50%.

At some point these programs go from generating loyalty to making us feel downright resentful… I’m starting to shift into the latter category. Increasingly I’m getting the sense that loyalty programs are being run as a division of the revenue management department, with no regard for what has made these programs so successful.

  1. I’ve noticed the same thing. I have a honeymoon coming up next year and see nothing available for those international flights, same with a vacation this year. Asia used to be easy, not lately.

  2. YQB-PHL only 1 saver seat available through the end of the schedule: September 13th…unfortunately NO seats available for the return.

  3. What kills me is that they are not truly giving award seats away for free when they are selling Aadvantage miles! I think we might be better off if the 3 legacy carriers would switch their redemptions to tracking cash value like Southwest, JetBlue, Virgin America. Why earn based off what you spend if you can’t redeem that way? I have spent as little as 2,000 points on one ways with WN and B6 this year due to fare sales. Why would I even want to spend 12,500 on a saver Economy seat unless first is wide open and I can get an upgrade?

  4. Keep beating them over the head about lack of AAvailability. You and Gary need to keep beating this drum because it is NOT ok for them to deny use of AAdvantage bookings by not making seats available. Its a really shitty situation for those who actually spent the time to fly AA and accrue miles.

    Best of use of AA miles is not flying AA. Hope that sinks in for them because its very telling to me.

  5. Beat you to it. Screw all the award programs, forget “airline loyalty”. Fly the best airline with the most convenient times, best amenities, and affordable price.
    All the programs might as well be eliminated.
    Then one day an airline can bring it back as a reboot.

  6. Absolutely pathetic… and it isnt even just limited to Premium cabins (although premium is especially bad).

    AA would rather seats go empty than let people redeem at ~$0.01 per mile for some routes (the Cuban routes, for example)

  7. Well said. I was thinking of buying AA miles today with the promo bonus for 4k, but after scanning award space availability for a few hours on flights, F*** them. Their loss.

    I’d rather fly my piper to Europe.

  8. …yet another reason people are choosing to give their business to anyone other than the US legacy carriers…

  9. @Ben thank you for highlighting this! My husband and I went to Australia and NZ last October for our 13 year anniversary. Having been Chairman level with USAirways for many years, I had 700K miles with American. No saver space at all unless I wanted to change airports. Burned 500K for the 2 of us, but we did 1st class the entire way (AA first class CMH-LAX is a joke! Qantas and Air NZ ECONOMY are better). I switched my loyalty to United, mainly because they’re Star Alliance, and I have status because I’m Platinum Premier with Marriott.

  10. Preach!

    Of course there are plenty of routes where sAAver economy is hardly available, making connecting to an international carrier (which can have good availability) impossible or more expensive if you end up having to drive or buy a ticket to the connecting city.

    I often don’t mind flying economy to a larger airport and premium cabin beyond, but it’s just ridiculous what AA is doing.

  11. It’s almost as if they want us to redeem AA miles for (more-expensive) Oneworld partners. It’s in AA’s best interest to let AA miles be redeemed for AA metal, and come to think of it, it’s in AA’s best interest to have partner-miles being redeemed for AA metal.

  12. Yup, and that’s a huge reason I’ve become a free agent. I burned a huge chunk of my AA miles on Etihad AUH-JFK and couldn’t find even one seat to get home to Phoenix, or even anywhere on west coast to get close. No interest in really collecting AA miles anymore and no reason to be loyal with how impossible upgrades have gotten.

  13. Just arrived (barely) at JFK last night, or early this morning is more like it, from LAX. While I don’t fly first or business often, I have almost 90,000 miles on American and a $100 gift card. Forget about using the miles to upgrade but even with the gift card, the flight was more expensive than JetBlue with less legroom and no free wifi. I booked with JetBlue. And although it was a nightmare to get here due to weather – we were almost diverted to Boston, JetBlur handed out free food and drinks including the booze to all passengers. Can’t imagine American doing something this nice for their passengers.

    I’m done being loyal to the Big 3. It’s better to just get a points/mileage card like Arrival, Sapphire Reserve, etc… just keep the airline cards for free baggage.

  14. This is why I will never be loyal to a U.S airline again. I’m happy getting my points with Chase and AMEX. I can chose travel partners that truly care about their loyalty program and offer First or Business class seats, aka KrisFlyer. At this point, AA miles are only good for redemptions on their partner airlines like Etihad or JAL.

  15. That’s why I blew my 400k miles on a trip to South America in the winter, will give up my status with AA and focus on Alaska instead. I have 1.5 million lifetime with them and don’t care anymore.

  16. No way. Premium cabin availability is great. On BA. With a $1000 surcharge. With two stops. And an overnight. On a simple round trip. In 10 months. For one freakin’ person(sorry honey, I’m going by myself…)
    AA sucks. Sorry for the quasi-expletive, but they do.
    Use AA miles for r/t’s to DOH on Qatar. Nice weekend jaunt:)

  17. I just blew 25k on an Alaska 1 hour flight in J because it’s likely the best price I’ll see for an AA domestic redemption this year and wtf else am I supposed to do with my hundreds of thousands of AA miles. Just cancelled the Barclays Aviator with the annual bonus of 10k miles because I can’t justify paying 0.89¢ for one of these shitty miles. New 60k offers? Don’t make me laugh.

  18. I seem to be getting several emails a week from AA, offering a “sale” price for miles. I just laugh and delete them. I’m not putting any spend on my AA cards, and have only kept the no fee ones open. And I would never consider transferring cc points to AA miles. Back in the day I applied for dozens of AA linked credit cards. But I haven’t applied for one in the past few years for exactly this reason.

    A few years ago AA was losing money on the airline, and only making money on the (Dis)AAdvantage program. I’m sure as more and more people find out that Saver awards are now mythical, their profits from selling miles, both to individuals and banks, are going to plummet.

  19. Totally agree but I think premium cabin awards (and even some economy seat awards) are much worse on TATL or to South America. It doesn’t look that bad on the surface but once you take out BA (YQ $$$$) space there is not much there.
    They are killing this program and loyalty to AA and don’t even know it yet.

    I would also add that you mention how AA used to be decent about awards and cheaper. If you add in US Air it was even better with off peak 60k RT business seats to Europe. It’s not like that was 10, 15, 20 years ago.

  20. Good post, keep it up!

    How about the consumer fraud being perpetrated by the flight attendant hawking credir cards saying the bonus is enough for a domestic round trip. That seems like active fraud to me.

  21. It makes me reconsider whether or not accruing AA miles is worth it anymore. When you can’t even redeem them for $0.01, I’m better off doing a cash back card or even UR at $0.015 via CSR.

  22. AA’s Saaver policy is: We’re going to keep increasing the cost of a product we almost never offer.

    At this point, why even make a distinction between Saaver and the full blown redemptions… Is this really discernably better than the delta route of offering a price without any guidance on what it “should” cost?

  23. Nearly 100% of the commenters on this post say they’ve abandoned their loyalty to AA and US legacy carriers in general. I’m certainly no different.

