Repricing AAdvantage Awards Post-Devaluation & Strategies for Locking in 1st Class Awards at Current Prices

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AAdvantage Devaluation Repricing

AAdvantage Devaluation Repricing

On March 22, 2016 American Airlines will heavily devalue their award chart. This devaluation brings them in line with United and Delta who have already gutted their programs. Similar to what we have seen with the other two carriers, for the most part coach redemptions will stay reasonable while premium cabin redemptions will increase significantly for the most part.

American does have one policy that is quite generous. They allow you to change the date/time, airlines and routing of your award as long as the origin and destination remains the same. This is really handy when you find an award that sort of works, but you are hoping for something better or if you want to lock in a price before it goes up significantly.

How Repricing Will Be Handled

One of the fears with this devaluation was that making changes to awards booked before March 22, would trigger the tickets to re-price at the higher price. Thankfully Gary at View from the Wing is reporting that this isn’t the case. Gary quotes an AA spokesperson,”…As long as the origin and destination remain the same, the date/time changes can be made.”

Just to be clear, Gary clarified a few more points and tried to eliminate the grey areas. Here is what to expect.

  • If the airlines and routing are the same, the date and time can be changed without repricing.
  • If the routing changes but the airlines are the same, then the award won’t reprice. You do still need to change to a legal routing for the “primary carrier”.
  • If you change award types (partner to American or saver to extra) then the award WILL re-price at the new rates.

AAdvantage Devaluation Repricing

Good News

I have a friend who is planning a trip in October and has been struggling to find flights that really work well for him. There are a couple of mediocre options, but at least now he can book one of those and switch as long as he follows the rules above. I also have a few trips that I am planning and it is good to know that there is some flexibility in changing the dates/times.

Locking In First Class Prices

One of the biggest increases on the new award chart is international first class. I highly suggest heading over to Gary’s post to study how you can lock in first class awards at old prices and then switch around the dates as you need them. He even highlights a brilliant strategy for putting a Cathay first class award on hold without any actual first class award space between the U.S. and Hong Kong! Lots of good stuff.

Conclusion

If you aren’t thinking about how to lock in your AA miles at the old rates, then you are really cheating yourself. For years American Airlines and Citi have been handing out AAdvantage miles like candy and now is the time to cash in before they are worth a whole lot less. I personally need to sit down and lock in some awards and plan to get that done sooner rather than later. With the knowledge that I have some flexibility, I’ll be booking as far out as possible!


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27 COMMENTS

  1. As far out as possible being March 21/22 2017? Anyone think there’s wiggle room for booking now for an April 2017 trip?

  2. ok here is the question that you did not touch about the change.
    what if the destinations dont change but rounting on different airlines change ? will it trigger ?

    example im having hard time.

    Mnl-nrt-lax(destination) F
    would like to change to
    Mnl- hkg- lax – F after 3/21

    will this be allowed.

    • According to Gary’s post as long as you stay on the same type of award (American or partner) the routing and airlines can change as long as the origin/destination stays the same.

    • MNL is tricky though. When I flew MNL-HKG-LAX back in 2013, AA told me I had to call their Manila office to ticket it because of some Philippine law?!? It was very odd since I had always been able to book MNL-NRT or MNL-BKK or MNL-SIN on star alliance airlines using UA or SQ miles with no issues.
      If they still have this policy, rerouting on MNL-NRT-LAX (on JL I presume) to MNL-HKG-LAX (on CX I presume) may trigger a change if AAdvantage forces you to call that Manila office. Just an FYI. Shawn/Gary is right though that as long as origin/destination is the same, you shouldn’t have issues. But if it requires a manual change like calling the Manila office due to this weird Philippine law, then you may have to pay the new price.

  3. If I book a ticket on March 20th, 2016 for a flight that departs February 18th, 2017 (~331 days out), then if I want to change that flight to a different day (origin/destination remain the same), I still have to fly that award before March 20th 2017 (365 days after I ticketed it), correct?

  4. If I put an award on a 5 day hold on March 21, pre-devaluation, and pay for the award 5 days later, will the lower miles be honored then?

    • I will try to get an answer to this and follow up. I believe it will be at the old rate since it is held and locked in, but I want to be able to confirm for sure.

  5. I’m traveling from North America to HKG then to SIN on business class using AA miles. I really want to get the NA to HKG in first class but it’s not currently available. The above trip is one way and I was thinking of trying to force the trip into first before the devaluation by adding a third destination from SIN to ‘XYZ’ in first. I suppose the challenge is I can’t seem to find any three tier services from SIN to an airport in AP2.

    Any advice? Thanks for your time!

    • That is because American doesn’t have any partners with a hub in Singapore. Try going through Kuala Lumpur instead. American is a partner with Malaysian Airlines and they fly from KUL to just about everywhere else in that region.

      • Thanks for the response. Didn’t have any luck with KUL but I think I saw some first class options if I were to do North America > HKG > BKK > SIN although I didn’t check to see if AA actually had any inventory or not.

        That’s a considerable itinerary change and I think my SO would kill me if I did anything too drastic. I might just have to swallow the 80% fare increase when the time comes.

    • Have you seen any F award availability in Japan Airlines, which is a oneworld partner? If so, book that for North America to NRT to SIN. Once award availability opens up on CX, then call AA again to put you on the CX flight (via HKG). As long as it’s the same origin/destination, you should be ok.

  6. Personally I don’t think I’m cheating myself if I choose not to lock in any first class awards before the devaluation. I only get 4 weeks of vacation each year and most of it has been planned for 2016 already. If anything, I hope award availability will be better after the devaluation so I can actually go to the places I want to go *when* I want to go there. I know the name of the game is to earn and burn, but earning miles has gotten ‘harder’ nowadays and I prefer to hoard my miles since I plan on travelling after March 2017. 😉
    Great article though and I agree if you are planning to go travel later this year and haven’t gotten tix yet, now is the time to lock in those awards!

  7. Hi,
    I’m trying to book a first class ticket from NRT to JFK in mid April. They don’t have first class availability now. Can I book an economy class but ask them to ticket it as first class?

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