My Thoughts on Upcoming AAdvantage Devaluation

So, I’m sure, by now you’ve heard the bad news about upcoming AA awards prices hike, effective March 22nd. Many blogs have written about it, see LoyaltyLobby for full recap. My goal, as usual, is to apply this news to a regular family. That’s why my focus is primarily on economy awards. Without further ado, here is the current chart:

aa current chart

And here is the new chart, coming to our neck of the woods in March:

aa changes

The good news? There isn’t a whole lot. Sure, they will introduce a special 7,500 miles one-way pricing for short nonstop flights. Routes to Central America will cost 12,500 miles one-way instead of current 15,000 miles.

Also, regular sAAver rate to Caribbean and Mexico will be 15,000 miles instead of 17,500 miles. Asia route (region 2) will be slightly cheaper off-peak. Otherwise, it’s bad, terrible development for The Hobby.

  1. Flights to Canada and Alaska will cost 15,000 miles one-way instead of current pricing of 12,500 miles.
  2. Off-peak prices to Hawaii will go up from 17,500 to 20,000 miles one-way. Not terrible, but multiply it four or five times, and it adds up.
  3. Off-peak prices to Europe will go up from 20,000 to 22,500 miles one-way.
  4. Off-peak prices to Korea and Japan will go up from 25,000 to 32,500 miles one-way. Ouch!
  5. Off-peak pricing of 20,000 miles one-way to South America (region 2) will disappear, and the route will now cost a flat 30,000 miles. Sorry, my reader Leticia! Region 1 pricing will also go up from 15,000 miles to 17,500 miles.

See this page for full details of announcement. The conclusion? Don’t hoard your miles, don’t panic, and go on with your life. This was absolutely expected. If you need to book  a certain flight that will cost more in March, do it in a near future. This could be a good time to book awards to Alaska for summer of 2016. If you need AA miles to top off an account, you can consider signing up for Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard. Read about it here

Another option  is Amex SPG card (points transfer to AA miles), but be aware, the bonus is usually increased in the summer to 30,000 points. Right now, it’s down to 25,000 points. You can only get the bonus on personal version once per lifetime. Business card has different rules: You can get it again as long as you haven’t had the same card open in the last 12 months.

Bottom line

Mile (any mile) is a very volatile currency. Remember that when you are collecting them via everyday spending. But who does that, right? You do? Email me or comment on this post. We should talk.

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15 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Upcoming AAdvantage Devaluation

  1. I love that you focused on Economy. Right now, everyone freaking out on this is focused on international first class.

    Here’s the thing: This feels like family friendly devaluation. I’ve said for a long time that I personally think the best way for families to get a lot of out this hobby, is to focus on domestic, Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii. And AA just:
    1. Made it easier to get to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. (business class, too)
    2. Made it easier to do short positioning flights (East coasters should be happy, CVG-ORDers should be happy, as should some Floridians).
    3. Maintained off peak value for Mexico, Caribbean.
    4. Maintained standard MileSAAvers domestic value.

    They made life worse for Economy flyers if:
    1. Take advantage of off peak pricing to fly to Hawaii and Europe.
    1b. You want to go to Asia off peak. That’s a big jump.
    2. You want to fly to Canada or Alaska.
    3. You want to fly first class.
    4. You want to get out of the Western Hemisphere. (I’d love to as well, but there is plenty to see here, thankfully)

    All in all, pretty family friendly change if you stick with a family friendly approach to miles: Economy flights to domestic, Caribbean, and Mexican locales, and the occasional trip to Hawaii. I am sure people would love to see more than that, but I seriously cannot complain about those options, and I’d love to get to a point where I’ve seen enough of them to feel the need to go to Europe/Asia more often.

    I think it’s very interesting that AA felt the need to make their routes to Mexico/Caribbean MORE attractive on Economy and biz. I also think it’s interesting that AA clearly feels the pain of folks leveraging points for First Class. I think that says a lot about what really affects their bottom line.


