American Airlines has a new unpublished award chart level for flights between the U.S. and China, now charging as much as 490,000 miles one-way for a redemption This includes American Airlines flights to Hong Kong as well.
American AAdvantage says they’re planning to eliminate award charts. It’s the one thing left still separating the program from strong value and the abyss, which has already swallowed up the Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus programs.
The real value is in partner award charts. Partner awards are only available at the ‘saver’ or lowest award level. Even though Delta and United only offer that saver inventory to members, they devalue their partner pricing frequently without award charts. Opaque pricing means the destruction of member value.
For American’s own flights they often offer the lowest points prices at the revenue-based ‘web special’ level, which doesn’t allow changes. Those prices vary tremendously and get quite granular. However they still have a saver award chart, and an ‘Anytime’ chart where you can spend points even for the last available seat on the plane.
The award chart for American Airlines flights now has multiple levels, though they only publish levels one and two and mention that “there are select dates that require a higher number of miles (in addition to Level 1 and 2 awards).” I’ve written about 5 anytime award price levels in the past.
For flights between the U.S. and China and Hong Kong, they’ve now introduced a new most-expensive 6th anytime award price level. As with other similar awards, employees get a 20% discount on these redemptions just as they’re eligible for ‘AA20’ pricing on revenue fares.
At level 6, American now charges as much as 490,000 miles one way according to an internatl reference document:
In practice, because of web saver awards, you’ll almost never see pricing reach exactly this level – but inflexible award pricing will come close:
Still, at prices like these, you might as well swim.