Just How Far Has American AAdvantage Fallen?

As an earn and burn program — the value of a program’s miles, not its elite status — it’s hard to imagine a program that’s done more to become less useful.

The value in American Airlines miles stems mainly from the ability to use points on their partners — but even there mostly for Asia and the Mideast, not for Europe (where their primary transatlantic partner incurs extortionate add-on charges), not for Africa (where their reach is limited), and not for South America (where award availability is poor).

The usefulness of miles are a function of:

  1. Cost how many points it takes for an award, here American went from offering a great pricing chart to one on part with United’s and well behind Alaska Airlines with their devaluation last year.

  2. Availability and on their own aircraft American offers fewer award seats than peers. In fact, while this doesn’t speak to saver versus extra mileage awards, airlines report the percentage of passenger miles flown on award ticket the prior year in their SEC 10-K filings. American reported 6.3% of passenger miles on awards compared to 7.7% at United and 7.9% at Delta.

  3. Routing rules how you’re allowed to combine available award flights into a single award. Even with the use of journey control on Delta, American AAdvantage routing rules are the most draconian.

I usually talk about the difficulties using American Airlines miles to fly their own planes in premium cabins and when awards and upgrade space open briefly I put the word out.

I prefer to use miles on their partners such as Etihad. Last month I flew Dallas – Abu Dhabi and also Abu Dhabi – Melbourne in first class, and I have a slew of First Apartment reservations booked that I may now cancel because of the laptop ban flying from Abu Dhabi to the US.

That is not how most people experience the program though. They want to fly places from their home city, usually on American and usually domestic. And what’s most striking to most members is the sheer lack of award availability — which means awards at the saver level, not awards where American wants 55,000 for a one-way first class seat from Austin to Dallas.

I live in Austin. American Airlines offers 11 peak daily departures on the 190 mile flight from Austin to Dallas. Between June 4 and the end of schedule in mid-March, 2018 there is not a single flight where there’s even one premium cabin saver award seat available. That’s over 3000 flights.

These are not super expensive first class seats, mind you, that you’d expect American to be holding back for sale and only willing to part with at that 55,000 mile price. Surely one flight out of 10 to 11 a day on one of these days, under a reasonable award allocation scheme, might be made available?

On occasion, my wife and I might want to use miles for one of American’s three daily flights from Austin to Chicago — and make that trip a little more special such as it is, using miles for first class. Unfortunately there’s not a single day between now and the end of schedule where you’ll find two first class award seats for the 977 mile flight from Austin to Chicago, not even on a Saturday night or a Wednesday morning.

Note that I’m not even talking about trying to coordinate a roundtrip here. I’m literally saying there’s not one day in the entire 331 day schedule with two saver award seats up front.

American flies Austin – Los Angeles three times daily, and there’s also not a single day in the entire schedule where you’ll find 2 premium cabin saver awards on that route either. Instead you’ll find the following one-way prices: 45,000; 55,000; 75,000; 90,000; 100,000. One. Way.

I’ve taken the Austin – New York JFK daily flight many, many times. If I wanted to use miles for a saver award up front, there is not a single day through the entire 331 day schedule with a single saver award available.

In fairness to American, there are 22 days between now and the end of the calendar year where American is making a coach saver award available on this flight:

  • April: nothing
  • May: nothing
  • June: nothing
  • July 8, 15, 22, 29, 30
  • August: nothing
  • September 19, 23, 26, 27, 30
  • October 3, 4, 7, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28
  • November 4, 7, 8, 15
  • December: nothing

I flew the Austin – Miami non-stop inaugural two years ago. City officials didn’t bother showing up to give their planned speeches, and the cake was eaten by employees the day before by mistake. The flight didn’t sell well, and it was reduced to non-daily. Now it’s operated by Embraer E-175 regional jets three times a day.

After Wednesday, April 19th (where there’s a coach saver award) there is not a single day the entire year where America is offering either a coach or a first class saver award.

Now, American also flies Dallas – Phoenix, Philadephia, and Charlotte. I didn’t check those routes, instead I gave up in despair, like so many other members.

To be clear airlines do not have to ever offer saver awards on any given route, whether when the schedule first loads, close to departure, or any time in between.

When you advertise a price you are usually expected to make a certain minimum quantity of goods available at that price. I am not interested in the legalities here. You can’t sue a frequent flyer program for anything beyond violating its own terms, and the Department of Transportation avknowledges that it improperly ignores valid complaints when those complaints are about frequent flyer programs.