    The thing is, the airlines are *still profitable* despite this exodus. The airlines are not stupid. They are realizing that they don’t need to pay for benefits that cost even a nominal amount (such as award seats available only on the day of departure) because they don’t need to have a loyal customer base to be profitable.

    That might all change in the next big recession.

  24. Thank you, thank you. I have been trumpeting the demise of the program for the past couple of years. Fortunately, I will burn my final set of miles on a 65,000 one way return from Europe…

  25. I have tried to avoid emailing AA about this, but you’re right, email sent (for what good it will do). At least it will continue to remind them that this issue is being watched when decisions are being made.


  26. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my impression has been that this has been going on for a long time. I specifically remember being shocked *ten* years ago at the complete lack of award availability, for months and months, when trying to book a Hawaiian inter-island flight, with AAdvantage miles.

    I had a bunch of AAdvantage miles until recently and I looked at a bunch of options to use them, with very little success. I’m based in Boston and I looked at using those miles to book flights to Florida, to Central America, to South America, to Europe and to Hawaii. Extremely poor availability on American, outrageous prices (miles and/or fees) when award seats where available etc. I ended up using the miles for going to Asia, with a Oneworld partner of American. My conclusion is that currently this is the only decent option for using those miles.

  27. AA is the worst and until the banks who finance the airlines by buying miles put their foot down it will stay bad. Shame on Citi, AmEx and Chase. Fools. Chumps.

    AA has gotten amazingly bad to Europe in the past year. One used to be able to get airberlin flights to avoid British’s insane fees. Now airberlin has all but disappeared and almost every European reward flight comes up with British flights having fees in excess of what tickets can be had for cash. And other than from AA hubs, AA flights are never available to Europe. Anywhere.

    British miles used to be good for AA flights but now that value has disappeared too.

    As someone above said, I would love if AA just converted to dollar value for points like Southwest. I’m rarely able to use AA or BA for 1.5 cent value. And I have 1 million AA miles and 750,000 BA miles 🙁 🙁

  28. Beyond frustrated. Have been able to redeem premium awards on CX (to HKG) and QR (to JNB/CPT via DOH) for later this year, but there are ZERO saver awards (in Y or F) domestically to complete my itinerary to CLT. And these are Tuesday and Wednesday flights.

    As a result? I’ve had to BUY CLT-ORD; BOS-CLT; CLT-EWR; BOS-CLT in Y for two people to complete my awards — costing me an extra ~$1700. Absolutely inexcusable.

    I fly AA about 50k BIS per year, but I’ve matched my EXP to AS 75K, and will be crediting everything there from now on. It’s tough living in CLT, with little choice, but at least AS miles are somewhat valuable.

  29. AAdvantage is a big SCAM. The miles are worthless and have been for some time. You are an idiot if you put regular spend on Citi AAdvantage credit card. MilesAAver availability is non existent so $pend more miles for AAnytime and for what? So you can fly on an old POS. Yay! What’s the point?

  30. AA used to cap annual purchase at 60k miles, now its like 1 zillion, because its all $ in & no way out (to redeem) – good thinking. i have not flown 1 flight this year and just cancelled my AA credit card like many here do.

  31. Time to cancel those AA credit cards. Perhaps if Citi or Barclays would have a word with AA this will be resolved.

  32. Burn them, cancel or PC existing AA cards, stop flying AA almost exclusively, and move on is my only response at this point. Writing’s been on the wall ever since the US Air folks took over. Glad I was able to get J flights to Cairo and China over the last three years before the bottom really fell out.

  33. Good you keep bringing that up. The situation is indeed plain absurd.

    The lack of saver award space has no sense at all. There’s nothing available even for short hops in economy. I have an alert for PHX-LAX flights in May since January. Most of the time there have been lowest fares available on every single flight ($80) for sale and they’re still available. However not a single award seats was open over the course.

    Delta is a paradise in comparison. Plenty availability on most domestic routes starting from 5,000-5,500 miles.

  34. To have any chance of this changing, we have to get this in the mainstream media. It’s a scandal that American Airlines is ripping off the American public, and media outlets love a good scandal. Let’s see what we can do on that. Hit them where it hurts–hard.

  35. Frankly, you don’t write about this often enough given how bad things have become.

    Even If one tries to piece a trip together by segments in saver economy, they manage to block out any available space on early morning flights going east or late flights going west. They have done everything possible to prevent one from getting any saver space not only in J cabins on international routes but even economy on Transcons. Why would anyone want to accumulate AA miles, much less buy miles under these conditions? I can’t use the ones I have.

    And I couldn’t agree more that that new director of AAdvantage has don’t nothing right. They treat us like idiots…..

  36. What is really dumb on AA’s part is that they have the number 1 loyalty program in this new world where equity analysts are valuing airline stocks on the franchise value of their loyalty programs, yet they are actively dimishing their vale proposition.
    And they are absolutely feeling the effects of this devaluatory behavior in their credit card demand, and it is/will continue to translate into lower demand for their points and then for their flights in turn. When you are the market leader, the last thing you do is open the door for competitors to come in and outdo you at your own game, which is exactly what they are doing.

  37. I sent an email to AA about this a few days ago and got a standard response back:

    Thank you for writing to American Airlines. I’m happy to have the chance to respond to your concerns.

    We know that award travel is very important to our customers, and I am sorry to hear that you have had difficulty finding AAdvantage® MileSAAver award availability. We are committed to helping our customers travel on their miles.

    We strive to give customers flexibility and options in planning their award travel, even during peak travel periods. When a MileSAAver award isn’t available, AAnytime Awards can be used to book award travel on any flight with seats available. We also encourage customers to “mix and match” award options by using one award type for the outbound portion of the trip, and another for the return. This gives customers the opportunity to get the most flexibility out of their miles. For more information, please visit

  38. US legacy carriers are racing very quickly to the bottom, it seems. With Delta’s instability for miles value, and now AA pulling this stunt, would it be safe to assume UA is the least worst one right now?

    Do note that TPG has also decided to abandon AAdvantage entirely. I don’t know WHAT the US legacy carriers are thinking. Cutting corners, presumably.

  39. hi- is it okay to contact Bridget Blaise-Shamai directly (as per the first response)?

    Lucky, would there be any value in your putting together a summary that includes testimonials or snippets from our individual responses?

  40. And this is another reason why after 20+ years as a US/AA CP and EP, I’ve jumped ship and only fly JetBlue.

    Try finding a saver seat from the Northeast to Florida in October – OCTOBER!!! Impossible. 75k to fly from Burlington to West Palm. Insane.

    Sad to think that this once great carrier is now my carrier of VERY last resort.

  41. It is a business that we become the victim of greed. With all the promotions of selling miles and cc ad on the plane, AA make it sounds like an easy thing to redeem but in reality it is the opposite. They will open a few seat just to pacify a few but bottom line this is the new game in town, “NO SEAT for you my friend”, Now, let’s see who will cave at the end, AA or us leaving them, your choice!

