The big story in the travel blogosphere today is the unannounced devaluations that American Airlines and US Airways have made. Overnight, they've slashed some of the best loopholes, sweet spots and offerings in both programs. Here's a short synopsis of the major changes.
1. Increased pricing for Aanytime awards: To me this is not a big deal because I don't really redeem anything other than low-level sAAver tickets, but for those who value flexibility in their awards, this is definitely a negative change.
2. Business Class from North America to North Asia using US Airways miles: The once fantastic price of 90,000 miles has been increased from to 110,000 miles. In the past, I've redeemed at least 15 of these awards, and this change really hurts bad.
3. Free One way awards on American Airlines: These are now gone. This was one of the best loopholes in the program where you could essentially tack on a one-way domestic trip on to your international itinerary for no added miles and only a $2.50 surcharge. Again, this was something I used quite a bit and will really miss the free flights to New York in first class tacked on to the beginning and end of my international flights to Asia.
4. Explorer awards are gone: Although I never got the chance to redeem one of American's little-known distance based awards, I was really looking forward to doing an around the world trip on Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Qatar and British Airways miles. Looks like that dream is over.
How to deal with these changes:
1. Grieve a little: Pour out a 40 oz bottle of malt liquor on the ground if you're so inclined. I know I am.
2. Remember to always earn and burn: It's always a good idea to have a specific plan in mind when you're accumulating miles and points rather than just mindlessly stocking up points. Lately, it seems like award programs have been devaluing their currencies faster than the Zimbabwean dollar. These negative changes are inevitable, but you can also try and minimize these hits by earning just enough miles to take the trip you want, and then move on.
3. You can still get the 90,000 mile pricing to South Asia: And a free one way trip to the sunny Caribbean, Central America or Mexico if you follow my instructions here. Although North Asia is the same 110k price, South Asia has thankfully not changed… yet.
It was unavoidable that negative changes were going to happen with the impending merger between US Airways and American, but I think it was really sneaky of them to do this under the cover of night with no advance warning. This was doubly sneaky with US Airways offering a 100% bonus on share miles, no less. Still, I have to admit that this was a good run, which ironically is just another reason why American's disingenuous devaluation really stings.