American Will Eliminate AAnytime & MileSAAver Awards, Pledges To Keep Award Charts

While speaking with American AAdvantage Managing Director Heather Samp about changes to status qualifying and benefits for 2023, I asked about changes to award redemption. I wasn’t expecting to get an answer. She was more forthcoming than I expected! Heather shared that,

  • “We do have redemption changes coming up.”

  • She described American as “standalone in the U.S. industry in having an award chart, and we will maintain an award chart moving forward. What that looks like will be discussed further in 2023.”

    My first thought was ‘Alaska Airlines has award charts too’ although Alaska has said we’d see major changes there, introducing ‘simplified award charts’ before the end of 2022.

  • American “will sunset MileSAAver and AAnytime levels.” She says that “overwhelmingly the membership has enjoyed web special awards which have been below MileSAAver rates historically.” It’s not clear what an award chart for MileSAAver looks like, since those have priced ‘off award chart’ and either lower than saver or anytime prices. Perhaps they’ll be published as ranges or “start at” prices.

    I asked if she had a sense for when we’d see changes to award charts in 2023 and she told me she did not. I also asked whether the end of AAnytime awards would also mean the end of last seat availability for award travel, and was assured it would not.

That’s all a bit better than the airline’s official ‘fully dynamic’ language which gives me greater pause,

In 2023, award travel on American becomes fully dynamic with a new, simplified award chart.

Heather confirmed that “at this point” partner awards will still price based on an award chart. That’s often what’s most important to those looking for the most value from their miles, and not anticipating changes to that in the coming year is great news!

  • United mostly still prices partner awards based on a (hidden) award chart.

  • Delta has decoupled partner awards from any fixed pricing, and instead now mostly charges for partner travel what they’re charging for award travel on Delta’s own flights (meaning often over 300,000 miles one way for a partner award).

  • Usually awards on partners have a fixed, modest cost to the loyalty program so passing on mileage costs three times or more what they’ve been in the past to members is simply egregious.

A commitment to maintain a chart is a huge positive, because it gives members a sense of what to expect rather than “the price is whatever we say it is later.” Perhaps even more importantly, it means that changes to what members can expect usually need to be disclosed to them.

Hopefully then it’s nothing along the lines of what the last head of AAdvantage described as coming, akin “to a real estate website that shows you how many people have bought a property in a given area and for what price range, as well as a ticker for how many people are looking at a specific property right now” which could mean a website showing historical award pricing by route.

Whenever we’ve seen an airline remove award charts we’ve seen awards get much more expensive. Being able to raise prices in a non-transparent way is not good for members. So I’m grateful for the pledge to continue to have award charts, though cautious about what that will mean.

Ultimately loyalty marketing involves members engaging in an activity first – like flying or card spend, show their loyalty, earn a currency – and trusting that those points will be valuable in the future.

In order to generate trust the program has to commit up front to what the value proposition is going to look like. That’s especially true for airlines which have a history of abusing consumer trust.

Without a specific promise of value, and a credible commitment to deliver on the promise, there’s little reason to accumulate the currency. If a program won’t even tell you what your points will be worth when you go to redeem, why should you believe in their value? That’s why award charts matter – both for members, and for the program.

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. Curious what eliminating milesaaver awards means for avios redemptions. The dynamic “web special” pricing has already made it basically impossible to find a domestic F award with avios. I’m sure this will only make it more difficult

  2. Gary confirms a lot of emperors have no clothes: “Without a specific promise of value, and a credible commitment to deliver on the promise, there’s little reason to accumulate the currency.”

    I am always dumbfounded at the queue of nominally savvy FFers eagerly spending hard currency of established value to purchase tranches of miles with entirely opaque, hypothetical value.

    Would you march up to a Thomas Cook forex kiosk where the LED exchange-rate board was blank and dark, and trade dollars for Euro or yen whose value was concealed from you until the moment you tried to redeem them for a beer or train ticket? Nobody would. So why expend undue energy to acquire miles when their issuers stoutly refuse to state what they’re worth?

    All currencies run on faith, but in the frequent-flyer universe faith is not much warranted any more.

  3. @305 – a concern on the impact for Avios redemptions was exactly my reaction. I’d add that I’ve not had an issue finding F redemptions domestically, even successfully redeeming on one when looking for some last minute travel taken the end of the week before Thanksgiving and then in the week of Thanksgiving I was shocked to find success in redeeming again for the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That said, there were zero redemption opportunities on Avios a few months earlier, so it appears American are releasing some of these redemption opportunities much closer to the flight dates.

