Concerning New AAdvantage Award Availability Trend

by Miguel R. Quinones

Overall, American Airlines AAdvantage award availability for their own flights is currently as good as it has been in years. Even flights to destinations for which AA never seemed to open premium cabin space, such as Hong Kong and Sydney, have recently become widely available. However, over the last week I have noticed a new trend when it comes to saver level AAdvantage availability on AA’s own flights that is extremely concerning.

AA has historically opened up award space 331 days out. That does not mean they open up award seats on every flight at that time, but you would always see seats become available on at least some international flights and most domestic flights 331 days or so out. Nonetheless, over the last week I have noticed that AA is not opening up premium cabin space on virtually any of its flights until closer to 300 days out.

Here is what the award calendar for premium cabin travel on AA’s own flights looks like for five different routes from five of their hubs during the first three weeks of December:
















As you can see, none of these routes are showing any business class award availability past December 2, which is 298 days from today. When I started monitoring this issue last week, availability was only open until November 26. Every day since the next day on the calendar has become available on most of these routes, which means that AA is systematically opening up premium cabin availability on their own flights around 300 days out instead of 331 days. For what it’s worth, availability in economy class is only slightly better during this gap.

There are two main reasons why this is concerning. First, while you can currently book AAdvantage awards with AA partners as far out as usual, 331 days out, you cannot add any AA connecting flight(s) to said award reservation unless said AA flights are 298 days out or less. By the time you can add the AA connecting flights, the partner flights might not be available. You can, of course, book what is bookable now and then modify your reservation to add the AA connecting flights but, unless you have Executive Platinum elite status with AA, said modification would require a fee.

The second reason why this is so concerning is AAdvantage’s upcoming devaluation, which will take effect for awards booked on or after March 22, 2016. All along the assumption has been that you would be able to book awards for travel all the way until early February 2017 under the current AAdvantage award rates. However, if this trend continues, then you will not be able to book awards for travel beyond early January 2017 in numerous instances.

Bottom Line

Make sure to take this trend into consideration when running AA award searches, particularly for any routes that require at least one AA segment. Hopefully this is some sort of glitch that at the very least will get solved before the AAdvantage devaluation takes effect.

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Naomi February 8, 2016 - 2:38 pm

I noticed this and am slightly worried. I was able to snag DFW-BKK on JAL for post-Christmas, but I’m coming back in mid-January.

That said, there were saver tixs available about a week ago (all over the place) and now nothing.

I need to get back from Hanoi (routing through PEK for a stopover on separate tickets) and have my fingers crossed that maybe a partner will have space in J.

districtdowner February 8, 2016 - 3:35 pm

That 300 day mark might be accurate for international routes, but for domestic connections I was tracking over the past week (DCA ORD & DCA BOS) the Milesaaver awards typically posted 329 days out. Which flight times were available (and which were available in first and economy vs. which were just one or the other) was a bit a crap shoot.

Stephan February 8, 2016 - 6:35 pm

AA is just doing what everyone else does during the weeks around Christmas holidays. Is this really surprising?

Miguel R. Quinones February 8, 2016 - 6:57 pm

Stephan, I don’t think this has anything to do with the Holidays. The first two weeks in Decemeber are always among the slowest for travel in the entire calendar. Airlines do not get stingy with award availability until around December 19th. Plus, as mentioned in the article, at least for the last week availability has consistently opened up 298 days out. Tomorrow December 3 will likely open up.

William February 8, 2016 - 7:23 pm

The chickens of all the AA apologists are finally coming home to roost. What good is it to be able to get RT J awards for 100K miles when none are ever available on AA metal? I’m not paying $300+ in BA surcharges, or routing through Berlin on my way to LHR.

People may hate SkyMiles, but I can still find tons of availability on Delta metal to LHR this summer.

Update: Concerning New AAdvantage Award Availability Trend - Point Me to the Plane February 22, 2016 - 12:40 pm

[…] couple of weeks ago we wrote about a concerning AAdvantage award availability trend we had noticed. In sum, instead of opening award availability for their own flights 331 days out or […]


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