I value my American miles for partner awards, but most members look to redeem American miles on American flights and that’s gotten very hard. It used to be exceptionally easy. Sometime in mid-2012 premium cabin awards to Europe really tightened up. About 18 months ago premium cabin awards to Asia tightened up, and awards to South America did as well.
Now even economy awards are hard. This is especially frustrating to Europe because American’s primary transatlantic partner is British Airways whose awards incur fuel surcharges. When booking economy that almost completely defeats the point of using miles since you wind up paying much of the cost of an economy ticket while facing availability constraints, spending miles, and not earning anything in the process.
About a week ago I wrote about American removing saver awards entirely from some domestic markets. Starting a month from now, there were only three days through the end of April where you could find a saver award flying Austin – Dallas. That’s a short, cheap one hour flight where American offers at least 14 flights a day.
It turns out that was temporary and things are back to ‘normal’. For the next month seats are available on this route every day:
Most months you’ll see seats most days.
Although I wouldn’t call availability ‘good’ by any means.
The point though is that the elimination of domestic saver awards on several routes was a temporary phenomenon that has passed. Now I would simply characterize award availability as poor rather than non-existent.
On June 21 I found:
From July 19 through end of schedule there is not a single saver award in any class of service on American flights.
Fortunately that is no longer the case. Now Buenos Aires award space is merely very poor but it does exist. Here’s Miami – Buenos Aires.
Indeed, during low season when planes are expected to be empty we again see reasonable availability.
There are more months without more than two or three days of availability than there are with 10 or more days of seats. But the idea of withdrawing an entire market from award redemption was short-lived. That’s been fixed.
Now we return to normal — which is that you really want to use American’s miles on partners rather than on American itself, both because many partners offer better inflight experiences and because partners offer better award availability.