I am merely talking basic expectations, advertising that a price exists but not actually honoring it is bait and switch. Delta looks smart — as badly as they treat their customers — no longer publishing award charts since they don’t actually promise anything. And if you don’t promise any value at all it is harder to be criticized for not lying to your members.

I’m frequently asked why, since US Airways management took over and US Airways used to offer a generous mileage program, why American’s award availability is so bad? And what people forget is that Dividend Miles was great for international awards on Star Alliance partners. Availability on US Airways was poor on their own flights internationally and in economy.

US Airways domestic first class availability was pretty good (the product was a notch down from what American offers today, no seat power on those planes.. in many cases still.. and there weren’t even any meals on flights less than 3 hours 15 minutes) but airlines weren’t succeeding at actually selling domestic first class then as well as they are now. So you see a similar award availability philosophy at play as at US Airways, albeit apparently on steroids.

It’s no wonder program revenue isn’t meeting expectations for the airline.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. I have moved my $10k per year travel away from AA due to this. After almost 7 years EXP, I simply could not handle the obliteration of the program. Again, $10k per year is not much, but now I’m married and most of my travel is leisure, so make that $20k lost business from me.

  2. AA space is absolutely dreadful. I’m one of the many who has to take a paid positioning flight or drive several hours to use an award now. Not a chance I’ll renew their credit cards unless fee is entirely waived. The one silver lining is that Alaska started serving my airport this spring, so that there is now a domestic use for AA miles if flying to a city with connections from here.

  3. Gary,
    I can’t agree more. I’ve been a member since 1993. It used to be the premier program available. We have three sons and we would take vacations from the Austin area (I feel your pain) together with no issues. Now I can’t even book my wife and I together on a flight, unless I go out 9 to 10 months and then sometimes it’s impossible! I hate what they have turned into and usually try to use partner airlines wherever possible, especially JAL to Japan. Love that airline! Thanks for publishing this. I sincerely hope it gains traction!
    Mike Hinshaw
    NomadicTexan

  4. “To be clear airlines do not have to ever offer saver awards on any given route”

    Well, neither do they have to shill their credit cards and miles program non-stop and have their FAs parading up and down the aisles with applications – infuriating to have to listen to that crap endlessly on flights, especially when you know it’s a scam.

    AND, next time you’re getting quoted in some news piece, why don’t you drop that “not a single saver award in 3000 flights” tidbit. Shame them publicly. Please.

  5. I live about an hour drive NW of O’hare. When I started this hobby a couple years ago, I opened accounts with Chase and started booking domestic and international flights with United. My mother opened an AAdvantage account with Citibank so I offered to help her book flights, and I thought I was doing something wrong because I could never find good redemptions from American. I’m glad to see it’s not just me, thanks for pointing this out. Because of this issue, I haven’t bothered to open any credit cards associated with AAdvantage (but may do so for an international trip in the future), and I haven’t transferred points to British Airways as availability for domestic flights I want out of O’hare is nearly nonexistent. I’ve even found great deals on Delta out of O’hare (>2.2 cents per mile), granted the majority of flights are connecting but at least I can access the lounge at O’hare with my Amex Platinum card.

  6. @Markj – it made sense to go with American when they were better, and I’m letting folks know they’ve changed. It would have been silly to immolate oneself with a less valuable airline because a different airline won’t remain more valuable forever.

  7. …And that doesn’t even begin to explain the loss of confirmed upgrade space using miles, miles + cash, Business ExtrAA BXP Certificates or eVIP certificates. Upgrades simply don’t exist unless you’re willing to wait until 24-36 hours before departure. Who wants to take a chance of being on a 5 hr transcon or a 10 hr flight to Europe and “hope” that you’ll be high enough up on the list to be upgraded.
    Before January 11, it was relatively easy…just looked for the “discounted first class” (“A”) inventory and it was done. Then the world ended. Now that “C” inventory is what is needed, there’s simply nothing. The scarcity of upgradeability has been breathtaking. (And on BXP1 certificates, it even requires more expensive fares to upgrade which you might think AA would encourage. Regardless, there’s just nothing.) I’d think about moving elsewhere, but neither DL or UA are any better (and worse in some cases). And as a DFW based flier, there really isn’t much of an alternative. And yet, management continues to orient itself to price-sensitive fliers or leisure travellers. Why is it that when any airline talks about an “enhancement” (to onboard service, flexibility or most importantly, their website) it NEVER is?

