US Airways Eliminates the 90,000 Business Class Asia Award

One of the very best awards in the frequent flyer universe is gone without any notice. But it’s still priced pretty reasonably.

The US Airways award chart (.pdf) has been tweaked with one significant change.

Business class travel between the US and “North Asia” which extends as far south as Hong Kong has gone from 90,000 miles to 110,000 miles.

    Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific’s business class

It’s worth noting that some other minor adjustments have been made. Caribbean – North Asia business class has also gone up to 110,000 miles for instance. But most of the rest of the great values of the chart have been left in place. North Asia – North Asia and South Asia – South Asia business class awards remain 30,000 miles roundtrip each, for instance.

I’ve long suggested that:

  1. The best value awards, and best value opportunities generally, don’t last (“reversion to the mean”)
  2. As part of the US Airways-American merger we’d see award chart changes, taking the generally higher award levels between the two charts.

And here that’s sort of what they’ve done — in just the case of a single award.

American includes Hong Kong as part of their “Asia 2” zone and charges 110,000 miles for roundtrip business class between North America and Asia 2.

Here’s how US Airways defines North Asia:

North Asia includes China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Mongolia, South Korea, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan

Interestingly, this makes US Airways awards between the US and Japan or South Korea 10,000 more miles than American charges roundtrip (since American includes those in its less expensive “Asia 1” zone).

And since there were no changes to the price of US Airways first class awards between the US and North Asia — those remain 120,000 miles roundtrip — first class is now just 10,000 miles more. They were previously 30,000 miles more.

An extra 5000 miles each way for first class over business has to be the biggest no brainer decision in the history of earth.

    Cathay Pacific first class seat

    Cathay Pacific first class seat made up as a bed

    Cathay Pacific first class caviar and Balik salmon ‘Tsar Nicolaj’

With US Airways selling miles at just 1.1 cents apiece, it’s hard to get too exorcised about this.

It’s sad, of course, to see the 90,000 mile business class North Asia award go away. And especially without notice.

But we knew this one wouldn’t last, and the price increase is reasonable, still less than United and Delta charge for the same award. If it stays at this price point for awhile I’ll be perfectly happy.

(HT: Rob)

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. Looks like another sweet spot is gone.

    HNL/JFK stop JFK/Europe is now pricing out as 2 awards. Looks like no more free stopover in a gateway city.

  2. @Gary – I would have imagined that you’d be harsher on them for giving no notice, but I suppose — like you said — the news is dampened by the fact that it’s still reasonable and also by yesterday’s announcement of the Share bonus. Still, AA has a history of giving notice and this is a bad precedent for the New AA.

  3. Wow, you went very easy on them. Any change without notice is offensive, no matter how small

    If delta had done something like this you’d be up in arms…

  4. Holy crap! They’re axing Oneworld Explorer awards, too (on the AA side). That’s a kick in the balls, man!!! Just reading more of the changes on Lucky’s blog…

  5. Agree with the others Gary. Must be too early in the morning for you to realize the magnitude of what AA just did (or are you not aware yet of what AA just did, in what is clearly a coordinate devaluation of two charts)

  6. Agree, this is a softball response!! If DL had made such drastic changes overnight the tone would be much harsher.

  7. If this is the worst of it, then it’s not that bad really at all. AA flyers really can’t complain too much compared to recent changes at UA and DL. However my bets are the worst is yet to come.

  8. Now I feel very good about having booked mine a couple of months ago. DEN->AYT->OKA->DEN with the Europe stopover a month long and a week in Okinawa.

    Now, the Oneworld Explorer award – that change annoys me as I was just starting to plan. 🙁

  9. Let’s see how this day/week plays out. This might end up being the least significant story. AA “updated” its own award chart – and suspiciously, the OW award chart is still the same. What makes me think there is an “update” to that one coming very soon?

  10. These changes are ridiculous with no advanced notice. I mean seriously … One World Award is gone?!?! Wife and I were planning on booking one within the next week or so for next year. Seriously do not trust AA anymore….

  11. Nobody expected this award to last, but raising the price without any advance notice is very wrong.

  12. We knew changes were coming, but the complete lack of notice is a poor practice and very sad for those who were just about to complete any type of award reservation. Disgusting.

  13. I do not think they have a clue until you tell them.
    Now that you point out the difference, the F class prices will go up.

    I think all bloggers were touting the 90k EU/Asia award, and it was probably getting overused, so they changed it.

    The next will be the Australia ones

  14. @ ffi

    completely agree how many *ahem* prominent bloggers advertised that award over and over again. Eventually something had to give. Interesting that F is unchanged so far.

  15. Now I’m glad I booked a couple 90k award tickets in J last month, EWR-PEK outbound and PVG-JFK on the return. I didn’t try to get fancy with European stopovers or the caviar carriers, just took the United and Air China non-stops since they were available and didn’t require and routing legwork on my end.

  16. Yes I am surprised you weren’t harsher about the lack of advanced notice. When Avianca made changes without advanced notification the whole blogosphere crucified them… but not AA?

  17. Maybe you can assist/advise me on this:
    I searched Avios system last night (actually early this a.m.), and it showed oneworld availability on Cathay for my travel dates, in the class that I desired. When I called US Air to book it, they were adamant that it was NOT available.
    Two separate US Air reps (I called back after I thought the first rep was wrong) claimed that oneworld availability will vary by the carriers whose miles you are trying to use to book it; NOT by how many seats the airline being flown has set aside.
    I thought if Cathay has oneworld availability, any oneworld partner could book it.
    FWIW, Avios showed MULTIPLE seats available. In that situation in the past, I have never had an issue booking via AA.

    Am I off here or were the US Air reps?

  18. Zero notice changes are becoming the new industry standard. That’s pathetic.

  19. I loved your statement “An extra 5000 miles each way for first class over business has to be the biggest no brainer decision in the history of earth”. I agree.

    I’m not surprised to see these changes. I really figured that we will see some adjustments prior to the official merger of the AA/US programs so the changes at that point won’t seem so bad. You know turn the heat up slowly on the boiling frogs.

  20. No advance notice is ridiculous. I’ve written to AA both by email and twitter and I hope more people do the same.

  21. On the elimination of the Explorer award: What? You guys have a problem paying $25,000 for a first class around the world ticket?
    But seriously, 280k miles was comparatively way too cheap.
    I wonder what it will cost now to string the flights together. Maybe I’ll figure it out some day. I just recall actually paying 67% less than this (in dollar terms) for a RTW alliance ticket in first 10 years ago. nope, no inflation in air fares.

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