Yesterday, I posted new AA Award Charts we made, and today I want to go really in depth about the changes coming. It’s not all bad, and this post will explain some of the changes. The good news, the things that don’t change, and a good number of things that are getting worse.
But the first thing you need to know is that the new AA award charts and the changes about to be discussed, the changes don’t go into affect until March 22. This means that if you book your tickets using AA miles before then, you get the current prices, even if your actual travel date is much later. This is the date to book by. If you book on or after March 22, you will get the new award chart.
First I’ll talk about what the fundamental changes are, and off-peak changes, and then move on to the good changes, and the bad changes you need to book before March 22.
What are the fundamental changes?
Two Award Charts
First, let me link to the current/old AA award charts.
- Here is the current AA award chart.
- Here is a post on AA off-peak on AA flights (which won’t show up on the OneWorld award chart linked above).
The current AA OneWorld award chart is really only different because AA has a couple of extra “off-peak” discount awards for AA flights.
Their new upcoming award chart on the other hand has divided into two different award charts that are pretty similar. One Award Chart is the “OneWorld” or “partner award chart. The other is for when you use AA miles to actually fly on AA. This award chart is discounted a little. See yesterday’s post on the New AA Awart Charts.
Now AA is moving from 9 award regions to 14. It’s actually a pretty minor change.
They start by splitting up Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, and South America 1. That’s mostly a good thing because it means that flights are cheaper to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Canada & Alaska is a region
The most annoying new region is making Canada a new region. So now a flight from San Fran to Vancouver is more expensive than a flight from San Fran to New York. It makes sense in almost no examples.
And even dumber, is that flights starting in Canada are more expensive to every region, than flights originating in the US!
How stupid is that?
For example, a flight to Europe is 32,500 AA miles each way, instead of 30,000 from the US. And yet, we fly over Canada on the way to Europe on almost every single route possible. Maybe not departing from Miami, but then it’s nearly 1,000 miles longer of a flight, than departing from Toronto on a flight to London.
Canadians get a small premium, for no reason.
<500 Mile Awards
One nice change is that non-stop AA flights that are under 500 miles are discounted, and only cost 7,500 AA miles.
This also applies for trips from the US to Canada. So a flight from New York to Toronto would be 7,500 AA miles each way, instead of 15,000 AA miles.
Business Class AA flights under 500 miles are 15,000 AA miles, if you feel like wasting an extra 7,500 miles.
New Off-Peaks Awards
Let me start by explaining the changes to the off-peak prices, and what the prices will be.
- Caribbean, Mexico stay the same = 12.5k
- Central America decreased = 12.5k
- Hawaii increased = 20k
- South America increased = 17.5k
- Europe increased = 22.5k
- Asia 1 increased = 32.5k
- And now Asia 1 off-peak is only available on AA flights.
- Added Asia 2 = 32.5k
- Got rid of South America Zone 2
Most of the changes are small, 2.5k each. The only change bigger is that off-peak to Asia 1 went from 25k to 32.5k.
There are two big changes
1) That there is now an off-peak to Asia 2, although 32.5k is only 2.5k cheaper than the normal/old price. Again, most ups and downs are small.
2) There is no South America Zone 2, which is a savings of 10k each way.
But the biggest savings is still in Europe. A roundtrip to Europe is normally 60,000 AA miles, but during off-peak it would be 45,000 AA miles.
Off-Peak Date Changes
The biggest change to the off-peak award chart is really the dates.
The new off-peak dates can be found here.
Although, I wanted to compare the changes by total dates, not specific dates. Again, specific dates can be found here. But in terms of whether or not the changes are good or bad, can partly be determined by how many days of off-peak there are.
For each region, I’ll list the current/old number of days available for the off-peak price, and the number of days on the new award chart.
- old: 175
- new: 188 (+192 returning)
- Mexico / Caribbean
- old: 68
- new: 91
- South America Zone 1
- old: 218
- new: 218
- old: 212
- new: 107
- Asia 1
- old: 213
- new to Japan/Korea: 304
- new return from Japan/Korean: 276/265
The biggest disappointment here is Europe… and Europe is the biggest potentional savings. They cut out winter break to Europe all together, and then cut out spring and fall.
Really, you can only fly to Europe when it’s miserably cold, excluding when most people have off; Christmas break. However, that’s the concept of “off-peak”, isn’t it? They are giving you a discount when the planes are otherwise empty.
A bit of a loss for a number of us, but logical.
However, that is the biggest change with the new off-peak dates. Instead of a big blanket of dates, they seem to actually limit it to more “off-peak” times.
To vs From dates
It’s a little confusing, but the off-peak dates going to Hawaii, are different than the dates returning to the US.
