OK so I know it’s strong to say pricing American Airlines AAdvantage new award sucks but it’s true. Now we have to find another airline for international award travel. We used American for most of our international trips because the redemptions were much lower than other airlines but now American went from best to worst.
I’m going to demonstrate our most recent redemption before and after the devaluation. Boy am I glad I booked our AA award travel early because the miles required for the same tickets after the devaluation are CRAZY!
Before & After American Airlines AAdvantage Devaluation
We used 60k miles for round-trip tickets from Phoenix to Madrid for late May to late June travel. We paid $217 in taxes by using a code share with Iberia rather than $447 on a code share with British Airways.
Now those exact same flights cost 220k miles per ticket! Can you believe that? 60k to 220k for economy tickets! Oddly, “Anytime Business” is only slightly more at 270k miles per ticket, which is still outrageous but I guess it’s considered a deal now for only 50k more miles than coach.
The cost for a ticket without using miles is $1,336.
Goodbye American Airlines
About 15 years ago my husband and I were very loyal American Airlines flyers. I say “loyal” but we did not spend a lot of money with American; we almost always traveled using AAdvantage miles. However, over time it became more difficult to use AAdvantage miles for holiday travel so we moved over to Southwest Airlines for travel within the U.S. and focused on SWA’s program, including the famous “Companion Pass.” (Read here about the Companion Pass–I think it’s the best deal in travel.)
Until now American Airlines was our international carrier. Our affordable 2018 self-driving safari to South Africa and our 2019 summer’s trip to Europe were with American Airlines. For both trips we carefully planned our credit card bonus strategy to get those award tickets. Well, our love affair with American is over…again. The new award devaluation is completely out of reach for us now and forever.
Pockets of Value for U.S. Travel
I have found a couple of “web specials” for a few routes within the U.S. but it’s really hit or miss. For example, I was able to find a 7k award for Nashville to Chicago but the return was 17k so the total was no deal. With greater flexibility in dates the total could have been 14k.
My takeaway is there’s no way to plan anymore with the new dynamic pricing. If you get a credit card with a bonus there’s no way to plan because it takes time to collect points. Personally, I like being able to plan for a future trip knowing I can build up my points/miles to get there.
Use Them or Lose Them
People say, “Don’t horde your points!” They are correct now more than ever. Program devaluations happen quite often. For example, last summer I read a few blog posts warning about Marriott’s devaluation and I quickly made plans for future travel and was able to score a few nights in Venice and 5 nights in Hawaii before the devaluation. We will be using those nights in Hawaii this July. We used 100k Marriott Bonvoy points worth four nights getting the fifth night free. Shortly after the devaluation, there are no award nights available at all and the cash price is $375 per night.
Some Free Travel is Better than No Free Travel
As much as I’m complaining, there is still a lot of value earning and burning points for free and low-cost travel. It takes a little time to figure out how each program works and what are the best options but it’s worth it. I’ve just begun researching United and Delta for our future international travel. There’s a lot to learn but a lot of money to save along the way.