American AAdvantage Raising AAnytime Award Prices to Australia and New Zealand: 840,000 Mile Roundtrips Possible

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.

Even though no one was flying the new Sydney service when it launched, they weren’t making saver awards available. Called out on this they briefly opened the award floodgates on these empty flights.

Occasionally they’ve opened up Auckland saver award space in premium cabins. In fact, this has happened a couple of times.

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Now they’re increasing the unpublished (not listed on their award chart) maximum price that these flights can cost when saver mileage awards aren’t available, as well.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Starting in “late September” American will start charging higher prices than their current unpublished one-way prices on certain dates.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 used to 720,000 mile awards at Delta, and more recently 830,000 SkyMile awards. Starting next month that won’t only be possible but official for the most expensive American AAdvantage awards.

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.

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 booked a saver business award on March 22nd to lock in pre-devaluation rates with the intention of changing my dates. Looks like I’m screwed.

  2. I feel like their aim is to reduce the cost to less than 1c per point. It may actually be better to use cash for these flights?

    However there is actually quite a lot of capacity and premium cabin saver award space is not impossible to find on US to New Zealand flights at the moment. If someone wants to pay stupid prices, they can go ahead. I assume there is a class of passenger who pays these prices?

  3. These airline miles are toilet paper now. Very difficult to find saver awards and non-saver awards are extremely expensive, restricting credit card churning, ..etc

    Good luck American, you are the last airlines i will spend my $$ on

  4. Called AA out? LOL.

    Did they personally apologize to you and have the pacific team add a few seats for you to hold for your award booking clients?

  5. At least they have called me back 6 times after charging me $126 in June for supposedly over-refunding that amount last November. Their rep can’t figure it out but AMEX is too ready to agree with AA.
    I’ll ditch both. Well. I won’t actually ditch the plane, but you get the meaning.

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