Plenty of American Airlines Changes – Awards, Stopovers, & More

Big news this morning from the American Airlines – US Airways merged camp. There are a few changes that most flyers are not too happy about.

List of Changes

  • AAnytime awards increase and are broken out into 3 tiers, effective June 1, 2014
  • Free stopovers at North American international gateway cities (JFK, LAX, ORD, MIA, DFW) are eliminated
  • Oneworld Explorer awards completely eliminated, effective immediately!
  • US Airways has updated their “sweet spot” North America – North Asia Business Class award from 90K to 110K, aligning with AA
  • AA award ticketing fees for international tickets booked over the phone will go from $25 to $35 per ticket
  • Lots of checked bag changes – see further down.

AAnytime Awards

I’m not too concerned with the AAnytime awards increasing. I’ve only ever redeemed for a “standard” award in an emergency situation. Otherwise, I’d rather be flexible and find a “saver” type award on whatever airline provides it.

That’s probably the best advice to sidestep the above change – stick with booking MileSAAver awards as much as possible.

Free Stopovers on Awards

The elimination of free stopovers at gateway cities is huge. Using this little trick, you were able to attach free one-way flights to the beginning or end of your main awards, even as far as New York to Hawaii. This is the change I will miss the most.

oneworld Explorer Awards

oneworld Explorer Awards are no longer available for award booking. We will continue to honor any award tickets issued on / before April 7, 2014.

Great, the news is announced today, April 8, and they’ll graciously honor any Explorer award tickets issued on/before April 7. Thanks!

Checked Bags Changes

  • AAdvantage Gold and USAirways Silver members will only get 1 free checked bag when flying AA, the same as any AA credit card holder.
  • Alaska MVP members will go from having 2 free bags when flying AA to apparently not getting any free bags.
  • Full fare passengers will go from having 2 free bags when flying AA to not getting any free bags.
  • AAnytime award passengers (who just got hit by massive increases) will go from having 2 free bags when flying AA to not getting any free bags.

Overall Thoughts

The worst part about this whole situation is not really the changes themselves; changes are bound to happen with so many miles being minted these days. The worst part is rather how the changes were announced, or not really announced.

Implementing changes effectively immediately is not fair to the customer and shows how the airline really feels about us.

Reach out to American Airlines with your feelings on the whole situation on their Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and AA website.

Hat tip to Dan’s Deals who has a great set of posts about the big changes.