  42. I don’t know why would you expect American to make saver space available when especially JFK/LAX is always full and oversold. You are making an assumption that they rather have these seats go empty when it’s not. Several bloggers have complained about this, and there is no justification.


    Ps I work for American.

  43. @adi You could contact customer relations and get the same canned response that @Chris received. In my experience going to the top always has a higher chance of producing a response (one way or the other).

    Many of us have had AAdvantage accounts for years and have been loyal to American Airlines through thick and this. It’s important that the executives that run the program be held directly accountable for its success or demise by it’s members and shareholders.

  44. I agree 100%.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I wonder if it’s gotten to the point where they’re breaking the law. If they publish these award charts and entice us to accumulate miles by advertising uses for miles that aren’t actually available, isn’t that false advertising? Maybe there’s a class action lawsuit here. At the very least it feels like a “bait and switch” routine; instead of feeling loyal to AA, I feel like I’ve been had.

  45. Why are we always talking among ourselves? we know AA has made aadvantage miles worthless and unusable and I never find Saver Awards .

    VENT your anger and frustration here [email protected].

    Just short email will do. I emailed and got reply with thanks for your comment!

  46. Abysmal Here’s how they responded to me (I’ve been on a quest for months):

    April 27, 2017

    We’ve received your additional communication as it relates to inventory controls for certain AAdvantage® awards. Allow me to explain further.
    We really do completely understand the frustration of saving up your AAdvantage® miles for an intended trip and then being unable to secure award space for the flights you wanted at the mileage level you wanted. When managing our award seat inventory, our capacity specialists use a predictability model which first takes into consideration the demand for seats from fare-paying customers. As with any business that offers a perishable product (once an aircraft departs any empty seat on that flight has “spoiled”), it is important to utilize every opportunity to sell our product when it is in demand.
    Many customers ask us exactly how many awards seats we allocate per flight. In answer, the application of the predictability model factors in customer demand, seat cancellations and “no-shows” and as a consequence, the number of award seats available on any given flight can fluctuate. This same principle holds true for discounted fare seats (purchased seats). They, too, are “inventory controlled” based on customer supply and demand statistics.
    We know that we must serve our loyal customers well by providing our frequent flyers with the ability to use the mileage they’ve earned by traveling with us. We do our very best in this regard. We have management personnel who are devoted to nothing else. However, while the majority of our customers are satisfied with award seat availability, we continually analyze our performance in this area in the hopes of more accurately designating our seating inventories. We will continue to do so and the details of your experience will be used as a part of that continued evaluation.
    Thank you for giving us this additional opportunity to comment on this important issue.


    Lucecita Rima
    Customer Relations
    American Airlines

  47. @Lucky Well said and more needs to be done to make them feel pain on this. It’s not as if American is offering some amazing product to begin with.

    On a recent flight from GRU I paid the premium award price for business months in advance. I checked regularly, including a day before to see if saver opened up. Nothing. What became so frustrating is that upon boarding the flight the next day Business Class was only 30% full and First (which also never had a saver come available) was empty with the exception of three American employees seated there (noticed by their oversized carry on bags and crew tags.)

    We are being hosed. It’s clear.

  48. This really really really needs to be fixed.
    Lucky, can you please get in touch with your exec contacts at American and ask them to release saver level award seats in premium cabins?
    This is beyond being ridiculous and no words can describe how terrible the award availability situation is with AA.

  49. +1 to all of this. Too bad you can’t sue them. I blame Congress and specifically Republican for their “no regulations at any cost” stand.

  50. I think there should be a lawsuit filed against american airlines and other airlines that do this. Think about it. They sell these miles to banks etc and people invest time and money in giving their business to these banks via obtaining their credit cards because it is advertised they can use these miles. Then what does the airline do? They sometimes don’t even release award seats and fly with those seats open thereby forcing the people with miles to have to shell out cash to fly. It seems extremely deceptive. I could understand if the seats all sold out etc, but if they are flying with open seats then the miles are useless and people got suckered. This is not acceptable. Its nothing more than a con and maybe people should start contracting their representatives in congress and complaining. Complaining is the only way we can stop this practice.

  51. Also, I bought a ticket from JFK to SFO a few weeks ago, no economy saver award available. When I actually got on the plane the last three rows were empty and I got a row to myself. Infuriating

  52. I just did a quick search for a few flights To destinations I’d like to go: TPA-EZE/GRU/SCL/NRT-HND/HKG. EZE: one saver business from may thru 12/31! GRU: zero C or F. SCL: it’s the best of the south American destinations i checked and has between 1 and 4 dates each month in Biz saver. Tokyo: a few dates in Nov and Dec. with a single or Double connection (dfw-lax). HKG: Zero! (Not even from dfw)
    I’m positive availability from Hubs may be better but that doesn’t help, even though I’m fine with Y to DFW or even LAX (last year we redeemed 2xF saver (before devaluation) on JL going thru lax both ways and it was all in Y (with an extra stop in phx on the return).

  53. At what point is this class-action lawsuit material for false advertising? We are earning and sometimes buying miles with the promise of redemption with little to no redemption options ever available? As you said, this isn’t just a one-off or on major travel dates…the plane can be completely empty and no saver space is open.

    If nothing else, i’ll be scrapping my AA cards soon and will be sure to let AA’s banking partners know that my reason for cancelling is that AA has made their miles completely useless and i’d rather focus on earning miles from other airlines.

  54. The scary thing is Scott Kirby, formally of AA is in line to take over United Airlines. As bad as the United Airlines Frequent Flyer program is not, I conjecture that he plans to make it worse.

  55. My guess is AA wants to see whether anyone will bite by paying the AAnytime award price of 85k?

    I agree this sucks but then again, I’ll admit I am not an AA flyer and have never redeemed my AAdvantage miles for AA (redeemed them for EY, CX, BA, QR, QF, JL).

  56. I suspect we will see full-blown revenue based redemption from AAdvantage soon. This is just a stopgap measure until then, and not one I will forget. I will not buy any further revenue tickets from AA. This is the single worst thing any airline has done to its frequent flyers, and I hope they suffer the financial consequences of their greed.

  57. Credit cards are the problem. They flood the system with cheap miles. When you get more redeemable miles signing up for a credit card than you do flying roundtrip in paid F to Hong Kong, you don’t have much of a “loyalty” program any more.

    The only “loyalty” scheme that still exists at AA to generate repeat business is elite status. For most part that’s not worth much unless you hit Exec Plat.

  58. I bet you American’s stance is that availability is better than ever, and that SAAver is 1/2 the price rather than AAnytime being double the price.

  59. Having read all of the comments thus far, and thinking that for every person who commented there are many who agree but who don’t take the time to comment, I cannot help but wonder why people are not taking this to the streets. Public protests, with signs and attitude, get attention. Certainly, were there an organized gathering outside of AA’s headquarters, would the media cover it? I imagine the time has come to do more than complain amongst ourselves. I’m not convinced, really, that cancelling my Aadvantage credit cards will mean anything in the scheme of things except to me. However, for example, if a date were set as a protest, on which thousands of card holders cancelled en masse, could that kind of solidarity have any impact? Could thousands of Y booked seats, all cancelled on the same date, have any impact? I have no idea what might attract AA’s execs into rethinking how they are insuring resentful amongst us, but definitely voting w/our dollars should get someone’s attention.

