American AAdvantage Ends Saver And Anytime Awards: Everything You Need To Know

American Airlines has eliminated Saver and Anytime awards, and replaced those award charts with a new ‘starting from’ pricing chart for American Airlines flights. There are no changes to partner awards or upgrade awards. And since most American awards were already dynamically-priced web specials, in practice little changes at all once this fully cuts over this afternoon. But there’s still a lot to unpack.

Here are the full details.

How New Flight Awards Work

“Flight awards” are the new name for travel redemptions on American Airlines, with the end of MilesAAver and AAnytime. These replace web specials, but as essentially web specials (that are no longer limited to online redemption anyway).

The new flight award chart shows the starting price for travel between two regions for each class of service. However the chart only shows pricing for travel to and from North America.

  • They do not ‘need to’ show travel between other regions of the world, since American doesn’t operate 5th freedom routes elsehwere.
  • What this means though is that there are no longer ‘deals’ for travel from Europe (say) to South America via North America. Instead, all long haul travel prices additively (Europe to North America plus North America to South America).

This isn’t an issue for most members of the program, but those based outside of North America who actually redeem their miles for American Airlines travel to destinations other than North America will not do well. For American, this reduces complexity, as there’s less special pricing to maintain.

Last seat availability for redemptions will continue to be available with dynamically priced flight awards, as it has been for AAnytime awards.

New Award Chart And Rules

American Airlines has a new award chart for ‘flight awards’ and it presents pricing as ‘starting from’. Note that they’ve also collapsed some regions – Asia is no longer more than one region. Middle East and India and also South Pacific gets combined in.

‘Starting From’ pricing tells you not to expect to find prices less than this amount, but tells you nothing about what to expect as ‘regular price’.

Routing and regions:

  • Domestic U.S. and Canada redemptions permit up to 3 segments in each direction
  • Other award (including Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands) permit up to 4 segments in each direction
  • Caribbean includes Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands; South America “Short Haul” is defined as Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru; and South America “Long Haul” is Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay.

The Chart Itself Looks Like A Devaluation, But Maybe It Isn’t?

The new award chart appears to have some surprising price increases. We can compare it both to current web saver redemptions and to the milesAAver awards which are going away (where American rarely made space available).

The airline now promotes “Flight awards are available for as low as 7,500 miles each way” – however,

  • Up until a few months ago web saver coach awards started at 5,000 miles
  • This went up to 6,000 miles and that’s how things have been pricing on many routes.
  • So does this represent marketing a 25% increase (and 50% in a matter of months) for the cheapest awards?

I’m told that there’s actually no change in how web savers (now flight awards) are being priced, and they wanted to show prices in the chart that will have plenty of availability rather than prices that are sometimes available.

As a result there’s nothing in these changes that should eliminate the 6,000 mile awards, for instance, Los Angeles – Las Vegas.

Meanwhile comparing the cost of published saver award prices with the lowest prices on the new ‘starting from’ Flight Award chart makes things look pretty dramatic. I’ll explain why this isn’t quite what’s going on in a moment.

Here’s a breakdown of business class prices, and how they are changing from milesAAver to flight awards:

Saver  New
Business Flight Award Change % Change
Domestic U.S. (under 500 miles)        15,000           15,000                  –              –
Domestic U.S. (500+ miles)        25,000           15,000        (10,000) -40%
Alaska        30,000           60,000          30,000 100%
Hawaii        55,000           60,000            5,000 9%
Mexico/Caribbean        25,000           20,000          (5,000) -20%
South America Short Haul        30,000           30,000                  – 0%
South America Long Haul        57,500           90,000          32,500 57%
Europe        57,500           75,000          17,500 30%
Asia 1        60,000           95,000          35,000 58%
Asia 2        70,000           95,000          25,000 36%
Mideast and India        70,000           95,000          25,000 36%
South Pacific        80,000           95,000          15,000 19%

First, there’s no actual change to current redemption pricing. milesAAver prices simply weren’t available much on many routes. And the ‘starting from’ chart doesn’t actually show the lowest prices.

Furthermore, it collapses regions – for instance combining Alaska and Hawaii and combining Japan with Australia.

This chart shows Alaska awards, say Phoenix – Anchorage one way in domestic first class, going from 30,000 miles (saver) to starting from 60,000 miles (flight award). Wow. U.S. – Japan in business class going from 60,000 to 95,000 miles one way at the lowest level? It shows Europe going from 57,500 to 75,000 miles one way.

In reality, American assures, nothing actually changes. U.S. – Europe isn’t available much in the 50,000s and very rarely in the 60,000s, so this presents a realistic picture of prices rather than the lowest possible price going forward. I’d suggest this charge shows devaluations that have already happened rather than anything new with today’s change.

