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On March 22 one of the most lucrative award charts will devalue: American Airlines.
After American and US Airways announced their merger, it was only a matter of time before this would happen. Were the changes bad? Yes. Could they have been worse? Yes, definitely.
Finding value post-devaluation is another discussion, but locking in the cheaper award prices now is imperative.
American lets you book award tickets 331 days out. 331 days from today is January 18, 2017: that covers summer and winter breaks for the next year.
On March 21, 2016, you’ll have even more dates open on the calendar. You’ll be able to book until February 15, 2017.
There’s a lot of red. Some green, but mostly red.
The most notable decreases are in Caribbean/Mexico/Central America . For coach, that’s great, but for business or first, it wouldn’t be worth it to redeem as those flights can be short and/or the business/first class isn’t anything special on those routes, anyways.
Awards to Book Now
Here are some of the awards to book now that will give you a great value for your American miles, but are also going up (some more than others) on March 22.
- First class awards for Asia 1 and Asia 2 region.
- Business clash awards are going up, too, but they are more manageable.
- Off-peak coach awards to Europe (20k vs 22.5k)
- Off-peak coach awards to Hawaii (17.5k vs 20k)
- Business and first class direct, transcontinental flights on American metal
- JFK-SFO/LAX, LAX-MIA
- These flights offer lie-flat business and first class seating
- Business class on 3-class cabin flights (the transcontinental) will go up to 32.5k (vs the current 25k), but first will increase to 50,000!
- Hawaii travel: all classes of service
- First class awards on partners to the Middle-East (Doha via Qatar Abu Dhabi via Etihad) will go up by 25,000 miles!
- Business class awards on lie-flat routings from North America to South America 1 and 2 (Peru and Chile will increase by 7,500 miles.
- U Check Out Your URL.S. to the Middle-east to Australia in first or business–this will currently price out two awards, but it’s now a lot cheaper than it will be after March 22.
A note about off-peak dates:
In some cases, the amount of off-peak dates will decrease; in others, the dates will just shift around. Be sure to look at those old dates here and new dates here (under ‘Details on award travel’ drop down). You can lock in awards on the old off-peak dates if you book before March 22.
Book now, change later
On all American awards, you can change award bookings without paying the fee if you satisfy the following conditions:
- The origin and destination (or co-terminal city, JFK/EWR, HND/NRT) must remain the same
- One year to travel from the date of booking–if you book today for next January, you can only change until 12 months from today
You can change:
- Higher class of service–you’ll pay the mileage difference
- Carrier (as long as origin and destination are the same)
- Time and dates of flights
Being savvy, you can use this to your advantage.
Let’s say that you want to go to Asia this summer, but there’s currently no availability: find a date, any date, that has the availability and make the booking. Now you keep searching and then find award availability for your summer dates after March 22, American should let you change without paying the new mileage prices and without a extra charge.
(I say “should” only because American has confirmed this, but one never knows until it happens.)
Any awards you plan on booking before March 22?