It wasn’t enough that Marriott had to devastate pretty much everyone by announcing its takeover of Starwood. Now American has decided to kick us while we’re down by announcing their 2016 AAdvantage award program changes, which will take effect on March 22, 2016. I’m not going to bore you with the details about elite qualification and benefits. Plenty of other bloggers will offer more insightful commentary on that front. Instead, I’m going to hone in on the award chart changes, which most of us have been dreading since the merger. The good news is they’re on par with United’s rates, which is to say it’s not entirely terrible. Plus, we have four months before the changes go into effect, which is plenty of time to book some of the awards that are increasing.
The negative changes are numerous. Those 55,000 mile business class tickets I booked to Asia this past summer are increasing to 75,000 miles each way, which is more than the current cost of a first class ticket! First class is going up from 62,500 to 80,000 miles. Asia 2 and the South Pacific are seeing the most significant increase in first class redemption rates: Asia 2 is going from 67,500 to 110,000 miles one-way while awards to the South Pacific are increasing from 72,500 to 110,000 miles one-way. Other negative changes include increases in off-peak awards to Europe and the discontinuation of off-peak economy awards to South America 2.
It’s not entirely bad, however, with a few positive changes being made to the AAdvantage award chart:
- The addition of short-haul flights within the U.S. and Canada under 500 miles.
- Off-peak economy class awards to Central America decreasing from 15,000 to 12,500 miles one-way..
- Saver economy class awards to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean decreasing from 17,500 miles to 15,000 miles one-way.
- Business class awards to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean decreasing from 30,000 to 25,000 miles one-way.
- Economy Class awards to the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent decreasing from 45,000 to 40,000 miles one-way.
|Contiguous 48 U.S. states||-||12,500||25,000||50,000|
|Contiguous 48 U.S. states & Canada (≤ 500 miles)^||-||7,500||15,000||-|
|Canada & Alaska||-||15,000||30,000||55,000|
|South America Region 1||17,500||20,000||30,000||55,000|
|South America Region 2||-||30,000||57,000||85,000|
|Middle East/Indian Subcontinent||-||40,000||70,000||115,000|
|Asia Region 1||32,500||35,000||60,000||80,000|
|Asia Region 2||32,500||37,500||75,000||110,000|
The negative changes are pretty awful, but thankfully Alaska Airlines hasn’t announced a massive devaluation (yet) and can act as a great replacement. Alaska partners with Cathay Pacific, so if you want to experience their first or business class product and won’t be able to earn enough points to redeem the award before the devaluation next year, you can still redeem just 50,000 Alaska miles one-way for the same award – plus you get a free stopover each way. Things are headed south with reward programs in general, but we just have to keep adapting, diversifying our point portfolios, and switching loyalty programs when necessary.
What are your thoughts on the 2016 AAdvantage program changes?
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