You were or may not have heard, but yesterday was quite a day in the frequent travel world!
In the matter of a few hours this morning, the hearts of frequent fliers everywhere collectively dropped.
Ben at One Mile at a Time broke the news. Apparently, American Airlines was all of a sudden collecting fuel surcharges on some award tickets.
In short, this would be bad news and add hundreds of dollars of unnecessary charges to award bookings, the treasure of our hobby.
At this point, the sky was definitely falling and the forums/Twitterverse were blowing up. I was semi-pissed because I just booked 2/3 of my mileage runs for the Fast Track to Elite Status Promotion this week. Why was I trying so hard to be a top tier elite in a program that was about to be devalued?!
In the end, according to an official statement from American Airlines, it was all a “mistake.”
We, as a community, let out a huge sigh of relief. Order was restored, but we all continued the speculation and discussion about it.
Changes to loyalty programs are bound to happen. Those changes sometimes suck. Changes without any prior notice are absolutely horrible.
Should we all take this as an honest mistake by American Airlines? Yes and no.
AA is long overdue for a change to the award program. This could have been it. I wouldn’t have been surprised or, frankly, even that upset. While paying more than you once did isn’t ideal, in the grand scheme of this game, I’ll still be redeeming for First or Business Class tickets for a small fraction of their actual cost.
I actually think that we might see this change in the near future. Maybe it was supposed to go out at a later date and was launched prematurely. Who knows?
What’s worse is that if they start collecting fuel surcharges and Delta already does for some carriers, United will just follow along because that’s the M.O. of our domestic airlines. And with that, it would just become the status quo and flyers would reminisce about the days pre-YQ (YQ=fuel surcharges).
It really just highlights the importance of diversifying your miles & points portfolio enough. I try to keep enough miles on hand for a long haul trip in First or Business for Joann and me. In case a severe and almost instant devaluation like this occurs, we break open the piggy bank and fly somewhere.
All in all, no harm no foul… for now. It was an eventful day for sure. I definitely wouldn’t want to be part of America Airlines’ social media team.
There isn’t really anything we can do to protect ourselves from these kinds of changes except the old “Earn & Burn” strategy. Earn enough miles to take the trip you want and then burn them! Never hoard your miles; they don’t earn any interest.
With that said, I need to take my own advice and start burning. These 375,000 AAdvantage miles are burning a hole in my pocket!