Reader MikeS sent me an email reminding that AA is not the first US airline that introduced major changes without a notice. Delta did it too. Thanks Mike. Totally slipped my mind. That doesn’t let AA off the hook, though.
My yesterday post is here.
As I mentioned yesterday, American Airlines has introduced some drastic changes to AAdvantage program. They have eliminated stopovers and Explorer Awards, raised US Air Business Award to North Asia to 110,000 miles, and increased a phone award booking fee to $35.
There are some other changes, too, but I consider them minor. They have split saver awards into two levels, and standard awards into three. They have also reduced the first standard level by 5,000 miles. The third standard level stays eerily empty in their official award chart for now, so who knows what they’re intending to do about it.
Here is the new American chart.
I used the word official because Seth, who runs Wandering Aramean did an in-depth analyses on it and filled the blanks. The level three of AAdvantage award chart is off-the-charts in many cases.
The reason why I consider these changes minor is that they haven’t touched the saver — yet! In all these years, I have been blessed in that I have never had to book a standard award on any airline, including Delta. So as long as they don’t remove or stealthily diminished Saver availability, I don’t care about standard redemptions.
That doesn’t mean it’s not bad. It is, in fact, a terrible devaluation for folks who must be in a certain place at a certain (peak season) times. There is no words to describe how unreasonably expensive these “free flights” are going to become to some people.
They have also removed an extra free bag, but as long as you have a City AAdvantage or Barclay US Air card (from April 30) you are going to be fine.
All these changes are not unreasonable and would not have been so vehemently opposed if it weren’t for the sneaky manner in which they were introduced–WITH NO ADVANCE NOTICE!
Lucky had an interesting telephone conversation with Susanne Rubin, the President or American AAdvantage, who told him that “American wasn’t expecting such a negative response” (in his words). Well, I am gullible, but I’m not this gullible! If that was true, then I would have to assume that Ms. Rubin was incompetent, and I know she isn’t.
In my post from Nov 2 UNITED GUTTED — PART 2: Stop AA and US Merger Before It’s Too Late! I wrote this:
Look, despite what all of us might feel, United execs are not stupid. They knew this move would cause an uproar. They’ve calculated that most people won’t give a damn, and that for the large percentage of those who do, there is nothing they could do about it.
I really don’t think that American’s execs are more stupid than United’s.
Call me naive, it’s not Rubin. I’m sure it’s not. Hacking away is not AAdvantage style. They were the first to start loyalty programs back in the 1980. They had been extremely careful with changes throughout the year, even if they did what we call stealth devaluation by removing some Saver awards out of circulation. This whole disaster has Doug Parker name written all over it. As one Flyertalk member noted, the parkerization of American had begun.
On a brighter note…
I’ve played with the AA award search engine yesterday night for some time and I didn’t find any evidence that the saver awards had been depleted. I have found a lot of availability. They still have excellent availability to Europe for 40,000 miles (before May 15), and the same spotty availability in the summer as always. I only checked flights from New York, both foreign and domestic, and there was no difference, at least nothing I could tell. Let’s hope that will last.