American Just Opened the Floodgates With Domestic Award Availability

I’ve given American AAdvantage a hard time about award availability on American Airlines flights, and deservedly so. At one point things were so bad that the short distance Austin – Dallas had only six days during the year with a single flight offering a saver award, despite over 10 flights a day usually costing just $49.

However they’ve also been releasing a decent amount of space over the past week and a half or so. That seems to be the pattern — award space dries up, then there’s a bit of space briefly, before drying up again.

I’d love to see that pattern change. In the meantime there’s all of a sudden pretty good domestic award space, on the whole getting much better starting in August (though some earlier in the year as well).

If you need domestic award space for later in the year, need to book a partner award and don’t live in an international gateway city, or need to add a segment to an award you’ve already booked this is a good time to do it with American miles.

This is especially true for flights starting in August and in premium cabins.

Here’s Washington Dulles – Los Angeles for 2 passengers in first class:

And take a look at Chicago – Philadelphia, useful for instance if you were connecting to a Qatar Airways business class award to Doha on the Airbus A350.

This great award space doesn’t really apply to the New York – West Coast premium transcon flights, however there are pockets of availability — more than had been available earlier I think.

Here’s New York JFK – Los Angeles for two passengers in business class.

And here’s New York JFK – San Francisco for the same.

Like New York – Los Angeles and San Francisco, Miami – Los Angeles is a premium route and has opened up in economy.

And here’s Los Angeles – Dallas in economy for 2.

I’d certainly hope that this is the new normal, but I definitely would not count on it.

(HT: Chicago747)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Of course, a lot of this availability is phantom as well, in that it shows up in EF but cannot be booked for whatever reason.

  2. Do you think this release was prodded by their recent “bad press” on blogs or maybe another fixed “glitch”?

  3. AA has gradually withdrawn from IAD to LAX. Used to be 3x day then 2x now 1x. As this is a route I frequently fly, this is somewhat disappointing as I’m still on United “strike”. Won’t be too many free seats on a route they fly once a day in a small plane.

  4. Thanks Gary, was able to hold (for 5 days) AUS to JFK direct flights for 12.5k each way in Nov. Not a great sale, but at least available. Wouldn’t have thought of doing that without you!

  5. Most of them might be phantom seats. After I selected the flight and continued, then it said the flight is not available any more. This happened for three out of three flights I selected.

  6. All good news, but an odd point of reference: When you can take your pick among 10 choices a day at $49 Austin-Dallas, who really cares if award redemptions are scarce on that route? What am I missing?

  7. This does look like phantom seats. Whatever flights I picked, I got this following message:

    The flight you selected is no longer available. Please modify your request.

    One can hope maybe AA is not done loading the whole thing. Not optimistic though.

  8. @mike it matters because when you’re booking a flight Austin – Dallas – Wherever in the World you want to book a clean single ticket on one reservation.

  9. Mike, although I agree about cheap fares make points less valuable, one of the issue is when building longer itineraries, and certain segments are not available. For example Austin to London Heathrow. You would then need separate tickets etc. This can really be a pain with flight delays when you need separate tickets, as well as taking away from the value of your miles as you need to also purchase a fare to get to your gateway.

  10. @Chicago747 I certainly don’t take credit. There are only 2 times where I do know I influenced some availability, e.g. when I highlighted the issue with many cities having almost no space the entire year including something crazy like Austin – Dallas I was specifically told in response they’d fix it and they did. But unless I specifically hear otherwise I’ll assume coincidence.

  11. for all the people saying this is phantom space you might want to try calling AA. I booked an ORD-TPA flight this a.m that showed available on both EF and AA.com. I just went to book another seat for my lil bro and it showed on EF, but not AA.com. I called and the phone agent had availability. He waived the $30 fee. I then looked at EF and availability dropped by one seat. I’m guessing AA.com is just being glitchy. Obviously wont be true in all cases, but if you see it on EF but not on AA.com, I would recommend calling as i think it is more likely than not going to be there

  12. Not even phantom availability from Miami to Dallas on the dates I need which are nearly 2 months out. So to look at the bright side, AA save me the inconvenience of having to try to book. I still have 2,000,000 miles to burn through. I will never purchase another ticket of any kind on or from American Airlines.

  13. Following up on my first post re: the discrepancy between AA.com and EF, I too can confirm that calling to book will yield the desired result, and that the award availability showing up in EF is, indeed, real (even if not bookable on AA.com).

  14. Thanks for this post, Gary. Very helpful.

    In the days immediately prior to this post, I had been searching for saaver space on both AA.com and ba.com for the short mia-mhh hop. Prior to your post, nada availability on either. Fast forward to today, and AA.com still showed none for my dates, but BA.com did, and I was able to book with avios without issue. This further supports the comments above stating that AA.com is not accurately displaying award space on its own metal.

  15. Just checked and found new space to rebook my upcoming 9 hour award ticket disaster into a neat 5 hour direct flight. Rebooking took 2 seconds. Thank you so much for the heads up.

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