American Airlines Premium Cabin Award Availability Improving

In my post about the surprising availability of American Airlines premium cabin awards on a plethora of transatlantic and transpacific routes on.. Wednesdays, some readers suggested that I may have buried the lede.

I’ve covered American loosening up availability on the Sydney route. And I covered the floodgates opening for award space on London routes. And how they opened up China flying. That was just the start.

American Airlines Boeing 787 Business Class

The key point – because readers have been wondering “what’s going on?” – may be the comments shared by American Airlines:

The changes you noted were test markets and there are more changes to come.

In short, we’ve done an overhaul on how we handle premium inventory. Not everyone route will have more availability, but there is a net increase across the system for C [business class upgrade] and U [business class award inventory]. Flights to Europe and trans-Pacific will be the most noticeable…

Sounds like you should be able to get a better view of the C/U inventory changes over the next few days and weeks.

We need to keep watch over what happens here. But we’re seeing better award availability start to trickle out, and American says they’re releasing more business class upgrades and awards as well. And that this will continue based on the tests we’ve been seeing them perform.

With prices going up for many premium cabin awards on March 22, they should make more awards available.

  • Because of the basic economics of the program, there’s going to be more revenue attached to each award. The higher price for the seats should be able to shake loose more seats from inventory management. (Of course these seats will also – presumably – be available to partner frequent flyer programs and whether the prices those programs are paying is sufficient is an unknown in this equation.)

  • Because they want members to continue to believe they’re getting strong value out of the program. AAdvantage is profitable on a standalone basis, and drives revenue to the airline as well.

This could be really good for a lot of members, though of course I continue to prefer to redeem my AAdvantage miles for travel on their partners much of the time (although I think their new fully flat all aisle access business class seat stands up to anyone’s especially on the Boeing 777-300ER, and I tend to favor that for Europe).

American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Business Class

What’s a reasonable amount of award space? What should we expect from a program? What do you think?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I got around 10 Expertflyer alerts today for American premium cabin flights. I noticed you pointed out earlier that they showed great availability for mid-week and Saturday flights. All my alerts were for Friday departures to Europe and Sunday returns…the most desirable leisure times so looks like they expanded availability to all days of the week (from my small window in early to mid April i was monitoring)

  2. I’ve seen the same thing that Shaun sees, suddenly I am getting ExpertFlyer alerts on several routes I’ve been watching. I was ready to leave American and just do premium pay-as-you-go but January has brought a lot of good news for AA elites.

    I wonder if loosening upgrade availability is tied to the reduction of systemwides from 8 to 4. First they reduced the number that each member would get, but now it seems like they are moving toward creating more availability – of course we don’t know yet how they’ll handle P.E.

  3. I just booked a business class ticket for LIM-MIA-PHL. The first leg is in the retrofitted 767 cabin, and the second is the old 767 cabin (for now). What an awesome use of 30k AA miles!

  4. @Another Steve in a real sense it’s worth noting that they haven’t reduced systemwides from 8 to 4. 4 is the base, you then earn more with additional qualifying miles earned beyond 100k. And by combining qualifying points and miles (by giving bonus qualifying miles on premium fares) there’s going to be a lot more members earning over 100k qualifying miles. I qualified on miles, points, and segments in 2015. I didn’t hit 150k qualifying miles or points, but I easily will hit 150k under the new system. Not sure that I’ll do 200k, but for me it’s a reduction probably from 8 to 6.

  5. In the last 48 hours premium cabin to Europe on AA during peak summer travel has really opened up. Earlier this week it was only BA. Good thing I waited a few days.

  6. I was able to book 2 seats in J (SAN-LAX-LHR-ORY; LHR-MIA-SAN) for travel in May/June with no problems at all. I was shocked.

  7. What has happened to the Hawaii reward market?? I’ve been watching reduced mileage awards to/from Hawaii from both DFW and LAX for the month of September. It has ALL gone away compared to just a couple of days ago. What happened??

  8. I just jumped through some hoops last week to book a CDG-IAD award on Air France and paid a little bit more in fuel surcharges than I would have liked–missed this by just a hair, PAR-WAS availability is now wide open in biz and first in May on AA metal.

    This is a huge boon to my valuation of AA miles. I’m a recent UA ship jumper to AA, and the transatlantic award options on AA were just so much weaker–til now. Thanks for posting, Gary.

  9. I just booked business class from the Bay Area to SYD and return from MEL for early November.

    It’s AA metal, not QF and goes through LAX.

    I checked and the only saver awards they showed in November were to transit through HKG.

    Glad to have used my miles for award to Oceania before the award chart changes. Only had 138k miles so only way I was going to get an award to Australia was before 3/22.

  10. Looks like more seats opening up all the time. Have been looking to go MIA-ZRH this summer, and a couple days ago when this was first posted could not find flights except on BA with big surcharges. Just finished making reservations for 2 round trip business class seats on AA metal points plus $125.

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