As most of you have probably heard, on Tuesday, both American Airlines and US Airways made several changes to their mileage programs and fees with no advance notice.
One Mile at a Time was the first to write about the changes early Tuesday morning and he along with other miles bloggers have written about them in detail. Some of these changes were negative and angered many people because they they took effect immediately without prior notice. Also American and US Airways waited until late Tuesday to send out emails to its mileage members and the emails did not clearly spell out most of these changes.
Here is a brief summary of the changes made by American Airlines this week:
■ AAnytime awards will be split from 1 level into 3 levels (Level 1, 2 and 3) for travel starting June 1. Fortunately, MileSAAver awards (American’s lowest priced awards) will not change. AAnytime Level 3 awards do not list the number of miles required, instead, they are asterisked and according to AA are offered on a few select dates and will require higher number of miles to redeem.
■American eliminated (effective immediately) their distance based oneworld Explorer awards. (See top of this page.)
■American eliminated the ability to add on a free stopover at U.S. gateway cities as part of an international award ticket. Effective immediately, you can only stopover for 24 hours on all international award tickets at your US gateway city.
■American will now charge $35 (up from $25) to book international award tickets by telephone – flights on many partner airlines cannot be booked online so you often have to book partner awards by telephone.
■ American also changed its baggage fees effective immediately. The biggest change is that customers traveling on an AAnytime award or a full-fare economy tickets will no longer receive free checked bags.
Overall, these changes were mostly negative, but could have been a lot worse. Fortunately, American Airlines did not change the number of miles required for MileSAAver awards which are the best value.
Unfortunately, we do think that more changes are yet to come and that MileSAAver awards will be devalued in the next year. American is due for a devaluation since United, Southwest and Delta have either had or announced devaluations this year (although they gave plenty of notice).
Our advice is that if you have an award booking in mind don’t wait to booking because changes can be made without notice.
Readers, what do you think of the changes? Are you surprised by the lack of notice?