The biggest example of this is that off-peak dates going to Japan start July 1. However, the next date for off-peak return is September 1.
On the other hand you could fly to Japan on April 30, and return May 15… which would work nicely, and neither date would be eligible in the reverse direction.
So that’s confusing.
Off-Peak Region Combination
There is one big change, probably unnoticed by most… it’s that AA off-peak awards only apply to flights to/from the US.
For example, under the current award chart, off-peak prices to South America 1 applies to flights from the US, as well as flights from Hawaii, Caribbean, and Mexico.
On the new award chart, off-peak prices will only be to/from the US.
It’s like this for all off-peak regions. Before it applied to Mexico, Caribbean, and Hawaii, even if it was to Europe or Asia 1. Now it’s just the US.
I know this doesn’t apply to many, but it will affect any readers in Hawaii, and even Canada (now that the regions are separate).
There are a number of things that are good.
Adding <500 Mile Awards
As I explain above, one good addition is that direct AA flights under 500 miles are now 7,500 AA miles in economy (and 15,000 for business).
General decreases to AA flights to Caribbean, Mexico, Central America.
Since there is a discount to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America on AA flights, the price over all decreases. I mean, using AA miles you’re going to be flying AA to Caribbean and Central America anyways.
New prices are 15,000 AA miles in economy, and 25,000 in business.
Also, now there are off-peak awards for 12,500 AA miles in economy. Although that already existed. However, Central America has decreased (as shown above).
Business Class to Caribbean, Mexico, Central America is now 27,500 AA miles for all flights.
Economy to the Middle East will go from 45k to 40k.
Most things in economy stay the same:
- 35k SE Asia
- 30k to South America zone 2
- 30k to Europe
Most things are the same or small.
For economy it’s not a big deal. A few things may go down and you’d save by waiting to book, some may go up and you should book now, and most don’t change at all. But with first class flights, there’s almost no doubt that booking before March 22 will save you miles.
Also, look at yesterday’s post to see where you can save miles by flying AA instead of a OneWorld partner.
The BIG Bad Changes (first class)
The big changes are to First Class awards.
I think you’ll find this post (on Travel Codex) really helpful for understanding the changes to the new award chart. Scott makes charts for each class showing the current/old price, the new price, and the percent it’s changing.
Economy is mostly good, or not much bad is happening.
Business class you see that prices don’t change a lot. However, the big long hauls (where I actually want business), like Asia, are going up a bit (2o% to 28% up). Some stay the same, and a few go down.
First class is almost all bad news. The smallest change is 20%. The biggest increase is 63%.
First class to Asia 2 was 67,500 and it will be 110,000 AA miles. Which is terrible because the biggest change is to my beloved Asia 2.
The smallest change is to Africa where prices were already super over priced compared to other awards. On the current award chart a business class ticket to Africa is 75,000 and a business class ticket to Asia 2 is 55,000. It didn’t make sense to increase that.
The best deal for first class on the new AA award chart (in my opinion) is US to Asia 1 for 80,000 miles.
It’s certainly an increase, however, it’s the most flying for the miles. It’s 110,000 miles for Asia 2. In other words, you’re paying 30,000 miles more to go to Asia 2.
Also, Mexico to Asia 1 is also 80,000 miles in first.
Middle East to Asia 1/2 for 50,000 miles in first class. A long time ago I shared how flights from Egypt to Japan were really long but only 30k in Business class, which is a super deal. Similarly, the 13+ hours of flying is only 50,000 miles for first. Which isn’t so amazing that I’ll position for it, but if I’m trying to do a round the world ticket, and go between Asia to/from the Middle East, I’d shell out for first on Etihad if I can.
70k for Biz to Middle East has not gone up.
What’s clear, is that if you want to book a first class flight, you need to book before March 22!
With economy, it may or may not be changing. The biggest change to economy is off-peak dates to Europe as they are getting rid of spring and fall.
With business class, things might go up a little for you.
Again, the biggest price change is to first class, with some going up 63%. In other words, a roundtrip to SE Asia will go from 135,000 AA miles to 220,000 AA miles.
Not as bas as United’s changes, by any means, but certainly a devaluation.
And that’s what it is, a “devaluation”. As more miles come in, prices go up. Frequent flyer inflation.
However, I appreciate that AA tries to be reasonable and throw some bones with off-peak prices and what not. To be honest, these are the changes I expected, since AA had gone so long without a change and everyone seems to be raising the cost of First Class.
I hope this post helps make sense of the changes, the good, the bad, and all the details in between. Again, AA’s new award chart will go into affect March 22.
In the meantime, compare the two award charts.