  8. @Maxie Dean – when I wrote up a similar finding 20 months ago I spoke to the then-President of the program, she was frustrated and sympathetic. After I noted the program’s financial underperformance on Thursday night, an American spokesperson reached out and offered, “Counterpoint: AAdvantage is actually excellent” 😉

  9. Loyalty programs should sway travellers to prefer a given airline even when schedule or cost are not optimal: the traveller is willing to give up something in exchange​ of a better treatment (status) or a future benefit (award flight).

    I am sure that in the immediate calculation of the bean counters, limiting the value of the program saves money.
    Over the mid and long term, it makes the proposition of loyalty program devoided of value, as there is no reason to even consider the future benefit.

    I used to be LH senator before they ruined their program, then I have been EXP for years, but now I buy the cheapest, most convenient first class seat and ignore the miles nonsense. For me, the AAdvantage program has zero value.

  10. Gary Leff says:
    April 16, 2017 at 8:37 am
    @Maxie Dean – when I wrote up a similar finding 20 months ago I spoke to the then-President of the program, she was frustrated and sympathetic. After I noted the program’s financial underperformance on Thursday night, an American spokesperson reached out and offered, “Counterpoint: AAdvantage is actually excellent”
    ________________________________________________________

    As to AAdvantage being actually excellent” it is true, depending on how one defines “excellent”.

    The devalued AAdvantage program is, indeed, “excellent” provided you are looking for an “excellent” example or business plan developed to cause loyal customers to abandon AA and use the services of other airlines.

    The new AAdvantage program is also an “excellent” example of how to mislead a major bank (Citibank and Barclay) and customers/passengers into buying miles that are overpriced and which can rarely be used.

    I wonder if Citibank and Barclay in the U.S. will realize the scam that AA has pulled on them and on passengers who were foolish enough to buy AA miles.

    I noticed that in Brazil, Citibank no longer has AA as a miles earning partner. Hmmn – at least somewhere, someone is waking up to to the fact that something is wrong at AAdvantage.

  11. AGREED ! After 31 years in this program…..achieving higher and higher ‘status’..
    As well as weathering the BK ups and downs…saving a six figure mileage balance in
    Order to ‘enjoy’ my retirement….not even able to utilize my high upgrade total in order to upgrade on a trans national flight. All these ‘saved’ miles mostly due to work loads interfering with leisure time…..AA has screwed its senior ‘elite’ participants….
    Time to ‘screw’ it BACK……

  12. Add to this their policy of making you pay for “upgrades” and then after they get your money, telling you there is no availability. They have about $100 of my money I expect to never get back.

  13. Vick said it best! Since the airlines (not just American) have devalued their mileage programs, there is no reason to be loyal to any airline. We buy first class tickets now based on lowest price that fits into our schedule. Time to bury these loyalty programs as loyalty no longer exists on the part of the airlines!!!!

  14. I am a million miler on American and United and I am happy to say I only have 15,000 miles left on American and I won’t have to deal with them again.
    With all the “benefits ” for being a million miler, United has left American in their dust. Just two examples: United gives your spouse or partner a similar status, and on United you can use airline clubs on international connections. American requires you to have 2,000,000 miles. I have been retired for 15 years, so I will never ride 500,000 more miles on American.
    American has lost their focus on people like me that have spent a lot of money with them over the years.

  15. My husband and I were holding saver award business class seats, round trip, to Paris, on AA, which we had confirmed in July, 2016. Sadly, a week before our April 11th departure, a medical issue arose necessitating we cancel our trip. We’ve been on a mission to locate availability so we can rebook our travel plans but the only AA offerings to confirm are not at the saver level. If we want to go it seems we must either double our mileage redemption or agree to multiple stops or pay the so called fuel fees. As such, Gary, your article “speaks” to us more resoundingly than you could have imagined when you wrote it. It’s so timely that my head is practically spinning. Even though we have enough miles in our AA accounts to suck it up and commit to the AAnytime redemption, we refuse to on the very grounds that we are opposed to participating willingly in our own abuse. If we end up deciding to pay out of pocket for the class of service and exact flights/equipment we want, you can bet we will not choose AA. We are retired and can travel just about any time there are seats offered. And therein lies the rub: they aren’t.

