Analysis: American Airlines Award Chart Old vs New

Overview

American Airlines has been the go to frequent flyer program for any travel hacker since both United and Delta devalued their award chart and went to a revenue earning scheme. However, with the integration of US Airways and American Airlines nearing completion it was time for serious change on the award chart. Keep in mind changes were expected as some of the awards were dirt cheap compared to other airlines especially for Business and First class redemptions.

While there have been countless blog posts (my favorite so far) outlining all the changes American Airline’s has made to it’s frequent flyer program, none have really analyzed the award chart fully. If you did miss the news at a high level there are no longer EQPs making it easier to re-qualify for elite status, you will earn miles from the cost of the ticket instead of how many miles you fly, and there are significant changes to the award chart which will be the focus of this analysis. This analysis will focus on the data which will be provided to you so you can make your own deductions as well. Note that this changes do not occur right away with March 22nd, 2016 being the magically date of the change. So this gives you plenty of time to book awards now.

It is important to view all the changes as whole to really gauge the impact of the new award chart. Yes, we can cherry pick if we really want to but by viewing all awards we can uncover some new hidden gems and understand what American Airlines is really thinking. First at an aggregate level we will analyze the following.

  1. How Many Awards Are Changing
  2. How Much Awards Are Changing
  3. Which Awards Are Changing

Checkout my American Airlines Comparison Tool that shows the difference of the old vs the new chart between any region! It has a map visualization!

How Many Awards Are Changing

At a very high level there are significant changes at American’s SAAver level and very limited changes at the AAnytime level. I know it is not a good deal to book AAnytime awards…. But it is important to analyze to see the full extent of American Airline’s changes. Also you never know you may get in a pinch and have no choice but to use an AAnytime award.

American Airlines Award Chart Comparision SAAver

American Airlines Award Chart Comparision AAnytime

The Bad

  • With 464 (71.4% of all partner awards) being an increase. Ouch
  • 45 of the 47 current partner economy seasonal awards are gone. Freaking ridiculous!

The Good

  • Pretty much no AAnytime awards increase. I guess that is a win?
  • All but one of the economy seasonal awards for American Airlines only flights remain. Albeit most are increasing.
  • 48 SAAver partners awards decrease and 7 SAAver American awards decrease. Silver lining?
  • Also one new seasonal economy award for American Airlines only flights. Woot one…?

How Much Awards Are Changing

So what is the magnitude of all the changes to the award chart? Well if we sum all award prices from the old chart and compare it to the new chart there is a net increase of 20%. This means that in general the new American Airlines award chart is 20% more expensive than previous. However, this magnitude does not account for the discontinued economy seasonal awards which are hard to measure because they are only valid during certain times of the year.

American Airlines Award Chart Net Increases

The Bad

  • Even the limited economy seasonal awards that stuck around see a decent increase for partner (12.5%) and American Airlines only flights (8.3%). If only they kept more…
  • Large increase on business awards for both partners (19.7% increase) and American Airlines only flights (10.2%). Painful 
  • For first class awards they fare even worse with both partner and American Airlines only flights registering a huge increase (40%). A slaughter

The Good

  • Overall economy awards do not increase that much if at all! Great for most flyers
  • Once again reiterating that AAnytime awards do not see really any notable increase. Nothing special here

Which Awards Are Changing

So you may be thinking “so what that if the award chart is increasing by 20%, I want to know how much award X will cost!”. Well I hope I can answer that question for you too! Since American Airlines is based well in… America I will focus on awards originating there. But… I also created a travel tool to analyze all awards old costs, new costs, the difference and is shown in both a map visual and data table. This will be helpful to see if you should book your flights now or on / after the infamous March 22nd, 2016 date. You may be pleasantly surprised to see some actual decreases….

Partner – American Airlines Economy Award Chart New vs Old – United States

 American Airlines Partner Award Chart Economy Old vs New Totals

Partner – American Airlines Business / First Award Chart New vs Old – United States

 American Airlines Partner Award Chart Business First Old vs New Totals

AA Only – American Airlines Economy Award Chart New vs Old – United States

American Airlines AA Only Award Chart Economy Old vs New Totals

AA Only – American Airlines Business / First Award Chart New vs Old – United States

American Airlines AA Only Award Chart Business First Old vs New Totals

The Bad

  • Business class awards increase overall by 9.7% on partners and 10.5% on AA only. Hurts
  • First class awards increase by a staggering 37.7% on partners and 40.8% on AA only. Really hurts
  • All but one the seasonal economy awards remain for partners. This just sucks

The Good

  • 4 partner awards decrease and 7 AA only awards decrease
  • US to Middle East / Indian economy awards decrease for partners. Yes I have to go that specific
  • US to Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America business awards decrease on both partners and AA only. Actually really good as this is common use for points!
  • Overall economy awards remain relatively stagnate only increasing by 2.7% for partners and 0.9% for AA only. Once again really good as the majority of the public (not points / miles people) book these
  • Seasonal economy awards for AA only pretty much stay intact, we lose one but gain one. More neutral than anything
  • A new award category for AA only flights when flying within the US less than 500 miles. Honestly not that exciting to me but helps for those expensive short fares

Final Thoughts

The changes were to be expected with massive changes for first class awards and large changes for business class awards. The economy chart is more or less the same with some nice additions and some subtractions. Overall the American Airline’s Award Chart is 20% more expensive. For me personally the first class changes do not bother me as I do not book these. The business class award changes sting a little bit but when compared to other competitor charts they are not too bad (more analysis on this later).

For 80%+ of people the changes will not really affect them. Most people book economy award tickets and with just minor changes there isn’t much to worry about. Heck some of the bread and butter redemptions like Mexico, Caribbean, and Central American actually decrease. So that is pretty sweet!

Checkout my American Airlines Comparison Tool that shows the difference of the old vs the new chart between any region! It has a map visualization!