  60. Have found saver availability in business/first to Europe also nearly nonexistent for AA – however, they often offer BA flights that are accompanied with astronomical (and downright offensive) surcharges.

  61. AA can do this because Joe Shmoe flyer expects this. Jennifer Garner has already convinced him that airline miles are worthless because award-seats are never available… but now she’s actually right.

  62. You don’t even need to cancel your AA card. Just switch your spend to basically anything else… I’ve moved mine to the CSR but there are a lot of options out there. I think Citi actually noticed b/c they sent me a flight voucher in the mail (that didn’t help their cause but I used the voucher).

    American derive so much of their revenue from the Citi AA cards that everyone switching their spend will be very noticeable to them (I think this came up in their earnings conference call this week).

  63. “Inexcusable!”
    “Class action lawsuits!”
    “Take to the streets!”

    Y’all are too funny

  64. Boycott UAL. Boycott AAL. What else do you have left for most people? The reality is that they all suck and don’t care (since you will have to fly them anyways). I see the quality of the entire industry has been going down since 2008, which is all post-911, while the industry is making record profits, IMO all because of the major mergers, one after another. What did customers get out of the mergers? Had the government dis-approved those mergers we would be flying better products today.

  65. For me, the lack of saver-level availability is somewhat offset by the ease of obtaining about 300k AA miles over the past few months.

  66. I live in St. Thomas US Virgin Islands and need to travel frequently between Charlotte or Philadelphia. The same availability problem exists for those destinations from St. Thomas for the next year there are 0 mesaver seats available in business. This is pathetic and really disheartening. I’m a platinum for life flyer loyal my entire life to American I’ve got over 5,000,000 miles in the bank and I’m wondering whether I should just flush them.

  67. I think this has all shifted to the gate agent. AA wants to ensure they don’t have to commit to giving you anything until they have to.

    It does seem counterproductive though to not clear or give people the option to book an award ticket on the day of travel.

  68. @Lucky
    Totally agree. But you bash Qantas FF and Miles & More as being useless… but as an Elite (any QF Platinum and above, and any LH SEN and above) you can request award seats and they very often come through. This actually gives significantly more flexibility than taking what’s available. Someone with your knowledge can look at loads and guesstimate whether a seat will be released.
    So how are these programmes worse than AA? I have elite status in both and am *very* happy. Fwiw I’ve booked a few AA transcon F tickets this year through QF, and have successfully requested LH F FRA-LAX twice this year. There times if you include requesting an upgrade for my sister.
    I’ve also requested QF F DFW-SYD and LAX-SYD and had them both come through for May and June travel.
    I think it’s time you revisit.. just because the miles/points are harder to earn for US credit card holders doesn’t make them less valuable.

  69. The only use of AA miles now is to redeem on their partners. However, if you don’t live in a city with many of their partners flights, sorry you won’t be able to connect to it. The only good thing I found is that from their hubs to Mexico, the award availability is still good.

  70. Ben – in addition, “U” inventory is very hard to find on a lot of routes that are not LAX-JFK, etc. What really bothers me is the lack of “C” space, especially since EXP’s SWU’s were cut from 8 to 4. I shared this and a few other thoughts with my annual call from the EXP executive liaison last week.

    I get it is a business. I get AA needs to make money. I still believe some differentiation, or good service, can help separate one airline from another. Sigh.

  71. In the last year I’ve cancelled both my Barclay’s and Citi AA cards, mainly because I’ve come to realize that FF programs are an exercise in frustration and disappointment. Now I just use a Fidelity Visa with 2% cash back on every purchase and a Costco Visa for some purchases at even greater cash back percentages. No annual fee for either. With RT economy fares to Europe and elsewhere dropping as they have (routinely in the $400’s), I can just pay for a ticket (on any airline), pay for lounge access if I want to, pay for an upgrade to premium economy if I’d like, and still come out ahead. Obviously no hope of business class or first class with such a strategy, which is where the “fun” used to be with travel credit cards, but that game seems to be basically over. I personally don’t find Alaska or UA availability any better than AA. . .

  72. I don’t understand why American views award tickets any different than revenue tickets. I would assume that American has to hold the value of mileage balances as “prepaid” balances on their balance sheet, just like vouchers and gift cards. By allowing customers to use their miles, they are reducing the prepaid balance on their balance sheet and recognizing the revenue. I would think that American wouldn’t recognize the revenue from selling miles, until those miles are actually used, since they are just a prepaid until the miles have been spent. Similarly, when flying and earning miles, I view mileage earning similar to when you buy $300 of gift cards at office depot and they give you a $20 gift card in return. Purchasing the $300 in gift cards was contingent upon getting the $20 gift card. When I purchase my ticket, I know how many miles I will earn and I use that as part of the overall purchase decision. In American’s case however, they are offering the $20 gift card, but it turns out that it can only be used on the 5th Sunday of the month when it is a blue moon and both high and low tide at the same time.

  73. I exclusively fly Southwest. Award availablity is always present. Theoretically, the whole plane could be traveling on award tickets. I recommend you all start doing the same.

  74. Totally agree. I was so excited to get the credit cards and get some bonus miles quick. And I flew AA to HK and go a TON of miles for that flight too.
    But Now I sit with almost 200k miles and I look at it and it’s crazy to think about spending SO MANY MILES to take such simple flights using miles. I have found that some of the international trips I’m looking at have “some” avalability but its crazy to think I have all these miles and not a lot to use them on.

  75. last year: 137,000 paid miles flown on AA

    2017 paid miles flown on AA: 0

    i voted with my wallet. i suggest other soon-to-be former Executive Platinums do the same.

  76. I couldn’t agree more with all of your comments. A couple weeks ago I wrote to American Airlines and asked Customer Service, among other things, to show me any upgrade availability from MIA to LAS, MIA to LAX or the other way around until the end of the year. There was and there is none to date. In addition to make the AAdvantage almost useless (one can still redeem AA miles for international business or first class seats with JAL, Qatar and Cathay), the changes in the program also made a collateral damage, the Business Extra program. The best way to use its points was for domestics upgrades, notwithstanding the restriction on certain fares. Now, with the virtual extinction of upgrades in general, what to do with the Business Extra points, which have an expiration date?
    I hope AA’s frequent flyers become angry enough to make the company realize that it can’t ignore them, as it has been doing to date.
    As to me, in addition to keep on writing AA demanding changes on its upgrade policy and not voting for the company in the Freddy Awards, I’m decreasing my annual expenditure on domestic flights with them and, whenever possible, taking JetBlue Mint.

