Airlines retooling or removing their award charts – the cheat sheets that determine how many miles you need to book a flight – is almost always bad news for travelers. But in the case of American Airlines, it's business as usual.
Months after announcing its plans to move to a “new, simplified” award chart, the Dallas-based airline finally went live this week with its new pricing format for using AAdvantage miles to fly American. Set rates for flights from the U.S. to Mexico, Europe and other destinations are gone. New rates “starting at” 7,500 miles for a one-way domestic flight or 25,000 miles to Europe (or perhaps much more) are here.
But this is just the latest step in American's long journey toward dynamic award pricing, joining competitors like Delta and United with award rates that constantly change, largely based on the cash price. That's what American has been doing for years; this new award chart finally reflects that.
And considering a separate partner award chart for using AAdvantage miles to book partner carriers like Japan Airlines or Qatar Airways remains unchanged, there's even less for travelers with AAdvantage miles to be concerned about.
The New American AAdvantage Award Chart
Without further ado, take a look at American's new AAdvantage award chart.
The chart lists the starting rate for how many miles you'll need to book a one-way flight based on where you're flying. But as you'll see, this still doesn't tell you much of anything.
For comparison, here's American's previous award chart for main cabin economy as well as business or first class when redeeming AAdvantage miles for an American-operated flight.
As you can see, American has officially done away with its cheapest sAAver awards and AAnytime award pricing. With its new award chart, the airline merely lists a “starting at” price, leaving the door open for the airline to charge much more (or less, even) depending on where and when you want to go. For example, flights to Europe could cost as low as 25,000 AAdvantage miles each way for a trip in February … or as much as 89,000 each way to head to Paris in July.
But in many ways, this is nothing new. American took a big step toward dynamic award pricing years ago with the introduction of Web Special fares, award tickets that broke the rules set in the award charts with lower pricing – or often much higher, especially when booking business or first class. Over time, those web special award fares have become the norm, not the exception. And now, that pricing is baked into American's system.
Still, this new award chart can be considerably less helpful than even its predecessor. While the “starting at” price may seem on the surface like a base rate for award flights. But in reality, American is continuing to charge fewer AAdvantage miles for flights in some cases.
For instance, the award chart says it should cost at least 7,500 AAdvantage miles to fly main cabin economy in the U.S. But American continues to sell some domestic flights priced as low as 6,000 AAdvantage miles one-way.
Once again, the new award chart only applies to American-operated flights. American's award chart for its partner airlines remains unchanged … at least for now. That means if you're looking to use your AAdvantage miles to book flights with premium partners like Qatar Airways, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and others, you can breathe easy for the time being.
Those partner redemptions are one of the primary reasons we think American AAdvantage miles are worth earning, even if you never plan to fly American.
American Airlines' new award chart went live this week. And it's much ado about nothing.
We've long known this new award chart is on the way. But even with an entirely new setup, American continues charging … well, pretty much whatever it wants for award flights, just like its competitors. And since award rates for booking partner airlines remain unchanged for now, there's not much to get worked up about with this award chart swap.