Copy Delta #415: American No-Notice Transcon Variable Award Pricing

View from the Wing is reporting that American Airlines introduced variable award pricing on its JFK-LAX/SFO routes on August 15, 2016, with no notice to members. Not even advance notice. This is no notice.  Gary Leff of View from the Wing says that American has confirmed this change.

What is the change?

American has MileSAAver awards that have not changed. These are all but extinct on many routes.

The other type of award is AAnytime Awards. Last year these were changed from double the price of saver awards to a variable model by date. All flights on the same route on the same date had the same AAnytime price. The change is that these prices now vary on the same date.

Here are the business class JFK-SFO nonstops on August 25. As usual, no saver awards are available in any class of service. Business class AAnytime ranges 82.5k-97.5k.

AA JFK-SFO Aug 25

As if we didn’t need more evidence for the American case file

These are the only routes impacted at this time. Mr Leff argues the concerns we all should have.

First, now that American has this technology, it is assured to spread to other routes. Delta has 5-tier pricing on its super-secret award chart, plus sale prices. Because Delta pricing was so often outrageous, overall it can be argued that SkyMiles has improved in that more awards seem available at mid-range prices.

American with 2 levels has recently made the low level disappear on vast numbers of its flights. Some mid-ground might be better than fancifully hoping that American brings back more MileSAAver awards. Yet the first application of the technology has been to raise prices even higher.

Second, American has embraced Delta’s year-round rolling changes without feeling a need to notify customers in advance, or at all. In a change like this when I have inquired to Delta PR contacts why they have not communicated it to members, they claim it is too much noise and detail to burden members with sending out a message. They want uniformed customers.

Flyers still qualify for elite status on a yearly basis but cannot take anything for granted from one day to the next. Delta gets away with it so American follows. American this summer didn’t release key information on its mid-year switch to revenue-based earning until mere weeks before switchover. The money grab was more important than an orderly transition. Without earning information, I stopped buying American tickets this spring as my symbolic protest and haven’t resumed.

We didn’t need more evidence that US airlines feel disdain for their frequent flyer programs and those customers who consider the programs a key component of their airline choice. American provided another for the case file anyway.

The past two years I dabbled with American because of my large credit card-sourced mileage earnings, the earlier switch to revenue-based earning by Delta and United, and some business trips that only worked on OneWorld.

I didn’t go far with them. I found customer service and flying experience even worse than United.

AAdvantage had some value to me that is largely gone because of (1) few MileSAAver domestic awards, (2) limited airline partners (and British Airways is my nominee for worst airline customer service in the world), and (3) draconian award routing rules such as the no 3rd-region transit rule that, for example, prices US to Australia via Asia as two awards.

Readers, do you see any hope for AAdvantage to regain a competitive position in the market or is it all race to the bottom?

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  • Shannon

    Shame on you, AAdvantage!

  • Mike

    I’ve stopped worrying about miles and switched to products like Norwegian Premium class product when I need to get to Europe.
    Of course US departure cities are limited, but it works for me. Bye Felicia.

  • @Mike – I flew them to the French Caribbean and found regular economy plenty of room and only airline to give me free wifi, experience that Iberia business class, what was it, 8 mb?

  • john

    Yes, this is very unfortunate. I am sitting on a big stash of AA miles and have been for some time now. First you couldnt use them over the atlantic because of BA, now you cannot use them on AA…… so all that is left is partners and most partners are not convenient from the US but only for hopping between third countries. this is lame.

  • dale m

    This may be becoming more common, but new it ain’t. I’ve noted AA charge double and triple “anytime” miles on busy weekends. Holidays the worst of course – 75k one way economy domestic not at all uncommon.

  • john

    On further thought, it seems that AA have done the sneakiest of all devaluations. With all the laments about business class going up on all the airlines, we were given the illusion that economy was stable. So it has been really sneaky that milesaaver is basically a phantom class. Just like Hawaiian airlines to PPG not a single low level mileage seat all year…

  • @dale m – the part that supposedly is new that within a specific day there are now multipl anytime rates rather than one high rate throughout the day. I do not follow AA awards, I mostly don’t bother to check them anymore since so rarely find SAAver awards.

  • @john – when my Wake Island trip canceled last Dec I burned through Hawaiian miles on a business ticket to PPG. Same thing I gave up looking for economy awards on that route.