  77. It’s kind of sad. If you want to use AA miles, forget about AA’s own flights for both domestic and international & look somewhere else. When I was searching for a flight to get back to US from Europe this summer, absolutely no AA flight available whatsoever at all!!! I ended up booking an air Berlin flight to Boston and continues onward with Alaska to Seattle. Had I live somewhere else that’s not an Oneworld international connection city or an Alaska hub, I genuinely wouldn’t know how to spend AA miles…

  78. Not only are they treating their best customers so poorly, they are constantly trying to lure new people in with their slick and colorful marketing pieces. It’s like a ponzi scheme that keeps trying to lure new people in to keep the racket afloat.

    I get emails and physical mailers that promote the AAdvantage program and how great the possibilities are. Knowing the truth, every time I get one it fills me with disgust, the same way I feel when I get emails or mailers from scammers.

    It’s OK for AA to promote their benefits that they actually deliver on, but when they deliberately make it nearly impossible for most people to get award seats, then they are conning people. It wouldn’t be a con if they upfront put up disclaimers that advised people that it is extremely difficult to redeem miles for saver seats. The difference between a con and a fair deal is: what is disclosed up front about the odds of getting what is alleged to be offered.

  79. @John. In fact Exec Plat has little value anymore as well. Few upgrades, the saver awards for us are also non-existent, and nothing in the way of anything special in the way of service or consideration. Trust me, we are sitting in the crap of this with every other flyer and they don’t care. It’s why I am gradually moving trips to Delta and at least getting an airline that, while far from ideal, seems to be at least trying.

  80. Have been completely loyal to AA since early ’80’s. Never flew another airline. No more. I avoid AA like the plague on every paid ticket I take. We can thank Dougie-boy Parker for totally losing any loyalty AA earned. I don’t care if they go bankrupt.

  81. The past few years of listening to you and TPG both be cheerleaders for AA when their program stank really stretched your credibility.

    I’m glad you’ve both made nice with United and maybe we’ll get some more balance in the reviews.

    But given that we’ve lost so many domestic carriers in the past 10 years, I doubt any sort of boycott of any domestic carrier can be very effective. I love JetBlue but boy I hate taking a redeye on a non-Mint plane (and sooo many of their eastbound flights are redeyes!) so I’ve done most of my domestic non-SF/LA/NYC flying on Delta. I get there on time and their domestic first is reasonably priced, unlike United/American/Virgin.

  82. Write to your senator–particularly if you live in an AA hub. Senate hearings are the one thing that frightens any business with a public sales focus.Those hearings might/should include testimony from the public. Even the threat of legislation might trigger some long awaited reforms.

  83. I believe that because AA and BA have ammunity to anti trust laws on the trans atlantic routes they have colluded to funnel premium cabin customers through BA when using saver level awards. They most likely have a cost sharing scheme for the huge carrier imposed fees BA has for all awards especially premium awards.

  84. As a once-loyal AA customer, the turning point for me as a Canada-based flyer was when they not only devalued their award chart, but as the only North American program also started to charge more miles for Canada departures and arrival, resulting in a dual devaluation.

    With the additional lack of saver award tickets, I stopped giving them any of my business, and burned all my miles.

  85. Everyone should file DOT complaints. If someone is an effective writer, I’d love a template. I think if enough people complained, it would get some attention.

  86. AA effectively devalued their program.

    For RTW17✈️. Got EYAprt Sydney-AUH ok at desired dates but nothing in 1st to US

    Checking out BA 787s instead for similar miles but $$.

    Oh well.

  87. 10 year EXPL couldn’t take AA anymore…went to Alaska. Hapy face! What to do with my rapidly disolving 1,400,000 aa ff miles?

  88. I am flying tomorrow IAH/DFW/CDG, 8 seats avalable in Premium Cabin but still impossible to convert mi Coach to Business.
    And the worth thing, i got 8 worldwide upgrade last year and they are now useless.
    Yes if you request IAH/DFW/LAX you have the link “worldwide upgrade” but in reality it’s always from IAH/DFW or LAX/LAS.
    I got an Avianca life time with a credit card now, i am not worried because it can’t be worst than AA program which is a rip off.

  89. Guys –

    I don’t think you get it. Plentiful Saver awards are done, over, finished. The only way to redeem AAdvantage is with AAnytime awards. Forget the saver awards. They’re like Bigfoot or Lochness Monster. Pure fantasy. If available, which they’re not often, they tend to involve one or more connections even hub to hub. Who wants avoidable connections on leisure travel. I’m flushing my miles through non-stop AAnytime tickets and will not look back. Mind you, this is coming from a loyal customer who is 3 million miler on AA.

    I had 4 unused Systemwide upgrades that went unused at the end of February. Literally not one LAX-JFK flight to use them on in Dec, Jan & Feb. Tried other routes, some international one with the same result. SWUs are total scams. Virtually unredeemable. Mystifying. The only customers who get them are EXP. Then AA doesn’t allow these customer to use them, even when they’re selling a coach ticket in the process.

    I remember the days when you managed your annual travel calendar to achieve annual EXP status. No reason to bother anymore.

    Just flush the AA miles and be done with their AA frequent flyer loyalty fantasy.

  90. Got 2 Biz SFO-SYD next year and I sadly feel like I stole them while they had their pants down. I’m lifetime Gold and I’ll never step on their plane again

  91. Yup. You can’t use AA miles for AA flights except for AAnytime awards. No Saver awards, ever, on any route I’ve cared to check (certainly no transcons or flights to Europe or South America). And there isn’t even any upgrade space in C. They *are* still pretty good if you want to redeem on IB, EY, or JL, but that’s basically it. I’m spending a whole bunch this summer and will be happy to get rid of them. Certainly will not make any effort to acquire more. AS all the way for me from now on.

  92. I think AA want to reduce the number of EXP.
    I don’t know why since it doesn’t provide anything else than some upgrades on secondary routes and access to the First Class lounges which are far from the quality of business class lounges of QR or TK.
    I can give you a tip for transatlantic flights, fly IB, the food is awesome and you will get plenty of useless miles :)))
    An other tip if you want to spend your miles and waste your money, get an award ticket with BA, you pay with your miles plus the price of a ticket.
    In top of all the food is terrible in business …

  93. I assume it’s also to block partner mile bookings on AA. For example it’s nearly impossible to use Avios on AA any more. The only recent award bookings I’ve made using AA miles are a pair of upgrades from business to first (LAX-JFK and DFW-HKG).

  94. I have a small stack of AA miles and 100K Avios (which I got to use on AA flights). Ever since I got the miles, I can’t hardly ever find a saver flight to use them on. MCO-CLT nope, MCO-ORD nada, MCO-JFK nothing. MCO-DFW zip. MCO-LAX zilch. I was more thrilled than I should be to find a saver MCO-CLT one way which I burned 7500 Avios on. Currently, I’ve found better value with Delta. I was able to find a saver 12.5K LAX-MCO routing and even CLT-ATL-MCO for 14.5K. Considering that AA wanted 25K for CLT-MCO return trip I’m starting to like Delta’s variable pricing more than AA’s non-existent saver fares.