  16. It seems like AA is on a 12-step program to self-immolation. The bridges the company built to its best customers from just about the time I joined the AAdvantage program (July 1982), are being systematically burned to a well-done crisp. I decided last year when the devaluation was announced to spend-down all the miles in my account and ‘retire’ from air travel. A First/Business-class trip to New Zealand on American and QANTAS was delightful. The First-class trip to Japan, solely on American, was shocking. From sweeping out the crumbs and other debris from my international First-class seat (in both directions) to picking through the meals to find something palatable to having the entertainment system (1990s vintage) go kaput (twice!) to a mournful discussion with the head Flight Attendant as we compared American’s First Class service from the 80s to its simulacrum of same today.
    Sadly, AA has nothing left to do but swiftly proceed to the ‘final step’ in the program and pray someone is listening.

  17. @GringoLoco — I disagree. I have recommended AGAINST ongoing spend on AAdvantage cards. However, (1) the signup bonus can be worthwhile, but (2) more importantly for someone that flies American regularly but not enough for elite status, having but not using the card is a great strategy.

    * Priority boarding, avoid having to gate check your bags
    * Also means you can bring on a full sized carry on if you’re on a basic economy fare
    * Checked bags benefit is a cash savings

    Of course I recommended against spend on the cards before award availability on the airline dried up, because if you want American miles you earn them more efficiently spending on the Starwood American Express card and transferring to American (plus the option to transfer elsewhere). That’s been true for years.

    I still carry a Citi Executive card, it earns elite qualifying miles for $40k spend and provides lounge access (and that access extends to free authorized user cards, so I give on to my wife). It makes sense for me as an American Executive Platinum.

    You’d have an argument if I were somehow telling people to put their ongoing everyday spend on the cards, but except in the most limited of circumstances that’s not what I’ve ever done.

  18. Parker is not a builder he’s a wrecker. We saw this in USAir when he ripped the wiring out of the seat arms for in flight entertainment but left the controls so everyone was faced with music that didn’t work. Who would do that beside some fat slob trying to cut costs while begrudging customers of being able to listen to music to cut the boredom.

    That extrapolates to the entire operation since he took over American, nothing improved just patched up wreckage. He was warned loudly by customers via influencers like Gary about the utter ruin he’s rain down by devaluiing Aadvantage and how he’d actually trump the other Big Two by staying mileage based as though that’s some big compromise in a mileage program. Instead that’s left to the scrappy builders at Alaska, because nothing was going to stop big wrecking ball Doug. Your business plan of showing millions of your most loyal customers the door is reaping the wind.

  19. More important than ever to have multiple options. Gary, would this be another way to look at the benefits of being diversified…while I still have AA miles etc., Chase offering the flexibility through their travel portal to use Ultimate Reward points to book any airline (and some other credit card companies do this as well) can be a better option.

    At 1.5 per point you could book roundtrip Austin to Chicago in First Class for around $600 or so (in September and that is an N=1…did not do extensive searches here)…or essentially 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points….thereby creating your own “Saver Award” and actually getting miles and Elite qualifying dollars and credit for the flight.

  20. I agree with @dg. When will Barclay and Citi (and others) realize they’ve paid a premium for miles their customers can’t even use, and therefore question AA’s practices?

    The current situation is a bait and switch on the most grand level. The in-flight credit card pumpers tell us we can get a RT ticket anywhere American flies, yet there is no space at the level that anyone can redeem said miles at without paying a 2 or 3X premium for AAnytime awards.
    Completely unethical bordering on criminal. A sad day for the airline I’ve flown and loved my entire flying life, sometimes going out of my way to pay more or take a longer routing out of loyalty.

  21. Thanks for the article, I thought I always happen to pick the peak days to travel on American Airlines. I could never find cheap award mile tickets like they advertised. 50k+ miles for a round trip that can be purchased for $300 can never be justified. I’m taking my loyalty else where.

  22. Gary, nice article and thanks also to the commenters above with all the additional food for thought. A wake-up reminder that I need to use up my remaining 120k miles on Etihad and elsewhere, and then cash out. Though I’ll still get Gold for next year, I saw my platinum status erode substantially in the past months and am not eager to pursue further with AA.

  23. I just canceled my AA citi mastercard. Given the outrageous award pricing, I value AA miles at less than 0.5 cents. What a joke. Sad part is the joke is on me since I have a half million AA miles.

  24. I’m burning through the last of my 190,000 AA miles and stopped my loyalty to that terrible airline. Even though I’m hub captive in DFW, I will go out of my way to fly connections with Delta and definitely more of Alaska out of Love.

  25. Whenever I see these stories I just laugh because this is the same “I am not my fare” guy that was telling us how wonderful AA was just a couple of years ago. When the rest of us correctly noted that AA and DL were fast headed in the wrong direction while UA was rebounding.
    That being said I am indebted to Gary and Lucky for letting us know when AA releases huge blocks of international saver awards as this permitted us to burn our entire stash of AA miles for 4 business class tix to Europe last summer. Never had any regrets about that.

