Word On American Airlines Changes – Known Knowns

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I mentioned just the other day how I was on a tear earning American Airlines miles. So I take the blame for jinxing the American Airlines award chart into the unannounced changes this week. JK. But seriously, these changes will impact decisions by travelers just like me, and maybe you.

What We Know (At This Time)

I say “What we know (at this time)” is because these changes were announced and I’m not confident these will be the last, or all that we’ll find out at a later date. We already know that Delta doesn’t announce some changes, and utlimately get found by frequent flyers, bloggers or Flyertalk posters. So with American Airlines unannounced changes, we can only assume the same approach could be taken with American Airlines at this point. Here are some of the key known knowns:

1. Stopping Stopovers In American Gateway City

The ability to book an award ticket with a stopover is gone. American used to allow a stopover anytime in the next bookable year, when you take an international trip arriving or departing from a US gateway city. This means if you flew from London to New York, you could add on a ticket to the west coast, or even Hawaii.

Big loss in value of the American Airlines program in my opinion.

2.  Eliminating Oneworld Explorer Award

American’s distance based explorer award is now gone, with no notice. I personally know  people that took weeks out of their life to travel around the world using this ticket. Like this Trip Of A Million Lifetimes report where a couple took an around the world trip over the course of several months.

The ability to book distance based awards using the Oneworld Explorer awards.

3. Addtiaional Miles For Anytime Awards

Granted, I don’t book many anytime awards, but the option is nice. The new American Airlines award chart can be found here. This may not impact everyone, but this does make it easier to move award inventory into higher levels, like we’ve seen with Delta.

4. Changes to US Airways Award Chart

US Airways had a stellar 90,000 Business Class award to North Asia, but now that is gone. The new price is 110,000, an increase of 22% above an already discounted award level compared to pears. So this wasn’t unexpected in my opinion.

2014 US Airways Award Chart

5. Unannounced Major Changes

The most important piece in all of this is the quick, overnight wholesale changes without notice. We all know the other airlines that do this, but I personally didn’t expect it from American Airlines. Especially with all the AApologists out there saying how great American is compared to Delta with treating their loyalty members. I wasn’t under the impression that nothing was going to change with the merger, but assumed, they would have a proactive customer communication approach to ensure minimal impact to the customer and maintain credibility. In this case, there was customer impact, and it wasn’t proactively communicated. Credibility was lost with this customer.

How were you impacted as a customer?

Any thoughts on known unknowns? Or predictions on unknown unknowns?

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The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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  1. I have a few thoughts on this topic set to post in about 15 minutes. I, for one, am not surprised by the changes themselves, but am surprised by the timing and the way they were introduced. While I continue to consider an AAdvantage mile to be superior to a SkyMile, this change narrowed the gap a bit.

    A lot of people will jump on the blame Parker bandwagon, and some of the emotion will be predictable. No matter what, AAdvantage was going to change a bit….as is the new American. The question is, just how much? AAdvantage remains my favorite program for the foreseeable future, even if I don’t fly AA that much anymore. I still hold quite a few miles betwaeen US and AA….but you can bet that I won’t sit on them for very long. Which takes me back to a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately – is it time for some of us to break up with elite status, miles, and focus on cash and the proprietary points programs like UR?

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