No More Itinerary Changes

Flight awards cannot be changed once ticket. You can cancel and redeposit the miles (and that’s free for all members) but if you want to alter an itinerary you have to start over from scratch if it’s entirely on American Airlines.

You might have gotten a great price on an award from Austin to New York to Doha but then you moved to New York. You can no longer just drop the Austin – New York segment (as you could with a saver award, but not with a web special). Instead you have to start over, book New York JFK – Doha, at whatever the then-prevailing price may be.

I’m told that “for now” flight awards reflect web special product rules, though changes to awards is something that AAdvantage is looking at.

In Practice (Almost) Nothing Changes?

The way to think about this change is existing ‘web specials’ (no longer bookable only online) officially replace saver awards, and nothing changes with partner awards. And that’s really the status quo, since web specials mostly replaced saver awards already.

  • Saver awards began to get less relevant at American Airlines after US Airways management took over, and their revenue management approach went into effect – which was, more or less, not to intentionally offer saver awards.
  • Then when American launched web special awards in 2019 that became ‘what awards usually cost’ since they were generally cheaper than whatever the lowest prevailing price already was.

American tells me that 85% of awards are being booked below the lowest MilesAAver or AAnytime price that’s available today. That’s just a function of there not being much saver space, and when there is it’s only because the saver price is high relative to the cash price of the ticket. And AAnytime awards actually had 5 levels, 3 of which were unpublished to begin with, and they could almost always price an award a little lower than AAnytime level 5.

Since MilesAAver and AAnytime awards were no longer relevant – indeed, a very small portion of what was actually being booked – you might wonder why American is bothering to get rid of them? Why not just keep saver awards, and the saver award chart, and continue to price awards in a way that makes them less and less relevant? This seems more of a cleanup exercise than anything else, simplifying things they need to manage and reducing confusion, and setting member expectations.

American’s New Award Charts Aren’t Very Useful

In some sense this doesn’t matter, because partner award charts remain fully in place and because there was very little award availability at the saver level – and most of the time that there was, this was more or less only on flights they were able to offer awards below the saver level. So the previously-existing chart didn’t matter.

But the new way of displaying award pricing doesn’t tell us very much. They’ve adopted a ‘starting from’ display for flights to and from North America. But the old saver award chart used to be the price you could expect to get, if you were on top of things and a little bit flexible. Now it’s the lowest price you could possibly get, rather than the prevailing price or prevailing ‘deal’ price.

Put another way, what the new chart tells us is only the you will not get an award for less than price, rather than the price you can expect. And it doesn’t even tell us that since the starting from price doesn’t show you the lowest price they’ll ofer.

Providing an actual lowest price chart along with some indicator of what people are usually paying in practice would seem more useful once we concede that ‘this is how American is going to price awards’.

Instead, by showing you how low a price might go but not the usual price, American obfuscates price increases. We’ve already seen this – this is nothing new with the elimination of traditional saver awards at other airlines. They’re more easily able to raise how much they charge for a given itinerary, without telling members in advance that awards cost more. This is part and parcel of devaluation. But at American it already happened four years ago, they’re just now changing the nomenclature.

To be clear, we’ve seen it at every airline that’s eliminated traditional fixed price awards. American already effectively eliminated them before making this change through the drying up of saver award inventory. Since this change just makes it all official there’s not really any new devaluation in these current changes.

Partner Awards Remain Unchanged

Award redemption on partner airlines – where you’ll generally find the greatest value for your AAdvantage miles – remains unchanged. There is still a partner award chart, and there are no changes to how partner awards work and “no current intention” to change those (including changes to pricing). You can still make changes under the same rules with partner awards.

In fact, even including American Airlines flights as part of partner awards doesn’t change. American will still have the same saver award inventory buckets as before – T, U, and Z – and use those for partner award bookings. If you wanted to fly Austin – Los Angeles – Tokyo with the Austin – LA flight on American included in the award, you’d need T (economy) or U (domestic first) space available to do so.

Any time you book an American flight at the saver level in conjunction with a partner award that’s a partner award, subject to partner award rules.

They aren’t improving combining American flights with partner awards, along the lines of Air Canada and United, where if saver award space on their flight isn’t available you can spend a few more miles to include it. If saver (T, U, Z) space isn’t available, you’d be pricing two separate awards additively.

Using Partner Airline Miles To Book Awards On American Doesn’t Change, Either

American is keeping their saver award inventory buckets, that they use for booking their own flights in conjunction with partner awards, and those same buckets will remain exactly how partner airlines like British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Etihad and others access availability when letting their members redeem points for travel on American.