  26. I am a very blessed man. I am 69 years old, have played this game with a modicum of expertise for the last 14-15 years and we have seen much of the world – in the very front of the plane and for a song! Most of Europe, Thailand, HK, Australia, New Zealand, etc. And the bottom line over those years was simple, get the points and plan ahead. There were “rules”. You knew when award seats became available, you pounced. People laughed that we planned so far ahead but they were in awe of our photo albums and most, eventually, asked for help.

    At this stage I’m ready to throw in the towel and buy a place in Florida. We were very lucky to get AA First Class to Buenos Aires for our cruise in February. Look now and I don’t think there is one seat in Business or First one year out. It is disgraceful beyond words. Sure, we will sell you miles, Sure, we will GIVE them to you if you get a co-branded credit card. Just don’t try to use them for anything you might actually want. With well over 2 million miles/points, the game is getting to be too much of a hassle. I guess I will retire in the next few years and then just grab last minute stuff and hit the road with my wife. But I consider myself very fortunate to have experienced what was truly the golden age of award travel.

  27. “I am not interested in the legalities here…I am merely talking basic expectations.”

    Weird.

    Until your commenters pointed out how appalling your attitude was, you initial posture last week was to focus entirely on letter of the law (was United were allowed to do what they did according to their T&Cs of carriage?), and not on basic expectations (passengers reasonably expect not lose teeth and get concussion).

    Do basic expectations trump T&Cs only for those rich enough to be of interest to airlines through their loyalty programs?

  28. @”Mike” (and all your other commenting names): clearly two different issues, being dragged off a plane and bloodied and booking a saver award.

  29. @Steven S: you expressed exactly my view. I’ve been executive platinum for many, many years, and used my SWUs for upgrades and my miles for vacation travel, by planning very far in advance and being flexible. But now I routinely find zero award seats or upgrades (even business to first) for the entire 331-day booking window.

  30. Great article. I love with your clear, basic (reasonable) expectations. I am frankly shocked at the results you posted. I currently try to use advantage files mainly for international travel – although it’s annoying to call international call centers to book Etihad, for example.

  31. Gary,

    Good post and thanks for calling AA out on their terrible award availability. You have posted before about using BankDirect, and I’m wondering if it is time to walk away from my BD AA miles earning checking account, where I have been keeping $50K for several years, earning 60K miles / year with a fee of $144, and foregoing interest that I can earn with a high yield savings account (I have two such accounts that earn almost 1% now). Considering taxes, the cost of “buying” AA miles through BD is getting close to 1 cpm. I prefer redeeming AA miles for long haul business class, but I also consider redeeming for coach awards within the US or Caribbean if I can get 1.5 cpm or better, which is getting harder given the lack of SAAver inventory. Any thoughts on this topic?

  32. @JN I do think that remains worthwhile, if the best you’d do on that 50k is 1%, I still value an AA mile at 1.5 cents. Not as worthwhile as it once was though for sure.

  33. Gary,
    You are absolutely right about all of this. I can hardly get a direct from DCA-ORD anymore. I wish they would listen to you. Does AA have any response.

  34. Just used my last AA miles (at an exorbitant rate) to book ORD to LIH. Don’t expect to book any in future, as I’ve shifted almost all my spending (not insignificant) away from AA credit card. And now book any flight I can (most of which are business/first) on another carrier. AA was 1st choice once upon a time, but no more. Sad.

  35. Excellent Article, there has been a steady downward trend in the value of miles, to their current status of near worthelss. I’ve gone from $50k+ spend per year on AA cards to almost none, and instead of 200 EQM per year on AA, I’m now doing 100k on AA and 100k on United.

    I have had success twice getting saver capacity released for very short-haul flights as EXP (in coach). But otherwise almost unable to use miles.

    United/star alliance award availability (in premium cabins, the only time I ever really redeem awards) is excellent. American is really appallingly abysmal.

    I continue to fly them is the when they are the sole provider on a non-stop route I need (though this happens enough that i do hit EXP).

  36. I would value AA miles at 1.2 cents. Tops. Saver Awards, especially roundtrip, have virtually disappeared.

    Indeed Citi and Barclays (and Chase and AmEx) are the facilitators. They have the economic power to stop this fraud and don’t.

