Over the weekend international award space on American Airlines flights for next year dried up almost completely.
Lack of award availability on American isn’t a new issue. Premium cabin transatlantic awards more or less went away two years ago. It was still possible to get plenty of transpacific first class space, but first class has become much harder in advance especially as American reconfigures 777-200 aircraft with new business class and no first class (and introduces new first class on their 777-300s).
But coach space has been pretty easy to get much of the time. Until a few days ago.
For sure, a major schedule change rolled out. We’ve seen those accidentally open the flood gates with way too much award space in the past. This time we saw the broad disappearance of space.
There were plenty of scary theories as to what was going on. One was that US Airways has historically been quite stingy with awards for their international flights (they’ve really just been generous with domestic first class awards, and great for booking awards on partners). And that US Airways folks are in charge now, tightening up was to be expected.
But things were much tighter than we’ve seen with US Airways, and indeed American had tightened considerably over the past few years as the economy has improved and planes have gone out full — even to the point where American wouldn’t release awards on flights that remain empty.
Now, to me international award space on American and in particular international economy awards aren’t much of a draw to the AAdvantage program. I use my miles for premium cabin award tickets on partner airlines. But it does matter to a large portion of the AAdvantage membership.
Fortunately, it was a glitch.
The Associated Press’ David Koenig, a good guy who has interviewed me several times, asked American what was going on and then tweeted:
@AmericanAir says glitch loading new schedules caused international low-miles SAAver awards to disappear, will be back by late Weds.
And a collective sigh of relief was heard.
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