  95. If there is even a single premium cabin seat that goes out empty (or is filled with a non-rev employee), AA SHOULD have released it as a sAAver seat. Of course, we all know they didn’t. I’ve been on the 77W in business class LHR-MIA where it went out with 20 empty seats; not once did my expert flyer alert identify an open “U” seat from the time I booked it to the time of departure.

    Revenue Management 101.

  96. I’m lifetime platinum on AA with 700k in the bank and must now use anytime miles from Chile to Lax after a cruise. Guess all it’s good for now is free baggage and priority economy. It was good while it lasted. When I first joined in 1981, I was even awarded mileage on a Lax to Martinique trip which was first class from mileage. Didn’t take long for them to catch on. Thanks American you WERE great for awhile but all good things must end. It WAS a great loyalty program.

  97. I’m pretty sure that will change once the cheap EXP have been washed out of the system end of this year. As CK they are already opening up saver space upon calling them. People just have to realize the game has changed and everyone is free to seek his entertainment elsewhere.

  98. This might be the most comments on any single post. Anyways, +1. I’ve started working on United again, mostly because they’re the best of what we have in the US for this sort of thing.

  99. Keep pounding the drum, Lucky. Agree with everyone. I started looking at AKL, SYD, HKG 330 days out & going back months: not 1 premium seat nor C (eVIP upgradeable) seat available. What’s the value of the miles & eVIP’s if you can’t use them? (I write this from London, where I came via DL in J!) AA certainly is changing my future travel & behavior.

  100. The number of responses indicates the great anger that exists over AA miles and total lack of availability.

    Has anyone noticed that many of the connecting premium available offers involve Y class on a leg, even though the category selected is Business/First?

    Or that there is NO availability at all on Business Class to Europe at the Saver Levels – ever!

    I reside in PHL and it has become intolerable – I refuse to fly AA after many years and millions if miles – I go out of my way and pocket to book others like DL

  101. Curiously, when I can book far enough in advance, I am pleased with AA or AA partner award space. I have two tickets, business class MIA-LHR on AA end of May, 2 LHR-MIA business class on AA middle of September, and 2 F tickets on BA(AA award) MIA-LHR just a few days before Christmas. Being able to book 10+ months in advance, with semi-flexible dates, I have been pleased with AA award availability. My 2 cents worth!

  102. Grrrrr. Alll you frequent flyers!!! You just wait….now we’re going to get partners to eliminate seats!!
    You’ve got freedom of spech–except on our planes.
    We’ve got the seats.

    Go pay for Netjets. We aren’t operating a charity.

  103. @AnnoyedbyAAbashing you dislike the comments bashing AA? why? because the truth stings? that AA often does let premium cabins go out empty, or loaded only with AA-employees is not a hypothesis but a fact verified by flyers who frequent this board. Now quit defending the perp and go back to asking, “coffee-or-tea sir/ma’am?”

  104. Please keep banging the drum about this. Add me to the list of frustrated and furious. last year I transferred a bunch of SPG miles into my account to get the 5000 mile plus 20% bonus they were offering and now I regret it. Trying to get anywhere in Europe without being forced through LHR via BA with usurious surcharges is impossible. I am now regretting having all the miles I cannot use. Once I find a way to use them, I will be dumping AA and the branded credit card I’ve had with them for 20 years.

  105. I’ll throw in my two-cents too. This AM tried to find Saver awards to PDX from PIT in F at ANY time with ANY connections and on ANY day for the next year. Nada. Not a single seat. This is obviously intentional on AA’s part.

    With almost a million miles banked, this really makes the 15 years of loyalty go down the drain. I can’t say I didn’t see this coming – I started spreading my business around last year. I am newly elite on United, BA and still on AA but down to Platinum for the first time.

    But I WOULD like to burn my AA miles and be done with them. Any suggestions? At Saver rates? I can go anywhere as long as it’s not in Economy.

  106. @Lucky. I think you have hit a nerve here. One of the most reacted to posts you have published yet. I also see this as an opportunity for you. Given the climate right now for news hungry media on the woes of passengers and U.S. airlines it seems this is a good chance to reach out to your media contacts and show them the reaction and examples here. It will also be a good boost for your blog, We all can win. Encourage interviews and articles in how the U.S. airline industry is blatently practicing bait and switch policies disguised as yield management.

  107. Look, just book AAnytime and use your AA miles for upgrades. Don’t accumulate AA miles.

    I’m an American Plat, I am on a domestic leisure trip right now that I booked with an AAnytime award. How did I get my miles? By flying BIS miles on American for work. A few JFK-LAD in paid business class gets you a lot of miles to use for awards. I also converted earned SPG miles to AAdvantage. Since the miles were “free,” I don’t really care if they are SAAver or AAnytime.

    I also upgrade some of my paid JFK-LAX or SFO transcons from business to first using 15,000 miles. I also use them for short hops (LGA to Boston).

    So I earn a lot of AAdvantage miles through flying, but never keep a balance higher than 50,000 or so. That’s how to use the program in 2017. Anything else sets you up for frustration.

    Also, Lucky, can you post detailed comparisons of American to Delta and United when it comes to availability?

  108. @Anthony, if you’re interested in crappy redemptions, why don’t you just use all of your miles on magazine subscriptions?

  109. I qualified for both UA 1K and AA ExPlat over the past five years. I got sick with the award availability trend, mileage devaluation and change of ExPlat benefits, so I haven’t step a foot this year on AA. 100% focused on UA 1K, where the award availability is decent.

  110. Living in Boston I have switched over to JetBlue for all Domestic & Caribbean flights. Anything else comes from Chase Ultimate Rewards.

    It would help if other bloggers didn’t trumpet their cards every time a bonus is increased or at least be honest and put a disclaimer about how impossible it is to find award space.

    Same thing with posts about Avios. Newsflash, those 7500 point short hop domestic flights on AA are non-existent.

  111. I love/hate AA. Mostly fly to Europe. On “award” miles they shift you to BA which can charge fees in excess or equal to the price of the ticket. You know this but it always helps to remember. Click AA only, not partner airlines. And watch the available dates disappear…

  112. AA might as well modify their award charts to exclusively reflect AAnytime awards pricing- b/c that’s the only redemption option available in almost all cases now. What a scam – I feel sorry for the people who actually purchased worthless miles – including the banks and other businesses using them as incentives. Just give me a toaster b/c at least I can use that.

  113. If you are retired you can spend months trying to find business saver to south America for 2. Still looking month four. I do agree all the main posts kept touting how good AA is and AA keeps selling/giving miles which are now useless.

  114. Dolan Trump

    – my flght redemptions save me thousands on dollars on flights I have to take. Going to a wedding, thanksgiving, Christmas, etc – I save thousands via AAnytime bookings, all through miles earned by flying or staying in hotels. And I redeem for the flights I want, when I need them.

  115. @Anthony, we’re not interested in how you saved tens of dollars by burning thousands of AAdvantage scrip on the most boring and unrewarding redemptions AAvailable. You come off as someone who’s proud to have spent $20 on a Big Mac.

  116. I think if Lucky really wants to see some change, he needs to publicize some info regarding what we can do as a community. ~138 commenters on here that are almost all pissed off with AA.