  4. Maybe it’s just me but I see the program evolving to where miles are a secondary reason to participate in the AA program and loyalty points becomes the carrot worth chasing.

  5. In the past 8 months there has been no economy saver award seats on the two itineraries I was looking for to change (ORD-BNA and DFW-BNA). I have been checking it every day.
    For me the biggest issue is since since the introduction of the web specials, they do not make the saver awards available, and you cannot combine let’s say a transatlantic saver award segment with a domestic web special one, even though the latter is typically cheaper then a regular domestic saver award ticket.

  6. Advantage Crypto-Miles are going down the drain into the sewer where Delta Sky-Pesos have been for years.

  7. @David that’s what happened to SkyMiles.

    I’ll stop actively engaging with AA if the % of time saver or better premium transcon and international cabin awards are available and / or that price is disrupted. Same for partner awards.

    They better realize that point of difference holds up the heavy engagement in their program in a way it never did for Delta which hasn’t been very competitive ever in 20 years.

  8. The big problem here is that web saver awards are like the in-app upgrades, they don’t book into a fare class where you can set an alert on EF, whereas milessaaver and aanytime awards do. You just have to get on to the website and check all the damn time. It’s a strategy to make it harder to find value.

  9. Glad I burned most of my AA miles on an off peak Iberia biz class seat which still represent good value.

    AA is now a shell of what it used to be.

  10. So BAD for AA to expire Saver award and gutting Avios! Typical AA(Marriott also)..sugarcoat the decimination of “loyalty”!!!

  11. Others have mentioned the potential impact on Avios redemptions, but frankly, I’ve given up on Avios regardless. The British Air Executive Club website is only borderline functional, forcing you to use their call center pretty often. And when you do call them on the phone, you’ll spend hours on hold and there’s a sizeable chance they’ll screw up your ticketing in doing so.

    When I was left stranded at the check-in desk because the BEAC phone rep forgot to charge my credit card for $11 in taxes, and it took me over an hour on the phone to resolve, I vowed to never do an Avios redemption again (no matter how lucrative the redemption rates are).

  12. Booked my first web special last week – 19k for a 1-stop (HPN-ORD-SJC) domestic 1st class award. This was not my 1st choice – my preference was a non-stop JFK-SFO, but that’s a unicorn award most of the year. I settled.

  13. As I’ve stated multiple times before, award charts are a thing of the past. Both airline and hotel awards will be dynamically priced across the board, first in the US, and then globally.

    In a “collusive oligopolies”, which hotel and airline industries are, there are leaders and followers.
    For airlines, DL leads and everyone else follows. For hotels, Hilton leads and everyone else follows. Hyatt’s so-called “seasonal awards” are just a fig leaf, just as were the award “charts” that AA has now decided to dump. What the change means is that AA awards to fly on AA metal will be <fully dynamically priced, while award travel on partner airlines using AA miles will be based on a [new] simplified award chart.

  14. @Boraxo

    Wouldn’t off-peak Iberia be the same as peak iberia since it’s partner at 57.5k? The off-peak pricing only matters for avios bookings where you can get the 34k price I thought.

  15. @Lie — “Another greedy corporate greed from United States of America”

    Are you the official spokesperson for the Socialist Party?

    It is not “greedy” to try to run your business to make a profit. Trust me, the alternative to the world is much, much worse. Nobody could say that the airline business is an unusually profitable one.

  16. Does anyone know when the MileageSaver awards will sunset?

    A lot of people don’t seem to understand these. Especially if you’re willing to fly coach, there are many terrific deals available as MileageSaver. If you’re savvy enough (and flexible enough) to use them, it currently makes AA miles significantly more valuable than their competitors.

  17. I was searching some flights to SYD in March. RT coach was 91k – biz was between 550k & 700k. Insane.

    I’m just gonna focus on burning all my AA miles in the next few years. They’re almost as bad as Delta these days for Int’l trips.

  18. @ chopsticks

    “It is not “greedy” to try to run your business to make a profit.”


    But then there is also the matter of ethical business practice.

    Arguably, airline loyalty programs lack transparency in the way they interact with their customer base.

    “Nobody could say that the airline business is an unusually profitable one.”

    Except for their loyalty programs, if well run (?)

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