That means for using partner miles to travel on American, nothing changes. But that remains my big worry. Can they really sustainably offer a partner award chart showing 57,500 miles each way for business class between the U.S. and Europe on a partner airline, and a chart that says actually flying American starts at 75,000 miles? It seems like there will be pressure to devalue partner award pricing, since it’s so much lower than American Airlines pricing.

I’m assured that changing partner award pricing is a major undertaking (given bilateral agreements), and that it is not currently underway. Still, there did not used to be a published price gap between the saver (American Airlines) and partner charts. And now the gap is rather large. It makes American redemptions look expensive by comparison. And they are! Partner redemptions are often the much better value, except on British Airways where fuel surcharges are a kick in the teeth that can run an extra $1500 roundtrip. I worry about the sustainability of the outstanding value in AAdvantage partner award pricing, which hasn’t changed in six and a half years.

Expanded Award Availability For Executive Platinum Members Eliminated

For years one benefit of Executive Platinum status has been extra coach saver award availability on American Airlines flights.

  • This wasn’t available online, you had to call
  • And agents, in my experience, would deny it even existed. That’s because agents wouldn’t see the availability any differently when searching using your account.

I hadn’t actually seen this benefit bring up extra award space in the wild in many years, but American re-assured last summer that it was in fact still in place.

However the benefit goes away. American says that ‘usage was very low’ but of course that’s because you had to call to ask about availability, most members didn’t realize this, and there didn’t seem to be much extra availability in any case. So in practice, again, little changes.

Notably, though, American isn’t doing anything like United (which offers lower redemption prices to elites and co-brand cardmembers), like Delta (which offers a 15% discount for cobrand cardmembers, which is really an upcharge for those without the card), or Air Canada (which offers up to 11 ‘Priority Rewards’ to elite members for 50% discounts on redemption prices). There’s no elite redemption benefit as part of these changes.

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. Guess time will tell how badly this impacts award travel pricing in practical terms.

    I’ve yet to see changes to FFP result in more affordable/better situations for customers.

    So I won’t hold my breath.

  2. This is definitely a devaluation. If the argument is that it maybe this isn’t a devaluation because saver awards were never available, that isn’t true. I flew Buenos Aires to New York in February for 57.5k on a saver award. The MINIMUM for that flight is now 90k, which as you state is 60% higher. The only potential wins in this new chart are Domestico/Carribean, which as most of us already know, is of no value at all.

  3. @Too Many – the interesting thing is that American doesn’t even *claim* (as airlines usually do) that these changes result in improved availability for customers. Their position is that there is no change. That’s true for now, as far as I can tell, except for the loss of award types that do allow changes after purchase and for the loss of Executive Platinum extra award availability.

  4. That’s not good. Like @Daniel I’ve also been able to pick up Saver awards to South America, including a 57.5K ticket that would have cost me $2500 around Chirstmas.

  5. @ Gary — Is this efective NOW, or can I still call and add a domestic segment to a partner international award this afternoon (assuming I can find saver space)?

  6. I burned almost all my AA miles a year ago on a roundtrip to BKK at 70k each way in business class via NRT. Alaska miles would have been a bit less, but using the AA miles while I could was a good decision. I am glad I don’t need to bother dealing with AA’s current and future devaluations. Barring airline inventory goofs I will mostly have to redeem for coach from now on.

  7. @Gene – there is NO CHANGE to partner awards at this time. You can do the same thing with partner awards today and tomorrow that you could do yesterday, even when including American flights in those awards.

  8. @ Gary — What about Business EtxrAA plan AAhead awards? I believe that those came from Saver inventory, and I assume that those aren’t just simply being eliminated.

  9. @Gary: this morning I noticed that change after months of checking for a old-type saver award intra-US segment to add to my existing transatlantic segment (57.5k). Until today only web specials were available, but those of course could not be combined with the existing 57.5k award ticket. Today when I noticed the change, I called AA and they were able to add the much needed intra-US segment.
    So based on what you said: “flight awards reflect web special product rules” – it might only apply to new bookings – we will see.
    I am hoping that with this new elimination of web specials, it will be easier to find that intra-US segment I always need to get back to my home airport after landing at JFK/ORD/DFW.

  10. @ Gary — So, does that mean that T U Z space still exists and can presumably be located using EF?

  11. @Gene – no changes to Business ExtrAA, and saver inventory will still be published (eg for inclusion in partner awards, for partner airlines to book on American)

  12. @daniel b – as I also write, American *still publishes saver inventory* for use with awards that include partner flights and for partners to book on American. And if you *have* a saver award then the rules of that already-issued ticket apply.

    furthermore, the change may not have fully tipped over yet, and may be a few hours away. It’s not clear the cutover time but was expected to be this afternoon/early evening.