    Lucky, give us something we can work with. Without actionable information, we are just whining.

    That is one great thing about John Oliver… you might disagree with everything he says, but he teaches his viewers how to make their voice count in a meaningful way. He doesn’t just bitch and moan.

    Oh, and also Lucky, this post should be stickied at the top of your page, or at least copy/pasted every week. In my opinion, as such.

  117. Someone smarter than me: Please explain why AA would let planes go out empty rather than make saver award space available last minute to fill the seats. Isn’t that the whole basis for loyalty programs? Allow the excess inventory that would otherwise not be used to be redeemed using miles by their most loyal customers. Clearly they know its happening so there must be some logical reason for doing this? Dear AA – If your plan is to kill AAdvantage, then do it quickly and humanely. Stop trying to sell us worthless miles ‘with a bonus’, peddling your credit cards in flight, and telling us we can use miles for SAAver awards. Hell why not just stop awarding miles altogether for flights since its obvious you don’t care about loyalty anymore.

  118. AA has a mileage “sale” on almost permanently, but terrible or non-existent seat availability. Try and find an award seat on any route they monopolize, like DFW-LAX or DFW-MIA direct, they hardly exist despite the number of daily flights. Seriously the Federal Trade Commission should examine their award program practices.
    Note that I nearly ALWAYS book paid flights with another airline despite being a lifetime Platinum AAdvantage member. This is my reciprocity for how AA’s “loyalty” to me has transpired in recent years.

  119. The response from AA CR posted above contains a shocking assertion that most AA customers are satisfied with award availability! How can AA say this?

  120. I hate AA’s award program! On the first day of availability, an award ticket I was looking for cost 75K AA miles for a single one-way ticket! I just booked 3 of us on United for 75k miles roundtrip for the same itinerary! I’ll never be able to use up my AA miles. It used to be so good before it acquired USAirways and for shortly thereafter.

  121. Lucky,

    Can you print these 145 comments and present to the person responsible at AA?

    Absolutely absurd.

    The question is, do they know there is a problem here and choose to ignore it? Or are they oblivious to the reality and perception of their more loyal customers?

    Maybe ask Gary to do a post and he can send in all the comments from that post too?

    I am a million mile customer, and I am considering leaving AA in my rear view mirror and using other airlines.

    Who in their right mind would throw away such loyalty?

    This person actually gets paid full time for providing their expertise to AA?

  122. @FrequentFlyer, it’s a simple accounting trick.

    AAdvantage miles sitting in members’ accounts are an accounting liability. The more they’re worth, the more American owes to its members. By making them harder to redeem for something of value, they become worth less. American Airlines management literally hand-wave away the right side of their balance sheet by flipping the bird to their most valuable customers.

    American Airlines is engaging in Enron-style creative accounting practices in order to defraud its customers.

  123. So I sent the link of this article and a message to [email protected]
    This was the response I received:
    Hello Ms. Ross,

    Thank you for contacting Ms. Blaise-Shamai regarding AAdvantage Award
    travel. She has asked that I respond to you on her behalf, ensuring to
    thank you for your business and loyalty. We appreciate you!

    I am sorry for your frustrations in finding the award travel you desire.
    Our new AAdvantage Award structure is designed to ensure our redemption
    programs do not have blackout dates.
    As we see increasing demand for revenue tickets in conjunction with
    fewer overall seats in premium cabins, it is necessary for us to balance
    these demands in order to ensure we are able to offer mileage-based
    tickets. With that, be assured we are constantly monitoring flight
    loads and open award inventory whenever possible.

    As a business person, I am sure you can appreciate that we are
    continuously evolving and looking for ways to improve our product for
    our customers while still doing what is right for our company and our
    shareholders. Sometimes we hit the mark and sometimes we do not. Please
    know that we have taken your comments seriously. We use a sophisticated
    database that allows your specific comments to form individual
    discussions with our people and departments as well as identify overall
    the areas that need more attention. Thank you again for giving us the
    benefit of your observations. It is customers like yourself that make
    us strive to be better.

    Ms. Ross, millions of members use their miles for travel every year, and
    we want you to be one of them. I certainly hope you are able to find
    the award travel you are desiring and apologize for your frustrations.
    On behalf of myself and everyone at American Airlines, we thank you for
    your business with us and look forward to serving you aboard American
    Airlines very soon.

    Kind Regards,

    Jennifer Andrus
    Executive Liaison, MS Lead
    AAdvantage Loyalty Department
    American Airlines

  124. @ FrequentFlyer,

    AA is fully aware of what they are doing, and is doing this with full intent. AA is far too sophisticated to make award availability random.

    You ask “do they know there is a problem here and choose to ignore it? Or are they oblivious to the reality and perception of their more loyal customers?” AA knows what they are doing and knows how members feel about it. Obviously, AA does not view this as a problem, but as smart business. Most likely, AA wants to condition members to not expect SAAver availability, so that members will instead either purchase tickets with cash, or use AAnytime awards.

    You also ask “Who in their right mind would throw away such loyalty?” AA (as with DL and UA) have decided that with only three major U.S. international airlines to choose from, they do not need loyalty. They really do not care if you are a million mile flyer (or five or ten million for that matter). They figure that for every loyal customer who gives up on them, there are plenty non-loyal occasional flyers to buy tickets.

    You conclude by asking “This person actually gets paid full time for providing their expertise to AA?” These people are the most senior people at AA.

  125. Nice to see this post back up from Lucky. It had been removed for 36 hours so I was curious. I want to imagine that a blogger is doing what is best for his readers and not under pressure from the outside.

  126. In the meantime I am making sure it is noticed wherever possible. Before it gets removed again. Sending this to contacts and other forums to keep the pressure up in what has been the truest words ever spoken in OMAAT.

  127. Is there another airline we can use our AA miles on? I want to get rid of ours entirely (without donating) and move away permanently from AA, where revenue is their paramount concern to the exclusion of loyalty.

  128. @Teighlor….Qantas is an excellent use of AA miles (that’s where mine will be going). Also, FinnAir’s business class looks great; however, award availability only exists in coach. 🙁

  129. I once had status with Qantas. Qantas used to have a habit of leaving premium cabins half empty while not allowing frequent flyers to redeem or upgrade. I switched most of my travel to Star Alliance for the decade or so after that. United and Thai and Singapore Airlines can thank Qantas’s short-sighted greed for the hundreds of thousands of miles that I have flown with them instead of OneWorld carriers. American’s lack of award availability now will likewise encourage the next generation of Star Alliance users.

  130. Thank you for bringing this up — Strangely, the travel blogosphere has been largely silent about this. Let’s first leave international award flight alone, and just look at the domestic route between NYC and Chicago, which is the #1 route within the US: AA has barely any saver economy award within this month and NO saver awards at all after June 2017!!! They have devalued their miles tremendously without notice, while still selling the miles like it’s worth 2 cents per mile. What they are doing is clearly a Ponzi Scheme. We all should notify Citibank/Barclay about the fraud AA is engaging in.

