American flies to two destinations in the ‘South Pacific’ — Sydney and Auckland — and award seats on those flights are tough to get. American has made AAnytime awards much more expensive over the past couple of years, and they’re tweaking the ‘extra miles award’ price of these specific flights higher again.
American announced last summer that they would be returning to Sydney. It launched in December with an improved soft product and on their Boeing 777-300ER which has their best seats.
Last November American announced Los Angeles – Auckland service with a Boeing 787-8. That flight started in June.
Most of the time, however, they’ve only made seats available for extra miles rather than as saver awards. And though these flights are still brand new, they’ve already raised the price of those extra miles AAnytime awards: Back in March American increased the ‘level 1’ and ‘level 2’ AAnytime award prices for South Pacific flights.
Now they’re increasing the unpublished (not listed on their award chart) maximum price that these flights can cost when saver mileage awards aren’t available, as well.
Here’s the saver, level 1 and level 2 prices for North America – South Pacific in business class:
There’s also a 250,000 mile level:
Here’s the saver, level 1 and level 2 prices for North America – South Pacific in first class:
There’s also a 300,000 mile level:
Starting in “late September” American will start charging higher prices than their current unpublished one-way prices on certain dates.
- Business class can go up to 375,000 miles one way on highest AAnytime dates
- First class can go up to 420,000 miles one way on highest AAnytime dates
I did have to ask, just to be sure, that this is one-way pricing and not roundtrip! At least there’s no change to saver pricing in premium cabins, and no change to economy pricing, at this time.
I don’t expect these new highest prices to prevail frequently, though it’s entirely at American’s discretion of course. This is the price for ‘peak of peak’ travel dates.
I’ve booked these AAnytime-style awards many times but I’ve never actually flown on one. I’ve always been fortunate to be able to actually travel at the saver level. But I’ve booked extra mileage awards to get where I’ve needed to go, when I needed to get there, as a hedge.
For instance, during a British Airways cabin crew strike I booked an extra mileage award on United — just in case my BA flight cancelled. When my flight made it out, I cancelled the United award. It was a great hedge.
I don’t love the new higher prices. I already didn’t love the old higher prices. It’s unlikely that I’ll use these awards. But I miss the days of knowing that award tickets were always reasonably priced enough that I could get on pretty much any airline, any flight, if I needed to.
At the same time, in theory an AAnytime award is reasonably likely to trade off with a paying customer. So they’re expensive to offer. Whether there’s more demand (and thus higher cost) for AAnytime awards on peak dates than expected, or a belief that the market will bear the higher prices, it’s still shocking to see when up through April 8, 2014 on all except the Seoul route American offered last seat availability for simply double the saver price (and that was, of course, before American raised award prices in March).
When searching for award space, don’t forget that you can book Air Pacific via Fiji, Air Tahiti Nui via Papeete, and even Air New Zealand with an Air Tahiti Nui codeshare to New Zealand.