  13. I have been watching Chicago to Auckland and Sydney in November. Was 175,000 business one way on AA metal, now the cheapest is 450,000 one way. Wow.

  14. > “No More Itinerary Changes
    Web special awards cannot be changed once ticket. You can cancel and redeposit the miles (and that’s free for all members) but if you want to alter an itinerary you have to start over from scratch if it’s entirely on American Airlines.”

    Is there a typo in the quote above? Did you mean to write “web special” or “flight awards?” If the latter, that will be a PITA if it also means AA will become less flexible in fixing an award due to schedule change. They’ll tell me I have to cancel and rebook my award at the new price. I hope I’m wrong.

  15. @Nun – Flight awards (the new name for web specials) cannot be changed once booked. You can still make changes to partner awards, but not to all-AA metal awards.

  16. How does this impact the availability of awards booked through partners (such as booking AA flights using Avios)?

  17. @ Nun — I think what Gary is trying to say is that ALL domestic-only awards will now be Web Specials and that no changes will be allowed. In the case of an involuntary schedule change, AA should allow changes without any additional charge.

    @ Gary — This post is very confusing. You might want to write a follow-up.

  18. DFW-AKL is 450,000 one way for business class for 2024 and this is a. “web” special! (was 175,000 for 2023).
    Seems like a huge devaluation. Turning into AA pesos.

  19. It’s just another nail in the coffin. Or several actually. USA-Euro goes from 57,500 to 75,000 each way. That’s a huge increase. Also, the lack of ability to change award tickets (basically moves to the web special model) sucks. Sure they’ll let you book that STL-CDG award 11 months out for 75k each way but at say 6 months out when they change the flight to give you that 20 minute connection in ORD or LHR or extra 10-hour layover in NYC with an airport change you can’t go in and switch to a better flight for free. So you can rebook and cancel the award but they play games with giving your miles back. Also, the award price goes up since it’s closer in. Once you clear that hurdle, the flight gets changed again at about 2 months out, and guess what? Sure you can cancel and rebook but that 150k RT sAAver award/web special is now 295,000 or 480,000. This is a really bad change. In addition to ALL that the lower levels of elite no longer get a special phone agent line and it just goes from bad to worse.

  20. ….and it’s gone. Pretty happy with my transition to investing my cash back. Points are a one way street where the customer always loses now.

  21. @ Gary — You don’t actually believe the lie that that there will be awards available below the “starting from” values do you? Yeah, maybe they exist today, but I’m sure they won’t for long. This is a massive devaluation. Period.

  22. @Gene, I was coming to comment that this post is extremely detail oriented and has a lot of good info, then I saw your comment. We should blame AA for the confusion imo. Going 4 great.

  23. For those who use them, losing free changes is huge, as outlined by DaninMCI above.

    My switch to cash back during COVID looks better and better. Only 8-10% inflation there.

  24. Int Web savers still staying?
    I’ve picked up some good deals on them though they do have the annoying married segments arttached

  25. Here’s a real world data point. The night before this change I booked SMF-EZE in biz at 110k (AAnytime 1 award). The next day after this announcement the new price was 350k. Oh boy was I glad I pulled the trigger. That’s more than 3x the cost in a matter of hours. And no my ticket redemption didn’t take the last award at the level because I was still looking for other dates after and the reward price was still 110k

  26. I mainly have used AA miles for partner awards, so would not want to see changes to those. Frequently I have found 57.5k partner awards in business on that weren’t even available on the partners’ own websites. Also, although the BA fees are high, I think a 57.5K mile price with fees with lots of availability will still beat 155k miles on UA for a comparable one way with a small fee (or a 595k mile cost on DL or AF). TATL business 60-75k mile awards can be found on UA if you are willing to fly 27 hours with 2 connections, and 59.5k awards pop up on AF only rarely.

  27. This is horrible Gary, absolutely trash. How can you say nothing has changed? For your example US-Europe before it was 57.5k points, now it says starting at 75k points… “starting” I just checked the full schedule on MIA-LHR and it is says 140k-291k on every single day except 6 days out of the year. That is 291k for a one way flight to Europe, absolutely insane!

  28. @frank- because these prices have already been in effect, AA really didn’t release lower-priced awards anymore to begin with [i.e. the devaluation ALREADY HAPPENED] and also because there are still awards that are cheaper than the new chart (the new chart isn’t really much guidance)

  29. As far as I’m concerned this is a massive devaluation, particularly for first class travel. I priced several west coast to east coast flights a week ago for travel early next year and good F availabilty could be had for 45,000 miles. As of today, those same flights are pricing at 100,000 miles.

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