Up until April 8, 2014, American had two award levels.
- Saver awards. These are the prices we usually talk about. And they aren’t available on every flight, every day.
- “AAnytime awards.” This lets you book any available seat on any price for more miles.
AAnytime or Rulebuster-style awards used to cost double the price of a saver award. For twice the miles you could ‘buy out of’ capacity controls.
American Airlines Airbus A321T First Class
A little over two years ago American introduced multiple levels of prices for these higher-priced awards. Occasionally these cost 20% fewer miles, most of the time they cost a lot more miles.
The price did not vary by flight (how sold out it was, or how likely to sell out) but by date. So some days were more expensive than others. You could still book the last seat available on an almost sold out flight for the lowest extra miles cost if it fell on a lowest price date.
Last year they increased the very top price to 75,000 miles one way for coach domestic (higher for premium cabins).
At the time they reiterated:
- “AAnytime award levels vary by date” meaning American doesn’t actually manage the price of extra mileage awards based on inventory for a specific flight.
- “a few select dates require a higher number of miles” meaning that “Anytime 3” prices that aren’t specifically listed on the award chart would be dynamic, unpublished, and higher — but still applying to all flights on a given date, not some flights across dates.
American Airlines Airbus A321T Business Class
THIS NO LONGER HOLDS TRUE at least for New York JFK – Los Angeles and New York JFK – San Francisco.
WITHOUT NOTICE American changed how they manage awards on these flights on Monday August 15.
Here are business class AAnytime awards on the same day, New York JFK – Los Angeles:
You now see multiple prices on the same day, different prices for different flights. This is new. American tells me “we implemented additional levels (1,2,3,4) for JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO on Monday. What you see in your screenshots is correct.”
It’s only two routes at this point, but the technology is now there evidently to manage award inventory more closely — and it clearly means higher-priced awards (and if lower priced awards are in the future, it will only be for flights where paid ticket prices are so low you wouldn’t care about using miles anyway, or wouldn’t get much of a deal doing so).
After the no-notice changes in April 2014, there was a huge customer backlash and American went to great lengths to share in advance even the smallest changes to the program. With the departure of Suzanne Rubin at AAdvantage I hope that memory hasn’t been lost, and this doesn’t become a new way of doing things.