American Airlines Award Space Coming Back Online!

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.

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, 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. International coach award seats can be pretty comfortable when the plane is not full. Seat pitch is better than domestic coach and AA airplanes have power ports and a nice video system. Add to that some space to spread out or even lie down and you have a winner at 40k (off-peak) to 60k (normal saver award) to Europe. Just don’t try to fly in the summer.

  2. All this will do is go from “zero availability” to “no availability in premium classes on Trancons, TATL, etc.).

  3. I have been watching for months for availability on AA daytime flights in First Class to Argentina, but haven’t seen any. Would it work to pay a few thousand for a Business ticket and then upgrade to First? Does it make sense to do that?

  4. I’m seeing some Business Class availability for February to/from South America, so it looks like things are starting to go back to normal.

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