    Personally I’m stuck with 1 million AA miles and 750K British Airlines miles now. (Although it won’t be hard to burn them at AA’s prevalent rates for available flights).

  37. Flew TWA til they became American, Million Miler by 2009. Platinum for years. Tried to find reasonable trip to anywhere in Europe this year using miles…didn’t happen. Bought a Delta flight instead. I fly out of STL & they have pulled 100s of flights from here over the years. Makes me sad. Used to be proud to be a loyal American customer, no longer. They have gone downhill since joint w/US Air. The American employees must be very sad. They were always so professional, under all conditions.

  38. You know another little trick that AA has started to do is give you such insane routings on simple routes. For instance Seattle to London. (Partner BA has two nonstop a day). I took a June 3-June 10 routing looking for AAdvantage Business class.

    57.5 K miles is available!!!!!! However you leave at 9.59 PM and land in Oakland. Then the next day you leave Oakland at 3.05 PM

    On the way back you fly BA from LHR to JFK, then the next day you leave out of Newark.

    They are making it ridiculous

  39. It looks like Gary touched nerve with this post.

    In my experience, AA is indeed next to useless for domestic flights from my home base (Boston). Routes to Florida, Los Angeles, Hawaii etc either show little to no availability or outrageous prices (e.g. Boston-Chicago for 60k in coach!).

    However, the flights to Asia, on partners, are an excellent value and the availability seems to be very decent.

  40. Ok. What’s the alternative? I live in NYC, so I can use any airline. Are Delta and UA better all-in? That post would be a better use of blog space.

  41. @anthony
    you from all people are better positioned than most
    if you fly to europe you have dozens of choices in all alliances, same if you fly to south america or asia
    if you fly domestic fly alaska or american and credit to alaska
    its not that complicated

  42. Anthony, In spite of United’s public relations issue, they have better availability of rewards flights plus a better (more members) Alliance.

  43. Meanwhile, I just redeemed East Coast to Midwest for 3.5k on WN. Have another intra-Midwest for the same amount. Both were booked 2-3 months in advance. Love them. AA who?

  44. I’ve avoided United due to some bad experiences a few years go, but I’ll give them a try. I’m not the biggest Newark fan, but whatever

    I think Delta has the best ops of any of these airlines, but I would bet $100 Gary would complain much, much more about Skymiles than he does AAdvantag

  45. @Anthony,

    The widely shared view is that, yes, Delta has the best operations (including on-time arrivals and quality of food in domestic first) and the worst frequent-flyer program. What all three legacy airlines are saying, loud and clear, is: Forget about frequent flyer programs, forget about loyalty; buy the flight and cabin you want time.

  46. This article rings so true to me. Especially as a fellow Austinite.

    I’ve worked hard the last couple years to accumulate ~200k AA miles (not a lot to some of you but for me a while) only to see when I finally sought to use them, looking to travel this summer as I’m starting B-School in the fall, absolutely nothing is available.

    I thought I’d be able to at least finagle 2 business class international tickets out of this (Asia or Europe), and I can barely find 1 (!!!!!) economy ticket that doesn’t eat away most all the points.

    @Gary I seek your sage wisdom! Thanks for validating I’ve been smacking my head against the wall for good reason.

  47. Very good write up and I couldn’t agree more. It seems hilarious that they won’t open up a business class saver award seats on so many short and cheap routes. MSP to ORD in business sells for $75-$300 one-way, yet they want 45,000 – 75,000 miles for those exact same seats. They have to be kidding themselves. I actually hate Hilton for much the same reason and wrote a similar screed about them here http://theflyingmustache.com/2015/12/12/182135-reasons-i-hate-hilton/

    Basically, the same idea (and mind you this is before the deval). Offering a hotel as a category hotel and then never, ever making a single room available at the category rate. Instead they were pricing every room for every night at their “premium room rewards” rate and thus a room that should go for 30,000 – 60,000 points per night and be eligible for 5th night free was instead over 260,000 points per night and not eligible for a 5th night free. Of 182,135 possible room nights not a single one was available at the category rate when I checked.

    I called the hotel and complained. I wrote letters to the GM and complained and I wrote to people at Hilton corporate and complained. They told me that hotels are somehow independent (which is why they have the Hilton logo and participate in the rewards program *eyeroll*) and that there isn’t really anything they can do. The hotel, of course, also said there was nothing they could do. I’m sure there is a similar situation at AA. Nobody is responsible and nothing can be done. Except of course to take your business elsewhere.

    Always love your insight into the industry! Thanks Gary!

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