    • @Cheapblackdad I think we just found a voice of reason, and it happens to be black! 🙂 You are absolutely right, this news is very much “glass half full” for many families. Yeah, if you mostly plan to focus on Caribbean and domestic flights, this devaluation is no biggie.
      It does mostly affect those who live near AA hubs and plan to go to Hawaii, Alaska and Canada. Off-peak to Europe is still a decent deal, all things considered. I feel bad for Leticia, it’s a huge bummer for those who have family in South America.
      But overall, I agree, it could have been worse. For those who plan to go to Hawaii and Alaska and are not hub-captive, there is always an option of collecting flexible points and redeeming Singapore Krisflyer miles, Alaska or even Delta currency. I just wrote about those not too long ago. I think the reason AA is making Caribbean and Central America routes more attractive via miles, is because they are feeling the heat from Southwest. Rapid Rewards currency can get you to those places for a reasonable amount. American is paying attention, and is adjusting award rates accordingly. Hmm, I just realized that I forgot to mention that Caribbean route is getting cheaper. Will update.
      Anyway, as far as international First Class option being gutted, this was also expected. United has already done it, Delta is moving to revenue system. Airlines are trying to keep churning riff raff away from front seats. Fair enough.


    • @Leticia I’m very sorry! This is a huge bummer for you, I know. Well, if you’ve been planning to see your family, consider booking before March 22nd. Maybe look into that non-affiliate Alaska card offer that gives 25,000 miles+$100 credit. I know there are risks of getting approved for lower bonus, but it could potentially give you a one-way ticket to Paraguay. Overall, if you’ve been planning to take your family there in a near future, perhaps you should burn your AA stash. It sure is better to pay 40K miles than 60K miles per person, right? Once again, sorry about this development. Don’t feel too bad, all great deals eventually die, such is life.


  2. Just one comment about the SPG card. Since Starwood will become part of Marriott, SPG-AMEX will disappear, but before it does AMEX may try and have many people sign up for the card. Thus, a higher sign-up bonus is almost guaranteed IMHO even before August, probably around March 2016.


    • @Uri That’s interesting that you’ve mentioned it. I haven’t focused on this new development yet, though plan to briefly highlight it Monday. From what I’ve read, this will be a long, drawn-out process. It looks like nothing will change for at least a year, maybe more. So, I’m assuming Amex SPG will be around for quite some time. At least, that’s my assumption. But you are absolutely correct, Amex will almost certainly offer a nice incentive in a near future to get people on-board while they still can. It will be interesting if your prediction about March comes true.


  3. Can you book before March for a later date and still get tickets for the current millage? Up to 9 months out right? We were planning to use these for Alaska again 😦


    • @Emily Yes, you can book your tickets at the current rate before March 22nd. You can do it almost 11 months out. Of course, for Alaska, you probably should plan for summer due to weather, which leaves you with 2016 option. I do recommend you at least consider using your miles for off-peak Caribbean award tickets instead. Of course, if you have your heart set on Alaska, then do what you have to do.
      Since you have 2 people in the family, you are looking at paying 50K miles now vs. 60K later. It’s a significant difference, but not earth-shattering. Personally, I wouldn’t switch my plans around for that. Plus, remember, you can collect other types of currency for Alaska flights. See my post here


  4. I was pleasantly surprised by the changes. I always brace myself for the worst! For all the reasons Cheap Black Dad mentioned, I’m not too freaked.


  5. @Holly I think that’s fair. I have a bit of a flair for drama, so probably overreacted! Thank goodness for Cheapblackdad for bringing me back to my senses. 🙂
    For me, the biggest bummer is Hawaii going up 5,000 miles, that’s 20K miles for four of us. I was kind of on a fence about going there in 2017 while using AA miles, but it won’t be happening now. I wouldn’t be able to beat devaluation in time. Oh well, I think my husband will be happy. One thing these award chart changes do is put a stop to my ridiculous plans. We have two small kids, and can’t just hop all over the world nonstop. Too bad, looks like we will be paying much more for award tickets to Brazil and Japan when the time comes.


  6. I think you and Leticia are spot on. There is some seriously stanky stuff up in there. Like you said, 20k more for Hawaii RT, and South America took a hit. It was my desire to travel to all of the Spanish speaking countries in Latin America, and hit up Rio for the Olympics. That’s harder now. It definitely makes the the map of options feel smaller. I know these devaluations are a cruel certainty in our hobby, but it’s worth mourning the passing of good deals.

    But, still plenty of value to some key options nearby. I plan to to stick with AA, Avios, and Southwest for now.

    Also, I love the Southwest Effect. They are so lovely.


    • @Cheapblackdad Yup! This new development really does stink for many in the hobby. But like I said, this isn’t unexpected. Once the merger was complete, it was only a matter of time. And as you pointed out, it could have been much worse. It just depends on your plans and amount of miles you have. I kept going back and forth on Japan and looks like I missed the boat. But with two small kids, it’s not that easy to just hop on over to Asia, especially since we are constantly planning trips to/from Europe. I guess I’ll have to keep an eye out on crazy fare deals few years from now. The kids will be older, and will probably enjoy it more.


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