  131. @ Teighlor: you can use AA miles for flights on any OneWorld airline and on AA’s non-OneWorld partners. OneWorld airlines include British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysian Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, and also less well known carriers such as Airberlin, S7, and Sri Lanka. Non-OneWorld partners include Alaska and Etihad. Some of these airlines can be searched and booked on, while others require calling AA to book. You can search for OneWorld airline award availability via the or web sites, and you can search for Etihad space on their web site. You’ll need to sign up for a free account on which web site you use to search. When you search, it’s best to search flight-by-flight for desired routes, as there might be availability that’s won’t be shown when searching for start-to-end. Also be aware that you may not be able to find AA SAAver award space to between where you live and where the partner flies into or out of.

  132. Spent all day on the phone with them for the last 3 days straight. They screwed up my ticket and routed me through a country that requires a transit visa, which I don’t have and can’t get. They refuse to swap me into anything other than AAnytime rate. The worst part is I bought these points with cash. Talk about a worthless currency. I might as well have burned the money. I’m done with AA after I somehow make these points go away.

  133. its actually worse. There are international flights where award seats for MileSAAver were never available in the first place. In the past you could plan ahead and go out 200 plus days when the booking window opens and get 2 seats in business or maybe more in coach. Not so today. Other than crew seats not a single seat has been sold on the plane yet MileSavver seats are not offered.

  134. AA is doing bait and suck tacti, bait the members to buy more miles but does open up the award seats after 2 continuous promotional miles sales…

  135. I’ve been looking for a single saaver seat in coach STT-PHL next May for 6 weeks. There is not one. I think the last day a saaver seat shows is March 14, then not a single seat again as far forward as the dates are available. WTF?

  136. Been sitting here looking for Bus. Saver flights to Europe and South America and nothing looks months close or even far out. I am trying for just about every airport in the USA, but nothing gives. I have been a AA member since 1983. This is the absolute worse I have ever seen. Why get a credit card if you cannot use the miles. I now think AA treats me, a long time customer, as badly as Delta treats me as a million miler with them for years.

  137. I was able to secure 2 JFK-LAX business seats via AS miles, but slightly annoyed that AA will not open up F availability 72/48/24 hours out from flight.

  138. Can anyone recommend or know of an email where we can register a complaint with an interested governmental regulator? e.g. Consumer Protection Bureau, or try the local Congressman?
    I ask because over time AA has transformed to selling something (airline seats) that mostly can’t be redeemed at the ‘price’ they are (mis)leading the buying public to believe. Whilst their yield management models have become very sophisticated, the sales and marketing of AA points hasn’t kept up with the reality of earning a “free” ticket. The first point is a legitimate business practice, but the second should be consumer fraud.
    By the way don’t waste time explaining on this board about your status or where you are taking your business – AMERICAN AIRLINES DOES NOT CARE! Pull hard for the middle east big three and any competing airline in your local market, only the next quarter counts for executive pay at AA – and maybe when that gets as impaired as the loyalty program then the board will bring in new management to fix it.

  139. With Amex Platinum offering 5X points and CSR offering 3X (which are 4.5 in the portal), not sure why the airlines still continue to act they are the only game in town. I fly WN as I can always find availability on any route.

  140. I have 112k American miles (some because I had a US Airways card, and have been continuing to use my AA Barclay’s card). Like others above, I have realized these points are useless. I have never seen a nonstop flight offered to any of the destinations I have looked at and on top of the multiple legs the fees are often close to the cost of paying for nonstop flights. Just bought tickets on Alaska Airlines to SFO in order to fly nonstop – only available awards (at any points value) required multiple legs out of Boston. Steering everything to other cards in particular Amex, as mileage rewards program is a much better deal. I have a lot of upcoming travel, and looked at using points for car rentals (I booked Alamo for $90 versus 16,600 miles). Maybe my Costa Rica trip make sense. I agree with the person who said they are steering their credit card business elsewhere, which is what I am now going to do.

  141. Anyone know of an airline that has more value for their miles? I am thinking of flying them instead of AA. Being a loyal customer for them is pointless and my miles are basically worthless.

  142. @Tom, Alaska gets generally high marks for their program. They still award miles based on distance, not revenue, and their award pricing is good.

  143. Price of ticket from COS to CUN Dec 21-26 is 750 for economy. Meanwhile, they want 145k miles to book an economy seat.

    What happened. I have 200k miles. It gets me one roundtrip economy class ticket now..

    These credit card deals need to offer 150k sign up bonuses. It is a pathetic joke.

  144. Funny that this is still relevant today. I am done flying American and could care less about status. When I have points that sit unused for years because they rarely have anything that I would want to fly available, I too would consider that unacceptable. Seem to only off red-eye flights or so many layovers its just ridiculous. Think they would be able to see they are pushing away once loyal customers who will gladly take all of the award flights on United!

  145. Can’t wait to get rid of my AA miles if it is even possible. The award flights and prices per flight are horrible. This has to be one of the worst award programs of all airlines.

  146. My husband and I have over 250,000 miles each, but have had no luck in using them,
    I was even willing to pay for the fare to Europe and use some if our miles to upgrade to Business Class, but my sister just told me that AA no longer offers that option.

    Please share if you have been able to use your AA miles in the US and or abroad–and how you did so.
    Frustrated in Chicago!

  147. @Susan Stall, AA does still offer an option to use your miles to upgrade. It’s called an upgrade award and requires miles plus a copay charge (unless booked in full-fare, which no one buys). However, the availability for upgrade is almost as limited as the availability for a mileage ticket.

  148. AA award plan happen to be the worse! I accumulated most of my miles with US Airways before the merge. I loved US airways, they were belong to Star-Alliance which had a better code share and you could go anywhere you wanted using a decent amount of miles.
    But now…most of their award flights are with British Airways, specifically if you want to fly anywhere in Europe. British Airways charges the highest fees…you can find yourself paying around $600 for an ‘award’ flight! and when searching for a flight to Europe (99% of the cities I checked) the only available flights are with BA which would cost much more, nevertheless the worse connections. Surprisingly when checking AA routes it shows that AA actually have flights to these cities, but AA not offering award seats on these flights…at all! Lesson learn, and AA is the last company I’ll try to accumulate miles with. United is much better.

  149. Just remember how tobacco-drug-addict Crandall fought all efforts to make American and the other airlines smoke free, as they should have ALWAYS been! What a prime a-hole.

  150. I have posted here before. I pay for my award miles through paid tickets or a card company so why are there so few DIRECT flights instead of married segments?
    However what AA revenue models don’t pick up is how much real money they are bleeding at the margin. I now always book alternative airlines for paid flights (hint: use Google flights to search) , even to adding a stop through Delta or Southwest if I have an extra hour or so, especially on leisure trips. My travel on AA has gone from around 90% to about 60%. As I slowly burn off the miles it will be even less. I rarely use the AA affinity cards nowadays.
    AA is an inferior product and a sad shadow of the program that kicked off loyalty travel and they are losing real dollars in their cleverness to put it to their frequent flyers.

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